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Belmont Ave., 

lelphia. Pa. 




Elliot Me^m^vml 

Presented by 









j^ rtEPoriT 












Washington, D. C, yovcMhcr 10, 18T4. 

Sir: III compliance with tlie provisions of the act of Congress 
api)roved April 1*2, LS74, I have the honor to submit the fol- 
lowing report upon the condition and importance of the far- 
trade in the Territory of Alaska ; ''the present condition of the 
seal-fisheries of Alaska ; the haunts and habits of the seal ; the 
preservation and extension of the fisheries as a source of reve- 
nue to the United States, -with like information respecting the 
fur-bearing animals of Alaska generally^ the statistics of the 
fur-trade ; and the coudition of the people or natives, especially 
those upon "whom the successful prosecution of the fisheries and 
fur-trade is dependent :" 

The first measure suggested by my investigations this season 
'is one of reform in the present government of the Territory. It 
is supposed that a useless outlay- of mone}' and labor is 
not intended to be persisted in, when the same annual expend- 
iture will give prompt and effective supervision over interests 
in that region which seem now to be sadly neglected. The 
present mismanagement of affairs in Alaska is not attributable 
to any other cause than that of the universal ignorance prevail- 
ing in the United States, at the time of the transfer, in regard 
to the form of government needed, and since then no one«seems 
to have taken any intelligent or active interest in the matter. 
In the following report, herewith submitted, I desire to draw 
your attention to the statements and suggestions contained in 
the chapter devoted to this subject, and I trust that you may 
be pleased to give them your approval. 

The pecuniary value of the fur-seal interests of the Govern-, 
ment renders it highly important that the Treasury Department, 
now intrusted with its care and supervis-ion, should possess 
definite and authoritative information as to its proper maimge- 
ment — for its perpetuation in its original integrity, at least. I, 
therefore, take great pleasure in calling your attention especially 
to the accompanying report upon the subject, which embodies 
the results of three seasons' (1872, 1873, and 1874) close per- 


sonal observatiou aucl research on the groaml, with maps and 

lu couuectiou with the coiulitiuu of the natives of the Terri- 
tory, on whom the successful prosecution of the fur-trade is 
dependent, I have been led into a very careful study of the 
history and habits of the sea-otter in this country, to the suc- 
cessful hunting of which between four and five thousand Chris- 
tian Aleutians and Kodiakers look for a means of livelihood. 
Since the transfer, fire-arms, formerly proscribed, have been 
introduced among the sea-otter hunters. This, in combination, 
with the keenest rivalry of opposition traders, makes it only a 
question of a very short time ere these valuable and interesting 
animals are exterminated, on the existence of which so many 
christianized natives are totally dependent for all of the com- 
forts, and many even of the necessities, of a semi-civilized 
life. The remedy for this is a very simple and effective one, and 
I beg leave to refer to my discussion of the subject in this 
report under the head of the sea-otter and its hunters. 

In my report it will be seen that I have given the Yukon, 
Aleutian, and Sitkan sections close attention, having yet to 
more fully examine the Kodiak, Cook's Inlet, and Copper Eiver 
districts ; that I have, in connection with Lieut. Washburn 
Maynard, United States Xavy, my associate during the past 
season, carefully resurveyed the area and position of the breed- 
ing-grounds of the fur-seal on the Prybilov Islands. We sur- 
veyed Saint Matthew's Island, which is contiguous and was 
entirely unknown and uninhabited, in order to settle the ques- 
tion, so frequently asked, and to which no definite reply could 
be given, as to whether or not it was suitable ground for fur- 
seals to land upon and breed, should these animals ever become 
dissatisfied with their present locality ; and that 1 have com- 
piled, from llussian and other authorities, facts and statistics 
as to the extent of the fur-trade in the early days of the Terri- 
tory, so as to compaa^e with the condition of this business at the 
present, as I get it from traders and agents in the country gen- 
erally. Of necessity, I have been obliged to use my judgment 
in selecting and taking tbese figures, both from the written as 
well as the verbal authorities. These I submit as being very 
nearly correct, to the best of my knowledge and belief. The 
remarkable increase in the catch of fur-bearing animals since 
the change of ownership of the country is most striking, but 
in perfect harmony with the strong contrast between the indo- 


lent, iniikc' sliit't inana<;(Mucnt of the Itussian-Aiiiciicaii ]"ur 
C'Oinpaiiy in later times and that of onr energetic, economical 

Tile extrava^jant statements wliidi liave been made in r«';;ard 
to tlie resources of this Teiritory, ^\ hich, on the one Iiand, were 
they true, would lit it for the future reception of a highly-civil- 
ized population, while, on the other, it would be made a land 
of utter desolation, worthlessness, and an entire loss of seveu 
millions of i)urchase-money, besides being a burden to the 
General Government, these anuouucenieuts, so often made 
and reiterated throughout our country, have caused me to pay 
great attention to the subject, and in this report 1 Lave endeav- 
ored to give a concise description of the agricultural character 
of the Territory as I have seen it, wliicli thus far might be truth- 
fully suuimed up in saying that there are more acres of better 
laud lying DOW as wildernessandjuugle in sighton the mountain- 
tops of the Alleghaniesfrom the car-windowsof the Pennsylvania 
road than can be found in all Alaska j and whe:i it is remem- 
bered that this hind, wild, in the heart of one of our oldest and 
most thickly-populated States, will remain as it now is, cheap, 
and undistnrbed for an ind(?finite time to come, notwithstand- 
ing its close proximity to the homes of millions of ener.^etic 
and enterprising men, it is not difficult to estimate the value of 
the Alaskan acres, remote as they are, and barred out by a 
most disagreeable sea-coast climate, leaving out altogether the 
great West and vast agricultural regions of British America ; 
but then, directly to the contrary, it would be wrong to hint by 
this statement, true as it is, that the country is worthless, for 
on the Seal Islands alone the Government possesses property 
which would not remain in the market many days nnsold were 
it offered for seven millions, and from which the annual 
revenue is doubly sufficient to meet all expenditures for the 
proper government of the whole Territory, if the matter was 
correctly adjusted. Again, it should be understood that, be- 
yond a few outcrops of Tertiary coal and small leads near Sitka 
of gold and silver, with reports of native copper ui situ, nothing 
is known whatever of the mineral wealth of the Territory at 
the present writing, as far as I can learn, but which I have 
reason to think will develop into some value. 

My opinion with refc-fence to the fishing interests in the Ter- 
ritory has been almost entirely formed by the accounts of old, 
experienced fishermen whom I have met in the country person- 


ally engaged iu fishing in these waters. The value and proba- 
ble yield of the cod-banks of Alaska have been greatly overrated, 
but it may be reasonably anticipated that the success attending 
the canning of salmon on the Columbia lUverwill stimulate the 
prosecution of this industry at the mouths of all the large 
streams and rivers of the Territory. 

In connection with my survey of affairs iu the Territory, the 
Seal Islands in especial, I have been most fortunate iu being 
associated with a gentleman so efficient and conscientious as 
Lieut. Washburn Maynard, the officer selected by the Secre- 
tary of the Navy, in compliance with the act of Congress, to 
accom]iany me ou this tour of investigation, and to report in- 

It is also fitting that I should speak in flattering terms of the 
high character of tlie service rendered us this season by C^pt. 
J. G. Baker, commanding the United States revenue-cutter 
Eeliauce, who carried us with all care and expedition to such 
poiuts as we saw fit to designate, and which it was possible to 
visit in a sailing-vessel, with the time allotted. 

The several subjects within the scope of my report I have 
arranged, and herewith respectfully present in the following 
order, viz : 
CHAPTER I. The chaeacter of the country. 

II. The natives or people of Alaska ; their 


III. The duty of the Govern3Ient in the Ter- 
ritory OF Alaska. 
IV. Trade in the Territory and the traders, 


Y. The sea-otter and its hunting. 
YI. The condition of affairs on the Seal 

Islands ; Prybilov group. 
YII. The habits of the fur seal. 
YIII. Fish and fisheries. 
IX. Oknithology OF THE Prybilov Islands. 


I have endeavored in the preparation of this report to be 
as concise as possible, perliaps so to a fault, but the enumer- 
ation of the thousand and one little things that have combined 
to form opinion, and indirectly influence one's judgment, can 
interest no one but the writer. 


On the subject of Alaska, it is safe to assert that no other 
unexplored section of the world was ever brought into notice 
suddenly, about which so much has been emphatically and 
positively written, based entirely upon the whims and caprices 
of the writers, and, therefore, it will not be at all surprising if 
the truth in regard to the Territory does frequently come into 
conflict with many erroneous popular opinions respecting it. 

AVith the hope that the results of my labor as presented in 
the following report will meet with your approval and support, 

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient 

Sjycclal Agent Treasury DepartmenU 

Hon. B. H. Bristow, 

Secretary of the Treasury, 




So much has been said j^ro and con as to tiie natnral wealth 
and advantages of our new acquisition, the Territory of Alaska, 
that the widest possible divergence of opinion has arisen upon this 
subject ', on the one hand, we hear that here is a country no more 
rugged or uninviting than is Sweden or Xorway, where a high 
civilization exists, with just as much natural adaptation for the 
home of advancing humanity, with vast forests of the finest 
ship-timber, with iron, copper, coal, and possibly rich gold and 
silver mines, with valleys and plains upon which sheep and cattle 
can be bred and raised without more than ordinary care, so abun- 
dant is the grass and other vegetation ; that the climate is ex- 
tremely mild on the seaboard, no more damp and foggy than 
on the coast of Oregon, &c. ; while, on the other hand, we are 
as gravely told that it is an area of total desolation ; that it is 
locked up in the grasp of winter's frosts for eight or nine months 
in the year ; that icebergs and snow fill the sea and drift in 
fathomless rifts; that it is bare and barren, only moss and 
swale grass j that even the inhabitants there drag out a miser- 
able existence on seal-meat, oil, and like food ; and that it will 
never become the home of white men, because there is no object 
in the land that will draw them there save the small fur- trading 

"There is truth in both declarations, but no such thing as a 
happy medium can be struck between the two views; a fair, 
dispassionate statement in regard to this matter, however, at 
the time of the transfer of the Territory, could hardly have been 
made, no citizen of the United States having the means ov the 
opportunity to form a proper judgment. The Russians did not 
live here as a people, but as a company of fur-traders only, 
with a single eye to the getting of skins ; and the matter of 
their subsistence while so doing was comparatively of little 
importance; but it should be said that at all of their posts 
throughout the Territory they fully tested the capabilities of 
soil and climate for garden-products, and at many of them 


gave bogs aud cattle a trial, with a deep interest in the success 
of their experiments. The Kussian Ame^an Company in re- 
tiring from the countrj' gave us a generally correct map of the 
Territory, accurate figures as to the numbers and distribution 
of the natives ; but upon other points the most vague or else 
conflicting data, and in this condition of knowledge we took 
possession of the country. Its true status, therefore, and real 
importance were simply unknown to our people. 

Since that time, however, quite a number of adventurers, 
traders, miners, fishermen, and the like have had their atten- 
tion and interest centered here, and the resources of the country 
in small sections have been keenly scrutinized with a view to 
what the country could or could not yield in supply of human 


Everybody is famiUar with the geographical position of 
Alaska, with its extended area of coast-line, stretching from a 
trifle south of the 55th parallel of north latitude, above Fort 
Simpson, on the British Columbian Territory, far to the north- 
ward and westward away into the Arctic Ocean and above the 
arctic circle; and, in describing the character of this vast trend 
of land, it should be divided into several natural districts, by 
reason of the local difference between them. 

T;ie>Si^AY(>u/isfricf.—Startiugfrom Portland Canal andrunning 
north to Cross Sound and the headof Lynn Canal, the eye glances 
over a range of country made up of hundreds of islands, large 
and small, and a bold, mountainous coast, all everj-where rugged 
and abrupt in contour, aud, with exception of highest sum- 
mits, the hills, mountains, and valleys, the last always narrow 
and winding, are covered with a dense jungle of spruce and 
fir, cedar and shrubbery, so thick, dark, and damp, that it is 
traversed only by the expenditure of great pliysical energy, 
and a clear spot, either on islands or mainland, where an acre 
of grass might grow by itself, as it does in the little "parks" 
far in the interior, cannot be found. In these forest-jungles, 
especially on the lowUinds and always by the water-courses, 
will be found a fair proportion of ordinary timber of the char- 
acter above designated. The spruce and fir, however, are so 
heavily charged with resin, that they can be used for nothing 
but the roughest work ; the cedar is, however, an excellent ar- 
ticle. But back froui the Coast Range here, on which our bound- 


ary-line is dotted, springs up quite a differeut country again, 
higher evervwliere from the sea-level by thousands ot* feet, dry, 
with not one-tenth part of the rain-fall, vast rolling plains or ta- 
ble-lands and rounded mountain-tops, over which fire has swept 
not many years ago, for the last time, as it has frequently done 
before, utterly destroying the pine-forests, leaving nothing but 
the blackened and bleached trunks piled upon and across one 
another at the sport of tierce gales j and springing up from be- 
neath this desolation and shutting over it is a new forest of 
young pine and poplars, with a large number of service-berry 
and salal bushes iutersi>ersed. The valleys here widen out, 
and contain large tracts of excellent ground for cultivation, 
with the significant objection, however, of being subject to 
frosts so late in the spring as June 10, and so early in the 
summer as the 20th of August. This, of course, excludes the 
question of agricultural utility ; and although the grass grows 
everywhere here in the valleys in the most luxuriant nianuer, 
yet cattle cannot run out through the winters, which are here 
bitterly cold; widely different from those a hundred miles only 
to the westward across the Coast Kange. Here, under the pow- 
erful influence of the great Pacific, winter is never anything 
but wet and chilly, seldom ever giving the people a week's 
skating on the small lake back of Sitka. Day after day there 
are high winds and drizzling rains, with breaks in the leaden 
sky showing gleams of clear blue and sunlight ; and here the 
agriculturist or gardener has like cause for discouragement, 
for nothing will ripen ; whatever he plants grows and enters on 
its stages of decay without i^erfecting. It must, moreover, be 
remarked that there is but very little land fit even for this un- 
satisfactory and most unprofitable agriculture, i. e., properly- 
drained and warm soil enough for the very hardiest cereals. 
There is not one acre of such tillable land to every ten thou- 
sand of the objectionable character throughout the larger por- 
tion of this area, and certainly not more than one acre to a 
thousand in the best regions. Grass grows in small localities 
or areas, wherever it is not smothered by forests and thickets, 
in the valleys over this whole Sitkan district : its presence, 
however, is not the rule, but the exception, so vigorous is the 
growth of shrubbery and timber; and even did it grow in large 
amount, the curing of hay is simply impracticable. Although 
the winters are mild, still there is not enough ranging-ground 


to supi)ort herds of cattle tlirougbont the year and have them 
witbiii coutrol. 

