1799: 17-year-old William Sturgis on the north PNW coast, and, his pidgin in the Mass. legislature!

This kid was going places!

Captain_William_Sturgis

(Image credit: Wikipedia)

The Journal of William Sturgis” edited by S.W. Jackman (Victoria, BC: Sono Nis, 1978).

Young maritime fur trader Sturgis was an excellent and sympathetic observer, and an A+ student when it came to keeping a publishable journal, but we don’t get a stupendous amount of information on verbal communication between Natives and Newcomers in his writings.

He does include an extremely interesting word list of Haida and (a smaller one) of Tlingit, though, and I think both are relevant to our quest for some sort of “Nootka Jargon” in early Indigenous-European contacts on the Pacific NW coast. I’ll be posting that separately.

What I see in the following daily notes by Sturgis on his crew’s verbal interactions with Indigenous people is that there was no established pidgin yet in Haida Gwaii, Tlingit land, or coastal Tsimshian territory…and that’s valuable to know, when we’re in search of the origins of Chinook Jargon.

When I say “no established pidgin”, I’m saying that everyone taking part in the contacts you’re about to read about were flying by the seat of their pants, finding ways to make themselves more or less understood. This involved using Nuučaan’uɬ words far from their Vancouver Island origin, Haida words given novel functions, and so on.

It’s just that a whole lot of the following is quite simple information, much of which I believe was transmissible by hand gestures. When you see Sturgis’ vocabulary in my other post about him, you might be astonished at how few words he collected over the course of several years’ coastal trading. (However, his biographer in 1864 reported that witnesses described Sturgis as amazingly fluent in the NW Coast people’s “own tongues”.)

See if you think much of the following would be hard to communicate in a trading context…

Lingít (Tlingit) country

February 14, 1799 (page 32) — In the Sitka, Alaska area, a Lingít man approaches the ship. “The man told us there was plenty of Skins in the Sound, though he had brought none now (but intended to at night) being only come to see what we had for trade.” Later that day, another such visitor: “…the man, however, assured us there would be a plenty of Canoes the next day, as they were now making prepar[a]tions to come.”

February 15 (page 34) — “Their first inquiry always is for Kas or Clemmelthey are thick moose hides of which they make their war jackets and are imprenetrable to any thing but a musket ball — they are generally purchased by the vessels that winter at Columbia River of the natives there, and are always in great demand on the Northern Coast.” [We already know the Haida-derived trade term Clemmel / clemon, etc.; Kas might be connected with Lingít kasan.át ‘armor made of tough hide or wooden rods’ or Alaskan Haida k‘a k‘áy ‘hide armor shirt’. Both, however, are absent from Sturgis’s vocabulary of Haida & Tlingit words appended at the end of the book!]

February 18 (page 36) — “…after coming alongside to know the Captain’s name (a preliminary that is never lost sight of) and what we would give for a Skin, they paddled off to the beach…”

February 19 (page 36) — “They…wore very long hair, which by what we could understand was taken from the heads of their enemies killed in battle.”

Haida country

February 27 (page 40) — “We now discovered a Canoe run[n]ing off from the point, and on her coming near to us found that Cow (the principal Chief here) and several others were in her of the Petty chiefs. It was so late however that they could not stay[,] only time enough to claim acquaintance with Captain Rowan, and they paddled away to the village, promising to inform the nature of our arrival and to return and see us in the morning.”

February 28 (pages 40-41) — “In the morning Cow came on board…His questions and answers were quite pertinent and his inquiries seemed to be grounded more on a wish to know than on an idle curiosity.”

March 1 (page 41) — “…we determined…to run into Taddy’s Cove. Cow accordingly went on shore promising to come there and see us in the morning…”

March 2 (page 42) — “We landed at the side of a rock on the top of which were a number of timbers placed to make flooring and formed some platforms one over another. These, we were told, were intended to serve the natives as forts…”

March 5 (page 45) — “Toward night Cow insisted on leaving us and going down to Caiganee [Kaigani] in his canoe which had come up on purpose for him…Just as he was pushing off from the Ship, he told us that there was another vessel at Caiganee and he was going down to her. On our telling him that we did not believe him and that he was amusing us with the old story to raise the price of skins, he pushed off from the Ship crying ‘You will see soon’…”

March 7 (page 46) — “One of these Yanganoo gentry that was on board in the afternoon was trying to buy a musket with iron clamps, and showed us an old one he had owned for several years which he told us he esteemed highly on account of his having killed six men with it in battle.”

