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41st Congress,
2nd Session.


Ex. Doc.
No. 68. 






In compliance with a resolution of the Senate of the 14th instant, so much of the report of Vincent Colyer, special Indian commissioner, as relates to the Indian village of Wrangel, Alaska, showing the condition of that village previous to its recent bombardment by United States troops.

March 22, 1870.--Referred to the Committee on Military Affairs and ordered to be printed.

Washington, D. C., March 22, 1870.

SIR:  In compliance with a resolution of the Senate, of the 14th instant, I have the honor to transmit herewith "so much of the report of Vincent Colyer, special Indian commissioner, as relates to the Indian village of Wrangel, Alaska, including the accompanying illustrations, now in the hands of the government printer, showing the condition of that village previous to its recent bombardment by the United States troops."

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Acting Secretary.

President of the Senate.

Washington, D.C., March 16, 1870

SIR: In response to the resolution of the Senate of the United States, calling for "so much of my report on the Indian tribes of Alaska Territory as relates to the Indian village of Wrangel, including the accompanying illustrations, now in the hands of the government printer, showing the condition of that village previous to its recent bombardment by the United States troops," I have the honor to submit the following reports.

Sincerely, your obedient servant,

Secretary Board of Indian Commissioners.

Hon. J. D. COX,
Secretary of the Interior.


The Indian village of Wrangel is in latitude 56 degrees 27' 20", and 132 degrees 13' 15" west, or about one hundred and thirty miles north of the boundary line of British Columbia.  It is located on a tongue of land and cove in the northwest shore of Wrangel Island.  On the opposite side of the cove or other horn of the Crescent, the United States post is established about eight hundred yards distant, with its guns commanding the village.*  There are thirty two houses in the village, and when all are at home there are five hundred and eight inhabitants.  Of these, one hundred and fifty nine pare men, and three hundred and forty-nine are women and children.  (See Appendix A.)  Of the men, about one half may be capable of bearing arms, (as with us.)  A number of the more athletic are usually absent with the principal chief up the Stikine River, trading with the natives of the interior.  Their weapons of defense are a few old flint-lock muskets--mostly of Russian make--some pikes, and knives, as they live by fishing, and the peaceful interchange of smoked salmon and ulicum oil, for furs, &c., with the interior.  (See Appendix B and F.)

(NOTE:  Next two paragraphs discuss sketches included in the report.  Sketches are not included here.)

*The post is garrisoned by Company I, Second United States Artillery, First Lieutenant W. Borrowes, commanding.


The houses are well constructed habitations, built of plank fastened on heavy timbers, well morticed [sic] together.  They are large, being about forty by fifty feet square, one story high, and subdivided within into smaller apartments.  The interior apartments were, doubtless, copied by the Indians from Ships' cabins, as these were the kind of habitations mostly seen by the natives on board the ships so frequently visiting their coast; and this illustrates quite remarkably the ability of these Indians to improve, and the quickness and skill at imitation.

These cabins or private sleeping rooms of one family, are seen in Sketch No. 4, (not included on this page) built on raised platforms.  They are as neatly finished as most whaling ships; cabins, and have bunks, or places for beds, built on the inside around the sides.  They vary in size, being usually about ten by twenty feet, with ceilings seven feet high.

Some of the young men are quite skillful mechanics, handling carpenters' tools with facility, and if you will closely examine the sketch (not included on this page) you will see that there is a floor and raised platform of boards, neatly fastened together, below the private cabins or rooms spoken of, so that the amount of carpenter work about one of these houses is considerable.

They have a large opening in the roof, through which the smoke of their fire passes, as see in No. 4.  (not included on this page; hereafter mentioned as ....)  Usually, this opening in the roof is covered with loose boards, which are placed on either side of the roof, according as the wind may blow, always with an opening left, through which the smoke passes out.  Sometimes they build a large wooden chimney, like a cupola, over this opening, but more commonly it is only covered with boards as described.

You will notice a .... a frame-work erected in the center of the cabin.  On this rack of untrimmed sticks they hang their salmon and other fish to smoke and dry them over the fire.  They then pack them for use in square boxes neatly made of yellow cedar, smoked, oiled, and trimmed with bears' teeth, in imitation of the nails we use our trunks--like the old brass nails of former years.

Some of these Indian houses are quite elaborately painted on the front, as .... the residence of Skillat's widow.

These paintings have an allegorical meaning, and frequently represent facts in the history of the chief or the tribe.

In front of the entrance there is usually a porch, built with railing, to prevent the children from falling off, and you will notice the round hole for the entrance.  They are covered inside with heavy wooden doors securely fastened within by large wooden bars, as if for safety against attacks.  The doors are usually about four feet in diameter, and their circular form resembles the opening of the "tepe" or tents of the tribes of the plains.

In front of most of the cabins of the chiefs, large poles, elaborately carved, with figures imitating bears, sea-lions, crows, eagles, human faces, and figures, are erected.  These are supposed to represent facts in the history of the chiefs, as well as being heraldic symbols of the tribe.  By referring to .... you will see the poles (very poorly engraved) standing in front of the cabins; in another sketch not engraved is an enlarged copy of these poles, and .... are some very curious colossal frogs, a bear, and war-chief, with his "big medicine-dance" hat on.  All of these things show a great fondness for art, which, if developed, would bear good fruits. It also shows that these Indians have the time, taste, and means for other things than immediately providing the mere necessities of existence.

In the carving of their canoes they display great skill, making them entirely by the eye.  They are as accurately balanced and beautifully modeled as possible.  A copy of a canoe, with a group of Indian women dressed in their highly colored blankets and calicoes, you will find .... (not engraved in this edition.)


The testimony as to the peaceful and industrious character of the Indians at Wrangel is abundant.  On this point Leon Smith, the post trader, who was killed, says in a letter to me dated October 30, 1869, "I have found them to be quiet and well disposed toward the whites."  Again, "The Stikine tribe are a very hones tribe and partial to the whites."  (See Appendix C.)  W. Wall, interpreter at Wrangel, says: "The majority of these Indians are very industrious and are always anxious to get employment," and he adds, "In conclusion, I have no hesitation in stating (after nearly three years' experience in their means and ways) that these Indians if properly instructed and advantage taken of the resources of the country, might not be comfortable, but by the sale of furs and their other produce, might become wealthy."  (see Appendix D.)

Hon. William S. Dodge, ex-mayor of Sitka, says of the Alaska Indians, as a whole: "They are of a very superior intelligence, and have rapidly acquired many of the American ways of living and cooking.  Their houses are clustered into villages, very thoroughly and neatly built, and far more substantial and pretentious than the log houses usually constructed by our hardy backwoodsmen."

In this description Mr. Dodge includes the Stikines, Kakes, Kootzenoos, and the Koloshan tribes generally.

Of the Sitkas Mr. Dodge says: "They supply Sitka with its game, fish, and vegetables, such as potatoes, turnips, beets, and radishes, and they are sharp traders."

Mr. Frank K. Louthan, post trader at Sitka, says of the Sitkas: "They are industrious and ingenious, being able to imitate admirably almost anything placed before them."  He tells of their "chopping and delivering one thousand cords of wood for the United States quartermaster, under many disadvantages, as well, if not better, than it would have been done by the same white labor, under similar circumstances."

Mr. Louthan further says: "That our Indians are susceptible of a high standard of cultivation I have no doubt."  "This can only be done by the aid of industrial and educational schools.  The missionary is working to good advantage at Vancouver Island and at Fort Simpson, in whose schools can be found men and women of high culture and refinement, fit to grace almost any position in life."*  "The Koloshans, our own Indians from Tongas to the Copper River, are quite as intelligent and easy of culture, needing only the same liberal system of education to, in a very short time, utilize them for every purpose of government and usefulness."  (See full report of F. K. Louthan, Appendix E, and report of H. G. Williams, Appendix B.)

*Under charge of Rev. W. Duncan, who wrote the letter on page 10. V. C.


