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

Episode 10

January 1857   Typically in Puget Sound country the snow, when it does come, is generally short-lived. The light snow of Christmas had a total accumulation of about two inches. It lingered for a few days while the temperature hovered just at freezing; then the rain of winter set in.

Work went on at the mill as usual, with Pete as general foreman and John as engineer. Most of the S'Klallam men at Naxw-kyit worked at the mill, including all three of Molly's brothers.
For native people of the Pacific Northwest, winter was the time for important social interaction between the tribes. "Potlatches" were held in most villages. These were special occasions when guests were invited from other communities to be witness to a marriage, funeral, naming ceremony, etc. At these times the young were initiated into the Klukwalli or Xan'xanitii Society, which included, of course, much singing and magic, and for the S'Klallams, Makahs and a few others of Washington Territory, masked performances. During these potlatches, guests were given payment, in cash or goods, for coming, witnessing and for services. Some of these celebrations lasted for days.

There was a huge "Potlatch house" on the beach at the edge of Naxw-kyit, the S'Klallam village at Port Gamble. There had been a lot of activity in the village and especially in and around the big building during the last week.

Canoes loaded with natives had been arriving throughout the week. Those that weren't billeted with various families in the village pitched tents wherever they could find a vacancy.

Klukwalli and Xan'xanitii ceremonies were off-limits to any who had not been initiated, which of course included all white people. However, John and Pete were able to be present for most of the celebration, which climaxed with a huge feast. Many Bostons were present for that.

