1916: Chinook interpreter needed

Headlined “Didn’t Understand Oath”, today’s old news clipping adds to our abundant proof that Chinuk Wawa got used a whole lot in Pacific Northwest courts.

Here it is in full:

didn't understand oath

Didn’t Understand Oath — Because Suzie Reid, an Indian witness in the case of Edward Swanson, a man charged with supplying liquor to Indians, admitted in court to Mr. Downie that she did not know what would ‘happen’ to her if she told a lie, and was doubtful as to the meaning of an oath, the case against the accused man was stood over until Friday in order that the services of a Chinook interpreter might be obtained.

— from the Vancouver (BC) Daily World of December 14, 1916, page 24, column 2

Shall we keep in mind? —

Ms. Reid, while she said her English wasn’t so great, didn’t necessarily understand Chinook Jargon.

Nor would she necessarily comprehend the Eurocentric cultural assumptions in a legal “oath”.

And we hardly ever hear of courts in the PNW making the effort to find interpreters for people’s native tribal languages.

What do you think?