March 8 (page 47) — A Yanganoo man gets the mariners to treat gunshot injuries to the back of his thigh. “This wounded soldier wished to impress us with a great opinion of his bravery and was very much surprised and mortified when he found that with us, wounds were always considered as vouchers of dishonour when they were behind.”

March 9 (page 48) — “We saw several tracks of different beasts in the snow, some of them close to the water’s edge as large as a bear’s and very probably were one’s, as the Natives tell us that they often kill them; or rather kill them whenever they see them.”

March 10 (page 48) — A Haida man approaches the mariners. “Among other inducements to go with him, the first one (and the one they always offer first to an European) was a handsome girl in which he would have us believe (if he could) that his cottage abounded.”

March 14 (page 50) — “On our asking him [Cow] if the people of Caiganee had not stole our stream anchor and cable he replied in the negative and told us that the buoy only watched at slack water and we happened to search for it at high, that he had seen it several times since we had been to look for it: but this story we place but poor dependence on, and give the anchor over for lost, to us at least.”

March 15 (page 51) — A Native woman is being told of the drowning of her son. “The Caiganees immediately (the same as kind friends do in our country) began to condole with her on the loss she had met with. Finding she stood that with tolerable compsure and was only silent in her grief, they proceeded to inform her of the particulars of the Canoe’s being overset by a large halibut, and the young fellow’s being drowned before they could get him of any assistance.”

March 16 (page 52) — “We had three or four canoes alongside who informed us they had seen a ship from Caiganee considerable distance off. In the afternoon another one came who told us that there certainly was a ship off Caiganee, but it being entirely calm she could not work in far enough to come to an anchor. Though she disbelieved it on account of having so often been deceived with the story, yet Captain Rowan thought it would be as well to send the whaleboat to look…”

March 18 (pages 53-54) — Among the trade items acquired in one day are 56 “Sea Otters’ Skins, one prime cotsack and twenty two tails.”

March 19 (page 54) — “Neither Altatsee nor Cunneaw would venture on board the Ship; and on Captain Rowan’s pressing the old man considerably, he at length consented on condition that I should go into the canoe with his family and be hostage for his safe return…Altatsee likewise came on board on the same conditions as Cunneaw…They informed us that Captain Dodge in the Alexander had a skirmish with Cumshewah’s tribe and had three of his men wounded.”

March 20 (pages 54-55) — “Having a great curiosity to see the Village and the manner in which the Natives of the Coast live, I agreed with Altatsee to sleep at his house at night, and he left his oldest son on board as a hostage…Altatsee led me to the head of the room, and having drawn a large chest before the fire, seated me on it by his side, and told me he was glad I was not afraid to trust myself in their power; and that I might be assured that even if I had come and Skittlekitts had not been left in my room on board the vessel they should not have hurt me or even talked bad to me any more than they had done to [omitted in text] and several others who had lived among them a long time. They always treated all white people as brothers who treated them well. They were not like Cumshewahs, and so far from it they were his enemies as much as ourselves, and they would give us three skins apiece for every slave we would bring them from there; and the Cunneaw would give us twenty of the largest in [exchange] for Cumshewahs himself — ‘Your brother’ said he; … ‘who was in Captain Roberts little vessel he killed and Kendrick’s brother too. You will certainly kill him to revenge these deaths if you see him when you go there.’ I could do no less to support my credit than to answer in the affirmative. ‘You would do well in doing so,’ said he, ‘and if you do, will save some of us that trouble. He killed my mother at the time he drove us from Keustat to Caiganee, who was sick and could not fly, but was obliged to be left behind and fell a sacrifice to Cumshewahs. He attempted to kill me when I went on a trading party to his village as his friend; but I made my escape and got over land to Skittlekitts country who gave me shelter.’ ”

Same day (page 56) — Sturgis is served a Haida food that’s unfamiliar to him; “It was made of Birch bark, or something that had that taste, and, on my showing a piece and asking if it was made of that, they answered in the affirmative, and that it was much trouble to beat it up, and get it so that it could be eaten. Whether they told the truth or not, I cannot say, but must leave it for those who have lived among them to determine. We spent the rest of the evening in talking about the trade — what was best to bring, what trinkets they liked best, &c. Altatsee then showed me…a large silver spoon which he told me was a present from Captain Roberts…his brother…had the Venereal and had been in the same situation I found him for six months they told me; they…were very thankful when I told them we would send him something from the Ship that would cure him…I rose at day light, and having taken a sketch of the two houses to save the length of [verbal] description, and seen two images [totem poles?] that were at a short distance from them which Altatsee told me were intended to represent two Chiefs that were his relations (or rather they were his ancestors for they looked as if they were upwards of a hundred years of age) that had been killed in battle.”