It was all over now, the last canoe-load of guests having departed that Sunday morning.
Jim and John were standing on the beach in a light drizzle, watching the canoe become a speck across the water to the northwest. Then John broke the silence:
John: "Jim, naika hiyu pittuck kopa maika nem." "Jim, me think much about you name."
Jim: "Jim?" "Jim?"
John: "Well, 'Dungeness Jim.' Maika mama pe papa iskum maika yukwa, kopa Port Gamble, delate?" "Well, 'Dungeness Jim.' You mother and father get you here, at Port Gamble, true?"
Jim: "Nawitka!" "Indeed!"
John: "Keschi, Dungeness, yaka stalo nem siah kah sun klatawa." "But Dungeness, it river name far west."
Jim: "Delate! Dungeness stalo kah huloima S'Klallam town mitlite. Nesaika yahul yaka S'ttitlum. Youtlkut ahnkuttie, naika klatawa yahwa kopa hyas potlatch. Naika elip nanitch Molly yahwa. S'ttitlum, yaka Molly town. Molly delate toketie. Naika kiawali yaka hyak." "Correct! Dungeness River where different S'Klallam village be. Us call it S'ttitlum. Long past, me go there to big potlatch. Me first see Molly there. S'ttitlum, it Molly village. Molly very pretty. Me love her right away."
Jim chuckled.
Jim: "Kunsih naika nanitch kopa Molly, yaka nanitch klak. Kunsih naika tikegh wawa kopa yaka, yaka klatawa. Well, potlatch kopet kimtah lakkit sun. Chikamin Charlie pe naika chako sihks." "When me look at Molly, she look away. When me want talk to her, she go. Well, potlatch finish after four day. Chikamin Charlie and me become good friend."
John: "Keschi, ekahnum halo kopet." "But story not finish."
Jim: "Wake! Well, naika halo chako kilapai Port Gamble kehwa hyas Boston ekkoli ship chako. Ship tyee, yaka tikegh mokst S'Klallam man klatawa kopa ship, nehwa canim." "No! Well, me not come return Port Gamble because big America whale ship come. Ship captain, him want two S'Klallam man go on ship, bring canoe."
John: "So, mesaika klatawa?" "So, you go?"
Jim: "Ahah . . . Nesaika klatawa kunamokst. Ship, yaka klatawa siah stopilo, kopa Alaska. Naika pe Charlie mamook kopa ship klonas stotekin moon. Nesaika iskum hiyu ekkoli pe tolo hiyu dollah. Kimtah, nesaika nehwa canim kilapai kopa Dungeness. Kunsih naika pe Charlie kopa ship, naika wawa Charlie naika kiawali Molly. Naika wawa Molly halo tikegh naika. Charlie wawa naika tum-tum tseepie. Charlie wawa Molly kwanesum wawa kopa naika." "Yes . . . Us go together. Ship, it go far to north, to Alaska. Me and Charlie work on ship maybe eight month. Us catch many whale and earn many dollar. After, us bring canoe return to Dungeness. When me and Charlie on ship, me talk Charlie me love Molly. Me talk Molly not like me. Charlie talk me believe wrong. Charlie talk Molly always talk about me."
John shook his head.
John: "Hee-hee . . . Klootzman!" "Hee-hee . . . Women!"
Jim: "Ahah! . . . Well, kunsih naika ko Dungeness, naika klap Molly. Naika wawa naika tikegh mahlie yaka. Yaka wawa 'Klonas.' Kunsih siwash man tikegh chako mahlie, yaka makook klootzman, potlatch chikamin kopa papa. Spose klootzman papa tyee pe klootzman halo tikegh chako mahlie, yaka halo mahlie." "Yes! . . . Well, when me arrive Dungeness, me find Molly. Me want marry her. She talk 'Maybe.' When Indian man want become marry, him buy woman, give money to father. If woman father chief and woman not want become marry, she not become marry."
John: "Keschi, Molly maika klootzman, alta!" "But Molly you woman now!"
Jim: "Delate, keschi Molly halo wawa 'okay' hyak. Naika klatawa kopa Molly papa pe Charlie klatawa kunamokst naika. Charlie, yaka kloshe sihks. Yaka wawa naika delate kloshe man. Naika potlatch okoke tyee naika canim, tahthum paseesie pe takamonuk dollah. Naika tum-tum tyee kwan, keschi Molly wawa 'Halo alta!' Charlie wawa klonas kloshe spose naika mitlite kopa Dungeness tenas laly. Naika tum-tum okoke klonas kloshe. Klonas Molly wawa papa 'okay' winnapie. Naika mitlite yahwa tahtlum pe mokst moon. Molly halo wawa 'okay'! Naika chako yukwa kopa Port Gamble. Naika nehwa konaway iktas naika potlatch tyee kopa Dungeness. Konaway tillikum yukwa kumtux naika tikegh Molly pe mitlite kopa Dungeness youtlkut laly. Klaska hee-hee pe elip yahul naika 'Dungeness Jim.'" "True, but Molly did not talk 'okay' right away. Me go to Molly father and Charlie go with me. Charlie, him good friend. Him talk me very good man. Me give that chief me canoe, ten blanket and hundred dollar. Me believe chief happy, but Molly talk, 'Not now!' Charlie talk maybe good me live at Dungeness little time. Me believe this maybe good. Maybe Molly talk father 'okay' soon. Me live there twelve month. Molly not say 'okay'! Me come here to Port Gamble. Me bring all thing me give chief at Dungeness. All people here know me want Molly and live at Dungeness long time. Them laugh and begin call me 'Dungeness Jim.'"
John: "Naika kumtux! Keschi kahta maika iskum Molly?" "Me understand! But how you get Molly?"
Jim: "Well, naika halo kwan. Naika tenas solleks. Goddam, naika delate tikegh okoke klootzman! Naika elip lolo tillikum pe iktas Port Gamble kopa Seattle kopa naika canim. Naika lolo mail weght. Kimtah ikt yeah naika tolo hiyu dollah. Naika makook hiyu paseesie, la hash, ketling, tzum sail, hiyu iktas pe ikt canim weght. Naika klatawa kopa Dungeness kunamokst hiyu Naxw-kyit S'Klallam tillikum kopa tahgum canim. Naika tum-tum okoke tillikum yahwa kumtux naika chako yahwa pe iskum Molly. Kunsih nesaika ko mahtlinnie, konaway town tillikum mitlite kopa nauits. Nesaika kopet elip tyee house pe chanti. Nesaika lolo konaway iktas pe chee canim kopa tyee. Naika wawa naika tikegh mahlie Molly. Molly wawa 'okay' and tyee, yaka delate youtl. Naika pe Molly chako Port Gamble kunamokst. Molly naika klootzman tahtlum pe kwinnum yeah." "Well, me not happy. Me little angry. Goddam, me very want that woman! Me begin carry people and thing Port Gamble to Seattle in me canoe. Me carry mail also. After one year me earn many dollar. Me buy many blanket, ax, pots and pans, calico, many thing and one canoe more. Me go to Dungeness with many Naxw-kyit people in six canoe. Me believe these people there know me come and get Molly. When us arrive offshore, all village people be on beach. Us stop front chief house and sing. Us carry all thing and new canoe to chief. Me talk me want marry Molly. Molly talk 'okay,' and chief, him very happy. Me and Molly come Port Gamble together. Molly me woman fifteen year."
John: "Jim, okoke delate kloshe ekahnum." "Jim, that very good story."
The two men smiled at each other.
Jim: "Kloshe spose man mitlite klootzman. Pete, yaka klootzman chako winnapie." "Good if man have woman. Pete, him woman come soon."
John: "Ahah . . . ." "Yes . . . ."
John's thoughts turned far away. He was thinking of the girl he'd left in the East three years earlier. A lot had happened between the time he left and his arrival in Seattle, just a little more than a year ago. He had not written, and she had probably forgotten him. She was often in his thoughts lately.

Now Jim became serious.

Jim: "John, maika halo kumtux kloshe klootzman kopa Nu Habsha?" "John, you not know good woman in New Hampshire?"
John: "Ahah, naika kumtux delate kloshe klootzman kopa New Hampshire. Naika tikegh chako mahlie klone yeah ahnkuttie, keschi yaka wawa 'halo alta.'" "Yes, me know very good woman in New Hampshire. Me want become marry three years past, but she say 'not now.'"
Jim: "Klonas kloshe spose maika wawa kopa yaka weght! Ikta yaka nem?" "Maybe good if you talk to her again! What she name?"
John: "Barbara Ellen." "Barbara Ellen."

To be continued...


(Copyright © 1994 by Duane Pasco)

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