Slike strani

been a leading convert at a missionary sta- year, the Indians gather here to make tion, but innate depravity proving in his case camp, cut fuel, and prepare for the run of too much for saving grace, he backslid, and the oolachaus or candle-fish, known also as became one of the most consummate rascals the small-fish. Though found in many

other that ever wore a copper skin. Nevertheless, streams from Puget Sound to Sitka, they are he was good natured, and his ready tongue taken here in far greater quantity than any. and subtle wit made him a useful man to where else on the coast. Here it is that the have on such a journey as I contemplated. bulk of the fish grease is made, the distribu

On most of the maps a large stream known tion of which forms, probably, the best exas Simpson's River is represented as falling ample of an inter-tribal commerce-proseinto the sea in this vicinity. This is quite cuted long before the advent of the whites, incorrect. There are two large rivers. One, and still in existence, substantially unchanged the Nass, empties into Nass Bay, some forty that can be found upon this continent. miles to the north and east of Fort Simpson, The fish, a species of smelt, begin to run and the other, the Skeena, has its mouth about the 17th of March, in most prodigious about the same distance to the southward. numbers. They are caught by means of I determined to ascend the first as far as scoop-nets and weirs, and so thick are they practicable by canoe, cross overland to the that they are baled out, in places, with head-waters of the second, and thence de- wooden boxes fixed on poles. They are stored scend to the salt water, and return by the in immense heaps to await the trying-out sea-coast to my starting point.

process, after the run, which lasts about three My outfit was of the simplest kind : part weeks, ceases. There is another and smaller of a sack of flour, a little tea and sugar, a run in July, but the fish are then lean, and few pounds of bacon, camp-kettle, frying-pan, are not taken in quantity. tin cup, hatchet, blanket, poncho, change of A small portion of the fish are smokeunderwear, and a good rifle, with ammuni- cured, when they not only serve as food, but tion; also a little tobacco, some beads, fish- are used by the Indians in place of candles. hooks, etc., for presents to the natives—the Lighted, they burn from end to end, like a whole making a pack of about eighty pounds. torch, yielding a broad, faring flame, and The Chimp-se-ans were more liberally sup- last from ten to fifteen minutes. But the plied with goods for barter, and when, at great bulk of the catch, stored in huge piles, last, we set sail, the canoe was well-laden; is allowed to become partially decomposed yet, with a strong wind dead astern, she flew to increase the yield of fat, and is then made over the waters of Portland canal, and night- into grease by the following method. A fall found us some five miles below Nass large, square, wooden box, holding at least Bay, where we camped. It had rained stead- a barrel, is nearly filled with water, into which, ily all day, but under a tent formed of the from time to time, heated stones are plunged canoe sail we made ourselves quite comfort- until furious boiling follows. Then a quanable.

tity of fish is thrown in, and the oil rising to The next morning, June 26, we broke the surface is skimmed off into smaller boxes, camp at 3 A. m., and soon entered the bay, holding from thirty to sixty pounds, and alpassed Mr. Tomlinson's mission, and began lowed to cool. The result is a fatty mass, a the ascent of the river Nass. It is there a little darker and softer than lard, with a swift stream, about a thousand yards in width, strong putrescent odor, owing to the manner flowing through a narrow valley, between two of preparation. It is capable of being preranges of mountains from two to seven thou- served unchanged for a great length of time. sand feet high. Along its banks, within the It is eagerly sought after and highly prized first few miles, lie the hereditary fishing do- as an article of diet by all the Indians of the mains of the Nasscar, Hydah, Chimp-se-an, northwest coast, and is eaten with fish, berand Tongass tribes. In February of each ries, snow, flesh, rice, and, indeed, with al


most every variety of food. By canoe, it birch, and willow. Mountains three and travels to Sitka on the north and Puget five thousand feet high, composed apparSound on the south, as well as up all the ently of granite and slate, rose, snow

ow-capped, navigable rivers. Inland, borne upon the on each side in rugged and broken outline. backs of men, it goes, no white man knows Evergreen timber clothed every available how far; certainly to the head waters of the spot to the snow line, except where, in the Frazer River and the Arctic slope, traded deeper gulches here and there, a glacier exfrom tribe to tribe, and becoming more cost- tended nearly to the level of the valley. We ly the farther it gets from its source. How passed the sites of many deserted villages, long it has been made is mere conjecture, some with house timbers still standing, othbut the mountains and valley-lands stripped ers only marked by a ranker growth of wild of their timber for fuel over an extent of sev- celery, and a kind of cactus called here the eral miles, bear witness that the occupation “Devil's Walking Stick.” is an ancient one. The Hudson Bay Com After a night-long fight with mosquitoes pany prepare each year from fresh fish a and midges, we set out again, making by ten quantity of grease which is then palatable, hours of most exhausting labor, about ten free from odor, and an excellent article for miles of progress in a northeast course. The cooking. In this form it has within the last mountains were higher and more broken four years attracted some attention as a sub- than the day before, and the valley more stitute for cod liver oil.

