1891: Captain Bill committed, Victoria, BC

sheppard gaoler

Chinuk Wawa speaker Henry W. Sheppard, “gaoler for the Victoria police department” (image credit: BC Archives)

In the early post-frontier period, Chinuk Wawa continued as an important tool for contact between the Indigenous people of the Victoria area and the increasing population of Settlers.

Here’s an example where the relatives and friends of “Captain Bill”, presumably a local Salish leader, are lectured to in “Chinook” by the police chief.

The CW words are put into their language by someone I take to be a paid interpreter, whose grotesque facial expressions seem more designed to assure the cops that he’s translating accurately than to overcome any difficulties in comprehension among those addressed.

Then again, those gestures might have been because the reporter didn’t understand the Jargon speech well; see how things seem to you…

captain bill 1

captain bill 2

The magistrate returned the captain for trial, and then followed a very important lecture, delivered to the assembled Indians by [police] Chief Sheppard, through an interpreter. The chief became eloquent in the Chinook, and Charley almost demonstrative in the native vocabulary. He told his fellow tribesmen (and women) that they must be law abiding, otherwise they would be severely punished. With an upward look of agony, a gutteral [sic] chuck, and the thumb and forefinger on the throat, he indicated that should the life of a white man be sacrificed at their hands those implicated in the crime would be hanged. A scattering of the hands and arms taught the wholesome lesson that the tribe would be scattered by the pale faces should his hearers not behave themselves. The rubbing of the eyes, accompanied by facial contortions, gave an idea of the grief such a catastrophe would occasion, and the stern closing sentence — it sounded well in Chinook — made it apparent that all that was said was meant.  

— from the Victoria (BC) British Colonist of September 2, 1891, page 6, column 2

What do you think?