As I have reported at Tongas, so it was at Wrangel.  A quantity of porter and light wines, ten barrels of ale, and five barrels of distilled spirits, (whisky, brandy, &c.,) were hoisted up from the hold of the Newbern, marked Leon Smith, post trader at Wrangel.  As I had called the attention of the revenue officers to the violation of President Johnson's order in landing the liquors at Tongas, the officer commanding the post at Wrangel asked me my opinion of the business.  I called his attention to the wording of the papers permitting the shipment of the liquors from San Francisco.  It was the same as at Tongas--for the "use of the officers at the post."  The captain+ read this, reflected a moment, and then said that he would not permit it to land.  The beer and porter was landed and taken into Leon Smith's store, and the whisky, brandy, rum, &c., was carried up to Sitka.

At Wrangel, as at Tongas, there is no medical attendance, nor care or supervision of any kind whatever, other than military, over the Indians.\

+ Brevet Captain Borrowes, U.S.A.


I have spoken of the ill effects of the near proximity of soldiers to the Indian villages, and of the demoralizing effects upon both.  It is the same in all Indian countries.  It appears to be worse here because more need less.  Nowhere else that I have visited is the absolute uselessness of soldiers so apparent as in Alaska.  The only communication being by water--there are no roads by land--it follows that vessels suitable for plying up the inland seas, manned by a few revenue officers or good, smart sailors, will do more toward effectually preventing lawlessness among the Indians, and smuggling or illicit trade with the whites and Indians, than five hundred soldiers located at post.  Nearly all the United States officers that I have conversed with agree on the above, and recommend a reduction in the force in this Territory.  There are five hundred here now, when two hundred would be ample for the whole Territory.

The soldiers will have whisky, and the Indians are equally fond of it.  The free use of this by both soldiers and Indians, together with the other debaucheries between them, rapidly demoralizes both, though the whites, having the larger resources, and being better cared for by the government in houses, clothing, and food, endure it the longer.

The United States medical director of the department of Alaska, Dr. E. J. Baily, says: "I am satisfied that little or nothing can be done until they (the Indians of Alaska) are placed under more favorable influences.  A greater mistake could not have been committed than stationing troops in their midst.  They mutually debauch each other, and sink into that degree of degradation in which it is utterly impossible to reach either through moral or religious influences."  (See report, Appendix G.)


On my return trip, while stopping at Wrangel, October 29, Leon Smith, assisted by two half drunken discharged soldiers, assaulted an Indian who was passing in front of his store.  Mr. Smith, ex-confederate officer, said that he was under the impression (mistaken, as he afterward admitted) that the Indian had struck his little boy, and he only shook the Indian.  The drunken soldiers standing by then, of their own accord, (unsolicited, Mr. Smith says, by him) seized the Indian, brutally beat him, and stamped upon him.  I had been taking a census of the village that afternoon, and hearing the shouts of the party, met the Indian with his face badly cut and bleeding coming toward his home.  I immediately went to the post and suggested to the commandant that he should have the drunken soldiers arrested and retained for trial.  He sent a lieutenant, with two or three me, "to quell the disturbance," the Indians meanwhile having become excited and to "use his own discretion about arresting the men."  Lieutenant Loucks returned soon after without the drunken soldiers, and gave as his reason that "the Indian struck Mr. Smith's boy," which, as I have said, was disproved.

The drunken me belonged to a party of over one hundred discharged soldiers who had come down on our steamer from Sitka, and were on their way to San Francisco.  Some of them had been drummed out of the service for robbing the Greek church at Sitka, and for other crimes.  I had informed the commandant of their character the morning after our vessel arrived, and suggested to him the propriety of preventing any of them from landing and going to the Indian village.  He replied that he had no authority to prevent any one from landing.  I was surprised at this, as I supposed Alaska was an Indian territory, and that the military had supreme control.

The day after the assault upon the Indian, the commandant came on board the Newbern and asked very kindly my opinion about the propriety of attempting to arrest the two drunken soldiers, but as there were over one hundred soldiers on board, and the affairs had occurred at near twilight, so that it would be impossible to recognize the me, the impracticability of doing this at that late hour was apparent.

The news of the bombardment of this village by the commandant of the post reached us as we close report.

The connection of some of the events narrated above with those mentioned in the report to the Secretary of War in his communication to the United States Senate (Ex. Doc. No. 67, this site) inclosing the report of Lieutenant Borrowes concerning the recent bombardment makes them interesting.

The following letter from Rev. Mr. Duncan the most successful missionary among the Indians in British Columbia near the coast of Alaska, speaking of the bombardment, is also important:

Letter from Rev. W. Duncan, superintendent of the Indian missions in British Columbia, near the boundary line of Alaska.

Astor House, New York, February 28, 1870.

MY DEAR MR. COLYER: As I shall not have the pleasure of meeting you on my way home to England, permit me, my dear sir, by note, to thank you most sincerely for the very kind letter you wrote and left for me at Metlakahtla last November.  Your sympathy was very refreshing, and a fresh token of my Heavenly Father's care over me.

I am glad to learn from your letter that something is soon to be done for the spiritual welfare of the Indians of Alaska.  What a pity it is, I often think, the missionaries did not precede the soldiers, at least to those places where there are only Indians, as at Fort Tongas and Fort Wrangel.  Military rule among Indians, while heathen, is, I feel sure, a fatal mistake.  It will only breed the troubles it was intended to check.  (The blood of poor Captain Smith, lately shot at Fort Wrangel, lies, I am sorry to say, at the door of military authority there,) while both Indian and soldier are reciprocating their vices, and both being plunged into utter ruin.

The accounts I have received from time to time of the conduct of the soldiers in the Indian camps of the coast of Alaska are truly shocking.  If the United States government did but know half, I am sure they would shrink from being identified with such abominations, and the cause of so much misery.  I hope and pray, that in God's good providence the soldiers will be moved away from Fort Tongas and Fort Wrangel, where there are no whites to protect, and missionaries sent in their places.

Give the missionary magisterial power, and authority to act as a custom-house officer; let him choose a few Indian constables, and be occasionally visited and supported by a ship of war, and all will go on well both for the Indians and the country too.  The Indian will gradually advance under the missionary's kind rule, the customs laws will be efficiently protected, at least within the vicinity of the mission, and the country (so far as the Indians are concerned) become prepared for the white settlers.  When the whites have made settlements, let, if need be, soldiers be sent to them.

Excuse me, my dear sir, for thus intruding my opinion upon matters which in one sense do not concern me, but I feel I cannot let pass this opportunity for venting my grief as what I see in the military establishment of Alaska, which will, I am sure, unless changed or removed, render utterly abortive any measures you may adopt for teaching and civilizing the natives.

How rejoiced I feel that there are those in this land who are seeking the welfare of the poor Indian.

May God direct and bless your every effort in your benevolent undertaking.

If it should please, and be the will of Almighty God that I shall return to Metlakahtla, I do hope I may have the pleasure of seeing you on my way thither.  Believe me, my dear sir, yours, very sincerely and gratefully,

Christian Missionary Society House, Salisbury Square, London.

For a statement of the practical working of the Indian law by which the nearest of kin is expected to avenge the death of his relative killed, I call your attention to a portion of the report of Frank K. Louthan, Appendix F.

It was in obedience to this law that Leon Smith, the post trader at Wrangel, was killed by the relative of Siawan, the Indian shot by order of Lieutenant Loucks.

It will be seen by Mr. Louthan's report that this law was well understood by all the old traders in Alaska.

Respectfully submitted by, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

United States Special Indian Commissioner.

Hon J. D. COX,
Secretary of the Interior.


