Several years ago, a treasure trove of Chinook Jargon recordings were discovered in a Seattle swimming pool that was being used as storage. They were made in 1942 on aluminum cylinders. There are 30 cylinders of 20 minutes each for a total of 10 hours of recordings based on the Franz Boas Chinook Texts. These were recorded by a very young man named Jack Marr who was working under the great linguist J.P. Harrington. Harrington mistakenly believed that Joe Peter was the last surviving speaker of traditional Chinook and because he was fully committed to other projects he asked his technician Jack to make the recordings. He queried Jack several times trying to make sure he was not speaking Chinook Jargon. Jack reassured Harrington that he was convinced it was genuine traditional Chinook. Because of this we have 10 hours of Chinook Jargon recordings.
Joe Peter was born in 1894 in a town just north of the original Fort Vancouver, ground zero for the development of the modern Chinook Jargon. His family languages included the Salishan Cowlitz and Sahaptin languages.
In 1941, the great linguist J. P. Harrington arranged for his assistant Jack Marr to make extensive recordings of Joe Peter translating the Chinook Texts documented by Franz Boas.
Harrington thought Joe Peter would be translating them into traditional Chinook but it turns out Peter was actually speaking Chinook Jargon.
They recorded 30 separate aluminum cylinder recordings of approximately 20 minutes each resulting in a total of 10 hours which were discovered after decades being mislabeled in storage.
The Joe Peter recordings are incredibly valuable for BC Chinook Jargon as they gives important insights into the Fort Vancouver version of the language.
After Britain gave up the territory to the US in 1846, the Chinook Jargon speaking leadership of Fort Vancouver led by Governor James Douglas as well as the leading Chinook Jargon scholar Modeste Demers moved to Victoria.
Sam Sullivan has been working on transcribing these and is approaching 5 hours of documentation. Because the recordings are difficult to hear clearly the transcriptions are about 85% completed. Some of his work has been uploaded below.
We welcome any suggestions on how to improve these translations:
Please consider improving the current transcriptions or starting from scratch on a new 20minute video. When we have done our best get an 85% or 90% completed we will hand it over to the professional linguists.