1904, vintage 1854: An excellent Olympia anniversary greeting

Lucky us, finding a Chinuk Wawa time capsule from 1904 of a time capsule from 1854!

Keep in mind that the following was copied down by a journalistic witness, so it’s secondhand or thirdhand information. And the pioneer writer’s identity is unknown to us, but this was surely an elderly person who no longer spoke CW often.

But what we have here is a gem, for sure.

Its date alone is enough to show that this is early settler (and therefore a version of early-creolized lower Columbia River) Chinook Jargon.

It’s written in the really unique spellings of a person who spoke the language vastly more than they ever read it.

The pronunciation and the grammar are brilliant.

I suspect the only reason an English translation is given in the article (unusual for the time) is because the Jargon text is pretty long and dense. Shorter Chinook expressions are usually left as-is in post-frontier newspapers.

I’ll transcribe this whole article, and then go into more detail about the Jargon that’s in it. We’ll finish up with a number of fine photos of the family and their homestead.

golden wedding 1

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A GOLDEN WEDDING.

Two of Our Oldest and Most Respected Pioneers Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Their Marriage.

Mr. and Mrs. Andrew J. Chambers celebrated their golden wedding, at their home, on Chambers’ prairie [now Lacey, WA] Monday, at which six daughters, five of whom are married and sixteen grandchildren took part. Mr. Chambers is a native of Indiana, and he came to Washington, then Oregon Territory, in 1847, and Margaret White, who became his wife January 18, 1854, is a native of Kentucky. They were married in this county. Mr. Chambers is now 78 years of age and his wife 72. Those who gathered at the festive board, Monday, to cheer the hearts of the “Old Folks at Home,” were Mr. and Mrs. J. Hunsaker, (Elizabeth Chambers) of Everett; Mr. and Mrs. Robert Granger (Eliza Chambers) of Puyallup; Mr. and Mrs. Geo. Talcott (Addie Chambers) of Olympia; Mr. and Mrs. W. M. Calhoun (Margaret Chambers) of Seattle; Mr. and Mrs. Charles L. Denny (Retta Chambers) of Seattle, and Miss Nora Chambers of Olympia.

The handsome presents proved it to be a golden wedding indeed. It was a very enjoyable affair and all present vied in showing the bride and groom their most devoted attention. Presents and letters were received from friends of fifty years ago, and the flowers on display were beautiful and lavish, from many friends of later date. One old friend of January 18, 1854, sent a letter written in the language so much used at that date, the classic Chinook, which read as follows:

Clahowah, Mr. and Mrs. Chambers:

Nica hias tica nanach mica ocokoke sun. Nika wake cokqua ancuty; halo hiack clatawa. Nica lema quanisum hias till. Nica ticke iskum muck-a-muck copa mica house ocokoke sun. Nica tumtum wake kuaqua ancuty. Mitlite ancuty hiu mowich, pe hiu clams, pe wapato, pe cul-suplil, pe culicully pe molasses. Hiu tillicum midlita ancuty, pe hiu hee-hee, clonas hiu dance.

Pe mica topsue delate cleal — alta wake siah tecope; ancuty mica hias skookum, spose mica tica clatwa, mica iskum kuiten pe hiack colee, quanisum cauqua, delate hias closh ocokuk ancuty sun. Alta chechaco Boston wake quaqua ancuty tillacum yoca huloima tumtum; yoca quanisum ticke hiu chickamen pe tiee house, pe conaway huloima ictas, pe yoca tumtum ancuty tillacum wake delate hias till quaqua yoca.

Spose yoca tica clatawa copa Olympia yoca halo iscum kinim. Yoca mitlita copa pia-boat, pe pia-chickchick pe hiack colee kuaqua pish pe cullicully.

Hias closh spose mica conemox chaco skookum cockqua ancuty, pe nica tica mica nanach hiu sun quaqua ancuty. Nica till alta pe copet tscum.

MICA ANCUTY TILLACUM.

TRANSLATION.

How do you do, Mr. and Mrs. Chambers:

I would very much like to see you to-day. I am not as I was long ago, and cannot travel quickly. My limbs are always tired. I would like to dine with you at your home to-day. My heart is not strong as it was once, when deer, clams, potatoes, flour, poultry and molasses were plentiful, and friends were full of laughter and dancing was common.

Your hair, once black, is now nearly white; you once was [sic] strong, and when you traveled you mounted horse and went rapidly, and it was well in those days. American new-comers are not like the old-timers. They have other ways; they are avaricious and want fine dwellings and many other things, and I cannot find that fault with the old friends.

If they want to go to Olympia, they do not go by canoe; but go by steamer or railroad and hurry like a fish or fowl.

I hope you both will regain your former strength, and that you will see many years like those of the old-time.

I am tired writing and will close.

YOUR OLD FRIEND.

— from the Olympia (WA) Washington Standard of January 22, 1904, page 2, column (?)

And now, for those of you who want to learn more Chinuk Wawa, here’s a detailed examination of the message. I’ll put it into Grand Ronde-style spellings, but some of the interesting pronunciations implied here look like mini-documents of a pretty early stage of the Jargon, for example < kuaqua / quaqua >.

I was discussing with some people the other day about how some CW speakers said yaka (literally ‘she/he’) for ‘they’. Here it looks like we have some examples of that usage.

< Cul suplil > seems to be literally ‘hard flour’ or ‘hard bread’; maybe it means ‘hardtack’? Do any of my readers have a helpful guess what frontier-era food is referred to this way?