Mount Saint Elias district.— Re2iQ\img from Cross Sound to 
Priuce William's Sound is a second and clearly-defined region, 
exhibiting a bald, bare sea-front, with scarcely an island or a 
rock in its long stretch of over three hundred miles ; little belts 
of spruce timber skirt the lowlands by the sea, while that which is 
hilly and mountainous is almost bare ; grass and berries grow, 
however, in great abundance. It is the most cheerless, but at 
the same time the most interesting, portion of the Territory, not 
from any other point of view, however, than that of the tourist 
or geologist, who will find Mount Saint Elias the highest peak in 
North America, and the superb mountains of Fairweather and 
Cillon, and the country about them, covered, for miles and miles, 
with mighty glaciers, a field of most instructive interest. An 
immense mass of ice comes down into the head of Lynn Canal, 
which, the Indians say, originates and travels from Mount Fair- 
weather over fifty miles away. This glacier is some eight miles 
wide where it faces the sea in the channel, and many hundred 
feet in thickness, perfectly magnificent, and should be visited, 
for, as yet, this region, like the most of our new Territory, has 
not been trodden by the foot of white man, and seldom even by 
the savage. Its exceptional presentation of timber, its long 
reaches of rounded, low, barren hills, and relative scarcity of 
both birds and animals, make this section about as uninviting, 
on economic grounds, as any in the Territory, and the paucity 
of Indian life within its limits speaks definitely for its poverty 
as to game and fish. 

Coolers Inlet district.— 1 refrain from giving the reports which 
I received from this section, inasmuch as they are very contra- 
dictory in many leading features ; thongh, in a general way, the 
ideas given me are undoubtedly correct. They represent the 
country similar to Kodiak, with more timber. 

Uiamna Lake and the False Pass, between the head of the Pen- 
insula of Alaska and contiguous islands, is the most valuable 
section of the entire Territory, possessing the most equable cli- 
mate, especially so at Kodiak, growing the best garden -sup- 
plies of potatoes, turnips, »S:c., the only place where hay can be 
made, enough for a few head of stock, with any thing likea certain- 
ty, from season to season ; but the country comprised in this dis- 
trict, which forms the southern and western half of the Peninsula, 


does not possess auy ot'tlie abover-mentioned qualifications in the 
same degree by any means. Tlie island of Kodiak and the wliole 
district is, however, rugged and niountainous, with numerous 
small lakes and tiny rivers or streams, up which a considerable 
number of salmon run every year. Timber, of spruce and fir, 
grows in fair (juantity in the northern and eastern end of Ko- 
diak, all the islands to the eastward, and down the Peninsula 
as far as Chignik Bay ; it is not large, but in size for fuel, rough 
building, &c. Grass grows most luxuriantly, especially on Ko- 
diak, but the area suitable for its support is limited, there be- 
ing no plains or dry and accessible valleys in which to cut and 
cure it. There are many winters here in which cattle might 
be kept in small numbers without exceptional care and expense, 
i. e.j enough to aftbrd milk and beef for a small settlement, and 
also sheep and hogs. Little patches of land can be found 
where a small garden will thrive consisting of potatoes, turnips, 
&c. ; but reaching down to the Aleutian Islands, and over them, 
is a region bare entirely of ti-mber and nearly so of shrubbery, 
rugged, abrupt, and extremely mountainous, the surface broken 
into patches set, as it were, on end^ this is no country adapted 
for agriculture, for the prevalence of foggy, dark weather would 
render even the limited area that could be ntilized with sun- 
light nnserviceable for the production of fruits and vegetables. 
Soil there is sufficiently rich and deep, but it is too cold to ma- 
ture or ripen garden-products, except in very favored locali- 
ties where, as at Ounalashka, a few potatoes of inferior quality, 
good turnips, and lettuce, are in the favorable seasons raised. 
The Western Islands are all essentially volcanic, with scarcely a 
trace of sedimentary rock to be found ; consisting of high, 
steep ridges and peaks of porphyries and volcanic tufa, with 
here and there syenitic granites. The vegetation, such as it is, 
principally Empetrum nigrum, grows most rank and luxuriant 
on the flanks and even the summits of many of these high 
places, and the light, frail stems of this plant, which are of about 
the size of strawberry-vines, the natives gather and bring down 
from the hills in large bundles lor fire-wood. The only shrub that 
lifts its head above the earth, of value as wood, is a willow, {iSalix 
reticulata,) which grows in scattered clumps along the little water- 
courses, twisted and contorted, yet of sufficient size to furnish 
in early days strong and serviceable frames for native skin- 
boats or <' baidars." Scattered over the Aleutian Islands and 
on the Peninsula are many' small lakes, some of them quite 


large. The PeniDSular country is more rolling and level, on 
the nortb shore especially so ; for from Port MoUer on np to the 
head of P>ristol Bay extensive flats make out from the high- 
lands and stretch between them and the sea in width varying 
from ten to sixty miles. 

There are a number of volcanoes in this district, such as that 
of Makooshin, on Oanalashka Island, Akootan and Sliishaldiu, 
on Oonimak, which, however, do not eject lava, but emit smoke, 
steam, and ashes, although in times past and within the memory 
of man large stones have been thrown out by many of them, 
and still earlier lava has been poured out on Oonimak in immense 
streams. The seared, rugged courses of the once liquid rock 
make traveling on that island excessively fatiguing. Akootan, 
on Akootan Island, and Makooshin are, perhaps, the most active, 
or as lively as. any in the Territory to-day. There has been no 
disturbance on their account in the country for the last thirty 
years to mention, but previous to that time many severe earth- 
quake shocks have been recorded, and the growth of a new 
island, Bogaslov, twenty miles north of Oomnak, in Bering 
Sea, has been witnessed by the present generation, and I think 
that the phenomena attending the appearance of this island far 
out at sea and alone must have been coincident with the whole 
history of the formation of the Aleutian Chain, and therefore I 
may be excused for giving the substance of the story as told by 
several of the Eussian writers. 

In the fall of 179G the residents of Oonimak and Ounalashka 
were surprised by a series of loud reports and tremblings of 
the earth, followed by the appearance of a dense dark cloud, 
full of gas and ashes, which came down upon them from the 
sea to the northward, and, after a week or ten days, during 
which time the cloud hung steadily over them, accompanied 
with earthquakes and subterranean thunder, it cleared away 
somewhat, so that they saw distinctly to the northward a bright 
light burning above the sea, and, upon closer inspection in their 
boats, the people found that a snjall island, elevated about 100 
feet above sea-level, had been forced up and was still in the pro- 
cess of elevation and enlargement, formed of lava and scoriae. 
The volcanic action did not cease on this island until 1825, when 
it left above the water an oval peak, almost inaccessible, 400 to 
500 feet high, and four or hve miles in circumference. It was 
soon after this occupied by sea-lions and resorted to by sea fowl. 


wbicli were found here in 1825, Avlien the Kussian.s landed f<jr 
the first time, and the rocks were still warm. 

In this way and recently, g'eolo<^ically speaking, were the 
Aleutian Islands formed from the Peninsula westward, includ- 
ing the Prybilov Group and Saint ^Matthew's, their appearance 
marking the course of a line of least resistance in the earth's 

The Yulon Distrtcf. — In this division may be i)laced all that 
country above the head of Bristol Bay and north and west of 
the Peninsular llauge of mountains as they extend far into the 
interior, reaching to the arctic and far beyond, an immense area 
of desolate sameness, almost unknown, and likely to be so for 
an indefinite time, the banks of the Yukon liiver being the 
only track traversed as yet by white men into the interior. 
This great range of country may properly be divided into two 
sections, the hills or timber-lands and the plains or tundra. The 
former seldom approach the waters of Bering or the Arctic 3ea 
nearer than fifty or sixty miles, and generally trend some two to 
three hundred miles back. The general contourof the interior 
is a vast undulating plain, with high, rounded granitic hills and 
ridges scattered here and there, on the flanks of which, and by 
the countless lakes and water-courses, grow in tolerable abun- 
dance spruce, fir, hemlock, birch, and poplar, with a large number 
of hardy shrubs indigenous all the world over to these latitudes. 
The summers short, but warm and pleasant ; the winters long, 
and bitterly cold and inclement. 

The tundra, however, which fronts the whole coast-line of 
this, the most extensive section of the Territory, is, indeed, 
cheerless and repellant at au}' season ; in the summer it is a 
great flat swale, full of bog-holes, slimy, decayed peat, innumer- 
able lakes, shallow, stagnant, and from all places swarm mos- 
quitoes of the most malignant typ:-, while in winter it is a wide 
snow plain, over which fierce gales of wind, at zero tempera- 
ture, sweep in constant succession, making travel as painful 
and dangerous as can be well imagined. In this season all ap- 
proach to the coast is barred by a great system of shoals and 
banks, which extend so for out to sea that a vessel drawing 10 
feet of water will be hard aground, out of sight of laud, oft' the 
mouth of the Yukon. 

There is a vast area of this district between the head of 
Cook's Inlet and the Arctic, and far back into the interior, that 
is entirely unknown, but as traders are extending their'routes 
in all directions, this interior may in time be explored and noted. 


The OunaJashla Bistricf.—TJndev this head may be placed the- 
Aleutian Islands ; and as Illolook or Oimalashka Village is 
the most important place among them, both with regard to 
population and trade, and the best position as a port, its name 
may be fitly applied to the whole region. 

This great chain of rugged islands, enveloped dnring the 
greater part of the year in fogs, and swept over by frequent 
gales, that, in combination with the mists and currents, make 
it a region dreaded by the mariner, abounds in sharp hills, and 
hilly or blufipy mountainous masses. Nearly every island— and 
there are many, small and large— is as it were set up on end, 
with small patches of bottom-land here and there, in rare inter- 
vals, at the base of the hills and mountains. 

The appearance of any of these islands from a ship approach- 
ing them during the summer, on a clear sunny day— and such 
days are occasionally known — is most attractive; a rich, dark 
coat of vivid green clothes the valleys, hills, and mountains, 
quite to the snow-line. In these narrow defiles and bot- 
tomland patches, the grass is most luxuriant, growing waist- 
high, with low, stunted willow-bushes here and there in small 
quantity; and it is at first not apparent, when one strolls about 
the country on such a day, that it is utterly worthless as an ag- 
ricultural or stock-raising country. The mountains principally 
consist of syenitic granites and porphyries, with sharp sum- 
mits and abrupt slopes, and present numerous small water- 
courses, with little or no valley-ground. The vegetation is rank 
and luxuriant, and, in favorable seasons, the grasses ripen their 
seeds well. Quite a variety of berries abound ; for example, 
salmon, huckle, crow, and blue berries. The only timber is a 
slight willow, nowhere larger than a man's wrist, and not over 
7 or 8 feet high, growing in small, scattered clumps, with 
stunted specimens climbing way up the hill-sides. The thick, 
dense carpet of crow-berry plants, into which one sinks at every 
step ankle-deep, covers the entire country, and makes traveling 
very tedious for a pedestrian. Several species of grass grow 
everywhere in patches, and if more sunlight were to fall upon 
these cold, moist places, where vegetation now springs up every 
year in such (juantities, but of such inferior quality, hay might 
be cured, and it might be called a fair grazing-country ; but al- 
though the islands would amply support herds of cattle and 
flocks of sheep during the summer-months, these animals 
would generally need shelter and feed for three to five months 


as winter comes on, and far into the spring daring late seasons, 
when high winds raf»e and keep the snow in drifts. Bailey 
might also be grown with a little more sunlight ; and potatoes 
might also be matured year after year in fair quantity, and a 
good kitchen-garden established in the most favored sections; 
but perpetual fogs and mists hang like palls over the land and 
render it of no agricultural importance. 

The summers are mild, foggy, and humid, with an average 
temperature of 50^* Fahrenheit, with winters also mild, foggy, 
and humid, and an average temperature of 3(P. Minimum 
thermometer here seldom or never falls lower than 10^ ; there 
never has been recorded four consecutive weeks of temperature 
lower than 3^' or 5^. The w^eather begins to grow colder in 
October, and does not become milder until April. The natives 
here think that 12^ to 15^ is pleasant weather, but if it goes 
down to 3^ or 5^, it is to them, horribly cold. There are, how- 
ever, exceptional seasons. For instance, the summer of 1831, in 
July and August the thermometer did not rise above 35^, and 
evenings were not uncommon with as low a temperature as 12'^. 

Eain falls at all times and with all winds, but mostly in the 
autumn, with southeast and easterly winds, and less with 
southwest winds in winter. 

Snow begins to fall in September, (and even in August,) and 
does not cease earlier than May, although it frequently melts 
as fast as it falls far into December. It is seen on the higher 
mountains all the year round. The average snow-fall is from 
2 to 5 feet; the high, driving winds make the snow intensely 
disagreeable and impede traveling. 

The cloudiness of the district is remarkable ; there are not a 
dozen cloudless days in the whole year ; about thirty to fifty 
fine days ; and Yeniaminov says, after living there ten years, 
" that the sua may he seen in a hundred to a hundred and sixty 
days during the year." 

Thunder is seldom ever heard, and lightning never seen ; 
although the clouds seem to constantly suggest it. Auroras 
are also almost unknown, and when seen are very ftiint. 

