1892, Seattle: The Pocahontas-John Smith tableau, in Jargon

This is far from the first time the name “Pocahontas” has made its appearance on my website…

film fest

“Pocahontas Reframed” in another setting: a film festival featuring the Chinuk Wawa film “Wawa” by Sky Hopinka (image credit: Cultural Survival)

The real news is the spellings used in the following reported public speech from an early post-frontier social event. Many of the words are written differently from any commercially available dictionaries’ usage, even though those books’ influences is visible in the otherwise standardized orthography here.

I’ll stand by my claim that unique spellings in Jargon are good evidence that a writer really knew this langauge, and was representing how things sounded to his or her own mind. Sure enough, the following quoted Chinuk Wawa is pretty darn good:

pocahontas 1

pocahontas 2

pocahontas 3

…The “Pocahontas-John Smith” tableau was introduced by Mr. S.L. Crawford in a neat speech, recounting the story of the brave Indian maiden in the following words:

Ladies and Gentlemen: Delate hius ancudy ict man yaka name John Smith. Delate hias close tilacum copa King James ict. Copa King George ilahee. Okoke Smith yaka delate ilahee ancudy mitlite copa Virginia. Pe yaka cooley siya stick. Pe alki hiou Boston mamook house yawah. Pe yaka delate close tillacum copa Indian yaka name Powhatan. Pe yaka tolo hiyou corn, pe supolil, pe conoway muckamuck, Copa Bostons. Pe ict sun conoway stick Indian capswallow yaka. Pe tolo yaka copa chief Powhatan copa Richmond illahee. Powhatan wawa Indian[s?] mimaloose Smith. Pe powhatan tenas, Pocahontas yaka delate close kloochman. Yaka wake ticke Indians memoloose Smith. Pe Smith delate close tumtum copa yaka. Pe yaka close wawa copa yaka papa: “Delate close man okoke Smith, pe hias close tilacum copa Indian; nika wake ticke spose yaka memaloose. Nika tumtum hias close copa yaka.” Pe yaka papa wawa: “Close; spose mika wake ticke yaka mimaloose, close; halo nika mimaloose yaka.”

Translated into English, the story is as follows:

A long time ago there was a man named John Smith, a friend of King James I., of England. His home was in Virginia; he lived in the interior. Soon after his arrival many white people settled there and built houses. He was a friend of Chief Powhatan, and used to carry corn, bread and other provisions to the whites. One day the Indians living in the interior captured Smith and carried him to Chief Powhatan, who lived where the city of Richmond now stands. The chief told the Indians to put Smith to death. Powhatan had a daughter named Pocahontas. She was a splendid woman and did not want Smith put to death, because he was a great friend of hers. She said to her father: “This man Smith is a good man, he is a good friend of the Indians; I don’t want him killed. I think a great deal of him.” Her father replied: “Good; if you don’t want him killed, all right; I will not suffer him to be killed.” 

— from “Plymouth Church World’s Fair” in the Seattle (WA) Post-Intelligencer of March 20, 1892, page 12, column 1

qʰata mayka təmtəm?
What do you think?