heavily timbered. Patches of spruce, which By noon we reached Hunt's, a small Hud- would make good fuel for steamboats, grew son Bay Company trading-post on the right adjacent to the river. About mid-day we bank of the river, near the head of tide- entered a slough to seek for salmon, the run

Small trading vessels and the Hud- of which was just commencing, but met with son Bay Company steamer, “ Beaver," have no success. On again reaching the main reached this point, but beyond, the stream is stream, we found the valley growing narrower. navigable only for light draught boats and Islands divided the river into several chancanoes, by reason of bars and the strong cur- nels, the one through which we passed varying rent. Opposite to Hunt's is a small Nasscar from fifty to one hundred and fifty yards in village, and two miles up the river is another width. Several hot springs were seen durand larger one. These Indians, as indeed ing the day. In one place the stream all those on the Nass and Skeena, speak a hugged the base of the mountain, on the dialect of the Chimp-se-an, and are undoubt- left, which had been burned that season. edly of the same origin.

The bare and blackened granite looked quite The next three days, owing to heavy rains incapable of sustaining the growth that forand high water, we remained at Hunt's; but merly hid its ugliness. Above, the river on the morning of the 30th, although it still changed its course to the opposite side of the rained, we set out, and, after nine hours of valley, washing the base of a cliff of slate in hard paddling and poling, camped on the which a number of large quartz veins apleft bank, having made about eight miles in peared. I tried a pan on several of the bars, a northeasterly direction. The river divided and always got the color of gold, but nowhere into several channels. The main one was a paying prospect. from two to five hundred yards in width, with Near night-fall we came to the first rapids. a current from three to five knots. Its The river makes a sharp bend, and jutting course lay through a valley from two to six rocks divide its stream into a number of miles wide, which was heavily timbered with channels, throngh which the foaming current cottonwood, spruce, pine, hemlock, and rushes over falls several feet in height. At cedar. A few soft maples grew along the the foot of the falls, on the right bank, is a bottoms, and the streamlets were fringed little cove with gravelly beach, and above with a dense growth of alder, crab-apple, this a steep cliff rises some thirty feet, and

then forms a table-land to the mountain's dian property. Seated about the sides were base. On this narrow shelf, commanding nearly all the population of the ranch, in esthe only available portage, is perched the vil- ery variety of Indian costume, but each haflage of Kill-went-set.

ing the “ever-present blanket" wrapped As the strong eddy swept our canoe into about him in some shape. Directly, a masthe landing, the chief and a score of his fol- ter of ceremonies, in a fantastic garb, conlowers rushed down the bank, seized the sisting principally of shirt, and with a visage light bark, and nearly listed her out of the whereon fiery red paint and filthy black ditto water. In an instant she was empty, and her strove for mastery, arose, and announced in cargo swiftly carried to the principal house, guttural speech that the "evening's entertainwhile the chief, A-quil-hut, invited me, ment” was about to begin. A small boy at through Clah, to be his guest, expressing his a drum (a thin wooden box that served the pleasure at the white man's coming, the news purpose), began to beat time with slow and whereof had reached him during our stay at measured strokes. A middle-aged man, with Hunt's.

