I agree with CTGR 2012, Warm House Dance is CW…

I agree with the 2012 Grand Ronde Tribes dictionary; I just have more to say 🙂

There’s a sub-entry to wám ‘warm, hot’ that I think more people ought to know about in that Chinuk Wawa dictionary:

wám-háws The Warm House dance and religion…A nativistic revival movement characterized by large organized gatherings held in a special dance house (the “Warm House”; also the usual name for the dances held there). This movement spread to Grand Ronde from the south during the 1870s, taking hold especially among the southern Oregon people living “across the river” (south of South Yamhill River) [ínatay-tílixam ‘the “other-side” people: Shastas, Umpquas, and Rogue Rivers of Grand Ronde Reservation’]…

This was an important chapter in early reservation-era history, not only in Oregon but also northern California and adjacent parts of Nevada. 

The anthropologist Cora Du Bois published a 1939 book on it, “The 1870 Ghost Dance”, which you can easily get a copy of (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska, 2007).

Pages 61ff of that edition quote people who participated in this movement, and it strikes me that they routinely call it the Warm House Dance

Like a number of similar prominent phrases in Pacific Northwest history (“Old Man House” comes to mind), this was probably Chinuk Wawa: wám-háws-tánis. So I suspect we can add that phrase to our CW dictionaries; it’s more or less synonymous with wám-háws, except that the latter could also refer to the place where the dancing took place. 

I suspect wám-háws may also have been a regional CW phrase for traditional longhouses; the term for those varies by region in the PNW, typically appearing to come from the Jargon, e.g. “smokehouse“.

The witnesses DuBois quotes who refer to the Warm House Dance are all western Oregon Indians, most from the heavily CW-speaking Siletz and Grand Ronde communities:

  • Billy Metcalf,
  • “Hoskie Dimmons” (Hoxie Simmons),
  • Abe Logan,
  • Coquille (Coquelle) Thompson,
  • John Simmons,
  • Jennie Riggs,
  • John Watchino (Wacheeno),
  • Annie (Miner) Peterson,
  • Frank Drew.

Many of these individuals are known to have fluently spoken Jargon in their daily lives. 

They also make explicit reference (pages 65, 71) to the use of interpreters into Chinuk Wawa, who brought the message of the Warm House from more southerly Indians such as Bogus Tom (a Shasta) to these more northerly Oregon folks. One of these interpreters was Umpqua chief Solomon Riggs, a Grand Ronde reservation resident.

solomon riggs

Solomon Riggs (image credit: Umpqua Valley Museums)

Those converts who went on to spread the religion in western Oregon already knew Chinuk Wawa, so, like Chetco Charlie, they preached in it (page 76).

Furthermore, there are even quotations of CW having direct connection with the Warm House Dance, as on page 65, reporting how in 1872 some Indigenous women told local Settlers that tribal < memaloose tilacums > (míməlust tílixam-s ‘dead people’) were about to come back to life and kill all the Whites.

Page 70 tells that “men chosen to dance went behind canvas partition in southwest corner. Called “seal house” in jargon.” That’s CW síl-háws (‘cloth-house’) ‘tent’, being used in this ritual context. 

Lastly I’d like to specify that of all the various names for this spiritual movement (Earth Lodge, Ghost Dance, etc.), Warm House is only used in Western Oregon, coinciding with the heartland of the Jargon.

So I think the evidence is extremely compelling that wám-háws-tánis is a genuine Chinuk Wawa phrase that we can add to our dictionaries.

What do you think?