1898: High u skookum whisky and such!

Untranslated Chinuk Wawa in a Seattle paper early in the post-frontier period…


Cultus white guys (image credit: Frame the Stage)

I suppose the big-city readers of that time either remembered sufficient Chinook Jargon, or could figure out the meaning from context, as the case might be. 

Everyone knew that anything said in “code” about Native people was uncomplimentary.


Colors of gold can he found in most any
little stream that feeds the lake. There
are millions of feet of good standing fir in
the vicinity. A few years ago, while dig-
ging stumps, a settler turned up some
queer stone tools used by some race of
people thousands of years ago. Back in
the woods places are still found where the
happy red man and family have been
employed making baskets from the bark
of trees, and some of their specimens are
still lying around. One old settler on
the Pilchuck informs me that Indian
mounds have been found on that stream,
with bones and skulls in them, which goes
to show that years ago lndians lived here
that were giants in size and strength.
What has become of this huge race?
They certainly have degenerated. What
caused it? I will answer this question in
the Chinook language:

High u skookum whisky cultus Boston
man cultus tum tum.

— from the Seattle (WA) Post-Intelligencer of February 12, 1898, page 4, column 5

That’s háyú skúkum wíski, kʰə́ltəs bástən-mán, kʰə́ltəs tə́mtəm — ‘lots of strong whiskey, no-good Whites, and poor character’. 

And Pilchuck is the Chinook name (‘red water’, pʰíl tsə́qw) for a river not too far from Seattle. 

What do you think?
qʰáta mayka tə́mtəm?