a local reputation for noise, rose, and cleared I found his house decorated for the occa- his voice before leading off. Another, with sion by a large wooden screen, on which was a basket of white feathers from the breast of painted in black and white an enlarged copy the eagle, gravely proceeded to daub them of the reverse side of a half dollar--inscrip- on the heads of the principal people and the tion and all. This, he had been told, was guests. By the time this, the Indian pledge the Boston man's crest, and he had placed of peace, was finished, the song was fairly it in the quality part of his domicile, i. c., the started, and all joined in. It was a kind of part opposite the entrance. Soon an Indian chant, recounting the actions of departed feast was in progress. Salmon boiled and braves and inciting the youth to follow their roasted, potatoes, rice, berries, stick-skin (the bright example—now low and guttural, anon inner bark of the hemlock), bear-meat, moun- rising to a shrill cry, but always in excellent tain goat, and grease were served ; the din- time and unison. Presently, one after the ner ended with soap-oolaly, a kind of berry, other, six Indian women, clad in blue blankwhich, when dried and vigorously stirred with ets lavishly trimmed with pearl buttons, water in a clean dish, forms a mass of brown their faces ornamented after the fashion befoam, and is thus eaten. Though very bitter, fore described, rose, and began to weave it is not unpleasant to the taste, and is much back and forth, to this side and to that, relished by the natives. Between the cours- moving together, and regarding fixedly the es mine host reiterated his pleasure at my space in front of them with their exprespresence, hoped more white men would sionless, fat countenances.

This they con come, professed great friendship for my race, tinued to do until the song ended; then, expressed his fears that the chiefs farther on resting a moment, began another, and so on, might be so impolite as to kill me; and, in till that particular branch of the Lo family short, was as hospitable and polite as any gave out. one could wish his entertainer to be.

Then a speech was made, delivered in a Dinner over, he announced that a dance semi-ventriloquial tone—the voice seeming would be given in my honor. His house to come from a short distance without the was a large, square structure, sided with house-a manner these people always adopt thick plank. The roof, supported on heavy on public occasions. An answer followed. beams, was eight or ten feet high at the eaves, After this the pipe-song was raised, and the and perhaps twenty at the ridge. In the tobacco prepared; but before a pipe was lit, center a large opening gave vent to the a long roll of chiefs was called, beginning smoke from a huge fire on the earthen foor with those that were dead. These shadowy beneath. Around the walls were guns, pad- warriors were, one by one, addressed, as is dles, skins, salmon, and other articles of In- they were really present, and as each name


was repeated, the man in charge of the to- joints rigid, performed a series of short leaps, bacco placed in the fire a pipefull of the fra- turning his head rapidly from side to side, grant weed. Respect to the departed having while his eyes blazed with excitement, and been paid, the living were soon wrapped in guttural accents issued from his mouth, in clouds of their own making, and silence, amazing force and numbers.

He, too, gave broken only by grunts indicative of comfort, place; and two elderly women, wives of the fell upon the dusky crowd.

chief, with curious head dresses of feathers, Pipes over, a song began, during which a porcupine quills, shells, etc., a hundred erlarge portion of the younger people, men and mine skins dangling from their heads and women, quietly passed out one by one; not to shoulders, and bearing in their hands wands remain, however, but to dress for the grand trimmed with cloth, advanced and weaved climax of the evening. Fifteen minutes sideways to the music for a brief space. Then elapsed, and they began to return in small two young men, with paddles, endeavored groups, all squatting down this time on one with great vigor to look fiercer, jump higher, side of the house. Soon a song was heard in and come down stiffer legged than the chief the adjacent house, and the hitherto silent had done. Next, two young women, with crowd became loud and wild with excite- faces “stunningly” painted, and persons ment and expectation, for those who were to gaudily bedecked, stepped forward, wand in dance had kept secret their costume, song and hand, and sailed in, elevating, with a jerk, order, and were about to make the grand en- the right hip and foot several times in quick tree. Louder and louder swelled the song. succession; then changing to the left, meanThe boy at the drum gave place to a man, time keeping their heads as immovable as who spared neither himself nor the box; possible—all of which attracted the earnest strips of wood were clapped together, and attention of the Indian youth, and elicited staffs pounded upon the floor, while the pro warm applause. cession left the house where it had formed, Thus they continued to enter and give and advanced in single file. Soon its head place, each bearing some common articlewas at the door—a moment more, within. the men with guns, pistols, knives, and padFirst came two Indians en character as savage dles; the women with wands—until all the “Toodles.” By long practice in the reality, dancers, some twenty or thirty in number, they were enabled to do the intoxicated were in the house. I must not forget to with great fidelity. They paused a moment mention two little girls, aged about three on the threshold, and then staggeringly gave years, who, wand in hand, managed to displace to the next couple, who were clad in tort their diminutive forms in the most apmountain goat skins, and wore masks, the proved fashion-an exhibition of precocity first staring blankly at the audience, and the that met with unbounded admiration. All second endeavoring—apparently without the having arrived, their side of the house preleast success—to impart to his leader some sented an animated appearance. Each of wonderful intelligence. They do this sort of the actors strove to outdo the others. The thing well, and the house was soon in an up- drunken men became drunker ; blank face, roar of laughter. Directly, they joined their blanker; intelligence-man more strenuous in drunken predecessors, who still kept up their his efforts to impart his news; the chief more parts in the empty side of the house; and powerful in his exertions; and the youngtwo more entered in the same way, and were sters, men and women, all doing their utfollowed in turn by others, until the funny most. Suddenly every motion ceased, and part of the performers were all in.

