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

Episode 13

Back in the fall, shortly after his arrival at Port Gamble, John met the then-Governor of Washington Territory, Isaac Stevens. Stevens had proposed that he would like John to survey a possible wagon route across the Olympic Mountains. However, at the end of the year Stevens' term as governor ended and he proceeded to the nation's capital as the delegate from Washington Territory.

It was now the middle of the summer of 1857, and John had received no word from the ex-governor or his successor on the subject. John had planned that Dungeness Jim would accompany him on the excursion. Both were anticipating confirmation and instructions as to when and how to proceed. Letters to the new governor in Olympia had been fruitless.
Stevens' secretary was one James Swan, who had accompanied him East but returned to the Territory for a short visit on official business. He was rumored to be in Port Townsend, at the entrance to Admiralty Inlet.

Dungeness Jim

Dungeness Jim's passenger, freight and mail service was very successful. He had made the purchase of a new and larger canoe from Neah Bay, of the type used by the whale hunters there. It was approximately thirty-five feet long with a five-foot beam.

A sizable crew was required to man a vessel of these proportions, so Molly's brothers quit the mill to join him. With two other S'Klallams and a "Kanaka," Jim had a permanent crew of six, and enough business to keep them employed full-time.

A Presbyterian minister from the Scottish Lowlands by the name of Duncan McTavish and his wife had hired Jim to ferry them from Port Gamble to Port Townsend, a settlement whose population was, in the thick tongue of the Scotsman, "rapidly increasing without the benefit of a proper clergy."

John had given Jim a letter to be delivered to Swan, should Jim find him. John had hoped that Swan might shed some light on their plight.

With two sprit sails on the big canoe, running before a brisk south wind, the 18-mile journey was completed in three hours. This was good time.

There was not much for the crew to do. No one among them was adept at English, and the continuous banter of the McTavishes was incomprehensible.

The preacher had better luck when he attempted to teach them Gospel songs, but he was astounded when Chikamin Charlie initiated a Nez Perce version of "Wi-wa Nik it Pa-i Munu," or "When the Roll is Called Up Yonder," which he had learned from John. The native words were, of course, lost on the man of the cloth.

At Port Townsend, Jim tied up at the new pier. After receiving his fee and directing his passengers toward town, he walked down the beach to the home of Chetzamoka, a S'Klallam chief and a relative on his mother's side.

Chetzamoka was an important man among the S'Klallams, and respected by most of the white population. The chief had been instrumental during the Puget Sound Indian wars of 1855 in restraining his people from becoming involved.

At Chetzamoka's door Jim was greeted in S'Klallam by Jenny Lind, the chief's wife. With a coffee pot in one hand and Jim's shirt sleeve in the other, she led him down toward the water. She pointed with the coffee pot to a big drift log. In front if it sat two men with their heads bent forward, hat brims obscuring their faces. Their hands held coffee cups, which Jenny filled with steaming brew from the pot.

Jenny: "Ho! Hahlakl maika eye, pelton! Governor Stevens yukwa. Yaka tikegh potlatch mesaika kwinnum tukamonuk dollah!" "Ho! Open you eye, stupid! Governor Stevens here. Him want give you five hundred dollars!"
The two men slowly raised their heads and peered up through squinted eyes. They had known each other some years, and the previous night they had lived up to their reputations. On this day they were nursing hangovers. Jenny was not amused.

Jim recognized his uncle Chetzamoka, but the white man by his side was unfamiliar to him.

The chief drawled:

Chetzamoka: "Maika halo Stevens . . . maika . . . !" "You not Stevens . . . you . . . !"
Then he came alive, and a big grin spread across his face.
Chetzamoka: "Jim! Klahowya!" "Jim! Hello!"
Jenny cackled, her mood suddenly shifting. She went to get cups for herself and Jim. The chief slurped his coffee, then with one hand clutching his forehead, he asked:
Chetzamoka: "Kahta maika chako Port Townsend? Maika chako nanitch maika tote?" "Why you come Port Townsend? You want see you uncle?"
Jim smiled, then became serious.
Jim: "Naika kwanesum tikegh nanitch maika, tote, keschi naika tikegh klap ikt Boston man. Yaka nem James Swan." "Me always like see you, Uncle, but me want find one America man. Him name James Swan."
Chetzamoka: "Jim, okoke James Swan. Swan, okoke man yahul Dungeness Jim. Yaka mama naika ahts." "Jim, this James Swan. Swan, this man called Dungeness Jim. Him mama me sister."
Jim offered his hand, white-man style, and Swan gave it a firm shake.
Swan: "Klahowya, Jim. Naika youtl kumtux naika!" "Hello, Jim. Me happy know you!"
Jim: "Naika youtl nanitch maika." "Me happy see you."
Jim reached into his shirt and handed John's letter to Swan. Swan took the letter, opened it, and read with his lips forming the words without a sound being uttered.