Census of the Indian village (Stikine) at Wrangel, Alaska

Houses. Men. Women. Boys. Girls.
First 7 5 4 5
Second 4 4 1 1
Third 7 10 1 10
Fourth 4 6 4 1
Fifth 10 9 0 10
Sixth 3 3 4 0
Seventh 1 1 1 1
Eighth 6 4 6 4
Ninth 5 7 3 0
Tenth 5 6 0 3
Eleventh 5 5 0 4
Twelfth 2 2 1 0
Thirteenth 6 6 0 10
Fourteenth 7 5 1 1
Fifteenth 2 2 1 1
Sixteenth 2 4 3 3
Seventeenth 8 10 1 1
Eighteenth 5 5 3 3
Nineteenth 3 5 2 2
Twentieth 4 7 7 1
Twenty-first 5 5 1 0
Twenty-second 4 3 4 0
Twenty-third 5 7 1 4
Twenty-fourth 5 8 1 0
Twenty-fifth 8 10 3 7
Twenty-sixth 6 9 7 4
Twenty-seventh 4 9 3 7
Twenty-eighth 4 5 1 2
Twenty-ninth 7 10 2 0
Thirtieth 2 2 5 0
Thirty-first 3 3 3 2
Thirty-second 8 6 3 2
Total 159 183 77 89


Men 159
Women and children 349
Total 508



Report from Harry G. Williams.


Fort Wrangel, Alaska Territory, October 30, 1869.

DEAR SIR:  Immediately after leaving you on board the steamer Newbern, I was snugly stored away as a guest of the post surgeon, in his quarters.  H. M. Kirke, acting assistant surgeon United States Army, gave me a very interesting account of the nature, customs, means of livelihood, occupation, and also of the diseases and manner of their treatment among the Stikine Indians.

Of their nature, he says, they are very docile and friendly, ingenious, and labor well and faithfully, but by being brought into contact with unprincipled white men are soon found to adopt and imitate their manners and ways.

In their customs they still maintain the most of those originally observed by their nation.  However, many of them take great pride in imitating civilized ways of dress, which in their opinion renders them equally as good as a white man.  Their means of livelihood are chiefly by salmon fishing, which they catch in immense numbers, and prepare for winter use by drying and smoking, after which they are stored away carefully.  Many of them use flour, but prefer hard bread and crackers when they are able to obtain them.  They are very fond of coffee, sugar, and molasses, and like all other Indians easily become fond of ardent spirits, to obtain which they will sometimes sacrifice nearly everything in their possession.  In this manner they are imposed upon by those who know no principle or law, who have been known to sell them essence of peppermint, Stoughton's bitters, and absinthe, charging them four dollars a bottle, (holding one pint.)  Absinthe is a compound which, if used as a constant beverage, soon unseats the mind, produces insanity, and sometimes death.  Dr. Kirke tells me that he can find none among them who are entirely free from the indications of some form of disease.  A large number of them are more or less inoculated with the different forms of venereal diseases, which, had they proper protection could be avoided.  But I regret to say that men cannot be blamed for following examples set by their superiors, the consequence of which is the Indian women become mere concubines, at the will of those whose duty it is to try and elevate and degrade them.  These women are never known to seek and such degrading intercourse, but permit it merely for the pecuniary gain it affords them.  Justice, honor, and manhood point the finger of scorn, and cry shame to such.  Men with virtuous, noble wives and children, even to stoop to such acts!  Thanks a kind heavenly Master, there will be a time when such men can be seen in their true character, and be made to feel the power of an avenging hand.  I am fully convinced that by kind and careful teaching this great evil could be remedied and the Indian race again restored to its former virtue and honor, and gradually become an intelligent, industrious, and educated people.


After remaining at Wrangel one week I procured an Indian guide, purchased a canoe and sufficient provisions to last three months, and Monday, at half past one p.m., September 13, started on a tour of inspection up the Stikine River, the mouth of which is about ten miles north from Wrangel Island.  We reached main land about four p.m., and after luncheon again resumed our journey, overtaking a number of Indians during the afternoon.

These Indians were from Wrangel, and on their way to the interior, where they go every fall to trade for the furs of more distant tribes.  A systematic form of exchange is carried on from one tribe to another until it reaches the coast tribes, thus bringing many valuable furs many hundred miles from the interior of a vast and unexplored country.

As we advanced, day after day, the general appearance of the country gradually assumed a better appearance.  The scenery along the river is far beyond my power of description.  Immense mountains, whose snow-crowned heads pierce the dome of heaven in solemn and domestic grandeur, rise in every direction.


In many places on these mountains could be seen huge masses of coal, looking as though a little push would set them tumbling down their sides.  Iron and copper abound in many places, and gold can be found in every direction, very thinly scattered.  As yet no discoveries have been made that would warrant a speedy acquirement of wealth by mining, but the indications are very good that at no distant day very rich mines will be found.  A strong party of prospectors left Victoria in May last, for the purpose of exploring the entire interior westward, and are daily expected to make their appearance somewhere along the coast.  Many are ready and waiting to embrace any new discoveries they may have made in their long journey.  As we advanced to the interior we found a greater change in the condition of the Indians.  They being removed from the coast, had no idea of wrong or evil actions.  They are far more honest than the same number of white men would be under the same circumstances.  You can form an idea of this from the following, which I learned from an eye-witness: In 1862 a large immigration of miners to the coast was caused by the discoveries of gold about two hundred miles up the Stikine River, at a bar named after the discoverer, (Mr. Chockett, nicknamed Buck,) hence the name of "Buck's Bar," which was worked but one or two years, (owing to the difficulty of getting provisions,) and then nearly all of them returning, many left their entire kits of tools and working utensils and goods of every variety; some hung them up on trees, others stowed them away in caves and niches in the rocks, and abandoned them.  The Indians are continually passing them, and have been known to replace them when their fastenings would give way and let them fall to the ground, thereby showing not even the existence of a wrong thought in the minds of these red men.  The only thing they have ever been known to appropriate was a few potatoes and about five pounds of flour belonging to one of the miners there, and this they were almost forced to take from inability to procure sufficient food to sustain life.  This instance can be multiplied by many more of the same nature, were it necessary.  Fifty miles up the river is an abandoned house, once used by the Hudson's Bay Company for trading with the Indians.


Opposite this place is an immense glacier, about four miles long and an unknown width, extending westward between two large mountains, until it is no longer discernible.  It varies in depth from one to five or six hundred feet, commencing near the water and extending along its course.  The top is furrowed and cut by the rain into every variety of shape, only needing a small addition to form correct images of houses, towers, giants, cavers, and many other forms.  Viewed from the east side of the river, when the sun is shining full upon it, it presents a most beautiful appearance, its innumerable points glistening like burnished silver, and its caverns becoming more dark by comparison.  Toward sunset the effect of the day's sun causes it to crack, which makes a deep rumbling noise that can be heard for ten or fifteen and sometimes twenty miles.  Immediately opposite its center, across the river, is a boiling spring, bubbling up in eight or ten places, whose water is so hot that it will crisp a person's boots in a very short time, as many incautious persons can testify.  It seems as if nature must have been on a frolic during her stay here, and becoming chilled from the glacier, came across the river and found this warm stream in which to sport.

Along the river are four other smaller glaciers, but, compared with this one, they become mere snow-balls.  Seventy-five miles from the mouth of the river is located the trading post of the Hudson's Bay Company in charge of their agent, Mr. Chockett, known throughout the country as "Buck;" he is esteemed very highly by the Indians, from the fact that his dealings have been uniform, and his promises always faithfully redeemed, thus gaining a firm place in their estimation.  At the time of my visit he showed me over eight hundred marten, one thousand beaver, and a large number of many other kind of furs; this being about the middle of the trading season with him.  He has been two hundred and seventy-five miles from there up the river into the interior prospecting for gold.  Sixty miles from there you reach an immense canyon, ninety miles long, extending through the Coast or Chigmet Mountains.  The current in this place runs so rapidly that you can form no idea of its speed.  It reminds you of a huge gun, as you see fragments of trees and logs fly along in its angry foaming waters.  In some places the rocky sides gradually incline inward, until at a distance of two or three hundred feet about the water they come so close that a good jump will take you across the yawning chasm below.  In the spring, when the ice breaks up in the river, the water rises from forty to sixty feet in this canyon and you may imagine its appearance then.

