1886: Held for Passing Counterfeit Money


tyee token

Other Chinook non-money (image credit: WorthPoint, which fails to recognize that it’s from Seattle’s Golden Potlatch)

It’s just a 3-word Jargon phrase, not provably a quotation, and spelt à la dictionary, but it’s evidence that Settler readers still required no handholding when it came to Chinookery.

held for passing counterfeit


F.W. Krause, of Celilo was examined before US Commissioner Paul R Deady yesterday on a charge of passing counterfeit money. Deputy Marshal Johnson brought down several Indians as witnesses. One of these — Indian Joe — is a Nez Perce who served as a scout in the Modoc war. From this man Krause bought a pony and saddle paying therefor thirty counterfeit silver dollars. Joe was not aware that there were any counterfeit dollars in the world and in trying to pass off some of these came near being arrested. He now cumtux cultus chickamin. Krause said that he got the counterfeit money from a man who stopped at his house last winter. The evidence seemed conclusive of Krause’s guilt and he was held to answer. It is supposed that Krause met Joe going with other Indians to the annual race meet at Cross [?] Hollows and taking him for a wandering aborigine passed the bad money on him thinking it would be scattered among the betting Indians and he would never hear more of it. But Joe knew him and now he is in trouble. 

— from the Portland (OR) Morning Oregonian of June 16, 1886, page 3, column 2

Cumtux cultus chickamin = kə́mtəks kʰə́ltəs chíkʰəmin = ‘knows about no-good money’.

I would not go so far as to claim “cultus chickamin is the newly-discovered Chinuk Wawa word for ‘counterfeit’ “!

Why not?

Well my friends, pidgin languages (even more than creole languages) are all about “street talk”, common conversation.

And I have doubts that the forging of coins has ever been common enough to leave a mark on Jargon.

qʰata mayka təmtəm?
What do you think?