“A West Coast Christmas” anthology
“A West Coast Christmas” anthology, edited by Anne Tempelman-Kluit…
…surprised me by arriving this week, so I can write one more Xmas post here!
(Image credit: Amazon)
I’ve passingly referred to this enjoyable book once before on this site. Today I’ll tell a little more about its contents, now that I’ve got the whole volume.
Pages 9-10 bring this anecdote of a Nuučaan’uuɬ potlatch adapted to Settler customs:
by George H[ubert]. Bird [1866?-1954]
Port Alberni [Vancouver Island], B.C. 1892
The second or first Christmas after I came here, some Indians came to our house in Alberni and asked us to go to the big communal house known as Old Tom’s, on the Tse-shaht reserve. When my wife and I arrived, we found eight or nine other settlers had also been invited.
A Christmas tree was decorated in good style with ornaments. We were welcomed with friendly gestures and asked to be seated. I think the number of entertainers was seven: Gallic, Jaques [sic] and Fred were three of them. I have forgotten the others. They were all young men of about twenty years of age. They were dressed much alike, wearing white shirts. The downy feathers of wild geese or ducks had been sprinkled all over them. We were treated to a great show of vigorous dancing, to the accompaniment of singing, in which the other Indians present joined with much enthusiasm. They had composed a song in Chinook for our special benefit. It consisted of a welcome expressing friendly and well-disposed sentiments towards us who were now also dwellers in the fertile lands around about. While they sang, the drums were throbbing away. After an hour or so of entertainment, presents, consisting of baskets, mats and two or three little model canoes, were distributed amid considerable ceremony and applause.
— from “Tse-wees-tah — One Man in a Boat” (Port Alberni: Arrowsmith Press, 1972), a book that seems to be awful hard to get a copy of
The anecdote on pages 32-39 is excerpted from a book with a part-Jargon title, “The Trail of Chack Chack” [i.e. ‘eagle’] by L. Harry Roberts (New York, NY: Carlton, 1968). Another rare book!
And page 52 brings us an 1839 imputation of the CW phrase for a ‘minor chief’ or ‘sub-chief’: “Chief Factor Pambrun, the tinas tyhee (little chief) that held in check the upper tribes, sent down his fair Maria, the pride of Walla Walla.” This is from “McLoughlin and Old Oregon: A Chronicle” by Eva Emory Dye (Chicago, IL: A.C. McClure, 1900). You can find and buy copies of this book, including an autographed one.