The old Aleuts here say that in early times the snow was 
deeper and the cold greater than it has been for some time 
psjst, while, on the other hand, they assert that the winds are 
getting stronger and harsher as time rolls on with them. Veni- 

2 AL 


aminov* says, ^' In all tbe time of my living here there was 
not one clay from morning to evening that was entirely with- 
out wind, or was a perfect calm." The winds blow here strong 
from all quarters, strongest in October, November, December, 
and March. The gales do not usually last more than three days 
at a time, but they follow in quick succession in the seasons 
above mentioned. 

There are a multitude of little lakes of fresh water on the 
islands, and in nearly all of the small streams (for there are no 
large ones) are found brook- trout of good quality. 

In view of the foregoing, what shall we say of the resources 
of Alaska, viewed as regards its agricultural or horticultural 
capabilities ? 

It would seem undeniable that owing to the unfavorable cli- 
matic conditions which prevail on the coast and in the interior, 
the gloomy fogs and dampness of the former, and the intense, 
protracted severity of the winters, characteristic of the latter, 
unfit the Territory for the proper support of any considerable 

Men may, and undoubtedly will, soon live here, in compara- 
tive comfort, as they labor in mining-camps, lumber and ship- 
timber mills, and salmon-factories, but they will bring with 
them everything they want except fish and game, and when 
they leave the country it will be as desolate as they found it. 

Can a country be permanently and prosperously settled that 
will not in its whole extent allow the successful growth and 
ripening of a single crop of corn, wheat, or potatoes, and where 
the most needlul of any domestic animals cannot be kept by 
l^oor people ? 

The Russians, who have subdued a rougher country, and set- 
tled in large communities under severer conditions than have 
been submitted to by any body of our own people as yet, were 
in this Territory, after some twenty years at least of patient, 
intelligent trial, obliged to send a colony to California to raise 
their potatoes, grain, and beef; the history of their settlement 
there, and forced abandonment in 1842, is well known. 

We may with pride refer to the rugged work of settlement 
so successfully made by our ancestors in New England, bnt it 
is idle to talk of the subjugation of Alaska as a task simply re- 
quiring a similar expenditure of persistence, energy, and ability. 

* Zapieskie, &c., vol. 1, it. 98. 


111 IMassacbusctts* our forefathers had a land In which all the 
necessaries of li/c^ and many of the luxuries, could he produced 
from the soil with certainty from year to year; in Ahiska their 
lot would have been quite the reverse, and they could have main- 
tained themselves therewith no better success than the present 
inhabitants. Attention shouhl be directed to the development 
of its mineral wealth, which I have reason to think will yet 
prove to be considerable, and effort should be made to stimu- 
late and protect the present available industries of the fur- 
trade, the canning of salmon, &c. 

*"I have seen with surprise aud regret, that men whose forefathers 
wielded the ax in the forests of Maine, or gathered scanty crops on the Iiill- 
sides of Massachusetts, have seen tit to throw contempt and derision on tlie 
acquisition of a great territory naturally far richer than that in which 
they themselves originated, (!) principally on the ground that it is a 'cold' 
country." (W. H. Dall, Alaska aud its Eesources, p. 242, Boston, Lee & 
iSbepard, 1870.) 





In taking the subject of the condition of the people of Alaska 
into consideration, the character of the country in which they 
live should always be kept in mind, for the life of any i^eople 
is insensibly but surely molded by the climate and land in 
which they are found : under favorable and genial influences 
of soil and climate, a rude race may be raised from barbarism, 
pass into civilization, and be sustained by these favoi;ing sup- 

The inhabitants of the Territory are divided into two decidedly 
distinct races, widely different in habits and disposition j one of 
these two classes consists of the Christian Aleuts, who live 
npon the Aleutian Islands, the Seal Islands, the Peninsula of 
Alaska, the adjacent Islands, and Kodiak -, the Indians, occupy- 
ing all the rest of the inhabited country, constitute the other. It 
will be seen by a Russian table which I submit in connection 
with this subject that quite a large number, in 18G3, of the 
natives, outside of the district above specified, are claimed as 
Christians, but I cannot recognize the claim to-day; they have 
worn off what little Christianity they may have possessed ten 
years ago, and there is no Christian influence, properly speaking, 
in the Territory, outside of the Aleutians and the people of 
Kodiak ; these people are naturally fitted for the reception of 
the principles of Christianity, or otherwise they would have 
remained Indians, as the others, who are savages, have done. 
The Russian Greek Catholic priests spared no effort in their 
attempts to convert the Koloshians of Sitka and those of 
kindred stock elsewhere in the Territory, but met with i)artial 
failure in every instance. 

The fact that among all the savage races found on the north- 
west coast by Christian pioneers and teachers the Aleutians 
are the only practical converts to Christianity, goes far, in my 


opinion, to set tlicin apart as very differently constituted iu 
iniiid and disi)osilion from our aborigines, to whom, however, 
they are intimately allied. Tliey adopted the Christiau faith 
witli very little o[)j)osition, readily exehanging their barbarous 
customs and wild superstitions for the agreeable rites of the 
Greek Catholic Church and its more refined myths and legends. 
At the time of their first discovery they were living as savages 
in every sense of the word, bold and hardy ; but now, to all out- 
ward signs and professions of Christianity they respond as 
sincerely as our own church-goiug people. 

The question as to the derivation of these i)eople is still a 
mooted one among ethnologists; in all points of personal bear- 
ing, intelligeuce, character, as well as physical structure, they 
seem to form a link of perfect gradation between the Japanese 
aud Eskimo, although their traditions and language are entirely 
distinct and peculiar to themselves; they, howev^er, claim to 
have come first to the Aleutian Islands from a *' big land to the 
westward," and that when they came liere first they found the 
land uninhabited, and that they did not meet with any people 
until their ancestors had pushed on to the eastward asfar as the 
Peninsular and Kodiak. 

The Aleuts, as they appear to-day, have been so mixed with 
Eussian, Koloshian, and Kamschadale blood, »&c., that they 
X)resent characteristics in one way or another of the various 
races of men from the negro up to the Caucasian. The pre- 
dominant features among them are small, wide-set, dark eyes, 
broad and high cheek-bones, causing the jaw, which is full and 
square, to often appear peaked ; coarse, straight black hair, 
small, neatly-shaped feet and hands, together with brownish- 
yellow complexion. The men will average in stature five feet 
four or five inches; the women less in proportion, although 
there are exceptions among them, some being over six feet iu 
height, and others dwarfs. 

The number of these people, including those of Kodiak, who 
resemble the Aleutians only as Christians, having no other nat- 
ural or blood afQnity, is about 5,000, but v/heu first discovered 
by the Russians they were four and five times as many; at least 
20,000 were living on the Aleutian Islands and the Peninsular in 
1700; and from that time, in obedience to that natural law 
which causes an inferior class to succumb to its superior when 
brought into opposition, the Aleuts were quickly diminished iu 
Dumber until it became an object of care and solicitude on the 


part of tbe Russians to save them for tlie prosecution of tbe fur- 
trade, lu 1834 they numbered only about 4,000, Kodiak in- 
ckided, and tberefore they bave not diminished nor increased 
to any noteworthy degree durinjij the last forty years. There 
has been a slight increase, if any, up to tbe present time. 

When first discovered they were living in large " yourtfi^^ or 
'•'• oo-lmja-muh^'' bouses partially underground, which resemble 
very much such a structure as our farmers put up for a root- 
cellar, with tbe difference only of having the entrance through 
a bole in tbe top, going in and out on a rude ladder or notched 
timber post. Some of these yourts were very large, as shown 
by the ruins to-day ; one on Oonimak Island, north side, is 
over 500 feet in length, with corresponding width, and one at 
Koshegan, Ounalashka Island, tbe foundations still standing, 
shows that it was 87 yards long and 40 wide; and an old 
woman who was living only two years ago, remembered when 
her people lived there, and called it "a handsome house." In 
these yourts they lived by forties, fifties, and hundreds as a 
single family, with the double object of protection and warmth, 
where fuel was so scarce and precious. 

For a full account of them as they existed when first visited 
by tbe Eussian priests I can do no better than call attention to 
the history of their lives and condition, as published by Father 
Yeniaminov,* a noble missionary, and who made good use of bis 
time in recording faithfully tbe custom of a people which has 
been entirely changed by Christianity in less than one hundred 
years. As an illustration, showing how exceedingly supersti- 
tious they were in these early days, I may mention that there 
is a small stream running into the northwest bead of Beaver 
Bay, Ounalasbka Island, forming a very pretty little water- 
fall, and near by it is a large mass of dark basaltic rock ; tbe 
water of this creek the Aleuts never dared to drink for fear of 
instant death, and to the stone they paid homage, and revered 
it as a devil petrified. 

As they are living at this time, nearly every family is in 
possession of a but or " hnrrabkie,^^ built partly underground, 
walled up on tbe sides, and roofed over with dirt and sod ; a 
small window placed at one end, and a low door at the other, 
which opens into a low, dark alley, which in turn communi- 
cates with the living-room by another small door. This living- 

* A translation is x)ul>lisbe(l in Alaska and its Resources, W. H. Dull : Lee 

&, Sbepartl, 1870. 


room is not large, seldom over ten Tcct scuiaic, and often not 
more than seven or ei^lit, with a hard eartlicn or wooden lloor; 
the walls are neatly boarded npand sonuitimes papered and em- 
bellished with pietures of chureh saints. In this room the Aleut 
spends most of his time when not hnntinj^; shuts himself u^) 
in it with his family, builds a, hot lire, lasting oidy a few 
minutes, in the little stove or Russian oven, and either drinks 
eup after cup of tea, or stupefies himself with "(/Mas.s" or 
native beer, and lies for hours, and days even, in dull, stui)id 
enjoyment on his pallet. 1 have looked into a barrabkie where 
there were twenty men, women, and children packed into a 
living-room not more than ten feet square, all drinking tea, 
with the perspiration rolling down in beady streams from 
every face. Many of these huts are damp and exceedingly 
filthy, while others are dry and cleanly; but the temi)er and 
disposition of the Aleuts is that of improvidence and shiftless- 
ness, and all exist, with a few exceptions, as a matter of course, 
in a state of ignorance, though a great many read and write, 
in consequence of their relationship to the church, the services 
of which are recited in the Ilussian tongue, and as most of the 
subpriests, deacons, &c., are recruited from the ranks of the 
people themselves, (the boys only being educated for this ])ur- 
pose.) a large proportion of them speak and read Ilussian well 
enough for all ordinary use. 

The manners and customs of these people, to-day, possess 
in themselves nothing of a barbarous or remarkable character, 
aside from that which belongs to a state of advanced semi- 
civilization. They are exceedingly polite and civil, not only to 
their trading agents, but among themselves, and visit one with 
another freely and pleasantly, the women being great gossips; 
but, on the whole, their intercourse is very quiet indeed, for the 
topics of conversation are few, and, judging from their silent 
but unconstrained meetings, they seem to have a mutual knowl- 
edge, as if by sympathy, as to what may be occupying each 
other's minds, rendering speech superfluous. It is only when 
under the influence of beer or liipior that they lose their uiitu- 
rally quiet and amiable disposition and fall into drunken 

Having been so long under the control and influence of the 
Eussians, they have adopted many of the customs of the latter, 
in giving birth-day dinners, naming their children, *S:c. They 
are great tea-drinkers, but seldom use coflVe. On account 


of scarcity of fuel, they use a ^reat amount of hard bread, soda 
aud sweet crackers, instead of buying flour and baking it. 

They are remarkably attached to their church, which is w^ell 
adapted to them, and no other form of religion could be better 
or have a firmer hold upon the sensibilities of the people. 
Their chastity and sobriet^^ cannot be commended. 

As parents, they are very indulgent while their children are 
infants or under the age of eight or nine years, but when this age 
is attained by their offspring they become harsh disciplinarians 
and task-masters, putting burdens upon young shoulders that are 
heavy enough for adults, always exacting implicit obedience. 
Though many children are born, the mothers are not successful in 
rearing them, for they are extremely negligent in regard to air 
and diet, irregular in their meals and slumbers, shiftless and un- 
clean, and they frequently indulge in intoxication while nurs- 
ing their infants. These vices cause an excessive mortality 
among the children. The Aleuts are dependent entirely upon 
themselves, except at the Seal Islands, for relief aud aid in 
case of illness, yielding themselves to such treatment as they 
can get with the utmost patience and resignation. They believe 
generally in a mild form of Shamanism, or in the laying on of 
hands, which is practiced usually by old women. 

The average Aleut is a bold, hardy trapper, as he must be to 
be successful as a sea-otter hunter, and this is the only profes- 
sion or calling that his country can offer him. He is a patient, 
steady workman, and supplies as good manual labor as could 
be desired, and such as is required in the country-. The Kussians 
made sailors, navigators, carpenters, blacksmiths, store-keepers, 
cS:c., of this race ; but since the transfer of the Territory there 
are too many of our own people of that class idle for the Aleuts 
to compete with, and who come directly into the country in re- 
sponse to any demand for such labor, so that he falls back upon 
the sea-otter as his sole support agiiinst a relapse into barbar- 
ism. Competition in this business he has no occasion to ll-ar 
from the white man, who would never consent to spend the 
same amount of skill and energy for the returns which satisfy 
the Aleutian hunter. 