Jenny returned and filled a cup for Jim. She stared at Swan, studying him.

Swan finished with a frown and then, before he could fold the letter and put it away, Jenny reached out her hand.

Jenny: "Okay spose naika nanitch pepah?" "Okay if me look paper?"
Swan hesitated, then handed Jenny the paper. She took it and scanned the contents, moving her lips while slyly looking up at the men watching her with puzzled expressions.
Chetzamoka: "Maika halo kumtux tzum pepah!" "You not understand letter!"
Jenny: "Delate! Hee-hee!" "True! Hee-hee!"
Jenny cackled again, handing the letter back to Swan. The men couldn't help laughing at her prank.
Swan: "Jim, maika sihks John, yaka tikegh kumtux spose mesaika klatawa enatai la monti okoke yeah. Well . . . naika halo kumtux. Keschi naika kumtux Stevens delate tikegh wayhut enatai okoke la monti. "Jim, you friend John, him want know if you go across mountain this year. Well . . . me not know. But me know Stevens very want road across that mountain.
"Tomollah, naika tikegh klatawa Olympia pe wawa kopa chee governor yahwa. Yaka pe naika klonas wawa kopa hiyu iktas, pe naika tikegh wawa kopa okoke la monti wayhut." "Tomorrow me want go Olympia and talk to new governor there. Him and me maybe talk about many thing, and me want talk about this mountain road."
Jim: "Naika mitlite hyas chee canim pe taughum skookum man. Naika nehwa maika kopa Olympia delate hyak." "Me have big new canoe and six strong man. Me bring you to Olympia very fast."
Swan: "Kloshe. Nesaika klatawa kunamokst. Klonas nesaika kopet Port Gamble pe naika wawa kopa maika sihks John." "Good. Us go together. Maybe us stop at Port Gamble and me talk to you friend John."
Jim: "Naika kumtux John, yaka delate youtl wawa kopa maika." "Me know John, him very happy talk to you."
That night Jenny and Chetzamoka put on a big feed for Swan, Jim and his crew.

The next morning there was a moderate breeze from the south, which would be in their faces on the voyage to Port Gamble, the sails being of no use. After breakfast everyone headed for the pier. Jim, the "Kanaka" and one of the S'Klallams went uptown to pick up a crate of live chickens and two sacks of feed for someone in Port Gamble. When they arrived at the canoe, Chetzamoka and Jenny were there, having decided at the last minute to go along as paddlers.

The freight was stowed and the masts and sails tied down atop the center of the thwarts. Everyone boarded and they shoved off, catching the southbound incoming tide.
With nine paddlers now, they were making fair time. It was a pleasant day and Chikamin Charlie was at the forward thwart setting the pace and singing as usual, with all the S'Klallams joining in at times. Every once in a while the "Kanaka," who had a name a yard long but generally went by "Skookum Tom" because of his size and powerful physique, would let loose with a Hawaiian chant.
Swan was in the stern, just ahead of Jim, and didn't actually paddle much because of his penchant for oratory. Jim had asked him how he had come to know his uncle so well. Swan turned and faced Jim.

Swan: "Well, taughum yeah ahnkuttie, naika mitlite kopa San Francisco. Naika mamook ship yahwa. Konaway sun kunsih naika kopet mamook, naika tikegh wawa kunamokst tillikum. "Well, six year past, me live at San Francisco. Me make ship there. Every day when me stop work, me want talk with people.
"Ikt polaklie, naika klatawa kopa saloon. Hiyu tillikum mitlite yahwa. Klaska sit hiyu la tawb. Naika halo kumtux tillikums yahwa. Naika nanitch kopa bar. Hiyu man mitwhit yahwa." "One night, me go to saloon. Many people be there. Them sit at many table. Me not know people there. Me look at bar. Many man stand there."
Jim: "Naika halo kumtux 'bar.'" "Me not understand 'bar.'"
Swan: "Oh, bar, yaka kahkwa youtlkut la plash. Tillikum mitwhit yahwa, mukamuk whiskey pe wawa kopa sihks." "Oh, bar, that like long board. People stand there, drink whiskey and talk with friend."
Jim: "Hmm . . . ." "Hmm . . . ."
Swan: "Well, naika klatawa pe mitwhit kopa bar pe mamook ikt whiskey. Ikt siwash man mitwhit wake siah naika. Naika wawa hello pe wawa naika nem James Swan. Okoke siwash, yaka wawa yaka nem 'Duke.'" "Well, me go and stand at bar and buy one whiskey. One Indian man stand near me. Me talk hello, and talk me name James Swan. That Indian, him talk him name 'Duke.'"
Up in Puget Sound country, Chetzamoka was generally referred to as the "Duke of York" by white people, or simply "the Duke." Native people did not like speaking their hereditary name. They often took an English name or were given one by the whites. Chetzamoka's first wife was called "Jenny Lind," while his second wife was known as "Queen Victoria."

