“Siwash” in Ninilchik (Alaska) Russian

I shared this on the old CHINOOK listserv 14 years ago, and it deserves wider visibility.


(Image credit: NinilchikRussian.com)

From a website that I think is now gone, dealing with the subject of how the Russian language is spoken in Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula community of Ninilchik:

"siwash: a very derogatory Alaskan [English] word for a person with Native blood, 
     especially if they were more than half Native.  This word illustrates 
     the prejudice which people, including Russian creoles (people of Russian 
     and Native blood) of lighter skin, held toward those of Native origin.  
     Sometimes angry young men in Ninilchik would call each other siwashes.  
     Alaskan census records list some members of Athabaskan Indian families 
     in the Copper River area as having the last name of Siwash, and it 
     appears that some even listed their tribal affiliation as "Siwash".  So 
     it may be that the word "siwash" was actually at one time a respectable 
     word of Athabaskan origin, but was abused to such an extent that it came 
     to become a derogatory term for any Alaskan Native person."

from http://www.geocities.com/agrafenas_children/words.htm

I wouldn’t expect someone in Ninilchik to have had awareness of Chinook Jargon, but this community member is right that the nearby Ahtna Athabaskans are the farthest northwest group to have historically spoken some CJ.

qʰata mayka təmtəm?
What do you think?