TENAS WAWA--The Chinook Jargon Voice "Sawmill John"

Episode 2

With a ten-knot wind blowing from their stern, port side, the party in the canoe had been making good time. They were heading steadily on a northwest course from Seattle, out of Elliot Bay, straight for Port Madison. As they rounded Port Jefferson to the north end of Bainbridge Island, they came into the lee of the wind. Having accomplished ten miles with little effort, the sail now went slack. . . .

Jim: "Well, wind yaka chako memaloose. Charlie, whim sail!" "Well, wind him die. Charlie, drop sail!"
In a matter of seconds, Charlie pulled on a line, raising the sprit, and began rolling the sail around the mast by turning it. He lifted the mast from its step and laid it down, the tip hanging out over the bow.
Jim: "Okay, tillikum, iskum maika isick!" "Okay, people, get you paddle!"
It was up to Charlie, being bow-man, to set the pace. He leaned forward, dipped his paddle, and began singing to his strokes. The S'Klallams followed his lead, chanting to the cadence of their dipping blades. John hesitated, then chuckled and joined in, humming along. The tune sounded strangely like "Barbara Allen."

S'Klallams: "Wo hey ya ha, wo hey ya hey
Wo hey ya ha, wo hey hey
Suquamish yaka halo siah
Suquamish yaka yahwa."
This was repeated a few times. Then Charlie ended with, "Wo, wo, wo, wo," in time to his paddle. Everyone continued paddling.
John: "Naika nanitch smoke yahwa, Jim. Yaka Suquamish town?" "Me see smoke there, Jim. Him Suquamish town?"
Jim: "Skookum nanitch, John. Maika kumtux kopa eye hiyu tent?" "Strong look, John. You see many tent?"
John squinted and studied the shoreline two miles ahead.
John: "Mmmm   ahah." "Mmmm   yes."
Jim: "Duwamish tillikum mitlite yahwa." "Duwamish people live there."
John: "Duwamish tillikum halo mitlite kopa Duwamish coolie chuck wake siah Seattle town?" "Duwamish people not live on Duwamish River, near Seattle town?"
Jim: "Ikt pe sitkum yeah ahnkuttie, hiyu siwash tillikum, klaska klatawa Point Elliott pe chako kunamokst. Governor Stevens, yaka klatawa yahwa weght. Klaska mamook tzum klaska nem kopa treaty pepah. Lummi tillikum, klaska klatawa reservation stopilo, wake siah Nooksak stalo la push. Samish, Swinomosh pe Skagit tillikum, klaska klatawa reservation stopilo, wake siah Skagit stalo la push. Snohomish pe Snoqualmie tillikum, klaska klatawa reservation stopilo, wake siah Snohomish stalo la push." "One and half year past, many Indian people go Point Elliott and assemble. Governor Stevens, him go there also. Them write them name on treaty paper. Lummi people, them go reservation north, near Nooksak stalo mouth. Samish, Swinomish and Skagit people, them go reservation north, near Skagit stalo mouth. Snohomish and Snoqualmie people, them go reservation north, near Snohomish stalo mouth."
John: "Jim, naika halo kumtux 'stalo.' Iktah yaka?" "Jim, me not understand 'stalo.' What him?"
Jim: "Oh, 'stalo,' yaka kahkwa 'coolie chuck.'" "Oh, 'stalo,' him same 'river.'"
John: "Ahah, mahsie." "Yes, thanks."
Jim: "Well, Suquamish tillikum, klaska iskum reservation yahwa, kah klaska town mitlite. Governor Stevens, yaka wawa Duwamish tillikum klatawa yahwa, weght. Klaska klatawa keschi, klaska halo kwan. Klaska halo mitlite hyas house yukwa. Klaska mitlite kopa kliskwis house pe tent. Klaska tikegh kilapai Duwamish stalo, alki." "Well, Suquamish people, them get reservation here where them town be. Governor Stevens, him talk Duwamish people go here also. Them go, but them not happy. Them not have big house here. Them live in mat house and tent. Them want return Duwamish River, future."
The paddlers were now offshore from the Port Madison mill. There were two ships anchored out from the mouth of Hidden Cove. The whine of Washington Territory's first circular saw filled the air. Another ship was tied to the dock on which huge stacks of freshly sawn planks were waiting to be loaded for their voyage to San Francisco.
John: "Competition!" "Competition!"
Jim: "Iktah? Naika halo kumtux!" "What? Me not understand!"
John: "Naika kowkwutl wawa 'competition' kopa Chinook." "Me unable talk 'competition' in Chinook."
Jim waited and finally John answered, taking the easy way out.
John: "Hiyu la plash!" "Much lumber!"
Jim: "Nawitka!" "Indeed!"
Everyone in the canoe stared in silence at the scene on their port side as they continued on their way. Chikamin Charlie quietly began a solo of his paddle song again. John smiled and hummed along, trying to memorize the words. Before long they were rounding Agate Point, at the mouth of Agate Pass. John had not been watching. Now, he looked up and what he saw on the shore ahead of them gave him a start. He yelled   
John: "Wagh!" "Wagh!"
Everyone in the canoe jumped.
John: "Jim, nanitch okoke house yahwa. Yaka delate hyas!" "Jim, look that big house there. Him very big!"
Molly: "Yaka Tyee Sealth house." "Him Chief Sealth house."
Jim: "Yaka house nem 'Tsu-Suc-Cub' kopa Suquamish la lang. Yaka kahkwa 'skookum man.' Kunsih tillikum wawa Chinook, klaska wawa okoke house nem 'Ole Man House.'" "Him house name 'Tsu-Suc-Cub' in Suquamish language. Him name 'strong man.' When people talk Chinook them talk that house name 'Ole Man House.'"

