My dad was a Chinook interpreter

Heck of a story. “Parks and Redwoods, 1919-1971: Oral history transcript” is “an interview” of Newton Bishop Drury (1889-1978) “conducted by Amelia Roberts Fry and Susan Schrepfer. It’s at the Bancroft Library of… Continue reading

The Halloweena Indians

(Image credit: YouTube) For another seasonally appropriate article, turn out the lights and draw close as I tell you about…the Halloweena Indians. Scary! On a cold day when white people were still outnumbered… Continue reading

Needle-hearted Coeur d’Alenes, a Native metaphor?

A sort of speculative piece for you today… (Image credit: TodayIFoundOut.com) tsiĥ-tomtom ‘shrewd’ is in Father St Onge’s Chinuk Wawa dictionary manuscript of 1892. That’s literally ‘sharp-heart’. In modern Grand Ronde tribal spelling… Continue reading

Seward’s second folly

…trying to use Chinook Jargon in Alaska in July of 1902! (Image credit: Wikipedia) “Reminiscences of a War-Time Statesman and Diplomat” is a family memoir by Frederick William Seward (New York: G.P. Putnam’s… Continue reading

Koho stick

Until my dictionaries (plural) of Chinuk Wawa are published, I want every last one of you to buy the Grand Ronde Tribes’ dictionary. At $29.95 it’s a very good deal, giving you the… Continue reading

Kah, kahkah, kahkah kah

Thus quoth the Raven: Ilo kah son wiht. (Image credit: FurAffinity.net) Disclaimer: It’s not totally intentional that I keep writing things you can relate to Hallowe’en. But this is America, and I know… Continue reading

Four eyes

Edited 10/16/2017 to add: Coincidentally in the local Salish languages mús means both ‘four’ and ‘eyes’! Could that have influenced the Jargon expression by making it humorous? (If puns are funny.) Did local people joke… Continue reading

It’s not just for wood rats anymore: Thunderbird speaks Chinuk Wawa

In a previous installment, we learned from Civil War general Phil Sheridan that wood rats know Chinook Jargon. (Image credit: Story of the Chinook) Today, a supernatural being in Alaska joins the conversation.… Continue reading

A Tlingit Jargon-English genre, the skookum board

When I was researching in southeast Alaska, local museum folks referred to “skookum boards“ to mean the plaques sometimes found on the fronts of Native bighouses in Alaskan Tlingit territory soon after the… Continue reading

A good point about “Boston man”

My critical arguments about the origin of Chinook Jargon’s Boston man / bástən mán for ‘American/white people’ have gotten rehashed lately. The long-accepted story has been that this expression has to do with the early… Continue reading