After crossing the mountains, you reach a beautiful prairie, well water and plenty of fine timber.  Here are found deer, bear, antelope, mountain sheep, beaver, and nearly every variety of game, excepting the buffalo.  The gold continues about the same, and is found to a small extent in river bars.  No quartz existing precludes the idea of any large deposits in this vicinity.

The change in the climate is more striking than that of the country.  It is clear, bright, and invigorating, with but very little rain.  The atmosphere is so pure that you can see much further and more distinctly than in any other climate.  The nights are almost as bright as the day; so bright that you can easily read coarse print.  The Indians in this vicinity have almost an Eden to live in; game and fish in endless number seem to be only waiting their will.  These tribes make annual journeys overland southward, and meet those coming from the coast, thus finding a ready market for their furs, for which they obtain ammunition, guns, axes, buttons, cloth, and tobacco; also many other small notions.  But very little liquor ever reaches them, and thus they escape the great source of degradation and corruption which soon sweeps away nations, power, and happiness.  I do not wish my readers to think that I am a rigid temperance man, for I am not.  I regard liquor the same as any other article of drink or food; that is, if it is properly used, it will not injure any one; but abused, it becomes a scourge and lashes hardest those who embrace it most, degrading them even below the brute creation.  Its effect on the Indian is much different and more dangerous than on the white man.  When an Indian becomes intoxicated, he becomes wild, reckless, and cruel, not even hesitating to kill any one who may meet his displeasure.  They will continue drinking as long as they can procure liquor, thus showing how rapid would be their course toward a fearful end.

At the time of my leaving Philadelphia, my opinion was like the masses who had ever seen or inspected the Indian in his own native power and country; i.e., "that he was incapable of ever being civilized or becoming of any importance whatever."  Since my journey and inspection of the different tribes who I met, and observing the change produced in them by association alone, every item of doubt regarding it is turned to a certainty, that they can, under honest, faithful instruction, be advanced far beyond our imagination.

After running up the Stikine, I then entered one of its tributaries, about one hundred and fifty miles up, called the Clear Water River.  It was named by a party of miners, from the fact of its water being much more clear than the Stikine.  The Clear Water runs southeast.  It is a very rapid stream indeed, and in many places very shallow.  It can be navigated with difficulty about fifteen or twenty miles in canoes, where rapids occur so frequently that no one cares to risk life and property by braving them.  Here the climate is very fine and healthy, inhabited by the "Stick" or Tree Indians.  These Indians partake of the same descriptions and traits of those along the Stikine.  We left our canoe moored in a small side stream in full view of a trail in constant use by this tribe, and during a week which I spent in traveling from there in every direction, not a single article was disturbed by them.  I frequently met them, and would ask them in their own language ("Mika manik, mika canin?")  "Did you see my canoe?"  They would say ("Moitka") "Yes;" and on returning I could see their trail pass it, but no indication of their approaching.  I prospected in many places for gold, and found but very little difference between the deposits here and elsewhere, with one exception.  About ten miles from camp and five miles up a large creek (coming in from the northeast) called Boulder Creek, deriving its name from the amount of large boulders found along its course, is a fall of about five or six feet, at the foot of which are some small deposits of coarse gold buried among huge boulders of many tons' weight.  It is not in sufficient quantities to warrant an investment in mining tools &c., necessary to overcome these obstacles and remunerate any one for time and trouble.

Becoming fully convinced that there was nothing in this section sufficient to recompense me for the sacrifice of home and its surroundings, I determined on returning to them as soon as possible.  Accordingly, October 21, all things being in readiness, at day-break I bid farewell to our old camp and its pleasant surroundings, headed the canoe down the stream, and began a journey of nearly five thousand miles homeward bound.  In the first day's travel we ran about eighty miles, encountering many dangerous places, but coming through them all safely.  Many times, in spit of our united efforts, the current would sweep us against its rocky boundary, and almost smash our canoe.  Again in trying to avoid huge trees (left in the river at high water) we would be forced to head our boat directly for them, and with silent prayer wait the result.  The canoe being gradually rounded from its bottom up to a long sharp bow, and driven ten or twelve miles an hour by the strong current, would strike the tree and seem to leap out of the water over it, as if it was running from some fearful danger.

The next day's run we reached the Great Glacier, and camped in the old house, remaining there one day to overhaul our goods and feast our eyes on the beautiful scenery.  After tramping over a large mountain and shooting some grouse and squirrels I returned to camp, and next morning determined to reach Wrangel again.  It was a long and hard pull of sixty miles, the river having become much wider and the current ran from four to six miles an hour.  We reached there about 9 p.m. tired and hungry, and were welcomed back and well entertained.  Our friends were about sending a canoe up after us, fearing that we would not survive the dangers of the return trip.  We were disappointed at not finding any letters from home there for us.  Thursday night we were awakened by the signal gun of the Newbern, and our hearts gave a great bound of joy at the prospect of a speedy return to the dear ones far away.  If in this simple, unpretending letter you find anything instructive or interesting I shall be amply repaid for this attempt at a description which, in good hands, would fill a large volume, every item being of interest.  As it is I must endeavor to double the "one talent" given, that it may be well with me.  For the kind Christian advice given me by you on our way up from San Francisco I thank you most earnestly, for through it I have been greatly benefited.  Although I may never repay you, your reward awaits you in heaven.  May God's blessing ever rest on you and your efforts is the wish of

Your devoted friend,

Philadelphia, Pa.

Special United States Indian Commissioner.


Letter from Leon Smith.

WRANGEL ISLAND, A.T., October 20, 1869.

DEAR SIR: In answer to your questions of yesterday, permit me to say the number of Indians at this point is estimated to be about 500.

Since my arrival here, the 1st of March, 1869, I have found them to be quiet, and seem well disposed toward the whites.

They live on fish (smoked salmon) and game, and they provide themselves with clothing from the furs they gather, either by trade or trapping.

Twice a year most of the Indians make a trip up the Stikine River to Talyan, at which place the Stick tribe reside, and trade with them for interior marten, mink, beaver, bear, wolverine, lynx, land otter, and some other skins.  They take up salmon, fish oil, blankets, domestics, red cloth, beads, molasses, flour, and in fact every other article suitable for Indian trade.  They give about ten yards of print for one prime marten; three and a half pounds of salmon, three gallons of molasses, for the same, and for other skins in proportion.

The Stick tribe, [is] a very honest tribe, and partial to the whites.  I will now start from this point and go with you to Talyan, on the North Fork.  We leave here and go about seven miles to the mouth of the Stikine with say, five Indians in my canoe.  The current is rapid at all seasons.  We reach the glacier, thirty-five miles from the mouth, in two days; from there we proceed to the Hudson's Bay Company's post, two miles about the boundary line between Hudson's Bay Company and Alaska, a distance of thirty miles, in two days--four days from the mouth.  From here we find the current very rapid, and we tow our canoe along the two banks; we send three of our men on shore to two, and keep one in the bow and stern.  We tug along about ten miles a day until we reach Shakesville, named after the chief of the Stikine tribe, with whom you are acquainted.  We reached Shakesville in about five days, about fifty miles from the Hudson's Bay Company, being about one hundred and thirty miles from the mouth.  From here we tug along twelve miles to Buck's Bar, at which point, or in its vicinity, some eleven miners are at work on surface digging.  They average about three dollars a day, and generally come to the mouth to winter.  The men do some trading in furs.  They here find silver, copper, coal, and iron, but, with the exception of coal, not in large quantities.  The coal near the North Fork is of good quality, the vein being some thirty feet.  We now leave Buck's Bar, bound to Talyan, a distance of twenty miles.  We work hard for three days, and at last make fast to the banks at Talyan.  We are received kindly by the chief, Nornuck, and by all the tribe.  The tribe remain away from home, and at their hunting grounds, about six months out of the year.  They do their trading with the Stikines; the Hudson's Bay Company sends goods up, and in fact do most all the trading.   *    *    *    *    *    *    *

I spoke to you of Mr. Charles Brown's farm and waterfall.  He tells me that he has raised about fifteen tons of potatoes, two tons of cabbage, four tons of turnips, and a large quantity of beets, lettuce, peas, carrots, &c.  He has a turnip weighing six pounds.  Potatoes average well; some came aboard yesterday.

