1896: Clatawa (the horse) and friends

A horse named Clatawa [‘go’] was not all of the Chinuk Wawa at the Yakima county fair.Just in the horseracing part of the fair, there must have been an easily detectable CW presence.

The races didn’t go off without a hitch, as the following sentence using a problematic metaphor indicates:

yakima fair woodpile

After that, the horses started running, and I’m thinking “Mowitza” was named in a comparison to the speed of a running deer (máwich) :


In the same light, “Pittox” may have been a particularly intelligent horse (a somewhat obscure Jargon word is < pittuck > ) —


True to the spirit of the time, the fair was segregated, especially when it came to racing competitions, in which the Plateau tribes were typically seen by Settlers as having an uncanny edge due to their generations of experience at raising cayuses. 

Gender segregation was the usual as well; I’m unaware of any Settler women racing horses (folks might’ve been stunned), but Native women had their own “squaw races” (in much of the Pacific Northwest, these were known by the Jargon loan terms, “klootchmen(‘s) races” or “klootch races”) —

indian races 1

indian races 2

Also a sign of segregation — the only riders who are named in today’s news report are White males.

And you can bet that any horse whose name is reported belonged to a Settler, including “Clatawa“:

yakima clatawa

— from the Yakima (WA) Herald of October 1, 1896, page 3, column 4

That same horse “Clatawa” is mentioned at least once more in print. It was a regional celebrity.

There’s also a romanticized 1919 article in Canada’s Maclean’s Magazine featuring Clatawa, or a horse of the same name, and more scraps of Chinook Jargon.

What do you think?