He had two brothers, "King George" and "General Gaines."

Swan: "Nesaika kowkwutl mamook kloshe wawa kehwa maika tote, yaka halo wawa kloshe Boston la lang pe naika halo kumtux Chinook. So, nesaika mamook hiyu la mah wawa pe naika elip iskum kumtux Chinook wawa. "Us unable make good talk because you uncle, him not talk good America language and me not know Chinook. So us make much hand talk and begin get know Chinook talk.
"Nesaika mukamuk hiyu whiskey pe hee-hee hiyu. Well, ikt Boston klootzman chako pe mitwhit kunamokst nesaika. Naika makook yaka whiskey. Winnapie, ikt hyas mesachie Boston man chako pe wawa, 'Yaka naika klootzman!' Okoke man, yaka kwuthl naika pe naika whim kopa illahee. "Us drink much whiskey and us laugh much. Well, one American woman come and stand with us. Me buy she whiskey. Soon, one big evil American come and talk, 'That me woman!' That man, him push me and me fall on floor.
"Alta maika tote, yaka kokshut okoke man emeets pe mahsh man klahanie saloon kopa wayhut. Okoke man, yaka halo kilapai saloon. Naika pe maika tote chako kloshe sihks." "Now, you uncle, him break that man nose and throw man outside saloon on road. That man, him not return saloon. Me and you uncle become good friend."
Jim: "Hee-hee, kloshe ekahnum. Mesaika chako pahtlum okoke polaklie?" "Hee-hee, good story! You get drunk that night?"
Swan: "Nawitka! Kunsih chee sun chako, Duke, maika tote, yaka klatawa kopa ship pe chako Washington, keschi yaka wawa kloshe spose naika chako Washington weght. Kimta tenas laly naika chako." "Indeed! When new day come, Duke, you uncle, him go to ship and come Washington. But him talk good if me come Washington also. After little time, me come."
Jim: "Kimta maika klatawa klak San Francisco, maika chako Port Townsend?" "After you to from San Francisco, you come Port Townsend?"
Swan: "Wake, naika klatawa Willapa pe mitlite yahwa klone yeah, kunamokst Chehalis tillikum." "No, me go Willapa and live there three year with Chehalis people."
Jim: "Ahah . . . . Alta, naika kumtux kahta maika wawa Chinook kahkwa Chehalis siwash!" "Ahah . . . . Now, me know why you talk Chinook same like Chehalis Indian!"
Swan: "Delate, konaway tillikum wawa Chinook tenas huloima." "True, everybody talk Chinook little different."
Jim: "Nawitka. Tillikum kwanesum wawa Chinook kahkwa ka klaska mitlite." "Indeed. People always talk Chinook same like where them live."
Jim pointed to the top of a tall fir tree ahead of them.
Jim: "Swan, nanitch yahwa, saghalie kopa okoke moola stick. Mokst chak-chak. S'Klallam tillikum yahul klaska 'kwai-eng-sen.' Ikta Chehalis tillikum yahul klaska?" "Swan, look there, up in that fir tree. Two eagle. S'Klallam people call them 'kwai-eng-sen.' What Chehalis people call them?"
Swan: "Whe-ahk." "Whe-ahk."
The paddlers had been keeping cadence steadily for two hours. The sun was high, and in spite of a light breeze it was hot. They were about halfway to Port Gamble, so Jim called for a break. There was no beach nearby, so the canoe was allowed to drift while everyone shifted a little and stretched as the water jug was passed around.
Swan suggested that it might be good to give the chickens a little air. The crate had air holes in it, but the birds were packed in fairly tight. Prince Albert was closest to the crate, and undid the hasp and jerked the lid up, just as Swan started to caution not to open it all the way.
No sooner was the top free when a rooster flew out, flapping his wings, and landed on the prow of the canoe. He arched his neck and let out a cry of freedom.
In a flash, seemingly out of nowhere, one of the eagles swooped down and, clutching the rooster in his talons, flew off toward his aerie.
Before the lid of the crate could be slammed back into place, a dozen frenzied hens   half the flock   flew out and were all over the canoe. Everyone was grabbing frantically trying to capture the birds before they landed in the water. The canoe was nearly capsized in the process, but only one hen got wet. With Charlie hanging onto her dress, Jenny was able to reach out and retrieve it, so none were lost. The hens were eventually returned to their rightful place and the journey was resumed.