It will therefore be evident that the good condition of the na- 
tive hunters of this Territory is a matter of great importance 
to the traders who have any deei) interest in the fur-trade ; and 
it is not remarkable, in view of the clearness of the case, as above 
stated, that the Aleuts to-day are existing in greater comfort, 


in better bouses, witli greater facibties for bunting, ond receive 
better pay tban they ever reabzed before for their skins. Of 
this I am confident, by personal observation of the present, and 
from a knowledge of the past derived from the archives of the 
llussian company, and the history, meager but true, of the 
early traders in the country. The enlightened and true business 
policy adopted by the agents of the Alaska Commercial Com- 
pany with regard to the improvement of the condition of the 
banters of the Aleutian Islands has already begun to bear its 
golden fruit in an immensely-increased yield of sea-otters every 
year. This statement is fully corroborated by a person of all 
men in the whole country best qualified to pass an independent 
and correct opinion, Father Innocent Sbiesnekov, an intelli- 
gent and pious Greek Catholic priest, in charge of the Aleu- 
tians, who was born and raised on the ground, and with whom 
I have bad several interviews bearing upon the subject of this 

Tiiere is one general evil, not confined to this section of the 
Territory, but more injurious to the people here than elsewhere, 
and that is the curse of beer drinking and the disorders which 
arise constantly from its eflects. These people have an inordi- 
nate fondness for spirituous liquors, and as this is not permitted 
to be made, vended, or brought into the Territory, the traders 
among these natives keep such a sharp lookout for whisky- 
schooners, that the traffic is thoroughly suppressed among the 
Aleutians; and the people, therefore, determined to have some 
means of ministering to their craving appetites for strong drink, 
brew a thick, sour, alcoholic beer, by fermenting sugar, hops, 
flour, dried apples, &c., together, in certain proportions, with 
water, and many of them manage to keep intoxicated and stu- 
pefied for weeks, and even months, at a time ; beating their 
wives and children, destroying their houses, and recently, on 
several occasions, committing murder. This practice inakes 
every one of the settlements at frequent intervals, and always 
after the return of a successful hunting-party, a scene of la- 
mentable debauchery, which can only be stopped either by pro- 
hibiting the sale or importation of sugar into the Territory, or 
by empowering Government agents to indict summary punish- 
ment for the least criminal oft'enses growing out of intoxication. 
No great severity in the punishment w^ould be required, for it 
must be said, to their credit, that they are naturally a law-abiding 


people, and the mere presence of an officer is, with few excep- 
tions, enough to secure obedience. 

For the present demoralization among the natives of the Ter- 
ritory in this respect (and it is a vital one) tlie Government 
alone is responsible. The people, during the last four or live 
years, have indulged in all manner of excesses while under the 
influence of beer, and have observed that, do what they will, 
from beating their wives up to cold-blooded murder, there is 
no authority in the land to punish them ; and this knowledge 
tends to continue this unhappy state of affairs. This laxity is 
an injustice toward the orderly and more soberly-inclined por- 
tion of the communities, subjecting them to the control of the 
leaders of drunken revels and to an immense amount of unneces- 
sary suffering. The sea-otter traders would gladly pay, in the 
form of a slight tax on the skins of that animal, more than 
enough to afford a liberal salary twice over for the services of 
some man armed with authority to suppress this demoralization 
and attend to other urgent matters neglected on the part of the 

From the Aleuts we pass to the consideration of the rest of 
the people (Indians) of the Territory, who, by far the most 
numerous, are living now as they were when first discovered, 
over a hundred years ago; those of the north, belonging to the 
Eskimo race and immediate derivatives, are quite amiable in 
their barbarism when compared with the Koloshes and other 
tribes of Indians proper in their neighborhood. Any steps that 
may be taken for the elevation and improvement of the condi- 
tion of these Indians in the Territory of Alaska, however well 
intended, would be entirely abortive. If they work, and they 
frequently do, on the coasters as seamen, and about the sound 
and Victoria as laborers, wood-cutters, «S:c., the money neces- 
sary for a debauch or a gambling game is the incentive. The 
condition of any savage people is one that arouses the sympathy 
of benevolent minds, and for its amelioration has absorbed the 
best energies and resources of hundreds of brave, devoted men 
who have labored in our country, but the result of such labor 
can only be successful under certain conditions of life and 
mental constitution of a savage race not found in Alaska. 
The Ivussian priests energetically struggled with these Indians 
of Alaska, from Bering's Straits down to Queen Charlotte's 
Island, backed up and cordially aided by the Russian- American 
Company, which hoped to gain more control over the natives, 


(and would linve done so bad the missionaries siUM-ccdcil,) l)ut 
the result was most unsatisfactory. A thin varnish ol' decen(;y, 
honesty, morality, tS^e., was i)ut on, but the subject bad to l)e 
revarnisbed every (biy or bis e\il nature would conlinui? to 
sbine out. 

From what we are led to plainly understand by the history 
of well directed and persistent efforts in the past, we can only 
consider the present condition of the Indians of Alaska as 
that of savages, and beyond the power of the Government or 
of the eburcli to chaufj^e for the better. If they wer(^ a people 
living' in a country favorable to exertion and were merely lazy 
and ignorant, then there would be hope with some assurance of 
success in ejecting a change for the better, but the case is 
worse, for the obstacles are insuperable. 

They are living in the manner customary with all Indians 
who have an abundance of fish and game, and when they suffer 
in any section of the Territory, as they frequently do, for want 
of food, it is on account of the indolence and improvidence 
during the seasons of plenty, for all of these people on the main- 
land who, at regular periods of the year, have access to a most 
lavish profusion of fish and the flesh of deer, are never caught 
by a severe winter with a full supply of provisions on hand, 
and exist through the long, cold spring-months most miserably, 
often living upon their skin-garments, offal, &c. As an instance 
of this improvidence. Captain Ilennig, an okl trader, cites the 
following case: At the mouth of the Koishak liiver, which 
empties into Bristol Bay between the Peninsula and the main- 
land, the reindeer pass by swimming in large herds across in 
September as they go in feeding to and from the peninsula j the 
natives at this season run along the bank as the deer rise from 
the water and spear them with great ease and in any number 
that fancy or want may dictate. At one time Captain Ilennig 
counted here seven hundred deer carcasses as they lay rotting 
and untouched save by the removal of the hides j not a pound 
of meat of the thousands putrefying had been saved by the 
natives, who would be living perhaps in less than live months 
in a state of starvation. 

These Indians are not steady, persistent hunters like the 
Aleuts ; they are lickle, and have far less to gain by trade in 
their estimation than the Aleutians, who, on the contrary, are 
not satisfied with a small amount of tobacco and a few beads, 
which are the staple commodities with the Indians, together 


with a little i)owder and ball. The Aleuts want good clothes ; 
they desire to dvess their women and children well ; they crave 
tea, sugar, flour, &c., all of which are simply despised by the 
savage, and, consequently, a little hunting will obtain all he 
wants in return from the trader, and exertion beyond this, on 
his part, appears to him simply absurd or ridiculous. 

While the sea-otter trade in Alaska, therefore, is well devel- 
oped, the fur-trade on the mainland is by no means of the 
importance it might be made to assume were the hunting as 
energetically followed up as is that prosecuted by the people of 
Kodiak and the Aleutian Islands ; the industry and energy, 
however, of our traders will undoubtedly add largely every suc- 
ceeding year to the yield, in creating desire among the Indians, 
and thus stinudating exertion on their part in hunting so as to 
insure its gratification. 

I shall not enter into a description of these Indians. Their 
treacherous, indolent lives have been most accurately and fully 
described by a score of writers ; one of the earliest, that of 
Portlock and Dixon, in 178G, 1787, and 1788, reads as if it had 
been written from my own notes taken this season, so little 
have they changed in the main of habit and disposition. Of 
course, when the Russians were obliged, in 1832,* to commence 
the liquor-trade with them in self-defense against American 
adventurers and the Hudson Bay Company, and the small-pox 
in 1835 swept like wild-tire through all the villages on the north- 
west coast, destroying nearly one-third of them, the combination 
of two such terrible evils, whisky and the plague, demoralized 
and diminished them to such an extent that they never have 
recovered their former strength, nor is it now probable that they 
will recover it. 

The number of Indians now living in the Territory is, accord- 
ing to best authority and my judgment, between eighteen and 
twenty thousand. Of this number, between ten and twelve 
thousand belong to that district bounded on the north by Cook's 
Inlet and south by Fort Simpson ; the remainder inhabit that 
stretch of country reaching from Bristol Bay to Kotzebue Sound, 
and back into the fiir interior, where there are several tribes, 
supposed to be quite numerous, about which very little is 
known even by the traders. 

On this coast-line of Alaska, betw een Bering's Straits and 

*Tbis was stopped in 1842. A treaty was made between tliem aud the 
Hudson Bay Company. 


Fort Simpson, are fonnil six distinct ton«;ues tlnoii^li which 
tlieir relations of aflinity may be traced, vi/: the Alculian ; the 
Kodiak ; i\\Q Kenai^ or Coolis liiUt ; thi^. Yahlootat, ov Mount 
Saint Ellas country ; the SitJcan ; aud the iw(%«M, or Prince (tf 
Wales Island. 

The Aleutian tongue is the language of the iidiabitants of 
the Aleutian Islands and part of the Peninsula ; it is divided 
into two dialects, one spoken by the Aleuts of Atka, and the 
other by those of Ounalashka. 

The Kodiak tongue is the root of all the dialects spokeu 
on the shores of Bering Sea, and still farther north and to the 
east; it is the tongue spoken by the ChoochJcie of the Asiatic 
side, and is divided into six distinct dialects, and these agaiu 
subdivided, so that the Kodiak root is the language of the fol- 
lowing tribes : 

The MalemuteSj of Kotzebue Sound, Norton Sound, Port Clar- 
ence, the Diomedes, King, Sledge, and Saint Lawrence Islands. 

The Aziagnmtes^ of Saint xMichael's, part of the Pastol Bay 
and as far north as Norton's Sound. 

The Afjoolmntes^ of the mouth of the Yukon Kiver. 

The Magmutes, between CapeKomanzov and Cape Avinov. 

The KosJtoquimSj of Koskoquim Bay and liiver. 

The Aglahmutes, of the Nushagak country, and part of the 

The Kiiniva'ks, of Nunivak Island, who use a dialect almost 
like the pure Kodiak, which is spoken on that island. 

The Kcyoulions^ of the Middle Yukon Kiver. 

The Ingaleelcs, of the Lower Yukon Iliver. 

The Choogalcs, between Cape Elizabeth and the mouth of 
Copper Kiver, (taking all the south shore of the Keuai Penin- 
sula and Prince William's Sound.) 

The Kenai tongue can hardly be called of Kodiak deriva- 
tion ; it is divided into four dialects: 

The Kenai, of the Gulf of Kenai, or Cook's Inlet. 

The Maidnorskie, or people on Copper Kiver. 

The Kolchans, or people of the Upper Koskoquim Kiver — 
quite a large tribe, estimated at six or seven thousand. 

The KahvichpalxS, a people on the Upper Yukon. In this dia- 
lect are many words of Kodiak and Yahkiitat. 

The Kenai language is the most ditiicult of all the ludiau 
tongues, so abounding in a profusion of harsh, guttural sounds 
that their own savage neighbors frequently try iu vain to ac- 
quire them when it is for their interest to do so. 


The Yaiikutat tongue is spoken only by the people of Yah- 
kiitat, or that belt of coast between Lituya Bay and Copper 
Eiver; it is divided into two dialects, viz : 

The Yahl'utats, from Icy Bay to Cross Sound. 

The Oo(j((lenslic, from mouth of Copper lliver to Icy Bay. 

The Sitka, or KoLOsn tongue, is spoken by all the Indians 
from Lituya Bay to Prince of Wales Island, the Stickeeu, and 
without auy dialects, although there are eight or ten tribes, and 
they are relatively numerous. 

The Kauegan, or Prince of Wales, is spoken on that 
island and Queen Charlotte's, aud completes the list of lan- 
guages in the Territory, as far as I can intelligently compile 
and arrauge them. 

From the tables wbicli I give at the close of this chapter, the 
relative population of these diiferent tribes can be recognized, 
aud by them it will be seen that, save where the Aleutians and 
Kodiakers are living, together with a number of Eussian half- 
breeds or Creoles, there are no organized or fixed settlements 
in the Territory; the Indians roaming at will in the mountains 
and over the plains during the summer, fishing and berrying 
l^rincipally, until the severity of approaching winter drives them 
back to underground houses iu the north, and wooden huts and 
large barracoons by the sea at the south, T\'here, reeking in filth, 
four and five months are passed in perfect comfort to them, pro- 
vided that they have food — passed in sloth and sleep, with the 
exception of a small proportion of them who are marten, mink, 
and fox trappers. These men frequently perform an astonishing 
amount of labor, enduring incredible hardships, should they 
happen to be ambitious, but this is a very rare quality. 

The two leading stations in the Territory, (excepting the Pry- 
bilov Islands,) both with regard to trade and population, are the 
villages of Ounalashka and Kodiak, each with an Aleut and 
Creole i)oi)ulation of four hundred, more than double the num- 
ber occupying any other settlement, save that of Belcovskie, 
which has two hundred and forty-eight, with a seaotter trade 
fully equal or superior to either Ounalashka or Kodiak. Then 
following in order of trade and population, we have the villages 
of Unga, of one hundred and sixty-two souls; Atka, of one 
hundred and thirty-one souls ; Oomnak, of one hundred and 
nineteen souls; then comes Sitka, with a population to-day, 
principally Russian half-breeds, of one hundred and eighty-six,* 

* Not couutiug tbo troops, Govurniuent eiiiploy(5s, or Iiuliaus. 


and no tiado wluitevcr to ineiition, aiul coimnciciiilly of less 
iiiiportaiKHi tlian any oniMjf the? lollowiu^- points, in addition to 
^;lie list above, viz: Jvoslcoiinini, Nnslia^ak, and ^Saint MicliacPs. 
Even should trade ever be re-establisbed in Sitka, it would con- 
sist i)iin(*i[)ally of the fur of marten, ndnk, and beaver, with 
air-dried deer-skins; but as matters now stand in the Territory, 
there is no future for Sitk«i; a change only in the supervision of 
the interest of the Government in that district can benefit it, 
or make it worth the attention of a small trader to live there. 
On this point I speak at length in my chapter on the duty of 
the Government in this respect. 