The lake is about one mile wide, and two and one-half long; the fall is about forty feet, with water enough to run forty saw-mills.  Mr. Brown has been living at that point about two years; it is about ten miles from here.

Out of six pounds of seed Mr. Brown tells me he raised four hundred and fifteen pounds of potatoes.

Mr. Hogan, a miner at Buck's Bar for two years, tells me that the altitude of the country will not permit them to raise vegetables; the country is broken, mountainous, and swampy.

Of the other tribes of the Territory I know nothing.

Hoping you will excuse the hurriedly penned memorandum, I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Special Indian Commissioner.


Letter from W. Wall.

FORT WRANGEL, A. T., November 8, 1869.

DEAR SIR:  The Stikine Indians live at present on a small bay near the northern extremity of Wrangel Island, and within about seven miles from the mouth of the river Stikine.  They number altogether about three hundred, and are divided into nine tribes, each tribe having a chief, and all subject to one chief.

The present chief is Shakes; he does not possess by any means the authority and influence which his predecessor did; the principal reason is he is very poor, and another is he reports to the commanding officer all the misdeeds of the village.  He is well disposed, and his only fault is his fondness for whisky, which is the cause of his poverty.

The majority of these Indians are very industrious and are always anxious to get employment, but, like all the Indians on the coast, are passionately fond of whisky.  Such is their desire for it that they will dispose of their most valuable furs at a most extraordinary sacrifice to obtain it.  However, since the country came into the possession of the United States they have not as many opportunities as formerly of gratifying their passion.

It is a well-known fact, that the sale of whisky to Indians on this coast, (and to the interior Indians through these on the coast,) has reduced their numbers, caused petty feuds, idleness, theft, and predisposes them to disease and mortality, reducing them to the level of the lowest brute.  They are artful and cunning, and to gain a point will tell lies in a most bare-faced manner; at the same time they look upon a respectable white man as incapable of telling an untruth; and if a white man once deceives them by telling an untruth, or otherwise, they look upon him as below caste, and will avoid as much as possible all future dealings with him.

It is also a well-known fact that immorality among the Indian tribes is not so general as when they associate with the white population.  Both male and female seem to suffer alike by the association, and the natural consequence is quite evident--disease and a remarkable decrease in population.

The principal sustenance of these Indians is fish, berries, fish oil, seal oil, venison, and mountain sheep.  Potatoes and turnips they are very fond of, and buy them in considerable quantities from the Hydahs, who live further up, and seem to understand their cultivation.

The soil and climate here are well suited for the growth of potatoes, turnips, cabbage, carrots, parsnips, beets. &c.; but both from the want of knowledge and of implements the Indians never make an earnest attempt; they simply cultivate a few potatoes in a most indifferent manner.

The fur-bearing animals on the coast are numerous, and good of their kind, viz: bears, mink, and hair seal; and it is strange how these Indians neglect, in a great measure, this very important source of wealth.  I can account for it in this way: their appliances for procuring the means of subsistence are so indifferent, and their total neglect of raising any vegetables leaves them in that condition that they really have neither the time nor the independence to go out for a two or three months; trapping expedition.  However, there are some exceptions which go to prove the statement which I make.  I know one Indian who last winter killed twelve large and eight small bears, about thirty minks, and a number of hair seals; he had besides a small patch of potatoes; this Indian had only his wife to assist him.  In conclusion, I have no hesitation in stating, (after nearly three years' experience in their mans and ways,) that these Indians, if properly instructed, and advantage taken of the resources of the country, they might not only become comfortable, but by the sale of furs and their other produce become comparatively wealthy.

I have much pleasure in offering you these hurried remarks, hoping you might find them useful in assisting you in this good work you have undertaken.

I am, sir, yours, most respectfully,


United States Special Indian Commissioner.


Report from F. K. Louthan on the Indian tribes of Alaska.

ALASKA, October 28, 1869.

DEAR SIR:  A residence of nearly two years at Sitka, intimately associated with the trade of the country, and in daily communication with the Indians, has afforded me some advantages for observing the habits and wants, manners and customs, of these people.

I need only refer to the Sitkas, whose history and character afford an example that pertains, in a peculiar degree, to all of the tribes on our coast, from Fort Tongas, near our southern boundary line, to Copper River, away to the northward and westward, about six hundred miles.

The village of the Sitkas consists of fifty-six houses, well built and comfortable, adjoining the town of Sitka, or New Archangel, being separated only by the palisade, a rude defensive line of upright logs, placed by the old Russian American Company.  The village contains a population of about twelve hundred souls all told.  They have been, and are now, governed by one great chief, aided by sub-chiefs, all of whom are elected by the tribe.  It is impossible for me to give the number of the latter, their position being neither arbitrary nor perpetual, as is that of the great chief or "tye."  They live by fishing and hunting, each in their proper season, the men devoting a large portion of their time trading with the interior Indians for furs, giving in exchange their dried salmon and halibut, cotton goods, printed and plain, blankets, guns, powder, balls, &c.

They are industrious and ingenious, being able to imitate admirably almost anything place before them.  Of their industry, I need only to refer to the fact that for the quartermaster and myself, in a few days' notice, they supplied, under great disadvantages, both of weather and means, one thousand cords of wood, Russian measure, of 216 cubic feet each.  This large amount of wood was cut from one to four miles away from our town, and delivered and corded by them as well, if not better, than would have been done by the same white labor under similar disadvantages.

Our Indians are shrewd traders, readily understanding prices and values, easily understanding both our coins of different denominations, and our "greenbacks."  They are tractable and kind when kindly treated, but vindictive ad exacting full compensation for wrongs inflicted, come from what quarters they may.  All. difficulties, even that of killing one of their number, is measured by an estimated value, "so many blankets," or the equivalent in money, or what they may elect.  The failure to promptly pay for a real or supposed injury is at once the signal for retaliation.  I can but look with great favor upon the system on the part of the government, of adapting itself to the one idea, immediate settlement with their people for all wrongs of magnitude, (whether on the part of the military or the individual,) entirely upon estimated value.  This is the time-honored custom of the red man in Alaska, and pertains to all alike, wherever dispersed throughout the vast Territory.

At present it is more than folly to attempt to induct him into any other way of looking at a wrong or injury.  Authority, with definite instructions to our rulers, whether civil or military, to in this way settle all disputes, especially when life has been taken, will always keep him (the Indian) peaceable and friendly, and in the end save to the government many notable lives and a large expenditure of treasure.

I am led to these reflections by observing that in this way the Hudson's Bay Company and the Russian-American Fur Company have, for nearly a century, lived in comparative security among the Pacific coast Indians, failing in but few instances, a confidence betrayed, property taken, or life endangered, [sic]

Again, my own personal experience is a powerful example of the system of such a course.  Last New Year's eve a difficulty occurred at the market-house in Sitka, between a Chilkaht chief and a soldier, a sentinel, which resulted in the imprisonment in the guard-house of the chief, and through some unaccountable manner the death by shooting, in a day or two afterward, of three Indians.  For a full account of these early difficulties I refer you to a report of General J. C. Davis, made about that time.

Among the Indians killed was one Chilkaht, one Kake, and one Sitka.  The Kakes very promptly sought the usual remedy, but, failing to satisfy themselves, adopted their extreme remedy, "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth;" meeting two white men near their village, promptly dispatched them, thereby lost all of their village, burned by order of the general commanding; hence the so-called "Kake war."

For nearly five months no coast or interior Indians appeared among us, to the great detriment of trade, the Chilkahts especially keeping themselves aloof from us all winter.  Well knowing the chief and most of his people, I determined to pay them a visit for purpose of trade and to restore friendly relations.  First, a small schooner reached their village in May last, and found them sullen and listless, and effected but little in any shape for several days.  At the end of the fourth day our little vessel was suddenly boarded by about seventy-five well-armed men, bent on satisfaction either in property or life, for the man killed at Sitka nearly five months previous.  The exigencies of my situation required prompt and immediate action.  Asking, front our closed cabin, an audience, it being granted, I stepped out among them with my interpreter, an Indian, and while protesting against their wish that I should pay for what had been done by our military chief at Sitka, satisfied them by giving them a letter to the general commanding, asking him, for the sake of trade and security to life, to pay for the man killed, giving my promise to the Indians to pay for the dead man if the general refused.

