1897: Yaka sick
In 1897, a number of Northwest US newspapers were passing around a supposed quotation of a big political personality, and embellishing it…
I’ve already blogged “What John Miller Murphy’s Chinook Jargon Meant“, to which I refer you.
Today let’s see another paper’s addition to the now-incomprehensible political argument that was then raging…
… (I’ve already posted the substance of the start of the article — now here’s the new stuff) …
From the above one would naturally infer that Brother Murphy feels like hiring some cheap man to wear a hole in his pants for the part he took in the campaign last fall. In the words of Humptulips Pete, “Yaka hias sick tumtum, okok hias tyee copa populist tilacums wake closh, hiyu waw waw, halo chickamen.” — Aberdeen Recorder.
— from the Shelton (WA) Mason County Recorder of May 7, 1897, page 2, column 3
I can handle that Jargon — yaka hayas-sik-təmtəm, ukuk hayash tayi kʰapa pʰapyulist-tilixams wik-ɬush, hayu-wawa, hilu chikʰəmin — ‘He’s awful upset, that head honcho for the populist folks is no good, talks a lot, got no money.’ (The newspaper editor may have been shooting for ‘he’s sick in the head’, but that’s a different expression in Chinook lol.)
Can you make any sense out of the political side of all this?
Humptulips Pete was a real Native elder (maybe Lower Chehalis Salish, judging from that name), a Hoquiam (Washington)-area hunting guide who seems to have been kind of a regional celebrity, thus making him a good prop for colorful faux quips like the above. A 1916 report tells of this “last of the Grays Harbor Indian slaves” (which would make him a slave of the Lower Chehalis) having recently died at the reputed age of 110. Another report gives his name as “Schickulash” [i.e. Chehalis] Pete, and confirms that he was from a Columbia River tribe, having been taken captive by Lower Chehalises of Grays Harbor with the rest of his would-be war party. I’ll note one more news story, this of the passing of Pete’s fellow slave and co-celebrity John Kettle (who I’ve written of before) — it tells us that Humptulips Pete was from the Oregon shore of the Columbia.
The circumstantial evidence points to a man who would’ve grown up exposed to Chinuk Wawa most of his life, from the language’s earliest known years.