The sum and substance of my investigations with reference 
to the condition of the people of Alaska during tlie past season 
maybe given briefly as follows: That the Indians are living 
as usual, in nearly the same number and in the same condition 
as when under Eussian rule, with the marked and significant 
exception that they have been under no restraint whatever by 
government for the past five years, such as they were ac- 
customed to have imposed uj^on them by the old regime^ and 
that this is rapidly making it troublesome and dangerous for 
small traders to go in among them on the northwest coast. 
Those in the vicinity of Sitka have become familiar with the pro- 
cess of distillation of whisky from molasses, and make a large 
amount of it openly, in addition to what they get by illicit 

The Christian Aleuts and Kodiakers are in, if anything, a 
better condition than at the time of the transfer; some sec- 
tions, as at Ounalashka, in a greatly improved state, which is, 
by the way, promised to all the rest in the course of a few 
years, if proper, prompt steps are taken by Government. 
But the condition of the small population of Creoles, chiefly at 
Sitka, is changed very much for the worse; they were store- 
keepers, clerks, sailors, traders, artisans, &c., of the old com- 
pany, and there is no longer any great demand for that labor 
in the country, and not likely to be during their lives, at least; 
they are unfortunate in not having the training or the energy 
to make good hunters, lor this is the only industry the Terri- 
tory holds out for them. To say that they are now in spirit 
and purse poor, is true, but still they are not in any physical 
misery, the abundance of fish and game preventing such a re- 
sult. From my observation and knowledge of them, I can truly 
state that they are now in a better condition in the Territory, 


living as they do, than chey would be anywhere else in our 
country, with an exceptional case, of course, here and there, for 
they are not distinguished bj' either energy or industry, as a 

I have been assured bj' the Russian bishop having the spirit- 
ual direction of affairs in the Greek Catholic Church, now es- 
tablished in the Territory, that there is no intention on the part 
of the home church to neglect its interest there; that he is at 
the present time busily engaged in fitting a class of young 
Russians for the work of priests and teachers in Alaska, by 
giving them a thorough knowledge of the English language in 
addition to the regular course of discipline usually necessary 
for his church. 

If ice, on the part of the Government, attempt to teach them, 
we shall soon have to feed some eight or ten thousand paupers. 
All they need is to be sustained and protected in their hunting 
industries, as is indicated in the following chapter, and they 
will take care of themselves. 



The measures which are now in force for the support of law 
and order in the Territory are entirely inadequate and costing 
much more than a correct and efficient system would. The 
case is a plain one, and the facts in regard to it are as follows: 

The Territory of Alaska was received from the hands of a 
powerful fur-trading organization which held absolute sway 
over the entire domain, even to the life and death of the peo- 
ple, and which had governed the land despotically for more 
than sixty years. It was fully prepared at any moment to 
carry out its orders, and was supported by a small fleet of sail 
and steam vessels, and a regularly-organized troop of employes 
and retainers, over two thousand in number, placed here and 
there throughout the country, the headquarters being at Sitka, 
for political reasons. 

War and revenue-marine vessels, with duly-authorized ofiicers 
and agents, were sent to the principal stations, villages, and 
ports, where they ran up our flag and lou ily proclaimed the iact 
to the people, or natives, that they were now free and independ- 
ent ; that no person or parties had the power to control or di- 
rect their trade in furs, or any other matter to which they might 
turn their attention ; that crime of all description, theft, mur- 
der, &c., would be promptly dealt with, and that the agents of 
the American Government would visit them at irregular though 
frequent intervals, or upon call, with these vessels fully prepared 
to enforce and execute the law. This was done in ISGS and 18G9. 
This is all that has been done, and to-day, as matters are con- 
ducted, the country is as far from control by our Government 
as though it were a foreign land, the agents of the Government, 
both military and civil, being unable to exercise any eflectual 
supervision over the affairs of the Territory, or to enforce the 

The propriety of quartering troops in this Territory may be 
seriously questioned ; for where any considerable body of na- 
tives exist they will be found upon the seaboard and estuaries, 

3 AL 


ami the only way by which their villages can be reached is by 
water. Traveling by laud is sinii>ly impossible, so that to-day 
the two companies of artillery at Sitka are entirely unable to 
correct the most wauton outrage which the Indians might see 
fit to perpetrate but a mile from their sentry-lines. 

The practical result of quartering troops among people like 
these in Alaska is bad. The communities thus visited were 
net remarkable for sobriety, morality, or industry before the 
coming of our troops, but after their arrival the change for the 
-worse, wherever the natives were brought m contact with them, 
was very marked. Honorable officers find it sufficiently diffi- 
cult to restrain their subordinates in camps and posts remote 
from demoralizing temptation, but when their men are sur- 
rounded by simple natives who will sell themselves for rum and 
tobacco, the inevitable result follows of debauchery and intem- 
I)erance. The history of the militar^^ occu])ation of this Terri- 
tory by our Government, although brief, reflects no honor upon 
the troops, and is a most unfortunate one for the natives with 
whom they came in contact, so much so that all the posts 
throughout the Territory have been discontinued except that 
of Sitka, of which the law, I believe, comj^els a conlinuance, 
and which, I trust, will be soon repealed for the relief of the 
troops, the credit of the Government, and also a saving of un- 
necessary expense to the public Treasury in moving the sol- 
diers to and from the Territory and of subsidizing a mail- 
steamer to carry their letters, &c. 

The present statute, which provides ostensibly for the gov- 
ernment of the Territory, authorizes the ap])ointment of a col- 
lector of customs and four or five deputies there, the former lo- 
cated at Sitka, the others at Oanalashka, Kodiak, and Wran- 
gel, where they are able only to conjecture as to the condition 
of revenue details in their respective districts, for they are un- 
able to leave their posts. The collector of customs can exer- 
cise no adequate vigilance against the illicit manufacture and 
trade in whisky, smuggling, &c., with the sailing-cutter which 
is allotted to this district. A small ste:im- vessel alone can fol- 
low these traders and smugglers through the innumerable nar- 
row and intiicftte channels and fjiords of the Aleutian and 
Alexander xlrchipelagoes. 

With the present sailing cutter, no calculation can be made 
with reference to her movements ; she is at the mercy of wind 
and tide ; how long will be her trip to a given place, and wben 


slio will return, no satisfactory conjecture can be made ; slie 
may be absent but a lew days, and tlie absence may be protracted 
a month. If the natives were to vseize a trader's schooner a 
hundred, or even fifty, miles away from Sitka, and were the (!ol- 
k'ctor to get instant word of it, weeks mi.i;ht elai)se before the 
sailing-cutter coukl get upon the ground of the outrage, and 
would even then be utterly unable to follow the outlaws. 
There is no trading done at Sitka; the eight or ten thousand 
Indians between Cross Sound and Fort Simpson trade entirely 
in the inshore passages and channels witli all sorts of men and 
craft; what is going on no one knows, and, as matters now 
stand, the collector and his deputies are certainly not to blame 
if they never know. 

As matters now stand, the town-site of Sitka is the only i)lace 
in the Q^erritory where the merest shadow of ability exists on 
the part of the Government to sustain law and order, protect 
property, &c. The troops there stationed are utterly helpless to 
do anything outside of their station, and what is more, the Indi- 
ans know it and laugh at them when they are reproached and 
warned for misdemeanors. The collector of customs has a sail- 
ing-cutter, which is of uo earthly use, for she cannot be used 
in the intricate inside passages, where the principal body of 
natives live, and can at the best make a wide, shy visit to Ko- 
diak or Ouualashka, or some such outside sea port, and then 
is at the mercy of the most fickle and uncertain weather for 
sailing, so that no calculation can be made upon her going or 

Tht^ natives of the Territory have been living since the trans- 
fer under no effectual government restraint — a sudden and per- 
nicious change from the strict Eussian regime ; for now every- 
where in the Aleutian Islands and at Kodiak the natives are 
in the habit of drinking " quass,'' or home-brewed beer, to such 
an extent that it bids fair to ruin them unless checked. The 
leaders in drunken orgies are getting perfectly reckless, for they 
have noted the fact that during the past five years there has 
been no punishment or notice taken by i)roper authority of 
crime, including theft, wife-beating, and murder ; that there is 
no such thing as the shadow, even, of suspicion or power on the 
part of the Government, of which they liave only heard and 
know nothing. 

That these people have not behaved w^orse during the last 
two or three years in their present life of unchecked license is 


a strong evidence of their naturally amiable and law-abiding 
disposition, and it is manifestly wrong on the part of tbe Gov- 
ernment to allow tbe disorderly element in tbe Aleiitiiin aLd 
Indian communities to gatbei* sucb strengtb by continued inat- 
tention 'y for it is leading to tbe rapid demoralization of tbe 
x\leutians, and is making it unsafe for white traders to venture 
singly among tbe Indians. I therefore most earnestly call 
attention to a plan for reform in tbe Territory, whicb will not 
annually draw from tbe Treasury more than half of what is 
received every year from tbe tax netted from the Seal Islands 

Tbe annual revenue derived by the Government from the Ter- 
ritory, about 8300,000 net, is sufficient to support tbe proposed 
system of government, and afford an unexpended balance, 
every year, of from 8100,000 to 8150,000; and it would also 
result, in a very few years, in adding greatly to the receipts. 

Tbe following is tbe plan, after much deliberation, whicb I 
venture to propose : * 

1. Withdrawal of tbe troops from the Territory. 

2. Tbe placing of tbe collector of customs at Kodiak Avhere 
he can live without tbe sligbtest danger of injury from savages, 
although if left alone at Sitka he would be subjected to no ac- 
tual risk. There is no reason wby the central point for the 
action of the revenue-officers should be at Sitka in preference 
to either Kodiak or Ounalasbka ; both of the latter being better 
situated, with ten times the amount of trade, and double the 
law-abiding population ; but the deputy, now at Kodiak, might 
be transferred to Sitka. 

3. A small revenue-steamer should be provided, with a single 
gun, and having compound engines, so that she will use but 
three or four tons of coal per diem, and steam seven to eight 
knots per hour, and fitted with spars to take advantage of 
favoring winds. Such a vessel could move to any point on 
brief notice. She should cruise steadily throughout the year, for 
she would move in good, sheltered channels. The appearance 
of this vessel, nt frequent intervals, would be all that is 
necessary to guarantee security of life and property to traders 
throughout tbe entire district. Her cruising-trips would estab- 
lish a promi)t means of communication between posts ; and she 
could visit Tongass or Fort Simpson every two or three 

*Al\vays excepting the Prybilov Group of Seal Islands, which are well pro 
vided for by special acts of Congress, approved July 1, 1870, and March 5, l&7'i 


mouths and obtain tlie nuiil for the Territory, \vln(;]i the reve- 
iiae-ciitter JstatioiUMl on l'u<;('t Sound slionld be detailed to 
bring' at preeoneerted intervals oC two or three months, and, by 
SO doing, give the Territory a mail-system. 

4. The abolition of the present subsidized mail-steamer 
whieh runs between Tortlandand Sitka. The handful of white 
citizens there, only two of them citizens of the United States, 
have no more right to claim the privilege of a mail-steamer, 
which now runs for their benefit cxclmiveUj^ than have the in- 
habitants of Kodiak, Oumdashka, or Saint Michael's, or half a 
dozen other villages of greater population or of more impor- 
tance in this Territory. 

o. The appointment of an agent, a man of character and edu- 
cation, who will have an opportunity to keep the Government 
^vell informed of the exact condition of the people in the Terri- 
tory and its resources, by reason of the facilities for travel 
aflbrded by the revenue- steamer. 

G. The extension of the jurisdiction of the courts of Oregon 
or Washington Territory over this Territory, so that when per- 
sons belonging to the Territory, guilty of murder, arson, &c., 
are arrested and sent down for trial, they can be punished, 
and not permitted to escape, as they have been in more than 
one case already, for want of this jurisdiction. 

7. The laws relating to our mining-lands might be so ex- 
tended as to include the Territory of Alaska. Gold and silvta-, 
copper, iron, and coal exist here, and there is no predicting 
what the future may bring forth, for prospectors are constantly 
at work. 

By placing matters in the Territory on such a footing as I 
have described, at least some delinite approach to a system of 
law and order would be initiated. There would be a steady 
and prompt means of communication between all the stations 
where life and property exist. No whisky-smuggling or op- 
pression of the natives could be carried on without its si)eedy 
apprehension and suppression, and the petty crimes which are 
so aggravating and demoralizing at present throughout the 
Territory would quickly cease. The annual revenue now 
derived from the Territory is more than sutlicient to support 
the whole system recommended. 

Beyond the adoption of this plan, in my judgment, on 
the part of the Government, nothing more is required by the 
Territory and its people. Any sL*heme of est-ablishiug Indian 


reservations or agencies iu this country, with an idle and mis- 
chievous retinue of superintendents, chaplains, and school- 
teachers, seems to me entirely uncalled for. The people hero 
are keen hunters and quick-witted traders, and need no help 
or care beyond that I have indicated. Such of them as are 
christianized have long ago embraced the Greek Catholic faith, 
and adhere to it with devotion. The rest, or Indians, as they 
are called, are just as far from being in a Christian state of 
mind as they were when first apijroached by the Eussiau priests, 
over a hundred years ago. 

With regard to the education of the children of the better 
class of the natives, that is, the Christian Aleuts, there appears 
to be one invincible obstacle. The children, speaking a strange 
tongue, will not attend school, and their parents, as a body, 
will either i)revent or discourage them by positive command, 
or by utter indifference. If they are to be educated, their church 
alone can do it. It now controls them perfectly in this matter 
of education. 

That the children will not attend school has been most 
thoroughly tested already, not only by the Eussians, but by 
ourselves during the past four years on the Seal Islands. In 
1835 a school was opened at Ounalashka, and presided over by 
one of the most indomitable and excellent of men, Yeniaminov, 
who tells us that in this settlement of over 275 souls then, only 
*' twelve boys could be brought together." When more than 
this is wanted by Alaska in the way of legislation by Govern- 
ment, it will suggest itself in due time, and in reason. 



Trade is devoted cliielly to furs, with occasioiuil dealings 
in oil and ivory ; it is divided among a lew i)arties, the Alaska 
Commercial Company Laving a large preponderance, by virtue 
of greater resources and greater energy, than any or all of its 
competitors combined; the sagacity of its traders, and the kind- 
ness with which they treat the natives, have resulted in even 
more than quadrupling tbe yield of furs in the Yukon and 
Ounalashka districts, as reported by the Eussiun American Fur 
Company at the time, of tbe transfer. The operation of this 
company is confined to the country west from Kodiak, embracing 
the Aleutian Islands, where they at the present time have but 
little competition ; on tiie Yukon, Koskoquim, and Ounalash- 
ka they are opposed by Charles Jansen, and by David Shirpser 
at Belcovskie and Kodiak, an*.! a number of small traders and 
whalers in Kotzebue Sound. The trade east of Kodiak, up 
Cook^s Inlet, dovrn tbe coast back of Sitka, to Fort Simpson, 
is, so far as is known — for I was unable to examine this dis- 
trict — given up to small traders who ply in and out in light 
schooners, canoes, &c., and, doubtless, is quite extensive and 
largely illicit, for the natives will not trade at Sitka for money ; 
so the inference plainly is that they dispose of their furs for 
whisky, &c., in the inshore passages, where smuggling can be 
carried on. 