Jenny Lind had moved to the bow of the canoe ahead of Charlie. She stood up, turned to face everyone, assuming the demeanor of an important and wise old chief. With much flourish, she began her oration:
Jenny: "Naika kloshe tillikum. . . . Youtlkut laly ahnkuttie kopa Port Townsend, mitlite ikt S'Klallam klootzman tyee. Okoke klootzman, yaka delate toketie pe yaka hyas tyee, nawitka. Konaway siwash tillikum konaway ka, klaska kumtux okoke klootzman mitlite skookum tomanawis. Spose tillikum nanitch yaka, klaska chako kwass. Konaway tillikum yahul okoke toketie klootzman 'Tyee Jenny'!" "Me good people. . . . Long time past at Port Townsend, live one S'Klallam woman chief. That woman, she very pretty and she big chief, indeed. All Indian people everywhere, them know that woman have strong spirit power. If people see her them become afraid. Everybody call that pretty woman 'Chief Jenny'!"
Everyone in the canoe roared. Jenny maintained her composure and continued:
Jenny: "Konaway man tikegh mahlie Tyee Jenny, keschi okoke toketie klootzman, yaka halo tikegh klaska. Okoke toketie klootzman tyee, yaka kiawali kopet ikt man pe yaka mitlite kopa Port Gamble. Yaka nem Dukey." "All man want marry Chief Jenny, but that pretty woman, she not want them. That pretty woman chief, she love only one man and him live at Port Gamble. Him name Dukey."
A unanimous bellow erupted in the canoe, but all were quiet again as Jenny resumed her tale.
Jenny: "Ikt sun Tyee Jenny iskum takamonuk canim pe thousand man pe klatawa enatai salt chuck kopa la pool tillikum town. Tyee Jenny pe konaway yaka man mamook hyas pait yahwa. Klaska mamook piah konaway la pool tillikum house, mamook memaloose konaway la pool tillikum man, keschi kapswalla la pool tyee pe konaway yaka la pool. Klaska chako elite. "One day Chief Jenny get hundred canoe and thousand man and go across ocean to chicken people village. Chief Jenny and all her man make big fight there. Them burn all chicken people house, kill all chicken people man, but steal chicken chief and all him chicken. Them become slave.
"Kimta, Tyee Jenny pe konaway yaka canim, konaway yaka man elip klatawa Port Gamble kunamokst konaway la pool pe klaska tyee. "After, Chief Jenny and all her canoe, all her man begin go Port Gamble with all chicken and all them chief.
"Alta Tyee Jenny, yaka mitwhit kopa canim pe elip chantie, 'Alta naika klatawa pe makook man, hey ya, hey ya!' "Now Chief Jenny, she stand in canoe and begin sing, 'Now me go and buy man, hey ya, hey ya!'
"Well, klaska halo klatawa siah pe la pool tyee, yaka mitwhit pe elip chantie, 'Kut, kut kut kut, hey hey ya.' Hyas chak-chak chako pe kapswalla la pool tyee pe lolo yaka siah saghalie kopa koosa. Konaway la pool cly. "Well, them not go far and chicken chief, him stand in canoe and begin sing, 'Kut, kut kut kut, hey hey ya.' Big eagle come and steal chicken chief and carry him far up to sky. All chicken cry.
"Winnapie, Tyee Jenny ko kopa Port Gamble. Tyee Jenny, yaka potlatch konaway okoke la pool kopa Dukey papa. Dukey papa delate youtl. Yaka potlatch Dukey kopa Tyee Jenny. Klaska chako mahlie pe mitlite kunamokst kwanesum kimta kopa Port Townsend. Alta, okoke ekahnum kopet. "Soon, Chief Jenny arrive Port Gamble. Chief Jenny give all them chicken to Dukey father. Dukey father very happy. Him give Dukey to Chief Jenny. Them become marry and live together. Always after at Port Townsend. Now, that story finish.
"Spose mesaika klatawa Port Gamble okoke sun, klonas mesaika kumtux kopa eye konaway okoke la pool. Klaska elite. Boston tillikum mitlite klaska alta. La pool, klaska mamook la sap konaway sun. Spose la pool halo mamook la sap, Boston tillikum cut klak klaska la tate pe mukamuk klaska." "If you go Port Gamble today, maybe you see all them chicken. Them slave. America people have them now. Chicken, them make egg every day. If chicken not make egg, America people cut off them head and eat them."
Jim's canoe was passing "Whiskey Spit" now, and heading across Hood Canal toward the smoke from the mill at Port Gamble.

To be continued...


(Copyright © 1994 by Duane Pasco)

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