every sound was stilled, while the master of Now rose a shriller strain: an Indian chief, ceremonies, in a grave, even voice, announced in blanket, feathers, and paint, appeared at the performance at an end. Quietly the the door. In he came with a bound, a huge people slipped away, and the dance was done. knife in his hand; and half squatting, with The next morning, A-quil-hut caused his

men to work the canoe and carry the cargo Kil-a-tam-acks, beautifully located on a bold over the portage of nearly a mile, and volun- bluff, on the right bank of the river, one of the teered, himself, to pilot ine for half a day. finest Indian towns I ever saw. It contained Opposite the bluff on which the village thirty houses, and had a population of about stands, for over half a mile, the left bank of six hundred. The principal chief, Muske the river rises nearly twenty-five feet, and boo (Wolf), welcomed me at his home during then forms an extensive plain, stretching my two days' stay. So far as I could learn, back as far as one can see, the most deso- four whites had previously visited the villate spot my eyes ever looked upon. Be- lage—Hudson Bay Company officers, and yond question, it was once an immense explorers in the employ of the Collins Russtream of molten lava, which, cooling, cracked sian-American Telegraph. No one has pubinto a myriad of fissures. Its gray and bar- lished any account of the vicinity of which I ren surface, devoid of a vestige of vegetable am aware. growth, is quite impassable. The chief, call My host's house, an unusually good one, ing my attention to this, the rapids, and the was built on the plan prevailing generally location of his stronghold, assured me, with among the aborigines of British Columbia no small degree of pride, that whoso passed and Alaska, which it may be well to describe. up or down must first have his permission. At the four corners of a square space of level So honey-combed was the lava bank, that ground, timbers, deeply grooved on the sides near the level of the river an almost constant facing each other, are firmly planted, rising sheet of water oozes forth and falls into the some ten feet above the surface of the soil. stream. At its upper margin, a clear, strong At intervals along the lines, similar timbers, tributary falls into the Nass. The Indians of proper height, grooved on the edges, are say that it has its rise in a 'ake in the lava erected. Thick planks, split with wooden beds. The water is quite warm, does not wedges from spruce or cedar logs, and cut to freeze in winter, and is said to contain sal- right dimensions, are slipped into the grooves, mon the year round. Here, there is a pass one on top of the other, till the walls are in the mountains extending to the Skeena, formed. Just within the walls at each end distant four days' travel, two of which are of the building, equidistant from the sides over the lava.

to the central line, two large uprights are Loaded once more, we held away up solidly fixed, saddled at the tops to receive stream, again about one hundred and fifty the main supports of the roof.

These sup: yards across. The current was very strong, ports consist of two immense spars, hewa and right manfully did my new-found friend perfectly sound and true, and extending the wield bis setting-pole in the bow. He ac- whole length of the structure. When raised companied us about seven miles, till the and placed in position, their great weight worst water was passed, and then, with many causes them to remain in situ. Round poles expressions of friendship, took his leave, hap- are used for rafters. Their butts rest upon py in the possession of such presents as we the walls, and project to form the eares; tendered him.

their centers are upon the spars, and the The valley now widened to ten or fifteen tops are notched together to form the ridge. miles, mostly timbered, though occasional Other poles are laid across the rafters, and the small prairies were seen. The river banks whole covered with sheets of bark, lapped were gravelly, and from ten to twenty feet to shed rain, and kept in place by heavy high; the stream broader and less swift. We stones. The ends are then finished to the passed several small branches on the left, gable. The pitch of the roof is very low. and a large one on the right. The day was In the center of the ridge a large square hole showery, and the distance traveled about ten is made to serve in lieu of chimney, and is miles-general direction N. E. Near night covered by a raised movable shelter that can we arrived at the village of Kil-ack-tam or be shifted, as the wind changes, to make it

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