The general refused to listed to the delegation waiting on him with my letter.  I returned with my vessel again to Sitka and to Chilkaht, when I promptly paid the price asked--thirteen blankets and one coat, amounting in value, all told, to about fifty dollars, coin.  I feel quite sure that in this simple settlement I arrested serious trouble to myself and probably to the government.

I made afterward a similar settlement with the Chilkahts in Sitka, for one of their men killed by a young man in my employ.  I can safely say that, dealt with in this way, there need never be any serious complication of Indian affairs in this Territory.  Many irregularities and immoralities exist among our coast Indians.  Like their brothers of the plains, they are great lovers of whisky, and will barter their all to get it.  They should be prohibited its use, but how to effect this is a problem I am unable to solve, unless the importation is entirely prohibited.  That our Indians are susceptible of a high standard of cultivation there can be no possible doubt.  This can only be done by the aid of industrial and educational schools.  The missionary is working to good advantage at Vancouver among the Hydahs, and at Fort Simpson among the Chemseans. [sic] In these two tribes can be found men and women of high culture and refinement, fit to "grace almost nay position in life."

The Koloshan, our own Indians from Tongas to the Copper River, are quite as intelligent and easy of culture, needing only the same liberal system of education to, in a very short time, fully utilize them for every purpose of government and usefulness.

The inhospitality of the country, differing as it does so widely from the usual fields of civilized men, must for a long time make the Indian the nucleus of population of Alaska; and if so, how very essential that he be at once advanced through education and example to his high destiny.

While the manners and customs are the same of the whole Koloshan race, there is a marked difference in the wealth and condition of those tribes living on the mainland coast over that of the islander.  Position, custom, and numbers have given to the former the entire control of the valuable trade with the interior, in some five of the great mainland tribes, each warlike and powerful, and equally jealous of any encroachments on their peculiar privileges.

Beginning north we have the Copper River Indians, variously estimated from three to four thousand strong but little is known of this people.  They are, however, known to be very rich in furs.

S. Ex. Doc. 68----2

The early Russians told fabulous stories of the existence of both gold and copper on this river, which is proved by the fact that the Indians are at times seen to use these metals in their ornaments.

Next in order, south, are the Klahinks, about one thousand strong.  They live in the great basin or park known as Behring Bay, between Mount St. Elias and Mount Fairweather, and have a splendid communication with the interior by means of two long, fine rivers emptying into the bay.  These Indians are gentle, hospitable, and kind, but are poor, having been neglected by the traders for the last three years.  They are in quick communication with a splendid fur-bearing country, and only require a market to develop splendid resources.

Next in order are the Hoonid, or Cross Sound Indians, two thousand strong.  They live on the eastern bank of the sound for a distance of sixty miles, and are the oil merchants of the coast, taking enormously large quantities of seal, dog-fish, and ulican oil, which they barter to their brethren along the coast.  These oils are used largely by our Indians as an article of food; it is used by them as we use butter.

At the head of the Chatham Straits, almost due north from Sitka, two hundred and twenty miles, are the Chilkahts, at least ten thousand strong.  They are a brave and warlike people, "more sinned against than sinning."  I have had much to do with them, and ever found them honest, faithful, and kind.  Their villages extend from the mouth to a distance of seventy-five miles up the Chilkaht River.  Coal and iron abound in inexhaustible quantities; huge masses of iron can be found among the boulders almost anywhere along the banks of the noble stream.  The Indians state the existence of gold in the mountain passes of the river.  The "color" has been found near the mouth.  On every hand can be seen quartz cropping boldly out from a width of from one to twenty feet.  Nothing is known of its character or value.  These Indians are among the richest, if not the wealthiest, of our coast Indians.  Large quantities of the most valuable furs are annually gathered and sold by them.  They are in every way independent.

Twenty miles north of Sitka, and east of Admiralty Island seventy-five miles, are the Takoos, living at the head of Takoo Inlet, on the Takoo River.  These Indians claim to be richer in furs than any of the tribes around them.  About the same quantity can be got here as on the Chilkaht.  Some idea may be gathered of the large trade at one time done with them when I state but a short time ago the Hudson's Bay Company made their trade lease from the Russian-American Company's furs taken in a single trip of their steamer over five thousand marten skins, and other valuable skins in proportion.

The Takoos number about the same as the Chilkahts, and are a proud and haughty race.  Gold is well know to exist anywhere along this river, but the Indians have steadily refused to permit any development.  Coal is also found here in large quantities; indeed it is found throughout the coast and islands of our inland waters.  Of salmon it would be invidious to particularize; they are found in endless numbers anywhere in our fresh-water streams.  The largest and best are found in the Takoo, Chilkaht, Behring Bay, and Copper river, reaching an enormous size, many of them weighing seventy pounds.

Give Alaska a market and she will soon develop a second New England.

The conformation of our mountain ranges are not unlike those of Washington, Oregon and California.  They form our coast and are iron-clad--a greater portion of them iron.  A distance of twenty or thirty miles will pass one through this range where is found an almost level plateau well covered with timber.  This plateau extends inland for a distance of from seventy-five to one hundred and fifty miles, when another chain of mountains is reached, answering to what is known as the Cascade Range in Oregon, or the Blue Range in California.

There can be no doubt, from what the Indians tell us, in this plateau, between the two ranges, the prospectors will at no distant day develop a field as rich in the precious minerals as anything found in the southward.

Very respectfully,


Fort Wrangel, A. T.


Letter from Frank Mahoney on the Indians and their trade in Eastern Alaska.

Sitka, A. T.

DEAR SIR:  In compliance with your request I give you my views in relation to the various Indian tribes of this Territory as far as my observation goes.  In regard to the population and number of some of the tribes I have no data; of others I can speak from observation; that is to say, from Cook's Inlet to the southern boundary.

From what I can learn of the extreme northwest, in the Behring Sea to the Straits, the Indians lead a wandering life, and are variously designated as the "Kochunsky," "Onossky," "Cagatsky," and "Colching."  These tribes are estimated from four thousand to five thousand.  During the winter months, say from October to April, they will wander over immense tracts of country, in bands of from fifty to one hundred, sometimes undergoing great privation; and it has been said that they will sometimes sacrifice one of their number to save the rest from starvation.  Their occupation is trapping and hunting the reindeer.  They will travel during this season of the year from the valley of Yukon to Copper River, stopping for short periods where game and furs are plenty.  They will sometimes touch the shores of Prince William Sound, Cook Inlet, and also the western shore, in Behring Sea.  The skins they collect are fine marten, mink, silver and black fox.  The few natives the writer has see show them to be a peaceable race and respectful to the white man, looking upon him as a superior; there is no doubt but they could be shaped into useful citizens in time.

To the south, on the Aleutian chain of islands and on the peninsula of Unalaska, are the Aleutes, a very quiet race, and nearly all Christians.  Their number is said to be about seven thousand.  Those living on the islands are engaged in fur-sealing, sea-otter hunting, and trapping the fox, of which there are the silver, cross, ad red.  They are found employed at the different trading posts in the Territory.

The Indians of Cook Inlet and adjacent waters are called "Kanisky."  They are settled along the shore of the inlet and on the east shore of the peninsula.  A very sociable race of Indians, their number is from five hundred to eight hundred.  During the winter months they leave the shores for the purpose of hunting and trapping when in the spring they return to their summer homes, dispose of their winter products to traders for tea, sugar, tobacco, sheeting, prints, clothing, flour, hardware, such as knives, axes, hatchets, &c.  The spring and summer, till the later part of June, is passed in idleness, when the salmon season commences, and lasts until August, when they dry large quantities of salmon, weighing from forty to one hundred pounds each.