When the Eussian traders first opened up the country the 
natives were everywhere found engaged in fierce intestine wars, 
and not i)rosecuting the chase of fur-bearing animals more 
than enough to supply themselves with skins for manufac- 
ture into garments ; depending on the sea for their principal 
means of subsistence. 

They used the skin of the sea-otter and beaver geuerall}" for 
cloaks, employing usually three sea-otters for one cloak ; one of 
these skins was cut into two pieces and afterward sewed to- 
gether, so as to form a square, and were loosely tied about the 
shoulders with small leather strings, fastened on each side; it 


was the sight of these sea-otter cloalvs that excited the greed 
and enpidiry, aud stiuiuhited the adxenturous trips made by the 
first RussiaD traders in the Aleutian Ishmds, aud the ^Yeari- 
some voyages of the English and Frencli to the coast of Van- 
couver's Island^ and to the northward as far as Cook's Inlet, so 
early as 1785-'86. The beauty and value of the skin of tlie sea- 
otter alone drew men, who, in spite of all danger, visited every 
mile of the rugged coast of this Territory, nearly a liuudred 
years ago, in rude, clumsy ships and shallops, and depended 
upon ruder nautical instruments, without charts, &c. 

The hardships endured and perils encountered by these hardy, 
indomitable adventurers can be appreciated only by the seaman 
of to-day, who may sail in their tracks, provided with a gener- 
ally correct chart of a coast then absolutely unknown, in the 
best sailing-vessels, fully equipped with perfect nautical instru- 
ments, and yet this modern sailor cannot sleep day or night 
with safety while he is on the coast or among the islands, so 
severe is the trial. 

The first great demand by the natives in the Territory, as an 
equivalent for their furs, was iron ; the English traders used to 
make it up into thick wrought bands, about eighteen inches to 
two feet in length, with a breadth of two inches, called " toes ; " 
for one of these, at first, they readily procured a fine sea-otter 
or two, and a hatchet would obtain two or three ; tobacco, the 
present great staple of trade, was then scarcely in demand, 
but soon became so ; flour, when given by the Russians to some 
Aleuts atOunalashka, in 1788, was taken by them u]) to a hill- 
top and thrown by handfuls to the wind, the natives enjoying 
the sight of the mock snow-storm spectacle much more than 
the use of the material for food j over on the mainland, when 
crackers and sugar were given to some natives, at Nushagak, 
they spit it from their mouths with disgust, wearing an expres- 
sion of exceeding dislike for the strange food j lead pleased 
the Aleutians at first very much, it could be cut and iashioned 
so readily, but the most determined trials on their part failed, 
of course, to make it retain a cutting-edge, and they finally gave 
it up. 

By degrees, however, and quite rapidly, iron with form of 
spear heads, axes, knives, kettles, &c., became a drug among 
the people generally, and a taste for the wearing of cotton 
and woolen goods, the use of tea and tobacco, caused the natives 
of the Aleutian Islands to strain every nerve in hunting the sea- 


' otter, and so effectually did tbey do so that tlie animals dimin- 
ished in a very short time to but a fraction of their former 
niiinber; but tlie natives of the mainland, a very different class 
of i)eople, and incapable of living in as advanced a civilization 
as the Aleutians, were never aroused, aud never will be, to any 
such activity by any legitimate effort to trade ; they oidy covet 
tobacco and rum, and a little of either, used as <\n Indian uses 
them, fToes a long way. 

Therefore, while we may say that the fur-trade of the Aleu- 
tian Islands and the Peninsula, as far as Kodiak, has been and 
is to-day developed to its full importance, it is very evident 
that, with regard to the rest of the Territory, the annual yield 
can be and will be greatly augmented by the exertions of our 
energetic and industrious traders who are now scattered iu 
keen rivalry over the ground. 

By the very nature of the business, character of country, 
aud climate of Alaska, white men will never themselves do any 
sea-otter hunting or mainland trapping; it rests solely with 
the natives, and the annual yield depends entirely upon the 
exertions which these people may be inclined to make as a 
means of procuring coveted articles in the hands of the traders. 
The hardship and privation to which the fox and marten trap- 
pers, and especially the sea-otter hunters, are subjected while 
in pursuit of their quarry are very great, yet not so great but 
that white men could endure and would endure them did it pay 
well enough ; but it will be seen by reference to the tables 
giving the fur yield of the Territory that in proportion to the 
number of hunters, all of whom are more or less skillful, the 
return is a small one, and would not equal the earnings of the 
ordinary mechanic or day-laborer in our country, with the 
marked exception of the wages of the inhabitants of the Seal 
Islands, who live better and receive more i>ay than a majority 
of our people who are dependent upon manual labor for support. 

The life and labor of the trader on the mainland and islands 
is one of much discomfort, and at certain seasons of the year 
of incessant activity. A chief trader, though burdened with 
much responsibility, lives quietly and comfortably at the re- 
doubt or station where he is posted, the headquarters usually 
of a very large district; but the trading is all done by deputy 
traders, who are under the control of this head otUcer. These 
men start out from the post alone, perhaps accompanied by an 
Indian, with a dog-team and sled, which is loaded with several 


hand red- wci^^'bt of goods, such as are likely to be most prized 
by tbe tribes tbey intend to visit for tbe purposes of trade, 
usually tobacco, calico, beads, and powder and ball, caps, &c. ; 
but tbe great bulk is generally tobacco. Tbese men start in 
tbe dead of winter, provided witli notbing but a blanket, a 
tent, a few pounds of dried meat or fisb, and tea, and go in 
tbis way from tribe to tribe, from settlement to settlement, 
until tbe intended circuit is made or tbe goods disposed of. 

Wbeu tbe trader reacbes a settlement be intjuires if tbe 
Indians tbere bave any furs ; if so, be pitches bis tent and 
unpacks bis goods under it, seats bimself in tbe middle, near 
an aperture in tbe tent, so that tbe natives may approach and 
look in upon bis assortment. Their skins are then passed 
through the opening with an intimation of what is desired 
from the trader's stock in exchange. The trader examines the 
skins, tosses them over into a common heap, and tears off the 
cloth or passes out the tobacco as the Indians require j and 
this continues till the business is concluded. 

If the trader finds at the close of his trading at any one or 
more settlements that the bulk or weight of his furs is too great 
for removal on bis sled, he gives the surplus into the care of 
some one of the people, counting over to him in the presence 
of the whole village all the skins. This man takes charge and 
honestl}' guards them until the trader comes in person or sends 
for them, and the whole community seems to feel as if their 
reputation were at stake, for they will neither molest the 
trader's cache nor permit others to do so. This is certainly a 
strange and most noteworthy characteristic of the Indians of 
the great interior of Alaska, designated in tbis report as the 
Yukon district. 

The trading on the northwest coast, however, from Paget 
Sound up to Prince AYilliam's Sound, was and is conducted in 
a very different manner from that of the Yukon district. Here 
the traders, large and small, employed vessels varying from 
steamers of considerable size to sloops. Since, however, the 
withdrawal of the Eussian American Company from the Terri- 
tory, and the steamer Labouchere of the Hudson Bay Com- 
pany, but one trading-steamer remains upon this coast, viz, th^e 
old Otter, the property of the last-named corporation. Sailing- 
vessels, small schooners principally, monopolize the trade, and 
of these there are eight or ten at least. 

The practice of these trading vessels is to cruise along tbe 


coast, running- into the numerous canals, clianiiels, and liaibors 
so cliarac'teiistic of the re*^ion, wliere they comk^ to an anchor, 
within easy reach of the shore, and wait lor the natives to 
come off to them in their canoes laden witli whatever they 
may possess fit for barter. The trading itself is tedious be- 
yond all measure. The natives will sit in their canoes 
around the vessel for hours before showing the least atten- 
tion or desire for business; then when it does begin the 
haggling baffles description ; each Indian after the other try- 
ing to get, a little more than bis predecessor, no matter how 
slight or insignificant it may be. The traders of course dare 
not, even to gain precious time, deviate lioin an invariable 
rule or tariff in barter, and so the slow exchange goes on. The 
Indians throughout this whole section are shrewd and artful 
traders, and do not scruple to adopt any means by which they 
can outwit or deceive the white trader, so that it is unfortu- 
nately a case of diamond cut diamond wherever traders meet 
the natives of the northwest coast to-day. 

With the Indians of the Territory trade is carried on with- 
out the use of coin, but on the Aleutian Islands, among the 
Christian Aleuts, the people take cash for their furs and pay 
over the counters of the different stores for their goods ; and 
this necessitates the keeping of accounts, since the traders 
often tind it to their advantage to give credit to a penniless 
hunter. These accounts the Aleuts keep in very good shape, 
and they are seldom in error over their reckoning. 

The Ilussiaus pursued a different course from our people in 
conducting their trade in this region, where they were free Irom 
the competition of rival traders. Baranov, the real founder 
and maker of the Russian American Company, was a man of 
indomitable energy and foresight, and gave the affairs of the 
company his vigilant personal supervision everywhere and at 
all times, but his successors were unlike him, and made no 
exertion to pay dividends to the stockholders, or to pay debts. 
All of these gentlemen, with one exception. General Vivia- 
tovskie, were ofticers of the imperial tleet, and lived in ollicial 
rotation at Sitka, which was selected in preference to Kodiak 
as a better position in which to menace and repel the advances 
of the Hudson's Bay people along the coast belonging to 
Alaska. They were surrounded by a troop of subordinates, 
living without regard to cost or expenditure of time or labor ; 
a fleet of fourteen or fifteen vessels, steam and sail. Indeed, 



DO better commentary on the management can be made than 
ti reference to their archives, where in almost any one year, 
look, for instance, January, 18G3, (Techmainov, vol. ii, p. 22tt,) 
at this table showing the number and distribution of the em- 
ployes and dependents : 


Enssians, Fins, 
and foreigners. 

Russian Creoles. 

Alente.s and rp, .^i 
Kuriles. ^"t^^' 

District of Sitka 

District of Kodiak... 
District of Ouualasbka 



























. 983 











District of Atka 

Distiictof Vukon 

District of Kurilcs . 

Total . . . 





2, 302 

2 310 '' ^'^'^ 

2, 406 


Or a grand total of 0,977 dependents of all classes, and of this 
number over 1,200 were paid regular salaries, from the governor 
down to the serf. 

And yet, with this small army of servants and dependents, the 
Russians, for the last forty years of their possession, did not 
get one-half of the furs annually- that our traders now secure 
every year since their establishment in the Territory, while 
there are not over two hundred men engaged in the whole busi- 
ness at present. 

Take the sea-otter trade for instance. The Rnssians called 
it a fair season when they secured in the course of the year, 
throughout tlie whole Territory, 350 to 400 sea-otters ; many 
years occurred in which less than 200 were taken ; but during 
the last two years 2,500 to 3,000 have been captured each sea- 
son in the Aleutian and Kodiak districts alone; and I estimate 
that not less than 500 have been taken from Cook^s Inlet down 
to Fort Simpson. This great increase in the development of 
the business is simply due to the active personal supervision 
of* the present agents and traders. 

In connection with tliis view of tlie trade and traders in the 
Territory, it is proper to mention the operations of the Ahiska 
Commercial Company, as it has been the subject of comment 
by the press. The whole matter ap[)ears to amount to tliis, 
that tlie fur-trade of Alaska, (always excepting the iSeal 
Islands,) placed, as it is, in a fair field for competition, will 
sooner or later be controlled by those who invest the most 
money in the undertaking and send the best men for the work, 
who make their stations more attractive to the natives, and 


render communication between tlieir wide-scattered posts more 
frequent and regular. It will be more dinicult every year lor 
spall or inexperienced traders to do anything at the fur-trade 
in this Territory, and the trade does not appear extensive 
enough to support the operations of two companies, eacli with 
as mucli capital invested as the one in question. The result 
would be that one would have to withdraw. As far, however, 
as the Government is concerned, the field for trade in Alaska 
is free and open to all ; a practical illustration of w hich is 
shown in the following statement of affairs existing at Ouua- 

Ounalashka is an Aleutian village of some four hundred 
souls, men, women, and children; of these sixty are first-class 
sea-otter hunters, and this is their profession. The Alaska 
Commercial Company have erected three large warehouses 
fronting a wharf, where their vessels unload and load; a large 
store-house, tilled with a most extensive selection of goods ; a 
very large dwelling-house for tbeir traders; with office, court- 
yard, stables for cattle and sheep, a blacksmith- sbop, &c., all 
finished in first-class style, and furnished thoroughly through- 
out. The company have also erected and are building snug 
cottages for their best hunters to live in ; and there is a school- 
house, where the native children are invited to attend, which 
some do. In o])position to this, a young man is placed in a 
small, weather- w^orn, rickety shanty, which is made to serve 
as warehouse, store, and living-room lor the agent; a most 
meager stock of goods, no assortment whatever; and yet this 
young man, who has not got one dollar to back him, came to 
me and complained of the almost total loss of his trade, and 
said in explanation that it was due to the fact that though the 
natives wanted to trade with him, yet they were living under 
the influence of fear to such an extent that they dared not do 
it, and hence transferred their trade. I told him, after looking 
about the place and talking with the natives and their priest 
for three or four days, that the only fear that these i)eople of 
Ounalashka had in the matter was a most wholesome one ; it 
was the fear, coupled with an absolute certainty, that, as ho 
was situated for trade, they would not do as well at his estab- 
lishment as they could at his opponent's, and the dullest of 
them could readily appreciate it ; therefore, if any successful 
opposition to the Alaska Commercial Company is to be made 
in the Territory where it is estabbshed, money must, be freely 


expended in buildings and upon the people, who will go with 
wonderful promptness and unanimit^^ wherever they can make 
the most in trade and are best treated, for they are keen and 

I now pass to the consideration of the several tradhig dis- 
tricts, and the character and quality of the furs obtained from 
them respectively. 


