1850s: Tyee John hias cumtux

What would you think of seeing samples of how southwest Oregon Natives talked Jargon before they were forced to the brand-new Grand Ronde Reservation?

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Tecumtum (image credit: Dr. David Gene Lewis’s article in Oregon Encyclopedia)

Plus, opportunities to back-translate even more quotations of him from English to their original Chinuk Wawa?

To supply those, I want to re-share more wonderful and edifying stuff that’s been collected by the “Southern Oregon History, Revised” site.

(Do go see “Sweet BetseyAnnSpikes” for previous gold!)

Just a brief note, I came upon today’s materials as I was researching the now-unusual expression, common in early-creolized Chinuk Wawa, hayas-kə́mtəks — literally to ‘very-understand’. Hardly any other verb stems besides kə́mtəks are known to have accepted the hayas- ‘very’ prefix.

Here are various linguistically interesting tidbits from that site’s collection of documents relating to Tecumtum a.k.a. Tyee (‘Chief’) John of the Rogue Rivers, including a note of the source of each:

Here’s some pidgin English:

While going up the divide between Little and Big Humbug, the captives took off most of their clothing, innocently remarking, “Too muchee hot,” an opinion perfectly in accord with that held by a majority of the party.

— Henry Laurenz, “The Debatable Land,” West Shore, September 1887, pages 666-670

A Chinuk Wawa expression for ‘hanging’ someone corroborates what we’ve found in other documents:

Old John attacked Capt. Smith, surrounded him for two days, without water, until Col. Buchanan came to his relief.–when lo, old John to save his ammunition had placed ropes over the limbs of the trees, and informed Capt. Smith that he wished him to “marmuck” rope — he was going to hang the regulars.

— Letter from S. F. Chadwick to Joseph Lane, June 20, 1856, Jo Lane Papers

A CW name:

I then called upon the military to assist me in disarming them, but when we went to John’s house he and his boys left for the brush, leaving word that they would give up their arms, which they did the following day; but Cultus Jim, who had been the principal man in the murder of the Siletz Indian, had to be arrested and punished.

— Portland O.T. Oct 28th 1857       R. B. Metcalfe to Hon Jos Lane

A phrase for ‘very powerful chief’:

John…was the hyas skookum tyee of that whole region.

— Oregon Statesman, Salem, June 29, 1858, page 3

Something to back-translate to “the Indian tongue”, which here is definitely Chinook Jargon:

I will say, before I mention the good fortune of the arrival of the volunteers, that the chief approached the captain every day near enough to speak to him. The captain understood his language well; was personally well acquainted with him. The captain had entertained him at his quarters many times, giving him dinners and treating him kindly; and, in this action, he would come up near enough to speak to the captain, and hold up a rope, and, in the Indian tongue, tell him, “Look here; see this rope; tomorrow I intend to take you and hang you under a limb; I will kill the last man of your command; but you shall not be dignified with a shot; you shall be hung to the limb of a tree.”

— Senator Joe Lane, May 30, 1860, The Congressional Globe, First Session of the Thirty-Sixth Congress, May 31, 1860, pages 2470-2471

More such:

Chief John after making his war in 1854-5 [sic] was captured and taken to Fort Vancouver. I was over there a day or two after he arrived. He was sitting there and had chains on. He looked up to me and said in his jargon, “A few days ago I was a great chief; now I am a dog.” That is all he said.

…his daughter, who with the rest of his tribe was put on the Yamhill reservation, went down to Portland to see Superintendent Rector who was then Superintendent of Indian Affairs. They had made many applications to the Superintendent to have Old John come back. She came down that time and asked if he could come back. She said her father was nearly dead, old, broken down, homesick; that he was about to die, & she wanted him brought home. They told her he had been a very bad Indian, that they did not dare to bring him up here because he would incite insurrection at the reservation, & that he must deny her request. She sat back & thought a long while, & finally she began to talk and says: “Mr. Rector, you have a home?” “No, my mother is dead several years.” He was a man nearly 60 years old himself. “You have a father?” “No, he is dead.” “Well, now, supposing he was living, & he was away off in another country, & you knew he was very old & very sick & would not live but a little while, wouldn’t you like to be present to close his eyes when he died & to bury him?”
Well, the old man thought that was a pretty strong plea. He says, “Yes, I should.” “Well, now, my father won’t live a great while. I know it from the great spirit. Although I have not seen him, he is old, he is weary, he is broken down. I want him up here. I shall bury him in a few weeks I know sure.”
Mr. Rector says, “Well, I will send for him; I will make a request of the government.”

