1888: Indian stabbing affray — Englished Chinook

Here’s a late-frontier find that’s out of the ordinary: dialogue cited as occurring in Chinuk Wawa, but delivered only in translation.

The “stabbing of Jack” by Joe Slide from Neah Bay in a “general Indian free fight” in “the Indian settlement along the shore, at West Seattle” was the subject of a longish article in a Seattle paper.

I haven’t managed to track down information about the participants yet, and I wonder if my readers can help establish that, and/or the location where these events happened.

There’s no great reason to quote the whole article here, but I want to show you the parts relevant to what I said above.

A “white fellow-prisoner, named McCarty”, seems to have acted as Chinook translator for the accused, who seems to have felt less sure of his own English. I want to suggest to you, you could easily translate his account back into the Jargon that was spoken…

indian stabbing

stabbing 1

stabbing 2

stabbing 3

This Indian, Joe Slide, as he gives his name, was formerly a seal-fisher on the schooner Challenge, and lately he has been employed as a fisherman on the sloop Adventure. He does not seem to be much over 20 years old…He speaks good enough English, but doesn’t like to talk it. With the assistance of a white fellow-prisoner, named McCarty, however, he had a pretty interesting story to tell. He said he didn’t have any knife, and asserted stolidly that what he did was in self-defense, and that the other man had stabbed him with a sharp piece of iron, also that the other Indians had pounded him with clubs. To substantiate this he showed several cuts and bruises. He gave this story at the jail, doctored up to make it intellegible [sic] English.

“I was over here in the city, with my klootchman yesterday, and my nephew, Bob McCannum gave me some whisky. I drank about a pint and a half of it, and after sunset we started for home in our canoe. I had a fuss with my klootchman in the canoe, and another row when we got home, and I was whipping her, when some other Indians interfered. Eight of them jumped on me and knocked me down. I took my shotgun and fired it in the air to scare them. I gave the gun to an Indian friend of mine, Harry, who was trying to make peace, and then I went into my cabin. One of the Indians, this Jack, came at me with a sharp spike and struck me with it, and then he ran away. Yes, I know the Indian, and I’ve had trouble with him before. I never heard him called by any other name than Jack. I didn’t have any knife.”

— from the Seattle (WA) Post-Intelligencer of November 23, 1888, page 3, column 2

What do you think?