KoTZEBUE Sound : 

The trade at this place with the natives is principally by 
whaling- vessels, which are supplied with liquors; they tit out 
and clear from the Sandwich Islands for the arctic, and take 
advantage of the impunity with which they can visit this port 
and j)rotit by this illicit occupation ; for the natives here, as 
everywhere else, are passionately fond of liquor, and a large 
proportion of the best furs from the Lower Yukon, the region 
south of Saint ^Michael's, is picked out by Indian traders and car- 
ried to this place, where they can be exchanged for whisky. 
The trade, however, that belongs to the sound itself is not ex- 
tensive ; only a small number of Eskimo live here, in scattered 
settlements along the coast, at the mouths of debouching creeks, 
&c. The catch of fur-bearing animals is not large ; the people 
themselves live more by trading than by hunting, i. e., trading 
between the people living far to the southward and eastward 
on the one hand, and the whalers and others, making prohts as 

Norton's Sound : 

A. few Eskimo traders live here ; the catch and yield of fur- 
bearing animals unimportant. These people assist the Kotzebue 
traders in getting their furs carried up and over to that place, 
and many of them go over to Port Clarence with an assortment 
of furs, beaver principally, where they meet the ])eople from 
the Asiatic side, who cross Bering's Straits in the winter on the 
ice by way of the Diomede Islands, with dog-sleds, loaded with 
tame reindeer-skins, tanned, which are in great demand by the 
natives of this district for manufacture into cloaks, coats, par- 
lies, &c., while the Asiatics are equally desirous of getting any 
and all kinds of fur, such as mink, marten, land-otter, beaver, 
&C.J but desire beaver especially. 


The Diomedes, King's Island, Sledge Island, and Saint 

Laavkenck — 

Arc iuliabitcd by a few Eskimo, but there is no trade ^vitli 
tliein worth iiieiitioiiiii''- ; tiiey have a little walrus-oil and ivory, 
and a tew red ibxes, and oeeasionally get some whalebone. 

Salnt Michael's: 

This is a shipping-point only for the accumulated furs gath- 
ered by the traders from the Lower and Upper Yukon, at Nu- 
lato, Fort Yukon, and the Tannanah. The present annual yield 
from these points is the largest and most valuable from the 
mainhind of Ahiska. A vessel coming to Saint Michael's in the 
summer will find from one hundred to one hundred and fifty 
Indians 5 they have come in from long distances to the north- 
west, eastward, and southward ; but the fur-trading on the 
Y^ukon Itiver and its many tributaries is very irregular as to 
time and pUice year after year, the traders constantly moving 
from settlement to settlement. This year they may only get a 
thousand skins where they got five thousand last season, and 
vice versa. It is impossible to say where the best place for 
trade will be, the catch in different sections varying every 
winter with the depth of snow, the severity of climate, &c. 


Trade here is small and unimportant, principally walrus-oil, 
some ivory, and a few red foxes. 

Cape Ro3ianzov : 

Traders come up from the Koskoquim and down from the 
Y^ukon to this point, where they get some very good furs, mink, 
marten, ajid foxes.- At Cape Aviuova, the district there is quite 
celebrated for its marten catch, both in quantity and quality; 
a large number of brown bear range here, where they subsist 
upon berries, roots, reindeer, &c. The Indians live in small 
huts and settlements scattered all along the coast down from 
Saint Michael's. 


The trade is extensive, and done principally at Kolmakov 
Eedoubt, about one hundred and litty miles up the river from 
its mouth, and at a station some sixty miles below it. The 
traders come down the river in June with their cargoes and 
meet the ships. The principal trade is beaver, red foxes, mink, 


(plenty,) marten, land-otter, (abundant,) bears, brown and 
black. The people of this district keep traveling all the year 


About the same as at Koskoquim, but the quality of sable 
or marten deteriorates very much and rapidly as the trader 
goes sonth from this region. Thepeople are also great travelers, 
always on the move. This section closes the Yukon district, 
which forms the western boundary of that of the Peninsula 
and Kodiak. In this country, between Kotzebue and its smith- 
ern boundary back into the interior as far as a thousand miles, 
furs are gathered as follows : 

Beaver are taken of the very best quality and in the greatest 
quantity, and an immense number of musk-rat skins, for the 
trader must buy everything, (these musk-rat skins are princi- 
pally shipped to France and Germany, for poor people wear 
them;) of red foxes, quite a large number are taken. Black 
foxes are seldom obtained, perhaps three or four on an average 
during the year. Silver-gray foxes, a small number annually. 
Mink and marten of very fine quality from Koskoquim to the 
northward, but from this point to the southward this fur deteri- 
orates rapidly. Land-otter, quite a large number of the best 
quality. Black and bear, a few ; a small trade in swans^- 
doicn. Eifler-doicn, with profit, cannot be sold in San Francisco, 
but it is valuable in Eussia. (German goose-down is used by 
our upholster rs in preference, as it is much cheaper and just 
as good.) Beindeer-skins ave dried 5 quite a large number of 
these which go east are tanned, and make a very superior 

Figures to show the number of skins taken out of the coun^ 
try might easily be obtained were it under the control of a sin- 
gle corporation, as it was under the Eussian rule, but as it is 
now, witii ten or a dozen independent traders, large and small, 
all studionsly concealing or purposely exaggerating their trans- 
actions in order to draw or divert trade, the figures, were they 
furnished, wonld be quite unreliable. The following table, how- 
ever, showing the yield of this district during a period of 
twenty years, between 184l> and 18G1, as given by Russian au- 
thority, nmy be deemed correct; and I was assured by Father 
Shiesneekov, of Ounalashka, a Eussian priest, born and raised 
in this country, that the present yield of furs is at least four 



Mmos as <j:rciit every year, compared with the table, owing to 
the greater aetivity and energy of oar traders : 

xablc f<hou'in(i the number of shins taken hi/ the Un-man American Company from 
the Yukon dintriet, iluriny the period between 1842 and IbGl, twenty years. 






1 Musk-rat. 








Koskoquiin . . . 

•11), 3'Jd 

4, 1)34 








4, CG8 



81, 194 

0, HI) 




13, 800 





Guided by this exhibit, if I could rely on what has been 
affirmed by the traders w^hom 1 have met in the Territory, the 
catch in the Yukon district during the last three years has 
averaged six times as much as the Russian annual average. 


Oagashik : 

This is the only trading-station on the north shore of the 
Peninsula, and it is in itself inconsiderable ; the people have a 
few red foxes, a few beaver, but quite a fair number of reindeer- 
skins, the country being fairly alive v.?ith these animals; they 
also are adjacent to the large walrus hauling-grounds in Bris- 
tol Bay, and some ivory is secured by them ; they have a few 
brown bears, an occasional wolf-skin, and a little swans'-down. 

Belcovskie : 

A sea-otter post: the natives bring in the skins of these 
animals, which they obtain at Saauach and the Chernobour 
Rocks; the trade otherwise is unimportant — a few red foxes 
and brown bears. 

iSaauach. A sea-otter post recently established : nearly two- 
thirds of the sea-otters captured in the whole Alaskan district 
are taken around this island. 

U)iga. A sea-otter post, with small trade in red foxes, black 
and brown bears, «&c. 

KodiaJc, or Saint PmiVs. — Once the headquarters of the old 
Russian American Company, but since 1825 it has been a 
mere trading post; a large number of sea-otter hunters make 
it their home, and bring in their quarry for trade there; all the 
trade of Kenai and Cook's Inlet came in here under the old 
4 AL 


regime, but it is now confiued principally- to the sea-otter trade ; 
the Cook's Inlet and Katuiai trade is mostly engrossed by 
trading-schooners plying between these places aud Paget 
Sound ; the yield of this district uuder the Eiissian control 
is given for twenty years, 184^^-1801, inclusive, as follows: 
Sea-otters, 5,809 j beaver, 85,381 ; marten, 14,295 ; niiuks, 1,175 ; 
musk-rats, 14,313; wolverines, 1,27G; marmots, 712; wolves, oS. 

In the Cook's Inlet distuict, the Mount Saint Eli as and 
SiTKAN districts, there are no well-established trading-posts, 
the business being conducted on shipboard everywhere, the 
natives coming off to the trading-schooners in their canoes. 
At the time of the Kussian occupation there was considerable 
trading done at Sitka, but now it has fallen off entirely, the 
natives of that place and vicinity going back into the inside 
passages, where they can trade with Avhisky-schooners in per- 
fect security, as affairs are now conducted in the Territory. 

A large variety of furs are brought in from the dense forests 
and high mountains of this region — such as red, black, and sil- 
ver foxes, brown and black bears, mink, marten, i)orcupines, 
beaver, land and sea otter, fur seal, hair-seal, deer, rabbits, 
squirrels, mountain-goats, ermines, aud the hoary marmot or 


This embraces the whole of the Aleutian Archipelago, and is 
given entirely to the sea-otters; there is nothing else in this 
section fit for trade save a few red and black foxes, and in it 
are established six stations, viz : Ounalasl-ciy the largest and 
principal one, Akootan^ GhemovsJcic, Oomnalc, Atla^ and Attou, 
^Yhich are the homes of the sea-otter hunters, and where they 

The stations enumerated in the foregoing districts comprise 
all that are established in the Alaskan Territory. 


With the exception of the Sitkan and Cook's Tnlet districts, 
the gross value of the annual fur-i)roduction of Alaska can be 
closely ascertained. I aijpend to this head several tables Irom 
Russian authorities in reierenee to the subject, and call atten- 
tion to the fact that for the last ninety years or more, up to the 
present date, the [)ricesof the leading furs in our market to-day 
are very much what they were then, with the exception of the 


fnr-sojil, wliich lias been greatly cMiliaiiocd i?i value by reason of 
iinprovonuMit in dressin*;, but tlie marten and tlio sea-otter 
stand to-day at ahnost the same fi^nires at wliicli tliey W(iro 
bon<;ht and sold a hundred years ago in Oliina, wliere the value 
of money has remained the same; the native hunters, how- 
ever, receive now three, four, and five times as much as tliey 
were paid by the Russian American Company for their skins. 
The following list may be taken as very nearly correct, and 
shows the gross value of the fur-trade of the Territory to the 
traders for the year 1873 : 

100,000 fur-seal skins, at an averago of A7 $700, 000 

3,000 sea-otter skins, at au avcrago of $75 22.'), 000 

50,000 skins from tlio Yukon district, assorted, at an average of $2. 100, 000 
30,000 skins from all the rest of the Territory, (this is a very un- 
satisfactory estimate,) at an average of §2 GO, 000 

A grand total of 1, 085, 000 

Which is more than double the annual receipts of any one of 
the best of the last twenty years of the llussian American 
Company, so far as can be judged by reference to their state- 
ments, as is shown in the table at the close of this article. 

It seems that the Seal Islands represent two-thirds of the 
whole value of the fur-trade of Alaska, and that with the sea- 
otter interest combined there is scarcely anything left. 

Matters are now so arranged on the Seal Islands that the Gov- 
ernment nets a revenue of $300,000 per annum, with the pres- 
ervation of its interest there in all of its original integrity. 
With reference to the sea-otter trade, I think I clearly show 
the necessity for protection from the Government in my dis- 
cussion of the subject in this report, and, in regard to the 
remaining interests, the country itself protects them. 



TaNe showhig ihc yield of the different statious in i-he Territory of Alaslia, from 
the archives of the Ilussian American Fur Company, for a period of iicenty 
years, between 1842 and 18G1. 













49, 398 

32, 396 
1, 165 

85, 381 




1, 188 



309, 701 

10, 216 


19, 671 


34, 794 








14, 295 














116 lbs. 
3,315 prs. 

1,040 lbs. 
(j 836 prs 

21,640 lbs 

51,840 lbs 

Table showing the exportation of furs by the Russian- American Company. 

Variety of fur. 

Period of 
(24 years.) 

Period of 
(21 years.) 

Period of 
(19 years.) 

Sea-otter, adult and 1-year old skins 

Sea-otter tails 


72, 894 

34, 546 

14, 969 

1, 232, 374 

34, 546 

13, 702 

21, 890 

30, 950 

36, 362 


17, 289 





1, 602 



23, 506 

29, 442 

458, 502 

162, 034 


26, 4G-> 

45, 947 


13, 638 

15, 666 



4, 253 

5, 35j 

■ 25, 899 
25, 797 
70, 473 

372, 894 

157 484 

i 77, 847 

Foxe.s red .. ............. 

I^oxcs blue 

1 54. 134 

Foxes wbito 

i^Iartens . . . 

12, 782 



"Wolverines . . . . 


6, 927 


Bear.s ... 


Sea-lions voun"' 


6, 570 
200, 040 lbs. 

^\ alru s-leetb 

64 640 lbs. 

20 lbs. 

•1,960 Ib.s. 


47 040 lbs 

138, 200 lbs. 

' I 

The following shows the amount of food-supplies required, 
iudepeudeiit of tea, tobacco, and liquor, for the annual subsist- 
ence of the enii)loyes of the Ilussian-American Company, 
(18G3 ;) % year's supply or more was always kept in advance in 
case of an emergency, (from Techmainov:) 


Wheat, 14,000 jxhxIs, at .'i rul)les and 20 kopecks a pood, (or 
30 pounds.) 

Flour, 198 poods, at (J rubles and .SI koixM.'ks a pood. 

Peas, 404 poods, at 4 rubles and 90 kopecks a pood. 

Split wlieat, 104 i)oods, at 4 rubles and 90 kojx'cks a pood. 

Salt, 9lili poods, at 3 rubles and 78 kopecks a pood. 

Butter, 498 poods, at 20 rubles and 20 kopecks a pood. 

Hams, 92 poods, at 59 kopecks a pound. 

The rubles are papcr^ equal to 20 cents each. A pood is 30 
pounds English, or 40 liussian pounds. 



