1930 [1869+]: “Seattle Memories”

Seattle Memories” is the autobiography of girl pioneer Edith Sanderson Redfield (1862-1933).

We are blessed. There’s so much Chinook Jargon-related art in old books! This “ALKI” (i.e. early Seattle) scene is from the title page.

Read it for free at the link above.

This slim book was published by Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Co. in Boston in 1930, because Mrs. Redfield had moved out to New England in her later years.

There are a few little tidbits of genuine Jargon memories in here…

Page 19 — “…many Indian women have brought us ‘oolalies‘ and clams and mallard ducks.” This spelling of the word for ‘berries’ looks and sounds like a personal recollection, diverging from the ways published dictonaries usually spelled it (olallies).

Page 24 claims Chief Sealth (Seattle) was “born at the Old Man-House across the Sound, where is now the Port Madison Indian Reservation, and also the town of Suquamish.” This well-known name I think is the ‘Old House’, (or ‘old-fashioned / traditional house’) in Jargon — a synonym for ánqati háws.

The author shows her family’s New England accent when she quotes Sealth’s daughter Angeline as often asking after a good friend of hers, “Car Dave Kellogg?” (page 25). That’s qʰá ‘where is?’

(Image credit: Heritage Auctions)

On the same page, Angeline meets US President Benjamin Harrison, the “tyee of the whites”, with a dignified “Klahowya“, in Seattle. That was in the springtime of 1891. Tyee = táyí ‘chief’, and klahowya = łax̣áwya(m) ‘hello’.

Page 26 presents a few words of “Chinook”, probably straight out of a published dictionary:

The above Lord’s Prayer is certainly taken from JK Gill’s dictionary, maybe the 1884 edition.

On page 27 the author recalls “King George’s men” as being the Native people’s generic word for White people, although she keeps using it in reference to the American Settlers. (Chinuk Wawa dictionaries normally translate kʰinchóch-mán as ‘British’.) This is as she’s telling an older Settler’s memories, as narrated to her, of the 1855 Indian war around Seattle. That was before she was born.

That’s essentially all of the Chinuk Wawa contents of this memoir. It’s nice to hear even tiny tidbits from someone who grew up around the language in the early days of Seattle!

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