March 22 (page 57) — “In the morning Sky came on board. He informed us that he was direct from Caiganee. That Captain Duffin gave such a poor price that they had not sold him three skins, and he had sailed three days since for Skittlekitts…Rum at present is not so much liked as Molasses by these people…The name of it they pronounce not a great ways from brassis and rum they call lambs.”

Same day (pages 58-60) — “Sky…was…laying naked, flat upon his back, before a large fire. He half raised himself at my entrance, and made one of his people draw a large chest before the fire for me to sit on, then addressed me in what he thought excellent English [speech], ‘how de does? sit down’; and having placed himself in his former elegant posture, with the addition of sticking up his knees, began to enquire what other vessels we expected on the Coast from Boston [    ] or country; and told me that the day he left Caiganee, they had seen two ships off…I…told him they must have been mistaken in seeing two ships: it must have been Duffin going to the northward that they saw, for I knew of no other Ship except our’s that was coming from Boston. He was rather too knowing however to believe that story, and said he knew I spoke twice, that being the name they give to a falsehood. Captain Rowan having made him a present of a bottle of New England rum, he thought he could do no less in common courtesy, than to treat me with some…and then with the exclamation of “Lambs lux” swallowed all but about two gills…Upon my asking Sky if he would go with me and see Cunneaw, he replied in the negative; ‘what should I go to see Cunneaw for,’ said he: ‘but besides I have dined on board your Ship, look I have eat a great deal and had rather lay here and sleep than go with you to Cunneaw’s; but one of these that have not dined with you at your Ship will go and show you the house.’ … The old woman [Cunneaw’s wife] laid violent siege to me about letting her have some more brassis (molasses) for a large skin she had…The old man told me a long story about the first vessels that visited the Islands. Captain Douglas as well as I could learn was the first that visited this part, and laid the foundation for a firm friendship with the tribe, by his kind behaviour towards them, and to this day his memory is much revered among them all. Cunneaw and he made an exchange of names and the old man as often calls himself Douglas as Cunneaw and always if he is asked his name by white people tells them it is Douglas Cunneaw…the old woman proceeded to the last offer of friendship which was a lady for the night out of her numerous seraglio, with which she accommodates all vessels that stop here. I told her I must decline that favor as I had engaged to sleep at Chilsen’s house and it must not do to break my word as he slept on board the ship in my room…”

March 25 (pages 62-63) — “He [Cow], as usual, slept on board. We spent the evening in conversation on several topics particularly respecting the treatment he suffered from Captain Wake which we could not have believed had we not afterwards have been informed by a person who was with Captain Wake that it was all literally true…he [Wake] ungratefully seized him [Cow], and not only detained him a prisoner, but laid him in irons and kept him in that situation till he ransomed himself. ‘I told him,’ cried he, ‘that I was a Chief and not a common man — those irons are disgraceful — take them off — kill me, and I will say you are good.’ ‘But he was a great thief,’ said he, ‘and not a good chief.’ … ‘[Captain] Newberry [who was accidentally shot to death by Altatsee],’ said Cow ‘was a good man; he is gone to a good country, and I shall not see him again, but I have his chest at my house in which he kept his clothes, and when I look at it, I think of him.’