East of Cook Inlet, in Prince William Sound, there are but few Indians; they are called "Nuchusk."  There may be about four hundred in all with some few Aleutes.

Hutchinson, Kohn & Co. have a post on the south end of Henebrooke Island, which is the depot for the furs that come down the Copper River, although they collect many sea-otter, for which the shore about the mouth of copper River and around Middleton Island is famous.

Every year, the middle of June, three or four large skin-canoes, capable of carrying five tons each are sent up Copper River, loaded with trading goods, done up in one-hundred-pound packages, covered with water-tight skins, so that should accident happen, which not unfrequently [sic] occurs, the goods are portable to handle.  It takes about eighty days to make the trip; the canoes are hauled most of the way on the ice, on their ascent of the river.  On the return, the winter collection of furs is brought down, the river then being clear of ice.  The magazine is about eighty miles up the river.  The Indians about Copper River are called "Madnussky," or Copper Indians, and may be classed with the wandering tribes.  To the east along the coast, about one hundred and fifty miles from the mouth of the Copper River, we come to Behring Bay.  The most northern of the Kolosh Indians, of which there are numerous tribes, extending to Portland Canal, all speak the same language with a little difference in dialect.  They are a savage and piratical race, and as a general thing are not to be trusted.  Fear of punishment for outrages keeps them in order.

I herewith add a list of the tribes from Behring Bay to the southern boundary:

Residence. Name of tribe. Number.
Behring Bay Yakutat 300
Behring Bay Stikine 1,200
Behring Bay Tongas 800
Cross Sound Whinega 500
Cross Sound Whinega, (interior) 800
Chilkaht Inlet Chilkaht 2,500
Chilkaht Inlet Anega 300
Stephen Passage Takon 2,000
Stephen Passage Sitka 1,000
Admiralty Island Hoodsinoo 1,000
Admiralty Island Kake 750
Admiralty Island Auk 750

Of the Yakutat tribe, they have but few furs in the winter; they do nothing in spring.  They trade and trap with some Indians to the south of them, who live on some small streams that empty into the ocean.  I could get no information from them respecting their neighbors, regarding their numbers and language.  All they said was that they were more numerous than themselves, and they made good trade with them for marten, mink, fox, bear, wolverine, and lynx, for which they gave them tobacco, brown sheeting, needles, thread, knives, buttons, beads, &c.

The Yakutats have been in the habit of trading with the Sitkas and Chilkahts, who in the summer season pay them visits, taking from Sitka such articles as dry goods, powder, shot, knives, and trinkets, bringing back furs.

The Whinegas have but few furs; they are chiefly employed in hair-seal fishing, of which they get abundance; they get in trade about eight cents apiece for them.  They also get some marten, mink, fox, and bear from Cross Sound.

We go north to Chilkaht, at the head of the inlet so named, where there is a river on which are three villages; each village is presided over by a chief.

The Chilkahts are the most numerous of all the Kolosh tribes.  They catch some furs about their own grounds, but the greater portion comes from the interior, or where they go to trade twice a year, spring ad fall.  There is no doubt but they make a big profit on the skins they bring down.

Nothing is known of these interior Indians, only what the coast Indians say, that they are called "Si-him-e-na, or Stick Indians."  They will allow no whites to pass up the rivers.  The trade which the coast Indians take into the interior consists of dry goods, blankets, tobacco, powder, shot, and light flint-lock muskets, if they can get them.  Although the ammunition and muskets are a prohibited trade in this Territory, still the Indians get them from the Hudson's Bay Company at Fort Simpson.  Steel traps, knives, hatchets, needles and thread, and little cheap jewelry, form their principal trade, for which they get in exchange, marten, mink, silver, cross and red fox, black, brown, and grizzly bear, lynx, wolverine, ermine, beaver, land otter, and some inferior skins.  The price they give may be represented thus: Marten, 50 cents; mink 25 cents; lynx, 20 cents; bear, black, 50 cents to $1.50; bear, grizzly, 50 to $1.50; bear, brown, 50 cents; beaver, 20 cents to 40 cents; land otter, 50 cents.

These they exchange with the trader at an advance of from two hundred to four hundred per cent, for such articles as they require.  The traders' tariff may be quoted: For prints and sheeting, 25 cents per yard; tobacco, $1.50 per pound; molasses, $1 per gallon; powder, $1.50 per pound; shot, 50 cents per pound; blankets, *assorted,) $3 to $6.  Steel traps, knives, vermillion, flour, hard bread, beans, rice, and some few articles in the way of clothing, pants, shirts, (cotton and woolen,) blue cloth caps with glazed covers, shoes, and some minor articles.

The trading price for skins are: Marten, $2 to $3; mink, 25 cents to $1; bear, black, $1.50 to $3.50; bear, grizzly, $1 to $3.10; bear, brown, 50 cents to $2.50; fox, silver, $4; fox, cross, $1.50 to $2; fox, red, 75 cents to $1; beaver, 80 cents to $1 per pound; land otter, $1.50 to $2; hair seal, 8 cents to 10 cents; deer-skins, 15 cents to 20 cents.

The above may answer for the Indians from Chilkaht to Portland Inlet.  Of the Takoos, the same may be said of the Chilkahts and tribes above Stephen's Passage.

On the east of Admiralty Island are the Koot-se-noos.  They have but few furs, but collect considerable hair seal and deer-skins.  They also raise quantities of potatoes of good quality and fair size.

Coming east through Pearl Straits to Sitka are the tribe of that name.  They are employed in trading with other tribes, hunting, and fishing, and are employed as porters and laborers about the town of Sitka.  They also cut nearly all the cord-wood that is used by the citizens.  They may be considered very useful adjuncts of the town citizens, as they are the chief purveyors, supplying them with all kinds of fish and game, such as ducks, geese, venison, grouse, &c.

Going south around Baranof Island, and up through a portion of Chatham Straits, we come to the Rat tribe on Kyro and Kespriano Islands.  They catch some furs, such as lynx, bear, and hair seal, besides trading with some of their neighbors.  Their trade has fallen off considerably since the occupation of the Territory by the Americans.  They formerly were in the habit of getting their trading goods from small crafts from Victoria, but at present the Indians north, south, east, for two hundred miles, either come to Sitka or get their wants supplied from small crafts that load or are owned by Sitka merchants.

Passing east and south through Frederick's Sound, we come to Wrangel Island and the mouth of the Stikine River, where are the villages of the Stikine tribe.  They were some years ago a numerous tribe, but liquor and its concomitant vices materially lessened their numbers.  They collect considerable marten, mink, bear, and lynx.  They have formerly carried on considerable trade with the interior tribes, but since the discovery of gold in 1852, the competition of the whites has lessened their trade.

The furs that are collected in this section are principally disposed of at Fort Wrangel.

To the west and south of Prince of Wales Island is an off-shoot of the Hydah or Queen Charlotte Island Indians.  They number some three hundred and are called Au-e-ga.  They, it may be said, are the only Indians from Behring Bay to Portland Inlet that speak a different language from the rest.  They raise considerable quantities of potatoes, trap mink, bear, and beaver.  They also go up the Naas River in March for the collection of the hoolicon or candle-fish oil, which, when pressed, is as well flavored as leaf lard.

In Clarence Straits and adjacent islands they are the connecting link between the Kolosh race and Simpsians on the British side.  They speak the Kolosh, Simpsian, and Hydah tongue.  They catch considerable mink, bear, beaver, wolverine, and some sea otter.  The An-e-gas collect large quantities of candle-fish oil or grease.  It is put up in tight cedar boxes, from fifty to eighty pounds, and taken north as far as Chilkaht and brings good prices in furs.

The Indians from Puget Sound to the northwest catch and dry large quantities of salmon; the further north the better the salmon.

In Cook Inlet the salmon commence running in June and deteriorate in quality as they go south.  July and August are the months about the latitude of Sitka, and gradually later as they go south, so that at Puget Sound in September and October they are the most plentiful, and not as good flavor.

