1873, Oregon: Indian Frank’s opinion

You can express irony in a pidgin language!


“A hyas klose tyee” (I couldn’t find a picture of Indian Frank, unfortunately) (image credit: Wikipedia)


indian frank

Indian Frank was sentenced to jail by Judge [Benjamin F.] Bonham (1828-1906) for ten days, for stabbing a squaw; and he says Judge Bonham is “a hyas klose tyee.”

— from the Albany (OR) State Rights Democrat of April 4, 1873, page 3, column 3

Hyas klose tyee (hayas-ɬúsh táyí) is ‘a fine chief’.

Here’s a little more context for the above, from page 6, column 1, of the same issue, showing Frank to have been a Jargon speaker who needed a court interpreter in the alien environment of the Settler legal system:

indian frank 2

indian frank 3

On Tuesday in the forenoon,
Indian Frank, found guilty of assault,
was brought into Court to receive such
penalty as the Court might see proper
to impose under the statute. His 
Honor said, “stand up.” Frank shuf-
fled up in an awkward, gawkish man-
ner, and, lopping his head one side,
.spread out Ins broad countenance
much broader, by a bashful, “devil-may-care”
grin, and roguishly look-
ing up at His Honor, seemed to say :
“Well, fire away, Tyee.” “Can you
understand — which would you rather
do, go to jail or the penitentiary?” in
substance, asked the Court. Frank
straightened his jolly phiz, looked at
His Honor blankly, for a moment,
then glancing around the court room,
wiped his lively nose with his coat
sleeve, and broke out into another
broad grin. There was a grinning
time just then, audience and all taking
a part. Mr. [attorney George R.] Helm here explained
matters to Frank, and through his in-
terpretation, Frank responded to the
Court, that it did not make any differ-
ence to him where he was sent. His
Honor then assessed a fine of twenty
dollars against the good-natured
Frank, after which he waddled off af-
ter the officer to our ten thousand dol-
lar jail, to spend ten days.

There you have the picture as I know it.

qʰata mayka təmtəm?
What do you think?