The Indian Country, 1800: A Brilliant Plan for Living
Creators Gifts Men and Women A Vast Network


Chinook Trade Jargon

Across the Pacific Northwest, active trading among dozens of small tribal groups produced an informal language know as the Chinook trade jargon. It was named for the Columbia River trading people but incorporated words from several sources. The jargon incorporated a number of words of English origin; it also borrowed words from French and Spanish.

English explorer James Cook recorded several Chinook terms at Nootka, British Columbia in 1778. By 1805, Lewis and Clark found use of the jargon was a common feature of Indian trade along the Pacific coast. This book, published in 1891, illustrates the endurance of the Chinook trade jargon into the nineteenth century.

S. F. Coombs. Dictionary of Chinook Jargon, 1891.

Click to see a page of the dictionary

Newberry Library