Thursday, June 26, 2014

Toponyms: I say naCASHyo, You say nickCASSSeoh

Riggy Rackin to Maureen Hurley (Facebook thread) OK, get ready to grate your guts, and want to hurl me out the window, Ms Hurley.... I just attended this talk, and heard our local, long-standing expert call the town we know you know "Nick-CASS-e-oh". When the question and answer segment opened I called her on it, told her you & Rocky Shone say it's not Spanish and but a Miwok word, pronounced Nuh CASH oh. Her 80 year old eyes glimmered and said you guys are WRONG, and it is in fact a Spanish derived name based on St Ignatius. Whatchu think of THAT ??


Maureen Hurley LOL. Did Betty Goerke grow up in NiCASHio? No? It was a Mwok chief's LATIN name. I never said it was a Miwok word. Ignacius is the Latin name, not Spanish. 

 How do you say St. Ignacius? With a Sh sound? IgNAYshius? Yes? Or was it a slithery snake sound?I Ig-NASS-us. Ditto that with Nicashio. The name is from Nicasius, BTW, not Ignacius. 

According to Ken Bullock's grandfather, it was also pronounced Nicashia, BTW. Still the SH sound. Lest ye forget, my LOCAL West Marin family data base goes back a hundred years...and those of us who actually grew up there, learned to say it from our parents and grandparents and our neighbors— and they ALL said NiCASHio. Are you calling five+ generations of several families wrong? So there! (raspberry sound).

I remember Betty Goerke, BTW...if she was a good anthropologist worth her salt, then she would know that there is an alternative, but persistent long-lived pronunciation of Nicasio. Oh, but wait, she's an archaeologist—and you know the saying, pots don't speak. She's far afield when it comes to linguistics and toponyms. Why not ask a LOCAL how to pronounce it? 

Earth to Riggy: a profound fact: Just because it's in a book doesn't mean it's correct. Betty Goerke, came to Marin in what, 1984? I wasn't at all impressed with her way back then. She is guilty of slovenly scholarship, if you can call it that.

My family has 75 years residency on Betty Goerke. Two of my aunts married Nicasio boys. Guess how they pronounced Nicasio? Guess. 

Ultimately it doesn't matter what the root origin of the word is, what I said is that we locals have always called it Nicashio. Stet. Please DO note that Batty has the wrong saint's name for the toponym. Just sayin'. (Stet to the typo on her name too.)

My original documentation source on the Miwok of Nicasio was from IJ columnist A. Bray Dickinson, postmaster of Tomales. Historian and author of Tomales Township— a History, Francis Drake's Landing Place in California, and Narrow Gauge to the Redwoods. 

Understand that  there was almost NO information on Coast Miwok peoples at the College of Marin, or the UC Berleley libraries, in 1969—other than Kroeber's tomes. So most Coast Miwok info is reconstructed—it's all post-colonial, as it were. 

Vinson Brown wrote a book on Pomo Indians of California and Their Neighbors (1969), someone else adapted it for Coast Miwok, even borrowing the writing. And so it goes: after the fact. 

Albert Elsasser was my CA Native American go-to guy. FWIW, I've been to the Museum of Ethnography in Leningrad, seen Pomo and Miwok artifacts stored in their basement. Personal tour. I'll tell you about it sometime.)

"The name Nicasio is believed to come from a local etcha-tamal Indian shepherd named after St. Nicasius"

Oh, Riggy! I found this: I rest my case. Terminus ante quem!
Nicasio, nî-kash'-ó:
"Nicasio was probably an Indian who had received the name of one of several saints (Saint Nicasius) at his baptism. (ca 1835)/"

From California Place Names: The Origin and Etymology of Current Geographical Names By Erwin Gustav Gudde, University of California Press, 1960. P 221. Note th date. When did Betty move to Marin? 1984? Gee this reference predates her.

And in California Place Names Nicasio/Nicasius: See P 5
MAPOM Miwok Archeological Preserves of Marin.

What, Riggy Rackin—silence is the loud reply?

Riggy Rackin Argument is between you two girls, not me.

Maureen Hurley Well, I'd say the information in CA Place Names (including citing the CORRECT saint) predates her theory, so I win. Terminus ante quem trumps Betty Goerke's erroneous claim.

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