1903: “Annals of Old Angeline” memorial poem

Kikisoblu, a.k.a. Angeline (circa 1820-1896), oldest daughter of Duwamish Chief siʔaɬ, was a landmark of early Seattle.

Haiyoo masi kopa Alex Code pos yaka mamook-nanich okok kopa naika. (Thanks to Alex Code for showing this to me.)

Do you have a Chinook find, too, to share with the world? Let me know!

annals of old angeline cover

The Seattle Public Library’s Special Collections Online lets us read “Annals of Old Angeline” by Bertha Piper Venen (Seattle, WA: Denny-Coryell CO., 1903) free of charge. Go there to take in the entire poem; I’ll be sharing highlights today.

Today’s verse is normal stuff for its time, finding the main events of Kikisoblu’s life via a Settler lens that ignores perhaps most of what she herself cared about.

Let me know in the Comments if you think this is another PNW “doggerel” poem!

A clue to my view on this question is the fact that page 19 rhymes “house” with “house”, pages 36 puts “humbleness” up against “ugliness”, page 37 pairs “weariness” with “heaviness”, and page 59 meets “Duwamish” with “Siwash”! 😁

The rhyme scheme might be a tad chaotic overall, with some verses using AA BB CC, some AB AB CC, and some AA BC CB.

And the syllable counts vary enough to cause a challenge to reading this poem in meter…

Well now, I’m going to start this presentation with the Chinook Jargon vocabulary “Index” from the end of the book (the pages are unnumbered, but this would be page 62):

mika yahoos index

As usual for such indexes, this one is not necessarily a complete tally of the Chinook used in the poem. What we do find listed here are mostly perfectly good Chinook Jargon expressions.

In the first line, < yahoos > is a weird shortening of < siyahoos > ‘face’, maybe to fit the poem’s meter.

There are misspellings such as < man-a-loose > ‘to kill’ throughout, which we can infer are due to the post-frontier typesetter’s ignorance of Jargon and difficulty reading the author’s manuscript.

The phrase < Hyas Tyee Papa town >, ‘Great big Seattle town’, sounds like a Settler way of talking, with its < Papa > ‘father’ being used metaphorically; but there’s of course a chance that it’s referencing the town’s having been named for Angeline’s dad.

The last word of the Chinook subtitle is spelled differently on the title page, as < klosch >:

annals tp

From page 3 I find that “Angeline” is rhymed with “ween”.

Pages 12-14 are the first occurrence of Chinuk Wawa in the poem:

annals 12

annals 13

annals 14

The edict of the red man “Man-a-loose” (to kill)
The white man, she in her soul did will
To change; and hidden low in a canoe
Came o’er the waters of the bay so blue
To warn the white man of his danger,–
Since then to none has she been a stranger!

Once, on our yearly festal day
Our Princess special honors won,
Arrayed in rainment bright and gay;
“Nika yutle; Nika dilate tyee kope okook sun.”
(She rode in state this Indian jade)
“I’m proud! I’m chief today of this parade!”

“Nika Papa dilate hyas Tyee!”
(My father was a very great man)
Said this ancient SIbyl of the sea,
With pride stamped on her face of tan,
Thinking “three times three Seattle” glee
Meant “Papa dilate hyas Tyee!”

Page 17:annals 17

“Nika halo cumtux,” (I cannot understand) 
She often said in accents bland 
And shook her head, the while her eye 
Bespoke she uttered wilful lie! 
(Perhaps she learned this lawful art 
In school where white men took a part!)

Page 19:

annals 19

The ceiling low, the wall too near — 
With glare and clutch she cried in fear — 
“Ah-na! Nika mitlite kope Skookum House!” 
And thro’ her swarthy skin shone pale 
Her deadly fear of white man’s jail — 
“NIka tiki killape kope nika house!”

Page 25, consistent with things we already knew about Chinuk Wawa, rhymes “belle” with “Sapolil” ‘bread’:

annals 25

From H.L. Yesler and A.A. Denny 
Old Angy drew full many a penny, 
And with them bought her “muck-a-muck”
To eat down by the salt sea “chuck,” 

And well she liked, this ancient belle 
To eat of Piper’s famous “Sapolil!” 

Page 28 documents how Kikisoblu was one of the several figures linking Chinook Jargon with a variety of US Presidents, here two who visited Seattle in person:

annals 28

She had seen Hayes; and in new caparison, 
As Tyee, with our Chief Ben Harrison 
Upon the platform duly placed, 
The common crowd she calmly faced! 
Her absence, thus, was sadly felt, 
When we were charming T. Roosevelt! 

Page 29:

annals 29

There still lives here, her tillicum,
“lum-ne-i,” one first to come 

To Puget’s shores, and a plain word 
Is proof from lips of Catherine Maynard; 
She, too, avers that Angeline’s soul was pure, 
And that astray her virtue none could lure!

Page 36:

annals 36

She lived alone, away from tribe, 
A haughty Princess none could bribe 
From stubborn, slothful humbleness, 
High spirit in a world of ugliness, 
And wondering, wandered daily up and down 
The streets of “Hyas Tyee Papa Town!” 

Page 37:

annals 37

In moments of her body’s weariness, 
When spirit wore its heaviness, 
She sometimes said with solemn cluck — 
“Nika mamaloose, Nika klatawa okook chuck” — 
And gained a promise from Mr. Bonney, 

That he would bury her, tho’ minus money!

Page 42:

annals 42

And when she knew she had to die, 
She spoke an earnest wish to lie 
Near H.L. Yesler, “delate klosch tillicum,” 
And there they brought her still and dumb, 
And there she lies, this Indian Queen, 
Queer, wrinkled, wise old Angeline!

Which is followed by a painting, “Angie’s Shack”:

ange's shack

Pages 59-60:

annals 59

annals 60

Princess of Puget Sound, not only of Seattle, 
But honored far where roar and rattle 
Blend in traffic day by day; 
From the precincts of the Duwamish, 
Stained with crimson of the Siwash, 
To the boundaries of the bay!

‘Tis true some strangers with a frown 
Do sometimes try to call us down! 
For things we do and things we dont [sic], 
For what we want and what we wont! 
But what care we for fret or frown? 
We still are “Hias Tyee Papa Town!”

What do you think?
qʰata mayka təmtəm?