1923 doggerel: “On the Road to Old Klukwan”

The lighthearted newspaper of a US Army post in southeast Alaska provides us with some doggerel poetic entertainment.

Of course it’s got racialized overtones, so beware. That comes with the territory of any parody on Rudyard Kipling’s “(On the Road to) Mandalay“.

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Mandalay (image credit: The Kipling Society)

But you can see from the page image below that Chinook Jargon and pidginized English both remained actively associated, besides the tribal language, with the Native people on whose Lingít, a.k.a. Tlingit, territory the post stood, long after the frontier era.

Do any of my readers know enough Lingít to decipher “Wa-see-e-tu-et-te” & “Ee-hay”?

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(With necessary apologies.)

In a smoky native cabin on the muddy Chilkat shore
Sits a simple Siwash maiden as she sat in days of yore
When she listened to my story ‘neath the old cottonwood tree,
And I clean forgot the Army as she sang in Chinook to me.

For her little feet were shoeless, and her arms and elbows bare
And the hooligan oil shown [sic] glossy from her mass of raven hair,
How her black eyes danced with laughter and her teeth gleamed nearly white
As she coquettishly ask [sic] me: “Wa-see-e-tu-et-te, all right!”

Ship me somewheres west of Chilkoot, where the Chilkat Republic lies
Where the dog salmon from the river lays in smoky racks and dries
For I hear the “sticks” acalling and the alarm bell ringing on: —
“Come ye back, ye white man soldier, come ye back to old Klukwan.”

How I hate the fogs of Chilkoot and Haines’ streets of stones,
And the Lynn Canal winds freezes the marrow in my bones;
How I long for days of sunshine, long happy days and free
And my simple Siwash maiden just to say “Ee-hay” to me.

— from the Port Chilkoot [Haines] (AK) Chilkoot Times of October 19, 1923, page 2, column 1

qʰata mayka təmtəm?
What do you think?