1889: Keep that cultus wah-wah out of my courtroom!

Kind of by request of Jay V. Powell…

By the end of frontier times, Chinuk Wawa might still be heard in Settler courtrooms…

frank clark

Frank and Elizabeth Jane Downey Clark (image credit: “Steilacoom“)

…But, apparently, only if the person testifying really didn’t know English!


Chinook in Court.

The old-timers who were obliged to be in daily communication with the Indians drifted into the habit of speaking Chinook among themselves and it was often with difficulty that they kept their language free from jargon, even on state occasions. In support of this idiosyncrasy, Mr. R.S. Moore [1828-?] relates the following episode that occur[r]ed in ’57 at fort Steilacoom. Sam’l McCaw [1821?-1881] was then acting justice of the peace and Frank Clark [1834?-1883?] was plaintiff’s attorn[e]y in a lawsuit before him. In addressing his honor, Mr. Clark flavored his eloq[u]ence very richly with Chinook, and before he had finished half a dozen flowery sentences the court called him to order saying: “Mr Clark, you understand the English language, and I understand it, and we are both citizens of a civilized country, and we should speak a civilized language. I want it distinctly understood, sir, that I will not countenance any more of that cultus wah-wah [kʰəltəs wawa ‘worthless talk’] in this court.” — Puyallup Commerce.

— from the Spokane (WA) Spokane Falls Review of February 21, 1889, page 6, column 4

What do you think?
Kahta mika tumtum?