1866: One Clayoquot Siwash could kill 3 man-of-war’s men

Among other things, the following frontier-era anecdote adds yet more proof that English man-of-war was an established Chinuk Wawa word in the Vancouver Island area…


A reason why Nuučaan’uɬ folks had a poor view of newcomers: bombardment of Clayoquot in 1864 (by J.R. Mackey; image credit: WatercolourWorld)

I think the reason why one of the quotations below is presented as being in English is that the phrase man-of-war’s man was (I checked Google Books) also standard in English.

However, in a pronunciation something like mə́nuwa, man-of-war (i.e. an armed ship) was already Chinook Jargon in this subregion. And mə́nuwa-mán is the expected Jargon compound to express ‘sailors’.

I doubt many Nuučaan’uɬ people willingly spoke much English in 1866.

Also, note the newspaper reporter’s Englishing of other CW items below — the noun pluralization of tyhee and tillicum.

From Mr W Lyons, who returned on Sat in Meg Merrillies from the scene of the wreck of the American bark Mustang in Clayoquot Sound, we learn the following: – Schooner reached Clayoquot Sound after a fine run of 15 hours. The bark appeared to be riding at anchor in perfect order. The foreman and crew on going on board, however, discovered that the vessel had been robbed of everything within reach by the Indians, including cargo, compasses, pump rods, wheel ropes, capstan head, &c. Every possible damage was done by the natives, who probably intended eventually to set fire to the vessel. Some sails and iron work were found on shore. All the cargo, stores, &c, had been removed. Fresh footprints were visible round the ship, showing that the Indians must have decamped on seeing Schooner approach. After stopping 3 or 4 days, making trucks to remove the ship’s gear, Captain Pamphlett, who speaks the Indian language [presumably = Chinuk Wawa!], went up the Sound, and, after some delay, Cedah-Kanim, the well known chief of the tribe, came on board and treated the party with great friendship. He gave up all his share of the plunder, and he and his two sons tried to induce their tillicum[people] to do the same. A meeting was held, and the majority were with the tyhee[chiefs] in favor of giving up all the property in their possession, but others obstinately refused, and the consequence was that the willing ones also declined. Some of the natives were very saucy, and when told that they might bring upon themselves the destruction of their ranches [villages], canoes, &c, one man jeeringly replied in English [?!] that “one Siwash [Indian] could kill 3 man-o-war‘s men.” Seeing that further remonstrance was useless, Schooner returned to the wreck, and removed the rest of the ship’s gear. Captain Pamphlett went a second time up the sound to give the natives another chance, but some still objected, and nothing was done. Cedah-Kanim did all he could, and told Lyons that no restitution would be made unless a gunboat came up, and to tell Captain Kennedy that his tum-tum [heart] was hyas klosh [very good], and he wanted to see a gunboat come up to compel the tribe to yield to his authority. His tribe appeared very numerous and powerful. They were many of them wearing new boots they had taken from the wreck. Lyons succeeded in saving half the running gear, the Indians having been afraid to go up aloft, and all the anchors and chains, rigging and backstays. The wreck was burnt and about 14 cwt of copper saved. The property saved will be sold at auction by Mr McCrea on Wed next. Lyons believes that by the presence of a gunboat he could still recover most of the stolen property. We think the authorities would be wise to despatch a ship of war to the spot and let the natives clearly understand that they cannot commit such depredations with impunity, or in the event of another wreck occurring the same results will follow. The speculation so far has not resulted satisfactorily.

[Victoria (BC) Colonist of 1866-03-12]

What do you think?