Everything you wanted to know about Chinook Jargon in one remarkable website. Via taz. A bit of history within:

In the year 1810 John Astor established a fort at the site of the present town of Astoria. Being near the mouth of the Columbia River, it was an ideal spot for his “Pacific Fur Company.” He employed a number of Canadian French, along with some Ojibway and Iroquois Indians from the east. In three years Fort Astoria became the property of the British Northwest Fur Company, which merged with the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1821. In 1824 the Hudson’s Bay post was established at Fort Vancouver.

Natives from the interior and along the coast always played an integral role in the fur trade, the men being trappers or middle-men, and the women often negotiating the exchanges for goods with other Indians or the fur companies. The lingua franca for these dealings was the developing Jargon. Many of the French gradually left the fur companies and took up farming in the Willamette Valley, among other trades. Marriage with native women from far and near was common and communities were formed in which there was no common language other than “Chinook Jargon.” The first language of these children was “Chinook.”

By the 1840s there seems to have been, for the most part, a fairly standardized vocabulary which was actually being referred to as “Chinook Jargon.”


  1. Stephani J F C says

    I am always happy to see information that is posted like this, it may be small but it is truth. My great great grandfather John Lebonte was a well known trapper whom worked for ‘Pacific Fur Company’ he married the daughter of a Kalapuya chief…and hence the bulk of my family heritage…I am proud to see that there is still a pulse on interesting and important history…atleast for me anyways.

  2. I’m glad you liked it!

  3. Jeffrey Kopp says

    Please note the “Tenas Wawa” has moved to (from Thanks.

  4. Thanks! I’ve updated the link.

  5. I’ve updated the link once again (I hope the site stays put now!); see also this post from 2018.

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