Chemuck compendium

Here’s a sampler of occurrences I’ve found of a common frontier-era California pidgin Spanish/English/Chinuk Wawa word for ‘food’…


“Yosemite Indians Making Chemuck”, 1872 (source: WPClipArt)

…It’s “chemuck“, also spelled chemuk, chamuck, shemuck, and so on.

The etymology of it hasn’t been established to my satisfaction. Because chemuck is associated with acorns, it seems safe to start from a hypothesis that it’s originally an Indigenous word. Is it from Miwok? Yokuts? Pomo? Chumash? Shasta? There’s a lot of dictionary searching to be done.

chemuck shay muhk

from Indian Terms of the Americas—–

chemuck capt jim

heep ketchum good chemuck in California


chemuck no give

white man no good — he take squaw, and he no give chemuck


chemuck no halo

Bimeby Bob Whittle he got no halo chemuck in de house


romance on the yuba1

romance on the yuba2

romance on the yuba3

“Romance on the Yuba” doggerel poem with glossary! 


chemuck pulverised

chemuck, composed of pulverised acorns, grass seed and preserved worms


chemuck mohalas muchachos

literally loaded with favors in the shape of chemuck


chemuck digger hospitality

…while regaling themselves with the chemuck presented them…


chemuck hides beef

‘chemuck,’ blankets and beef


chemuck consumption

grasshoppers, acorns, and similar ‘chemuck’

chemuck gulch

A place called Chemuck Gulch


chemuck winnemucca

the prospect of good shemuck


shemuck wo haugh

Got any wo-haugh-shemuck in Mericano heaven?” 


chemuck pantaloonas

begging for chemuck, tobacco, discarded clothing

What do you think?