1891 : Cultus Jim of Chelan, Washington, speaks about rights
Joseph M. Snow (1850-1929), an immigrant of 1869, had a good memory for fluently spoken Chinuk Wawa, from his experiences with Native people in connection with the important question of land rights.
Chelan tribal baby in Chelan, Washington (Image credit: HistoryLink)
Today we’ll look at two Jargon memories from the man who went on to be Washington state’s first Highway Commissioner.
First, recalling an incident that occurred “during the survey of the Lummi reservation” (circa 1872?)…some material for back-translating into Chinook Jargon:
“In the first place, when the survey party started on the Indian reservation, certain interested white men who were living with Indian women represented to the Indians that the Boston man was going to survey the reservation in such a manner that the Indians would lose one-half of the land, and upon that representation they followed the surveyors into the woods and stopped them.
“A parley was held and as soon as the Indians were satisfied that the land was being surveyed for them they not only assented, but rendered every assistance possible.
“During the progress of the work the surveyors were caught out in a rainstorm without shelter. Their only refuge was a cabin belonging to an Indian. They removed the window casings, entered the cabin, and remained for a week. The chief of the party by accident met the proprietor of the cabin about a week afterward, who asked: ‘Did you go into my house?’ The chief replied that he did not know. After the Indian gave a description of the cabin, the surveyor told him that his party did enter the cabin. The Indian said ‘Delate nika sick tum tum.’ (I’m very sorry it was not right.) The surveyor then said: ‘Suppose you had been at home and I had come there in the midst of a great storm; what would you have done?’ The Indian replied that he would have invited the surveyor in. The surveyor continued: ‘You were absent when I came to your house in a heavy storm. Would you have me sit upon your door-step with your eaves dripping on my head because you were absent?’ It struck the Indian as I expected, and after a moment’s deliberation he said: ‘No, no sir; you did right, and I am glad that I was able to afford you shelter.’
Then, an 1887 anecdote of Cultus Jim of Chelan, Washington, quoting that gentleman at length in the northern dialect of Chinook Jargon:
“To illustrate the feeling of the Indians I will quote a conversation I had with Cultus, or No Good Jim, of Chelan, when approached by a proposition to sell his farm about four years ago. He said, in Chinook: ‘Halo, six; halo. Nanich! Ankulty nika papa mitlite copa okoke illahe. Delate ankulty nika grand papa milite. Conaway mimloose. Alta alki nika mim loose. Pe nika clatawa sockalie nika nanich nika papa. Pe yoka wa wa: ‘Jim, carter mika mache stoke illahe?’ Pe clonas halo Icta nika wa wa, sloshe halo icta nika wa wa yaka clatawa. Alki nika grand papa pe nika great grand pa, yaka cholo, pe nika wa wa kawqua. Spose nika halo wa wa copa yaka, yaka clatawa. Pe okok cockalie ty hee chako. Spose halo nika wa wa copayaka, yaka wa wa copa nika. Jim closhe mika clatawa copa le jamb! Nannitch six. Okok nika miliha. (Pe okok illahe Boston.) Nika eskum okok illahe pe nika mit lite pe quannassum nesika. Pe nesika closhe tillicum quannassum.’ “
This burst of chinook will doubtless be appreciated by those who are eloquent in that gibberish, but for the benefit of those who are not versed in the classics of the siwash, Mr. Snow gave a literal translation of the speech, as follows: “No, sir; no. Look here. Years ago my father lived on this land. Long, long ago my grandfather, great-grandfathers lived here. They are all dead. By-and-bye I will die and will go above. When I get up above I will see my father. He will say: ‘Jim, why did you sell that land?’ Probably I can’t say a word. If I can not he will leave me. By-and-bye my grandfather and my great-grandfather will come, and they will talk to me in the same manner. If I can not tell them they will leave me also. Then God will come to me. If I can not tell him why I sold it he will say: ‘Jim, it is best that you should go down to h–l.’ See here, sir, this land is mine, and that ‘joining me is the white man’s. You take that and I will keep this, and we will live here friends forever.”
