Howay [Haswell, Boit, Hoskins] “Voyages of the Columbia” (Part 5 of 5)
One last time (in our mini-series on Howay’s collected journals of the Columbia Rediviva) — do we find any evidence whatsoever of Chinook Jargon, or any other stabilized pidgin/trade language, existing in 1792 along the coast?
Robert Gray’s sea chest, used on these voyages (image credit: Oregon History Project)
Remnant of the Official Log of the Columbia
May 10th leaving “Bulfinch’s Harbor” (modern Gray’s Harbor) in Lower Chehalis Salish territory, page 436.
Concerning the entry “over the bar” into the Columbia: “Vast numbers of natives came alongside” on May 11, 1792 (page 436).
On May 16th, the first ever historical mention of the village of “Chinouk” is on page 437.
Miscellaneous Papers Relating to the Second Voyage of the “Columbia”, pp. 439ff
Pages 467ff mention “the Grand Chop or China Clearance”, a Chinese Pidgin English expression known to all foreign sailing crews visiting ports such as Hong Kong, Canton, and Macao.
P. 472, The American, John Kendrick, on the level of intercultural understanding claimed to have been achieved with Nuuchahnulth people in nearly a year of contact — let’s acknowledge that it was in the best self-interest of the American visitors to claim to have perfectly understood the Natives in the following regard: “In my last Voyage I purchased of the natives five tracts of land and copies of the deeds which was signed shall be sent you the first opportunity.” Similarly, a letter on pages 476-477 from American Capts. Gray and Ingraham to Spanish commander Bodega y Quadra, while answering the question of what European buildings (made by Captain John Meares) may have existed at Nootka before the Spanish arrived (“None” by the Columbia‘s 1788 arrival), goes on to say “…we have asked Maquinna and other chiefs, since our late arrival, if [British] Captain Meares ever purchased any land in Nootka Sound; they answered, No; that Captain Kendrick was the only man to whom they had ever sold any land…As to the land Mr. Meares said he purchased of Maquinna or any other chief, we cannot say further than we never heard of any; although we remained among these people nine months, and could converse with them perfectly well. Besides this, we have asked Maquinna and other chiefs, since our late arrival, if Captain Meares ever purchased any land in Nootka Sound; they answered, No; that Captain Kendrick was the only man to whom they had ever sold any land.”
John Box Hoskins (pp. 473-474) tells us, “the natives from the arms and ammunition they have received, have become expert marksmen and exceedingly troublesome. there are as many vessels on the Coast this season, as there were the last.”
Page 486 speaks of tribal trade-goods preferences by language groups.
Hoskins’s letter to his Boston bosses (page 474) ends with what what looks like a coded tally of how many skins he has so far gotten from PNW Native people:
h r k k — Sea otters (also, on page 480, “h r k k. S.O.”)
y k k k — Land furs
This is decipherable, in principle, based on data elsewhere in Howay’s publication.
It reminds me of a letters-for-numbers substitution code that we used, when I worked for a certain merchant several years ago.