Earlyish recognition of Chinook-Chehalis Jargon, plus…

One of the few published mentions of the pidgin Haida of the early Northwest Coast maritime fur trade…


A.C. Anderson (image credit: Fur Trade Family History)

Today’s rare find also stands out by acknowledging the crucial Salish cornerstone of the overland fur trade language Chinuk Wawa:


Queen Charlotte’s Island and Prince of Wales Archipelago are the country of the HAIDAHS; a numerous connexion including the Kygany, Massett, Skittgetts, Hanega, Cumshewas and other septs. Upon the foundation of their language, as upon that of the Chiheelis and Chinooks further south, a jargon has been constructed, serving as a lingua franca for trade, for some distance north of Milbank Sound.

— from page 74 of Alexander Caulfield Anderson (communicated to George Gibbs), “Notes on the Indian Tribes of British North America, and the Northwest Coast“, Historical Magazine VII(3):73-81 (1863)

A handwritten note by author Anderson, a known stickler for details, on the Canadiana.org copy adds:

This Jargon has since been supplanted by the Chinook.

Chinook(and Lower Chehalis Salish) Jargon in fact displaced several additional early British Columbia contact languages, including:

  • the Nootka Jargon of Nuučaan’uɬ country along Vancouver Island,
  • a pidgin Heiltsuk around Milbank(e) Sound that Anderson had documented without realizing it wasn’t normal tribal speech,
  • and the Métis French of the Mountains, a lingua franca that Anderson spoke fluently.

Anderson had spent significant time in what’s modern southwest Washington, and he had a very good ear for the many languages he documented. So he meant it when he said Chinuk Wawa is really a “Chinook-Chehalis”-based language.

That’s a valuable observation. It’s only getting proven in detail with my own research of the last 10 years.

qʰata mayka təmtəm?
What do you think?