— from “Has Fought Indians…Hon. Joseph M. Snow Ridicules the Idea of Trouble from the Okanogans” in the Spokane (WA) Spokesman-Review of January 22, 1891, page 12, columns 3-4
This superb quotation of Cultus Jim (who I believe is the traditionalist chief “Chelan Jim” / “Skookum Jim” in various historical records), discussing his rights and imagining what his ancestors would say to him, deserves our closer attention.
The lines marked (DDR) below are my own exact translation of what the Jargon is saying, which tracks very closely with Mr. Snow’s provided English version — which, along with the totally unique spellings, tends to indicate a specimen of real-world Jargon:
Halo, six; halo. Nanich! Ankulty nika papa mitlite copa okoke illahe. Delate ankulty nika grand
hílu, síks,  hílu. nánich! ánqati nayka pápá míɬayt kʰupa úkuk ílihi. dléyt ánqati nayka gránd*-
no, friend, no! long.ago my father live in this land. really long.ago my grand-
(DDR) ‘No, friend, no! Long ago my father lived on this land. Really long ago my grand-‘
‘No, sir; no. Look here. Years ago my father lived on this land. Long, long ago my grand-‘
papa milite. Conaway mimloose. Alta alki nika mim loose. Pe nika clatawa sockalie nika nanich
pápá míɬayt. kʰánawi míməlus, álta áɬqi nayka míməlus, pi nayka ɬátwa sáx̣ali(,) nayka nánich
father be.here. all dead. now eventually I die. and I go above, I see
(DDR) ‘father was here. All are dead, and then some day I’ll die, and I’ll go up, I’ll see’
‘father, great-grandfathers lived here. They are all dead. By-and-bye I will die and will go above. When I get up above I will see’
nika papa. Pe yoka wa wa: ‘Jim, carter mika mache stoke illahe?’ Pe clonas halo Icta nika wa wa,
nayka pápá. pi yaka wáwa: “djím, qʰáta  mayka másh  úkuk ílihi?” pi t’ɬúnas hílu íkta nayka wáwa,
my father. and he say: “Jim, how you get.rid.of that land?” and maybe not thing I say,
(DDR) ‘my father, and he’ll say, “Jim, how is it that you got rid of that land?” And I might not (be able to) say a thing,’
‘my father. He will say: ‘Jim, why did you sell that land?’ Probably I can’t say a word.’
sloshe  halo icta nika wa wa yaka clatawa. Alki nika grand papa pe nika great grand pa,
spus hílu íkta nayka wáwa(,) yaka ɬátwa. áɬqi nayka gránd*-pápá pi nayka gréyt*-gránd*-pápá
if not thing I say, he go. eventually my grand-father and my great-grand-father
(DDR) ‘(and) if I say nothing, he’ll go away. At some point my grandfather and my great-grandfather’
‘If I can not he will leave me. By-and-bye my grandfather and my great-grandfather’
yaka cholo, pe nika wa wa kawqua. Spose nika halo wa wa copa yaka, yaka clatawa. Pe okok
yaka  cháku, pi nayka wáwa kákwa. spus nayka hílu wáwa kʰupa yaka, yaka ɬátwa. pi úkuk
he come, and I talk like.that. if I not talk to him, he go. and that
(DDR) ‘will come along, and I might (only be able to) talk like that. If I don’t talk to them, they’ll go. And that’
‘will come, and they will talk to me in the same manner. If I can not tell them they will leave me also. Then’
cockalie ty hee chako. Spose halo nika wa wa copayaka, yaka wa wa copa nika. Jim closhe mika
sáx̣ali-táyí cháku. spus hílu nayka wáwa kʰupa yaka, yaka wáwa kʰupa nayka: “djím, ɬúsh mayka
above-chief come. if nothing I say to him, he say to me: “Jim, good you
(DDR) ‘God will come along. If I don’t talk to him, he’ll say to me, “Jim, you ought to’
‘God will come to me. If I can not tell him why I sold it he will say: ‘Jim, it is best that you should’
clatawa copa le jamb! Nannitch six. Okok nika miliha. (Pe okok illahe Boston.) Nika eskum okok
ɬátwa kʰupa ledjámb!” nánich, síks, úkuk nayka ílihi. (pi úkuk ílihi bástən.)  nayka ískam úkuk
go to devil!” look, friend, this my land. (and this land American.) I pick.out this
(DDR) ‘go to the devil!” Look, friend, this is my land. And that land (over there) belongs to an American. I picked out this’
‘go down to h–l.’ [hell] See here, sir, this land is mine, and that ‘joining me is the white man’s. You take that’
illahe pe nika mit lite pe quannassum nesika. Pe nesika closhe tillicum quannassum.
