Native American Dialect

josiahEarly in the 70's, I traveled with a small Christian band. At times we, along with other bands, would sing at huge youth rallys of 5000+ kids. Usually there was a meet and greet after the concert with fans.

At one such concert, a couple of young teenage girls from the midwest came up to meet us. We told them we were from the Pacific Northwest, in particular, Seattle.

Now you need to understand that in the early 70's, Seattle was not as well known as it is today for their coffee, technology industries, and music scene. People from the mid-west and east coast perceived Seattle and all of the Pacific Northwest as some remote outpost in the great white north. As far as they were concerned, the land was still filled with fighting cowboys and indians.

We asked them what they were taking in school.  Listing their classes, they both mentioned they were taking a foreign language, one French and the other Spanish. Aware of their naivety in regard to the Northwest, we decided to mentally toy with them.

"YouForeign_Language_Teacher are aware," I began to say, "that every school student in the Northwest is required to take 'two years' of a native american dialect?"

"Really?!!" both said in astonishment.

"Absolutely!" I replied, realizing they were actually believing my claims.

"Can you speak to us in your Indian dialect?" they queried, both obviously very impressed.

I began to fidget. I had not thought this far ahead in order to be prepared to respond.  My mind quickly ran through the options. It suddenly occurred to me that a lot of towns along the coast of Washington have Native American names.

Not missing a beat, I began to recite some of the names:

"Skykomish Nisqually Chimakum Walla Walla Makah."

"Wow!" they said in unison.  "What does it mean?"

I realized I hadn't thought out the answer to that question either. So, I said it means:
       "Man who runs behind car gets exhausted!"

We all laughed. They left not really knowing whether or not we actually could speak a native american dialect. 

We would never tell.


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