March 29 (pages 65-67) — “Cow told me that next [to] Cunneaw’s his was the greatest number [of valuable white ermine pelts] possessed by any Southern chief [apparently south of the Lingíts]. Sky, he told me had but twenty and Altatsee I knew had but twenty five of them which he considered as a considerable treasure…we were bound to the Northward to Chilcart [Chilkat] where they are brought from and had promised them to purchase some to bring here, they of course endeavoured to keep the value a secret from us. Cow, however, told me that he would buy as far as his Skins would go at the rate of a prime Sea Otter’s skin for four of these ‘click‘ as they call them, and that Sky would do the same…Cow’s wife…left off her work at my entrance to talk to me about the trinkets she wanted me to bring them when I came to the Coast again…I was extremely glad to hear how well pleased they were with our trade and good treatment of them, their satisfaction of which they expressed in strong terms.” [The mariners know that the Kaigani Haidas (like other prominent tribes in early contact years) are acting as middlemen, getting skins from other tribes to trade with the Euro-Americans…] This… “…caused us to make every inquiry to find where they generally went to trade, but this they concealed with so much caution from us at Caiganee that we abandoned the inquiry. At North Island we renewed it with vigor and were lucky enough to get some information from Altatsee, and others, when perhaps liquor had thrown them off their guard. Altatsee crowing of his knowledge of the Coast and his knowledge of the places he went to trade to, told us that he went sometimes up a vast distance to a place inland, where they had to push their canoes over a fall, or rather a shallow place…We, therefore, attacked his brother to know if there was no other place round Intankoon where they went to trade with the Caiganee tribe, and he frankly acknowledged that there was, that the place was called Cockathanes and that the Caiganee tribe got the greatest part of their Skins at that place. Upon asking him if he would go in the ship and pilot us there, he told us he durst not…we informed him [Cow] of our design. He inveighed against it for some time with great warmth, told us there were no skins and that there was such a sickness there that we should lose all our people; but finding us better informed and determined in our resolution he altered his tone…Cow acknowledged that he gave but a fathom of cloth for them and no present, and begged us not to injure their trade by giving more…Captain Rowan abandoned the expedition because Cotseye told him that part of Cockathanes tribe was up at a place called Chebbaskah [Gitxaaɬa Tsimshian country] where the neighboring tribes went once a year to buy herring oil; though he told us that he could pilot us up there…and that we should as likely as not meet with two or three other tribes…”

March 30 (page 68) — “…several canoes were alongside, and by them we learned that Cow had in reality gone to Cockathanes and must by this time have reached the opposite side of the bay…Captain Rowan told them on their leaving the ship to tell Cow when he returned, and the rest of the Caiganee tribe, if they would keep their skins for him against his return from Hootsenkoo [Xutsnoowú/Hoochinoo in Lingít country] (where we were bound) he would give them three fathoms of blue cloth for a skin, a fathom more than had ever been given by any vessel on the Coast.”

Lingít country again

April 2 (page 69) — The vessel comes to anchor. “The name of the place they tell us is Chaqua.”

April 10 (page 72) — “In the afternoon part of them arrived with their chief whose name they pronounce Eternity. He is a fat impudent fellow, and withal very pompous in his opinion of himself, telling us he was as great as the Sun, and the greatest chief on the Coast. We told him we knew that before we came to Chakqua — that Cow nor Cunneaw dared not come to attack him alone; therefore, both meant to come together, as they told us…This lie we told him to retaliate for his boasting. He believed the whole we told him, and looked as if he wished the devil had them for having so great an opinion of him…”

April 11 (page 72) — Eternity comes “on board to repeat his request of going round to Hootsenkoo…”

April 18 (page 77) — “Two canoes came into the harbour who informed us they were from a place on the other side of the Sound…called Cahtanoo.”

April 24 (page 80) — An accurate linguistic observation: “The language used by the different tribes in these Straits is with very little difference the same as is used at Sheetkah [Sitka] and seems to be the Northern language universally, except that every tribe have a few words of their own creating: these, however, are inconsiderable.” And an inventory (pages 80-81): “We now have on board Eighteen hundred and fifty six Sea Otters Skins, Nineteen hundred and ninety five tails and five cotsacks, besides small skins not counted in the cargo.”

Haida country again

April 26 (pages 81-82) — “Our old friend Cow soon came off from the Village to see us. He told us that no vessel had been in the bay since we left it: two ships had been seen off, but not being able to get in on account of head winds, they finally bore away and stood for the Islands…On drawing near the mouth of the Cove we found that the story Cow had told us was merely for the purpose of decoying into the harbour by the prospect of collecting all their skins; for another canoe being just coming alongside he voluntarily acknowledged his deceit and told us that Captain Crocker, in the Ship Hancock, had been in, stayed several days and bought a number of Skins, and that Captain Breck in the Despatch was at that time in Taddy’s Cove and had been in two days…This afternoon we had brisk trade for muskets, but they would not even look at our cloth saying [they] had bought enough for this season and would sell us some if we would buy it…”

April 29 (page 83) — “Some of the natives inquiring for sugar induced us to offer them a bottle of Molasses…” [DDR — what word did they use for ‘sugar’?]