ílihi pi nayka míɬayt(,) pi kwánsəm nsayka( — )  pi nsayka ɬúsh tílixam kwánsəm.
land and I stay.here and always us. and we good friend always.
(DDR) ‘land and I’m staying, and we’ll always — and we’ll be neighbors always.’
‘and I will keep this, and we will live here friends forever.’
The footnotes portion of the program:
síks  ‘friend’ is translated by the fluent eyewitness to the conversation as ‘sir’. Why? Well, Mr. Snow isn’t the only English-speaking Settler to equate sir with siks. There must’ve been something in the water! Actually, I feel the explanation is simple. Both words were very common forms of friendly address in conversation. That is, English sir didn’t (and still doesn’t) always mean ‘respected male who holds a position of power superior to mine’. Oh, and siks sounds a little bit like sir.
gránd*- pápá & the later occurrence of gréyt*-gránd*-pápá are obviously new loans into late-frontier Chinuk Wawa. The older word, still used in the southern dialect to this day, is chúp ‘grandfather’. (And therefore ‘great-grandpa’ would be chúp yaka pápá ‘grandpa’s dad’ or pápá yaka chúp ‘dad’s grandpa’.) It seems to me I’ve also heard an audio recording of someone talking Jargon in the 20th century and saying grand-papa, but I haven’t tracked that down yet.)
qʰáta  mayka másh is an example of ‘why?’ being expressed with the word for ‘how?’ This is a concept that has a number of alternate wordings, depending on the speaker’s geographical location and the historical era.
másh  úkuk ílihi shows you a neat, legitimate use of the verb másh, which more often means ‘throw; put; leave’. Here it’s being used as ‘get rid of / lose / waste’ that land.
< sloshe  > at first struck my eyes as a misprint of < closhe > (ɬúsh ‘good’). That didn’t make much sense, though. The provided English translation makes clear that what we have here is really an attempt at writing < spose > (spus ‘if’).
yaka  cháku … from Chelan Jim we have examples of the plural use of yaka, a really widespread phenomenon among highly fluent Chinookers.
úkuk ílihi bástən  You could take this expression as ‘that land is American’. Here too, we’d have a somewhat nonsensical interpretation, and the provided translation is again our best guide. Mr. Snow puts it as ‘that [land] [ad]joining me is the white man’s.’ This is in fact a fluent Jargon usage. It’s parallel to how folks have long said stuff like úkuk nayka (literally ‘that me’) ‘that’s mine’.
pi kwánsəm nsayka( — )  pi nsayka ɬúsh tílixam kwánsəm. Here I suspect Mr. Snow made a “false start” while re-telling the story. That’s what I’m showing with my mark, ( — ), and with my translation as ‘and we’ll always — and we’ll be neighbors always.’
Ha! As soon as I saw “grand papa” I was gonna say something. Yeah it’s in Dan Cranmer’s recording that he says “okok masaika papa pi grand papa…”
LikeLiked by 1 person
masi alik, I thought I was hearing that in my head too!