While they were lying there under a fierce fire old Captain John climbed a tree at a safe distance & says he: “Hello, Captain Smith, Captain Smith! You go on the reservation? You go on the reservation? Hiyu chick chick,” that is, a great many wagons, good traveling, “Hiyu ikta” — a great many good things. “Hiyu muckamuck”–a good deal to eat. “Hiyu clothes. Wake klatawa reservation”–that is, if you do not go to the reservation–“take lope, Capt. Smith.” [The Rogue Rivers pronounced “R’s” as “L’s.”]–he had a rope with him up in the tree–“do you see this rope, Captain Smith?”
Capt. Smith told him if he went to war: “Do you see that rope? We will catch you & hang you, sir, but if you go to the reservation you can live in Yamhill in peace. Do you see these wagons, blankets, clothes, horses? You will have everything good, plenty to eat, & can go in peace. If you do not come do you see that rope, sir?”
Says he: “Captain Smith, take lope?”

— La Fayette Grover, Notable Things in a Public Life in Oregon, 1878, Bancroft PA 36-4

A Jargon scrap:

The piratical Old John was indifferent as to whether or not he made friends with the soldiers. He did not hate them much, because he could whip them easily and as often as he wanted to, but the “Boston men” he detested, and would not without an immense payment make friends with them. If the “Bostons” would leave the country the soldiers and Chinamen might stay, and as long as they gave food and clothing to the Indians they would not be molested.

— Ashland Tidings, October 24 and 31, 1879, page 3

The use of CJ in intercultural warfare:

During the campaign, he forced into a cul-de-sac a body of regulars not inferior to his own(10)–surrounded them in their rifle pits, without access to water and with scant rations, whilst the ropes [i.e., nooses] impending from the trees around, and the shouts of the Indians in the Chinook jargon revealed the cheering prospect of their impending fate.

A fairly substantial quotation of Tyee John in Chinuk Wawa:

Soon after his return to the reservation General Palmer and the writer of this petition were walking along the road on the reservation when we met Tyee John. He cordially shook hands with the writer and said in plain English: “How do you do, Dowell?” But he only nodded his head to the late superintendent. His manner and style was so cool that the writer of this article inquired: “Oh, John, don’t you remember General Palmer?” John vindictively replied, “Nika hias cumtux Palmer.” Palmer waka close tum tum hias clun-a-nawhit wake potlach hiyou icters, wake potlach hiyou mucmuc sia Logue Liber; meaning the superintendent was a bad man, that he had willfully lied to the Indians at Rogue River, to get them on the reservation, by falsely promising them blankets, horses and farming implements and plenty of as good food to eat as the whites.
The writer earnestly and truthfully represented [to] the great Indian tyee that Gen. Palmer was a good and truthful man, and that it was not Palmer, but Congress who was to blame for Palmer’s apparent falsehoods for not furnishing the Indians with tools, blankets and houses and plenty of good things to eat. But it was no use, the great “siwash tyee” lived and died believing Gen. Palmer a great liar and treacherous public official.

— (Sunday Oregonian, Portland, August 1, 1886, page 4)

Further CW names in northwest California and southwest Oregon, plus more material to back-translate to Jargon:

The Shasta and Rogue River Indians were one nation, divided under several chiefs, whose followers ranged certain districts. For instance, Tolo was the head of the band living in the country about Yreka; Scarface and Bill in Shasta Valley; John in Scott Valley, and Sam and Jo in Rogue River Valley, John’s father having once been head chief over all. There were besides these, two chiefs living at the foot of the Siskiyous, on the north side, namely, Tipsu, or the “hairy,” from his having a heavily bearded face, and Sullix, the “bad-tempered.” Both of these chiefs were very hostile to white men, and even fought other bands of their own nation. [Page 292]

“You are a great chief,” said John to Colonel Buchanan. “So am I. This is my country; I was in it when those large trees were very small, not higher than my head. My heart is sick with fighting, but I want to live in my country. If the white people are willing, I will go back to Deer Creek and live among them as I used to do. They can visit my camp, and I will visit theirs, but I will not lay down my arms and go with you on the reserve. I will fight. Goodbye.” Whereupon he took his departure unrestrained, as had been agreed upon.

The other chiefs, however, after much argument, consented to give up their arms on the twenty-sixth near the Meadows, and allowed themselves to be escorted, a part by Captain Smith to the coast reservation, by the way of Fort Lane, and the remainder to be escorted by other military officers to Port Orford, thence to be conveyed by sea to the reservation. [Page 406]

Captain Smith had told John at the council ground in answer to his defiant utterances: “We will catch and hang you, sir; but if you go on the reservation, you can live in peace. Do you see those wagons, blankets, clothes, horses? You will have everything good, plenty to eat, peace. If you do not come, do you see that rope, sir?” So, John, when he had the captain at a disadvantage, retaliated: “Hello, Captain Smith! You go on the reservation? Hiyu chick chick (a great many wagons, good traveling); hiyu icta (many things); hiyu muck-a-muck (plenty to eat); hiyu clothes (plenty to wear); wake clatawa reservation (If you do no go to the reservation); take lope, Captain Smith; do you see this lope, Captain Smith?” {Page 409]

— Frances Fuller Victor, Indian Wars of Oregon, 1894

qʰata mayka təmtəm?
What do you think?