[chinuk_illahee_northwest] Re: Henry's followup: Early linguists using CJ w/native people? (fwd)

David Robertson drobert at TINCAN.TINCAN.ORG
Wed Mar 10 05:37:04 UTC 1999

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---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 08 Mar 2000 02:13:59 -0800
From: Jeffrey Kopp <jeffkopp at uswest.net>
To: chinuk_illahee_northwest at egroups.com
Subject: Re: [chinuk_illahee_northwest] Re: Henry's followup:  Early linguists         using CJ w/native people?

On Wed, 08 Mar 2000 00:39:15 -0800, "Aron Faegre"
<faegre at teleport.com> wrote:

>I've been reading A.B. Meacham's "Wigwam and Warpath" from
>1875 -- he was Oregon's Superintendent of Indian Affairs just prior
>to that time.  In his book he describes using Chinook Jargon when
>meeting with Siletz, Umatilla, Klamath, Grand Round, Snake, Cayuse,
>Modoc peoples --


>Maybe once the need for a trade language was diminished due
>to the "Boston" peoples wholesale take-over of vast amounts of
>Oregon's lands and waters, Oregon's Chinook Jargon became
>functionally a language principally used to accomplish the political
>and religious goals of the "Boston" people.
>Is this too cynical a view?  Reading "Wigwam and Warpath"
>sure makes it seem that way.
>Aron Faegre

I have considered that question, too.  You may be right.  When
beginning construction of my Jargon Web site I was concerned that
Native Americans might not welcome exposition of the Jargon for
reasons along those lines, and proceeded with some caution.  I did
not wish to offend sensitivities about history, politics or culture,
nor bring up any painful memories in a clumsy fashion.

When the Tenas Wawa articles were added I was impressed that along
with the loving nostalgia Duane holds for the Jargon, he was also
frank in describing its perfunctory use to expedite the treaty
"negotiations" of the mid-19th century.  This insight helped to
balance my view.

I was pleased and relieved when favorable response began to come from
some Native Americans and descendants, though it is noteworthy in
retrospect that over the past two years this response has come solely
from the Grand Ronde community, where the Jargon endured and became
part of their unique multitribal society, and from assimilated
descendants eager to rediscover some of their heritage.  Otherwise,
the Jargon Web site has been met with total silence from the Native

So I'd have to say that, judging from my limited perspective of email
response and the friends I've made on-line, the Jargon remains of
interest to only a select few in both the native and non-native
communities.  I surmise that some Native Americans may indeed regard
it as irrelevant, if not negatively.  Perhaps someday I'll get to
meet some people from a bit further outside of our circle and find
out.  But at least the Web site has drawn no criticism yet, so I
believe that to date at least it hasn't offended anyone.  (I hope.)



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