1895: Everette’s dedication/insult to Powell
To our collection of the curiosities of Chinook, we can add this inscription made at the start of a vocabulary sent in to the Smithsonian…
…Dedications to a powerful benefactor were traditional for centuries, in any major written work.
Today’s, though, seems to modify that tradition with a backhand twist…
Major: J.W. Powell
Who, by his firm but kind refusal to
grant a request to the writer in 1883,
spurred him on to achieve success in obtaining
aboriginal “ethnologic” work, in his own
individual manner and method:
Dr: W.E. Everette
Coming from another researcher, that might not appear terribly sarcastic.
But physician Everette, although an industrious educated polymath who went on to hold several patents and mining claims, was an amateur when it came to “ethnology” or linguistics — one who had really pestered the Smithsonian for support.
Since Dr. Everette was on his way to Alaska mainly to do some mineral prospecting in 1883, I take it the Smithsonian was loath to bankroll such a speculation tangential to its own mission.
And, when Everette did send in this 1895 collection of Native-language material, half or more of it was terrible Chinook Jargon, gotten obviously from published books! That’s shown in another article about him that I’m writing for this site.
However, the Doctor did ultimately receive a “special commission” from the Smithsonian, apparently a dual-purpose solution. It would’ve been a sort of card of introduction to help him get access to Native communities for research purposes. And it would be a sop to his ego, I think, to get him off the S.I.’s back.
The fact that he’s barely mentioned in the huge published reports of the Institution suggests that this fella…
…saw little to brag about in an official connection with him.
Everette must’ve been a bit of a challenge for the above-pictured man, the famous John Wesley Powell (1834-1902), first director of the US Bureau of Ethnology and a proto-environmentalist, to deal with…