The canoe was now nearly to the beach in front of the great house. John could see that the planked structure was the shed-roof type. It stretched along the beach for at least 500 feet, and was about 50 feet wide.
Jim: "Okay, tillikum, kopet isick!" "Okay, people, stop paddle!"
Charlie and Jim back-paddled just a little to bring the canoe to a halt, maybe thirty feet offshore. Several people were scattered along the beach, as well as several dozen canoes of every size.
Jim: "John, hiyu siwash tillikum solleks, alta. Hiyu klaska delate halo tikegh Boston tillikum. Duwamish tillikum, klaska solleks kopa Suquamish tillikum. Hiyu okoke tillikum halo tikegh S'Klallam tillikum." "John, many Indian people angry now. Many them truly not like Americans. Duwamish people, them angry at Suquamish people. Many this people not like S'Klallam people."
John: "Kahtah klaska solleks kopa mesaika?" "Why them angry at you?"
John: "Ahnkuttie, S'Klallam tillikum, klaska chako Puget Sound pe pait siwash tillikum yukwa pe kapswalla elite. Youtlkut laly, alta, nesaika halo pait Suquamish tillikum. Tyee Sealth, yaka naika sihks. Kloshe spose yaka yukwa okoke sun." "Past, S'Klallam people, them come Puget Sound and fight Indian people here and steal slave. Long time now, us not fight Suquamish people. Chief Sealth, him me friend. Good if him here today."
Molly: "Naika tenas kwass, Jim. Klonas kloshe spose nesaika halo mitlite yukwah okoke polaklie." "Me a little afraid, Jim. Maybe good if us not stay here tonight."
Jim pretended not to hear. He stood up in the canoe and raised his arm.
Jim: "Klahowya, tillikum! Kloshe spose nesaika chako maika nauits?" "Hello, people! Good if us come you beach?"
All eyes were on them. The faces of the people on the beach showed mixed feelings, but no one answered. A huge man emerged from a central doorway, a new white Hudson's Bay blanket draped over his left shoulder, the ends pinned together at his chest. He raised his right arm and a smile broke his weathered face.
Sealth: "Jim, naika kloshe sihks! Naika hyas youtl nanitch maika. Chako kopa naika house!" "Jim, me good friend! Me very happy see you. Come to me house!"
Jim: "Mahsie, sihks! John pe Charlie, mamook isick kenkiam." "Thanks, friend! John and Charlie, paddle right side!"
With the canoe being paddled only on the right side and Jim steering, it turned to the left. When the stern was to the beach, Jim gave the command for everyone to back-paddle. The canoe skidded onto the sand.
Jim: "Sopena klak, John. Nesaika haul canim saghalie kopa nauits." "Jump out, John. Us pull canoe up on beach!"
They pulled the canoe up and the rest jumped out, leaving their paddles laying neatly across the thwarts. Everyone in the crew took hold of the gunwales and pulled the canoe up along the high-tide line.
John: "Anah, naika opoots!" "Ow! Me buttocks!"
He stretched and rubbed his bottom. Jim and the others laughed. Jim pointed at John.
Jim: "Hee-hee, cheechako!" "Hee-hee, greenhorn!"

To be continued...


(Copyright © 1992 by Duane Pasco)

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