Tsimshian country

May 1 (page 84) — “…we sat all sail and stood for Terra Firma. Cotseye informed us that Cockathanes tribe were up to the place he had mentioned before called Chibbaska…[near there:] “we saw a large canoe following us…They…pressed us much to return to their village and buy their skins. This we could not consent to, but offered to go into a harbour in the Sound if they would pilot us…They offered to run into a harbour immediately (and it being dark) make a fire, for us to run in by. This errand we sent them off on…”

May 3 (pages 86-87) — “It is worthy of remark (now I am speaking of their fondness for a full belly) that the most serious or heavy charge Cow could allege against Captain Duffin was that he gave them but little to eat.” Cow’s brother tells that Scotseye has shown him several scalps of white men and told him their names; the present crew of mariners contemplate revenge against that tribe. “We shall decoy them by calling ourselves an English ship, they being willing to go on board any thing [sic, for King] George [clue]‘ but American vessels they are very careful not even to come in sight of, much less reach.”

May 4 (page 87) — “The language spoken by this Cockathane tribe seems to be composed of the Southern [Haida] and Northern [Lingít] languages mixed with some of their own, which makes it difficult to attain, and in fact almost impossible to understand.” [DDR — this tribe is thought to be the Taant’á Kwáan, the Tongass Lingíts, who spoke a unique dialect.] 

May 5 (pages 88-90) — “We no sooner saw the rapidity of the river and heard from our pilot that Chibbaskah was up it several miles, then we instantly recognised the place Altatsee had formerly given us a description of…we found when we arrived at Caiganee…that the Caholah tribe knew of such place [Stickeen]…and Shanahkite knew our pilot’s name…very well…On our asking Shanahkite, he acknowledge without hesitation that it was a pretty considerable tribe, and that he knew all the chiefs nad particularly Hatestey our pilot’s father…but since that, Cotseye has told us that he shall go there himself after we return to Caiganee — that he knows where it is and goes there every season to buy something that is very sweet he says which is very plenty there…But what this sweet thing is, that is such a great article of commerce and which he says makes Stickin so thick settled in the summer we cannot learn; for Cotseye cannot (or else has no inclination to) make us understand whether it is manufactured or natural…two canoes came down the river from Chebbaskah: their first question was, whether we were a ‘Boston Clue‘ (that is ship) or ‘King George Clue;’ we readily answered the latter, and (to cover our plan upon Scotseye) began to abuse Boston and Boston chiefs with great earnestness; but in this we were quickly outdone by a young man in the canoe (and in fact by all of them) who told us a more contemptible story of ourselves than we should have had the heart to have invented in a long while; the youth we soon found by his own information was Scotseye’s only son, he told us that Scotseye and his brother were both at Chebbaskah and would come tomorrow to trade with us, we, however pretended we were strangers on the Coast, and did not know any of the Chiefs of the Islands, not even by report…”

May 6 (pages 90-91) — Some of Scotseye’s tribe (Tsimshian) are present; “…they promised if we would admit them to make all their tribe trade and likewise all the Chebbaskah tribe whose chief they call Shakes…About 11 o’clock a large canoe of Cockatlanes entered the harbor, which made us fearful that our scheme (with which all their tribe were acquainted) would be discovered to Scotseye; but the enmity of the tribe was so great against this villain, that they…told us they would not mention it, and so far from it, they would assist us in deceiving them, which they did by declaring we were an English vessel. About 1 o’clock when it was high tide all the canoes left us that they might get up to the village, proimsign to return again tomorrow…if Scotseye…should have the ill fortune not to discover from the Cockatlanes who we are…we shall certainly put him and his brother to the inconvenience of a passage to Caiganee…This tribe of Cumshewah speak the same language [Haida] as the Caiganese without any difference that could be perceived. The Chabbaskah people speak one [Tsimshian] that is only used by their own tribe and is not in the least analogous to any other language on the Coast. It is so guttural that we did not make the least attempt to speak or learn it, and our poor pilot seemed often to be much distressed at being obliged to reduce his sounds so much into himself.”

