‘Lewis River language’ is Cowlitz Métis Chinuk Wawa

The Tenino dialect of Upper Chehalis Salish, spoken between old Fort Nisqually and the current Oakville, Washington Chehalis reservation, tells us something really interesting…

Screenshot 2022-10-10 083616

Image credit: Google Maps

In M. Dale Kinkade’s superb 1991 dictionary of Upper Chehalis, I notice this word:

< K·yano kᵘ[-]q’ >
‘Lewis River language and Chinook Jargon’

This formulation ‘Lewis River language’ would at first blush appear to mean one of the tribal languages of the traditional northern Cowlitz Salish territory / southern Taidnapam Sahaptin territory on that river.

But, the < K·yano kᵘ > there is a very old pronunciation of “Chinook”.

(The < q’ > is the suffix -(a)q(’) ‘voice, talking, language, word’.)

And with this word being equated with Chinook Jargon, it is more likely that this gloss should be taken as a reference to the early- and long-established creole CJ-speaking, and Red River-related, Cowlitz Métis community, occupying the lands between old Forts Vancouver and Nisqually.

It makes plenty of sense that Native Salish elders thought of Chinuk Wawa as a ‘Lewis River language’.

This was the early- and thoroughly-settled area just north of historic Fort Vancouver, where Métis families turned CW from a pidgin into a creole language around 1825.

qʰata mayka təmtəm?
What do you think?