Clahowah, Mr. and Mrs. Chambers:
łax̣áwya …
greetings …
‘Hello, Mr. & Mrs. Chambers:’

     Nica hias tica nanach mica ocokoke sun. Nika wake cokqua ancuty;
     nayka hayas-tíki nánich mayka úkuk sán. nayka wík-kákwa ánqati;
     I very-want see you.singular this day. I not-as formerly;
‘I long to see you [SINGULAR] today. I’m not like I used to be;’

halo hiack clatawa. Nica lema quanisum hias till. Nica ticke
hílu háyáq łátwa. nayka límá kwánsəm hayas-tʰíl. nayka tíki
not quickly go. my arm always very-heavy. I want
‘(I) don’t move fast. My arms are always so tired. I want’

iskum muck-a-muck copa mica house ocokoke sun. Nica tumtum
ískam mə́kʰmək kʰupa mayka háws úkuk sán. nayka tə́mtəm
get food at your house this day. I think
‘to get some food at your house today. I think’

wake kuaqua ancuty. Mitlite ancuty hiu mowich, pe hiu clams, pe
wík-kákwa ánqati. míłayt ánqati háyú máwich, pi háyú klám[-]s, pi
not-as formerly. exist formerly much deer, and much clams, and
‘it’s not like it used to be. There used to be lots of deer, and lots of clams, and’

wapato, pe cul-suplil, pe culicully pe molasses. Hiu tillicum midlita ancuty, pe
wáptʰu, pi q’ə́l-saplə́l, pi kə́ləkələ pi məlásəs. háyú tílixam míłayt ánqati, pi
potato*, hard*-flour*, and bird and molasses. many people exist formerly, and
‘potatoes, hardtack*, birds and molasses. There used to be lots of folks, and’

hiu hee-hee, clonas hiu dance.
háyú híhi, t’łúnas háyú táns.
much fun, perhaps much dancing.
‘lots of fun, I suppose a lot of dances.’

Pe mica topsue delate cleal — alta wake siah tecope; ancuty
pi mayka tə́psu drét łíʔil — álta wík-sayá tk’úp; ánqati
and your hair really dark — now not-far white; formerly
‘And your hair was nice and dark — now it’s about white; back then’

mica hias skookum, spose mica tica clatwa, mica iskum kuiten pe
mayka hayas-skúkum, spus mayka tíki łátwa, mayka ískam kʰíyutən pi
you very-strong, when you want go, you get horse and
‘you were quite strong; when you wanted to go (somewhere), you got a horse and’

hiack colee, quanisum cauqua, delate hias closh ocokuk ancuty
háyáq kúli, kwánsəm kákwa, drét hayas-łúsh úkuk ánqati
quickly travel, always thus, really very-good that former
‘trotted off; it was always like that; they were great, those old’

sun. Alta chechaco Boston wake quaqua ancuty tillacum[,]
sán. álta chxí-cháku bástən wík-kákwa ánqati tílixam[,]
day. now newly-arriving American not-as former people,
‘times. Now the cheechako Whites aren’t like the old folks,

yoca huloima tumtum; yoca quanisum ticke hiu chickamen pe tiee
yáka x̣lúyma-tə́mtəm; yaka kwánsəm tíki háyú chíkʰəmin pi táyí-
he different-heart; he always want much money and chief-
‘they* think differently; they* always want lots of money and fine’

house, pe conaway huloima ictas, pe yoca tumtum ancuty tillacum
háws, pi kʰánawi x̣lúyma íkta-s, pi yaka tə́mtəm ánqati tílixam
house, and all different thing-s, and he think former people
‘houses, and all sorts of things, and the hearts of the old-timers*’

wake delate hias till quaqua yoca.
wík-drét hayas-tʰíl kákwa yáka.
not really very-heavy as he.
‘aren’t quite as weighed-down as theirs*.’

Spose yoca tica clatawa copa Olympia yoca halo iscum kinim. Yoca
spus yaka tíki łátwa kʰupa olímpiya* yaka hílu ískam kəním. yaka
if he want go to Olimpia he not get canoe. he
‘If they* want to go to Olympia they* don’t get a canoe. They*’

mitlita copa pia-boat, pe pia-chickchick pe hiack colee kuaqua
míłayt kʰupa páya-bút, pi páya-t’síkt’sik pi háyáq kúli kákwa
sit on fire-boat, and fire-wagon and quickly travel as
‘sit in a steamboat, or a railroad car, and speed away like’

pish pe cullicully.
písh pi kə́ləkələ.
fish and bird.
‘a fish or a bird.’

Hias closh spose mica conemox chaco skookum cockqua ancuty, pe
hayas-łúsh spus mayka kʰánumákwst chako-skúkum kákwa ánqati, pi
very-good if you together become-strong as formerly, and
‘How wonderful if you both could be as healthy as that again, and’

nica tica mica nanach hiu sun quaqua ancuty. Nica till alta pe
nayka tíki mayka nánich háyú sán kákwa ánqati. nayka tʰíl álta pi
I want you see many day as formerly. I heavy now and
‘I’d like you to be seeing as many days as (you) already (have). I’m tired now and’

copet tscum.
kʰəpít-t’sə́m.
finish-write.
‘am done writing.’

MICA ANCUTY TILLACUM.
mayka ánqati tílixam.
your old.time friend,
‘Your old-time friend,’

Some more photos relating to the Chambers family, courtesy of WashingtonHistory.org :

chambers barn

Chambers barn, used as a stockade in the 1855-1856 Indian war

chambers residence

Chambers residence

andrew j chambers

Andrew J. Chambers

maggie chambers calhoun

What do you think?