May 7 (pages 92-93) — “…a son of Shakes…came on board to see them [Scotseye with his brother and son], and if we had not killed them, he said, he would treat for their ransom…we told him, that in an hour we should sail, that if in that time they would bring us the scalps of [the] six white men we would set the son at liberty, the other two we would certainly carry to Caiganee, and would accept of no ransom for their release, and further told him that we were a Boston vessel…he…promised us that the scalps should be brought instantly to the Ship; they, however, he said might be some time before they could get them, as Scotseye now had but three in his possession, the other being in the hands of the Chebbaskah chief, but that he would stay till they came…[a bit later,] On demanding the other three Shakes informed us that Scotseye’s family were in possession of the other three, but that he would send his wife off with them as soon as he returned on shore. We told him he must carry them all to Caiganee if the other three were not brought, and our reasons for taking Scotseye, which he acknowledged were just, but desired us not to hurt his son, but leave him at Skittikitts [Skidegate] and not deliver him up to the Caiganese who would certainly kill him…”

May 8 (page 94) — “…Cow’s brother…came alongside, the first question he asked was whether we had killed him. On answering in the negative, he asked us why: we told him we had him and his brother on board alive. He then begged to see, which we consented to. He immediately began to intercede for the son Elswosh…and could not be persuaded but what we meant to kill him…He, however, at last felt satisfied when we told him we intended to leave them at Caiganee and would carry Elswosh to Skittikitts whom we now found was his brother in law. Elswosh asked this man whether he could not do anything for his father or uncle, but did not ask as if he expected anything could be effected in reality…On asking…the other replied, “No: they had better give him a rope than his liberty. You know he has killed a great many white men and would kill many more if he was released. He is a bad man, and it is good that he should die.” Though both the other two understood this (as they spoke the same language) yet so far from making any intercession, they scarcely deigned him a look in reply…I asked him if he recollected whether those [scalps] I show him were the same Scotseye had told him were chiefs; he said that […three], Scotseye had told him were chiefs, the other three…he had told him were common men. He, however, said that Elswosh on being released he had no doubt would tell us whom the scalps belonged to if he knew the names.”

Haida country, third time

May 10 (page 96) — “…all the answer that he [Cow] would make was that Captain Lamb was a bad man, or else he would have shown himself…the moment Captain Lamb set his foot on shore he was seized by Cow and several others who shook him by the collar and declared that unless Elswosh was sent ashore from the Eliza Captain Lamb should not return again on board.”

May 12 (page 98) — “Elswosh…told us he felt contented and willing to stay at Caiganee, and that his mother in law, Altatsee’s wife, had come over from Tatance [Dadens] to see him.”

Same day, quoting from a later lecture by Sturgis (page 100) — Scotseye “had, from the first, shown a bold, unflinching spirit, and often challenged us to try his fortitude by torture. He gloried in what he had done and declared that he only regretted his fate as it prevented him from more fully avenging the injuries inflicted upon his family and friends by the white men.”

For various reasons, I’ll make a separate blog post out of Sturgis’s “GLOSSARY of Indian Languages”, so stay tuned.

Bonus fact:

In an 1864 biography of Sturgis (pages 48-49), we’re told an entertaining anecdote of him from his later political career, where he apparently used the PNW Coast pidgin that’s fragmentarily documented in his journals:

An amusing instance of his humor and readiness occurred while be was in the legislature. In an animated debate, a friend, whom he highly esteemed, ornamented an able argument, on the side to which Mr. Sturgis was opposed, with somewhat numerous quotations in Latin and Greek. As soon as he sat down, Mr. Sturgis arose, and remarked, “that he had been much impressed with the very able argument to which he had listened, and especially with the learned citations with which it had been adorned, and which, he did not doubt, were most apposite and illustrative, but which he, and, as he believed, a large majority of those to whom they were addressed, did not comprehend, not having been taught the languages in which they were uttered; that he was not willing, however, that his friend should carry off all the literary honors of the occasion, nor alone have the benefit of producing conviction by speaking in an unknown tongue;” and, in conclusion, he repeated several sentences in the Indian language of the North-west Coast, affirming “that they were as much to the point, and doubtless as intelligible and convincing to most of those present, as had been the quotations in Latin and Greek with which the gentleman had favored them.”

An exquisite gem also comes up in that same biography: perhaps the longest known sentence in the Haida flavor of the PNW Coast pidgin (page 27), spoken by Alaskan Haida Chief Altatsee (Yeltatzie is the family’s name nowadays) —

eijets hardi

‘Eijets hardi and Hanslong hardi cootnanous connug’ (‘White people and Hanslong people are equally foolish.’

It’s odd that this episode appears only in the editor’s Introduction to the published “Journals”, and without the pidgin sentence! Maybe it’s (un unacknowledged excerpt from) Sturgis’s separate diaries, which I would sure like to track down & read…

What do you think?
Kahta mika tumtum?