Take the Indians of the coast of the Territory they are as well supplied with the necessaries of life as the aborigines of any country in the world.  The forests are filled with game, the waters with fish, and the beach and rocks with clams and muscles.  They are a healthy and vigorous race; both mean and women can back very heavy loads.  The mean and women are more on an equality than the Indians of Puget Sound and east of the Cascade Range.  They are steady and good workers for a short time--say one month--when they like to know off for about the same time.  The writer thinks that it would be an impossibility to turn the Indian from his vagabond life.  The change to order, with laws and schools, might last for a short time, but the novelty would wear off, and they would fall back into their old ways.  They soon pick up the vices, with none of the virtues, of the whites.  It is the opinion of the writer that it would take a generation to shape them into useful citizens, although a partial success has been obtained by Mr. Duncan a short distance below Fort Simpson with the Chimpsians, and still them fall off.

The writer is not at all prejudiced against the Indians.  Wherever he has come in contact with them, which has been much in the last sixteen years, he has endeavored to show them the bad policy of their predatory ways; show them advantages which can accrue by industry, that this may act as a stimulant.

Respectfully yours,


Special United States Indian Commissioner.


Medical Director Bailey on intemperance and debauchery.

Sitka, Alaska Territory, October 25, 1869

MY DEAR SIR:  I inclose [sic] for your information the report of Acting Assistant Surgeon John A. Tonner, United States Army, in medical charge of the Indians in this vicinity.

This report is instructive and contains important suggestions which, if carried out, would go far toward improving their condition.

I am satisfied that little or nothing can be done until they are placed under better and more favorable influences.  A greater mistake could not have been committed than stationing troops in their midst.  They mutually debauch each other, and sink into that degree of degradation in which it is impossible to reach each other through more or religious influences.

Whisky has been sold in the streets by government officials at public auctions, and examples of drunkenness are set before them almost daily, so that in fact the principal teaching they at present are receiving is that drunkenness and debauchery are held by us, not as criminal and unbecoming a Christian people, but as indications of our advanced and superior civilization.

These Indians are a civil and well-behaved people; they do not want bayonets to keep them in subjection, but they do want honest, faithful, and Christian workers among them; those that will care for them, teach and instruct them in useful arts, and that they are responsible beings.  I look upon the different military posts in this department as disastrous and destructive to their well-being; they are not, and can never be, of the least possible use; they are only so many whisky fonts, from whence it is spread over the country.  If we ever have trouble with them and become involved in war, it will be found to arise from these causes.  From the nature and character of the country, posts never can render the least influence or afford protection against contraband trade; this can only be done by armed vessels, in command of choice men.  To go into detail on all points would require pages; you have seen enough to satisfy yourself; and in giving you the inclosed [sic] report I only want to add my testimony against what I conceive to be a most grievous error in the management of the Indian affairs in this Territory.

When you go home send us honest, faithful, Christian workers; not place-seekers, but those who want to do good work for Christ's sake and kingdom.  Send men and women, for both are wanted.

When you can do away with the evils spoken of, and which are so evident, and adopt this latter course, then there will be hope, and not until then.

Sincerely your friend,

Surgeon U.S.A., Medical Director Department of Alaska.



Letter from Captain Edward G. Fast (late of the United States Army,) on the character of the Koloshan Indians.

Washington, D. C. March 15, 1870.

DEAR SIR:  In response to your letter of the 14th instant, in which you request my opinion as to the general character of the Koloshans, particularly whether any trouble with them may be apprehended by the United States troops or traders, if they are treated with ordinary fairness, I have the honor to state:

As to the original character of the Koloshans I can only corroborate the graphic description of the Hon. Charles Sumner, in his speech on the cession of Russian America to the United States.  It is doubtless familiar to you, and therefore I refrain from going into particulars.  But on the other hand, the influences of their intercourse with the white man has effected so great a change in their original character that I must necessarily refer to it.

Thrown together with the whites for more than eighty years, the Koloshans, like the aborigines in the western plains, have willingly adopted the view of the white man and sacrificed many a virtue of their own.  Their intercourse with the Russians was of very extraordinary character.  They were never conquered by the Russians; and in all the inimical encounters they had with them they were either victors in fact, or in a measure reaped the fruits of a victory by receiving donations of blankets and other necessaries of life, to effect a reconciliation.  So they not only remained entire independent, but were brought to the belief that the Russians feared them.  To this inconsistent policy of the Russians we have to ascribe, that when the American government took possession of the country, we were looked upon with distrust and even suspicion.  The Koloshans expected at least the same consideration as they had enjoyed with the Russians.  In that they found themselves deceived.  But more, they found that they were deprived of sundry luxuries with which they had been freely provided by the Russians; a loss the more keenly felt as they observed the unlicensed indulgence of the Americans in the very articles withheld from them.  In this respect I must principally refer to the use of liquor which had become a second nature with them.

One of the first very necessary actions of the new government was the prohibition of liquor to the Koloshans, but which was enforced in a manner exceedingly humiliating to them, and only by cunning artifices and extravagant offerings they were able to procure the much-desired whisky from the Americans.  Yet they had daily before them the revolting spectacle of drunkenness and dissipation publicly and shamelessly presented by the Americans, and even by such, from whose official standing they naturally supposed the original and enforcement of the restrictions imposed.  Who will condemn them, when they, having such examples before their eyes, were filled with deadly hatred and contempt for the Americans, who, not unfrequently, [sic] in their drunken recklessness, heaped all sorts of insults upon them; and who can wonder that these people, injured thus in their innermost feelings, were led to deeds of violence which found so bloody and summary retribution?

From my personal experience, I know that these people can be managed by fair and just dealing.  I might compare them to a stubborn and wayward boy, led astray by evil example; he can only be managed by persevering kindness, but he must know, nevertheless, that there is the will and strength to punish insolent defiance.  The Koloshans must learn that we do not fear them, and then they will respect us; they must be made conscious that we do not misuse them, then they will have no opportunity to misinterpret our doings.  Distrust is a leading trait in their character, and selfishness the motive of their actions.  Let us be just to them, and their mistrust will vanish, and their selfishness no longer find an ailment.  In the quiet possession, and serious quarrel with the Kooshans.  Such a quarrel has already begun, and in view of their martial spirit, of their vindictive disposition, and persevering energy, will have no other termination that their complete extinction, should we not assume a policy entirely different from that hitherto exercised toward them.

The relics I found among the Koloshans give proof of a comparatively high civilization, and admirable skill and steadiness.  By their intercourse with the white man, now they are victims of rum and whisky; laziness and indolence have supplanted the virtues of their forefathers.

The Koloshans differ very much, by many distinct peculiarities, from the aborigines in the western plains, and possess qualities facilitating an earnest and systematic effort for their civilization.

As I have already advocated, on another occasion, our true policy should be to bestow upon them the blessing of civilization, and to promote their material welfare by a peaceful and benevolent management, not only for the sake of Christian philanthropy, but also for our own material interest, in order that at least their preservation and if possible, their numerical increase, may be secured.

The influence of the climate, and the peculiarity of the soil of Southeastern Alaska, are, with few exceptions, opposed to the introduction of agriculture, the main foundation of a new colony.  All necessaries of life, which agriculture produces, have to be imported from Victoria, or from American ports, and as there are but few points on this extensive coast which enjoy a direct communication with these parts, and, as it happens not unfrequently, [sic] particularly in winter time, that several months pass before a new supply can be had, what would become of the settler if the friendly natives did not furnish him with game, which only they know where and how to find? And, again, without his assistance, the capture of fur animals would amount to very little and its cost would be so large that furs from Alaska could hardly be considered as n article of commerce.  In one word, Alaska, without her natives, is worthless.

May these suggestions, based upon incontestable facts, and made in good faith in the sincerity of our government, contribute to the adoption of a policy that will be to the benefit of these people, ourselves, and the great cause of humanity and civilization.

I have the honor to be your obedient servant,

Late Captain United States Army.

Secretary Board of Indian Commissioners.



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