Why Chinook Wawa

We’re choosing to incorporate the Chinook Wawa “Jargon” into our upcoming game, Cascadia, for a variety of reasons, but most importantly because we want to help preserve this unique language for future generations.

A little bit of background about Chinook Wawa.

  • Chinook Wawa is different from the “full” Chinook language.
  • Chinook Wawa was originally a kind of trading language, hence why it is often referred to as a “jargon” or “pidgin” rather than a proper language.
  • Chinook Wawa weaves together elements from Chinook, English, French, and other languages used by traders during the early period of trade between the peoples of the lower Columbia river and European traders.
  • Chinook Wawa was also used by other tribes of the region to communicate with the powerful and wealthy Chinook nations.
  • Chinook Wawa is considered a “critically endangered” language. As of this writing, there was only one native speaker of the Grand Ronde variety of this language known. While the Chinook Language itself is considered “dormant” because there are no native speakers left of the language. This gives us the opportunity to work with a native speaker to develop the elements within the game and to preserve them. We’re looking for an intern to work with us on just exactly that project.

We believe that by creating an interactive, digital environment that encourages people to learn Chinook Wawa in order to advance within the game-world of Cascadia we can encourage the language to survive and (hopefully) thrive in a way that has not been possible for a long time.

In imagining a parallel universe with a different history, we have created one in which Chinook Wawa has not become disused, but has instead thrived as one of the primary languages of the Independent Sovereignty of Cascadia.

We are mindful of issues of cultural appropriation, and our intent is not to profit from this effort to cultivate and regrow this language. However, as an element of our Freemium game, Cascadia, it does contribute to the overall success of the game. This is part of why we created the Empire Pledge and dedicated one-fifth of all monies falling under the Empire Pledge to “rights, culture, and economic development for indigenous cultures of the Americas“.