1895: Wenatchee Joe’s mine

indian joe

(Image source: Discogs)

What a find!
Here’s a substantial, accurately quoted narrative by a Columbia Salish man.

Also significant is the fact that the newspaper editor provides no English translation help whatever.

Which shows you how Chinuk Wawa didn’t immediately die out with the 1890 “closing of the frontier”, i.e. with Whites becoming the powerful majority of the population & bringing English to the fore.

Instead, many White readers still got the gist of even a protracted speech in the Jargon (and even with the usual unpredictable punctuation and spelling!), such as the following bit of gold.

“Chilowich Charlie” here is connected with the Okanogan [sic] County creek name now standardized as “Chiliwist”. Other known spellings are Chiliwhist, Chilliwhist, Chilliwist, and Chilowist. Charlie or Charley is an important historical figure locally.

That region of north-central Washington remained an active Chinook-speaking area well into the 20th century. It had a somewhat distinctive grammatical style all its own, quite similar to average BC Jargon, but due to its backwater status, unique in some ways.

  • For example, there are strong traces of pidgin-style English, like the use of < bine by > (bye-and-bye) for a future-tense adverb,
  • and a greater reliance on English numerals than Jargon ones.
  • The word < spose > locally became more frequent in speech, adding to its earlier meanings (‘if’, ‘for’) to also function as an “evidential” marker (like English ‘evidently; apparently; supposedly’). This is conceivably an indicator of local Salish influence.
  • < Hiyu >, as in some other northern-dialect areas, got used as the intensifer ‘very’, even replacing hayas-.
  • < Skookum > (‘strong’), under English-language influence, took on an extra meaning of ‘awesome; excellent; fine; wonderful’.

“Wenatchee Joe”, “Injun Joe”, or “Indian Joe” seems to have been a local Native man well known to Settlers. I find apparent mentions of him in a 1907 hunting magazine, and perhaps here.

wenatchee joe

Wenatchee Joe’s Mine.

Rockford Enterprise.

On my [the writer is unnamed] return trip I had a pow-wow with Chilowich Charlie, a Methow siwash [Indian], and I give what he said in regard to this mine:

“O”! spose, maybe ten, snows Injun Joe clatawa hiyu skookum lemanti tika nanich mowich. Spose Injun Joe mitlite copa lemanti. O, spose, four suns halo nanich mowich. Injun Joe hipu [sic] tika muckamuck. Bine by mowich marsh, copa, lemanti memaloose. Injun Joe iskum hiyu muckamuck. O, spose Injun Joe nanich hiyu chikamon stone. Bine by iskum hiyu chikamon stone. Injun Joe hiac clatawa copa Wenatchee nanich Boston man. Boston man wawa hiyu skook um chikamon stone. Bine by Injun Joe clatawa copa Portland. Nanich hiyu tyee Boston man copa Portland. Boston man potlach watch, potlach shirt, potlach coat, potlach whisky. Injun Joe mitlite copa tyee muckamuck house. WOOH! Hiyu skookum Injun Joe! Injun Joe mitlite one snow. Spose hiyu sun charoo [sic] Injun Joe hiac clatawa copa Wenatchee. Boston man halo cumtux ka clatawa Injun Joe.”

— from the Seattle (WA) Post-Intelligencer of September 12, 1895, page 4, column 4

A deeper dive into Charlie’s Chinook:

“O”! spose, maybe ten, snows Injun Joe clatawa hiyu skookum
“ó! spus méybi tén snú-s ínjən jó łátwa Ø hayu-skúkum
‘ “Oh, for maybe ten years Indian Joe’s been going into the powerful [Cascades]’

lemanti tika nanich mowich. Spose Injun Joe mitlite copa lemanti. O, spose, four
lamontáy tíki nánich máwich. spus ínjən jó míłayt kʰupa lamontáy, ó, spus fór
‘mountains wanting to hunt. When Indian Joe was in the mountain, oh, about 4’

suns halo nanich mowich. Injun Joe hipu [sic] tika muckamuck. Bine by
sán-s hílu nánich máwich. ínjən jó hayu-tíki mə́kʰmək. báynbay
‘days, seeing no deer, Indian Joe was wanting food. After a while’

mowich marsh, copa, lemanti memaloose. Injun Joe iskum hiyu
máwich másh kʰupa lamontáy míməlus. ínjən jó ískam háyú
‘some deer left the mountains dead. Indian Joe got lots of’

muckamuck. O, spose Injun Joe nanich hiyu chikamon stone. Bine by
mə́kʰmək. ó, spos ínjən jó nánich háyú chíkʰəmin-stún. báynbay
‘food. Oh, apparently Indian Joe saw lots of [gold] ore, eventually’

iskum hiyu chikamon stone. Injun Joe hiac clatawa copa Wenatchee
ískam háyú chíkʰəmin-stún. ínjən jó háyáq łátwa kʰupa wináchə
‘taking out a lot of ore. Indian Joe hurried to Wenatchee’

nanich Boston man. Boston man wawa hiyu skook um chikamon stone.
nánich bástən-mán. bástən-mán wáwa hayu-skúkum chíkʰəmin-stún.
‘to visit a White man. The White guy said the ore was top-notch.’

Bine by Injun Joe clatawa copa Portland. Nanich hiyu tyee Boston
báynbay ínjən jó łátwa kʰupa pʰółən, nánich háyú táyí-bástən-
‘Later Indian Joe went to Portland, to see a bunch of improtant White’

man copa Portland. Boston man potlach watch, potlach shirt, potlach
mán kʰupa pʰółən. bástən-mán pátłach wách, pátłach shát, pátłach
‘men in Portland. The White guys gave (him) a watch, gave a shirt, gave’

coat, potlach whisky. Injun Joe mitlite copa tyee muckamuck house.
kʰút, pátłach wíski. ínjən jó míłayt kʰupa táyí-mə́kʰmək-háws,
‘a coat, gave whiskey.’ Indian Joe stayed at a first-class hotel.’ 

WOOH! Hiyu skookum Injun Joe! Injun Joe mitlite one snow. Spose
wú*! hayu-skúkum ínjən jó! ínjən jó míłayt wán snú. spus
‘Whoo! Indian Joe was a bigshot! Indian Joe stayed one year. When’

hiyu sun charoo [sic] Injun Joe hiac clatawa copa Wenatchee. Boston
háyú sán cháku ínjən jó háyáq łátwa kʰupa wináchə. bástən-
‘quite a few days had gone by, Indian Joe ran off to Wenatchee. The White’

man halo cumtux ka clatawa Injun Joe.”
mán hílu kə́mtəks qʰá łátwa ínjən jó.”
‘folks don’t know where Indian Joe went.’

That right there is some first-rate Chinook, my friends.

What do you think?