The sea-otter, like the fur-seal, is another illustration of an 
animal long known and highly prized in the commercial world, 
yet respecting the habits and life of which nothing definite 
has been ascertained or published. The reason for this is obvi- 
ous, for, save the natives who hunt them, no one properly quali- 
fied has ever had an opportunity of seeing the sea-otter so as 
to study it in a state of nature, for, of all the shy, sensitive 
beasts, upon the capture of which man sets any value, this 
creature is the most keenly on the alert and difficult to obtain ; 
and, like the fur-seal in this Territory, it possesses the enhanc- 
ing value of being princii)ally confined to our country. A truth- 
ful account of the strange, vigilant life of the sea- otter, and of 
the hardships and perils encountered by its hunters, would sur- 
pass in novelty and interest the most attractive work of fiction. 
AYhen the Russian traders opened up the Aleutian Islands 
they found the natives commonly wearing sea-otter cloaks, 
which they parted with at first for a trifie, not placing any es- 
pecial value on the animal, as they did the hair-seal and the 
sea-lion, the flesh and skins of which were vastly more palata- 
ble and serviceable to them; but the offers of the greedy 
traders soon set the natives after them. During the first few 
years the numbers of these animals talvcn all along the Aleu- 
tian Chain, and down the whole northwest coast as far as Ore- 
gon, were very great, and compared with what are now captured 
seem perfectly fabulous ; for instance, when the Prybilov Isl- 
ands were first discovered, two sailors, Lukannon and Kaiekov, 
killed at Saint Paul's Island, in the first year of occupation, 
Jive thonmnd ; the next year they got less than a thousand, and 
in six years after not a single sea-otter appeared, and none have 
appeared since. When Shellikov's party first visited (3ook's 
Inlet, they secured three thousand ; during the second year, 
two thousand; in the third, only eight hundred; the season 
following they obtained six hundred; and finally, in 1812, less 
than a hundred, and since then not a tenth of that number. 
The first visit made bv the Kussians to the Gulf of Yahkutat, 


ill 1704, two thousand sea-otters were taken, l)ut the}- dimin- 
islicd so rai)idly that in 1700 less than throe hundred were taken. 
In 1708 a lar«;-e party of Russians and Aleuts captured in Sitka 
Sound and nei«;lil)()rhood twelve hundred skins, besides those 
for which they traded with the natives there, fully as many 
more; and in the spriuf; of 1800 a few American and En«,dish 
vessels came into Sitka Sound, anchored off the small Russian 
settlement there, and traded with the natives for over two 
thousand skins, getting; the trade of the Indians by giving fire- 
arms and powder, ball, «S:c., which the Russians did not dare 
to do, living then, as they were, in the country. In one of the 
early years of the Kussian American Company, 1801, Baranov 
went to the Okotsk from Alaska with fifteen thousand sea-otter 
skins, that were worth as much then as they are now, viz, fully 

The result of this warfare upon the sea-otters, with ten hunt- 
ers then where there is one to-day, was not long delayed. Eve- 
rywhere throughout the whole coast-line frequented by them the 
diminution set in, and it became difficult to get to places where 
a thousand had once been as easily obtained as twenty-five or 
thirty. A llussian chronicler says: "The numbers of several 
kinds of animals are growing very much less in the present 
as compared with past times ; for instance, the company here 
(Ounalashka) reguhirly killed more than a thousand sea-otters 
annually ; now^ (1835) from seventy to a hundred and fifty are 
taken; and there was a time, in 182G, when the returns from the 
whole Ounalashkau district (the Aleutian Islands) were ou]y fif- 
teen skins." 

It is also a fact coincident with this diminution of the sea- 
otters, that the population of the Aleutian Islands fell off almost 
in the same proportion. The Eussians regarded the lives 
of these people as they did those of dogs, and treated them ac- 
cordingly ; they took, under Baranov and his subordinates, hunt- 
ing-parties of five hundred to a thousand picked Aleuts, eleven 
or twelve hundred miles to the eastward of their homes, in skin- 
baidars and bidarkies, or kyacks, traversing one of the wildest 
and roughest of coasts, and used them not only for the severe 
drudgery of otter-hunting, but to fight the Koloshians and 
other savages all the way up and down the coast; this soon 
destroyed them, and few ever got back alive. 

When the Territory came into our possession the Bussians 
were taking between four and five hundred sea-otters from the 


Aleutian Lslantls and soutli of the peninsula of Ahisk^, with 
perhaps a hundred and tifty more from Kenai, Yalikutat, and 
the Sitkau district; the Hudson's Bay Company and other 
traders getting about two hundred more from tlie coast of Queen 
Charlotte's and Vancouver's Islands, and ofl' Gray's Ilarbor, 
Washington Territory. 

Xow, during the last season, 187o, instead of less than seven 
hundred skins, as obtained by ihe'Ilussians, our traders secured 
not much less than four thousand skins. This immense dill'er- 
euce is not due to the fact of there being a proportionate in- 
crease of sea-otters, but to the organization of hunting-parties 
in the same spirit and fashion as in the early days above men- 
tioned. The keen competition of our traders will ruin the busi- 
ness in a comparatively' short time if some action is not taken 
by the Government ; and to the credit of these traders let it be 
said, that while they cannot desist, for if they do others will 
step in and profit at their expense, yet thej' are anxious that 
some prohibition should be laid upon the business. This can 
be easily done, and in such a manner as to i^erpetuate the sea- 
otter, not only for themselves, but for the natives, who are de- 
pendent upon its hunting for a living which makes them supe- 
rior to savages. 

Over two-thirds of all the sea otters taken in Alaska are 
secured in two small areas of water, little rocky islets and reefs 
around the island of Saanach and the Cheruobours, which 
proves that these animals, in spite of the incessant hunting all 
the year round on this ground, seem to have some i)articular 
preference for it to the practical exclusion of nearly all the rest 
of the coast in the Territory. This may be due to its better 
adaptation as a breeding-ground. It is also noteworthy that 
all the sea-otters taken below the Straits of Fuczi are shot by 
the Indinns and white hunters off the beach in the surf at 
Gray's Harbor, a stretch of less than twenty miles ; here some 
lifty to a hundred are taken every year, while not half that 
number can be obtained from all the rest of the Oregon and 
Washington coast-line; there is nothing in the external ajjpear- 
ance of this reach to cause its selection b^' the sea-otters, ex- 
cept perhaps that it may be a little less rock^ . 

As matters are now conducted by the hunting parties, the 
sea-otters at Saanach and the Cheruobours do not have a day's 
rest during the whole year. Parties relieve each other in suc- 
cession, and a continual warfare is maintained. This persistence 


is stiir.r.latcd by tlio traders, and is rendered still more deadly 
to the sea-otter by the use of riHes of the best make, which, in 
tlie hands of the youiif; and and)itioLis natives, in spite of the 
warnings of the oUl men, must result in the extermination of 
these animals, as no authority exists in the land to prevent it. 
These same old men, in order to successfully compete with 
their rivals, have to drop their bone spears and arrows and 
take ui) fire-arms in self-defense. So the bad work j^oes on 
rapidly, thoug^h a majority of the natives and the traders 
deprecate it. 

With a view to check this evil and to i)erpetuate the life of 
the sea-otter in the Territory, I offer the following suggestions 
to the Department : 

1st. Prohibit the use of fire-arms of any description in the 
hunting of the sea-otter in the Territory of Alaska. 

2d. Make it unlawful for any party or parties to hunt this 
animal during the months of June, July, and August, fixing a 
suitable penalty, fine, or punishment. 

The first proposition gives the seaotter a chance to live ; and, 
with the second, may possibly promote an increase in the num- 
ber of this valuable animal. 

Theenforcement by theGovernmentof this prohibition will not 
be difiicult, as it is desired by a great majority of the natives 
and all the traders having any real interest in the perpetuation 
of the business. A good deputy attached to the customs, whose 
salary and expenses might be more than paid by a trilling tax 
upon each otter-skin, say 81, could, if provided with a sound 
whale-boat, make his headquarters at Saanach and Celcovski 
and carry the law into effect. The trade of the Kodiak dis- 
trict centers at the village of that name, and the presence of 
the collector or his deputy will exert authority, and (;ause the 
old native hunters and many of the younger who have rellec- 
tion to comply with his demands. The collector then being 
provided with the small revenue-steamer spoken of in my 
chapter upon the duty of the Government toward the Territory, 
can insure compliance with the instructions given him, and 
punish violations. 

This proposed action on the part of the Government is urgent 
and humane, for upon the successful hunting of the sea-otter 
some five thousand Christianized nativ'es are entirely dependent 
for the means to live in a condition superior to barbarism. 


THii HABITS OF THE SEA-OTTEi?., {Enliyclra marina.) 

I have bad a number of iuterestiug interviews with several 
very intelligent traders, and an English hunter who had spent 
an entire winter on Saanach Island, shooting sea-otters, and 
enduring, while there, bitter privation and hardship ; and 
chielly from their accounts, aided by my own observation, I 
submit the following: 

Saanach Island, Islets, and Reefs, is the great sea-otter ground 
of this country. The island itself is small, with a coast-line 
circuit of about eighteen miles. Spots of sand- beach are found 
here and there, but the major portion of it is composed of enor- 
mous water-worn bowlders piled up by the surf. The interior 
is low and rolling, with a ridge rising into three hills, the mid- 
dle one some 800 feet in height. There is no timber on it, but 
abundant grass, moss, &c., with a score of little fresh-water 
lakes, in which multitudes of ducks and geese are found every 
spring and fall. The natives do not live upon the island, 
because the making of fires and scattering of food-refuse alarms 
the otters, driving them off" to sea ; so that it is only camped 
upon, and fires are never built unless the wind is from the 
southward, for no sea-otters are ever found to the north of the 
island. The sufferings to which the native hunters subject 
themselves every winter on this island, going for many weeks 
without fires, even for cooking, with the thermometer down to 
zero, in a northerly gale of wind, is better imagined than de- 

To the southward and westward, and stretching directly out 
to sea, some five to eight miles from Saanach Island, is a suc- 
cession of small islets, bare, most of them, at low water, but 
with numerous reefs and rocky shoals, beds of kelj), «S:c. This 
is the great sea-otter ground of Alaska, together with the 
Chcrrobour Islets, to the eastward ibout thirty miles, which 
are similar to it. 

The sea-otter rarely lands upon the main island, but it is 
found just out of water on the reef rocks and islets above men- 
tioned, in certain seasons, and at a little distance at sea during 
calm and pleasant weather. 

Tlie adult sea-otter is an animril that will measure from three 
and a half to four feet at most, from nose to tip of tail, which is 
short and stumpy. The general contour of the body is closely 
like tliat of the beaver, with the skin lying in loose folds, so 
that when taken hold of in lifting the boLly out from the water, 



it is as slack and draws u[) like tlie hide on llic* nape of a yomii;- 
dog. This skin, which is taken Iroiii the body with but one 
cut made in it at tlie posteriors, is turned inside out, and air- 
dried, and stretched, so that it then gives the erroneous impres- 
sion of an animal at least six feet in length, with girth and 
shape of a weasel or mink. 

There is no sexual dissimilarity in color or size, and both 
manilest the same intense shyness and aversion to man, coupled 
with the greatest solicitude for their young, which they bring 
into existence at all seasons of the year, for the natives get 
young pups every month in the year. As the natives have 
never caught the mothers bringing forth their oft'si)ring on the 
rocks, they are disposed to believe that the birth takes place 
on kelp-beds, in i^leasant or not over-rough weather. The fe- 
male has a single pup, born about 15 inches in length, and pro- 
vided during the first month or two with a coat of coarse, brown- 
ish, grizzled fur, head and nape grizzled, grayish, rufous white, 
with the roots of the hair growing darker toward the skin. 
The feet, as in the adult, are very short, webbed, with nails 
like a dog, fore-paws exceedingly feeble and small, ail covered 
with a short, fine, dark, bister-brown hair or fur. From this 
poor condition of fur they improve as they grow older, shading 
darker, finer, thicker, and softer, and by the time they are two 
years of age they are '^ prime," though the animal is not full- 
grown until its fourth or fifth year. The white nose and mus- 
tache of the pup are not changed in the adult. The whiskers 
are white, short, and fine. 

The female has two teats, resembling those of a cat, placed 
between the hind limbs on the abdomen, and no signs of more ; 
the pup sucks a j^ear at least, and longer if its mother has no 
other ; the mother lies upon her back in the water or upon 
the rocks, as the case may be, and when she is surprised she 
protects her young by clasping it in her fore-paws and turning 
her back to the danger ; they shed their fur just as the hair of 
man grows and falls out ; the reason is evident, for they must 
be ready for the water at all times. 

The sea-otter mother sleeps in the water on her back, with 
her young clasped between her fore-paws. The pup cannot 
live without its mother, though frequent attempts have been 
made by the natives to raise them, as they often capture them 
alive, but, like some other species of wild animals, it seems to 


be so deeply imbued with fear of man that it invariably dies 
from self-iQi posed starvation. 

Their food, as might be inferred from the flat molars of denti- 
tion, is almost entirely- composed of clams, muscles, and sea- 
urchins, of which they are very fond, and which they break by 
striking the shells together, held in each fore paw, sucking out 
the contents as they are fractured by these eftbrts 5 they also 
undoubtedly eat crabs, and the juicy, tender fronds of kelp or 
sea-weed, and fish. 

Tbey are not polygamous, and more than an individual is 
seldom seen at a time when out at sea. The flesh is very un- 
l^alatable, highly charged with a rank smell and flavor. 

They are playful, it would seem, for I am assured by several 
old hunters that they have watched the sea-otter for a half an 
hour as it lay upon its back in the water and tossed a piece of 
sea-weed up in the air from paw to paw, apparently taking 
great delight in catching it before it could fall into the water. 
It will also play with its young for hours. 

The quick hearing and acute smell possessed by the sea-otter 
are not equaled by any other creatures in the Territory. They 
will take alarm and leave from the eftects of a small tire, four 
or five miles to the windward of them ; and the footstep of man 
must be washed by many tides before its trace ceases to alarm 
the animal and drive it from landing there should it approach 
for that purpose. 

There are four principal methods of capturing the sea-otter, 
viz, by surf -shooting, by siKaring-surrounds, by cluhbing, and by 

The surf-shooting is the common method, but has only been 
in vogue among the natives a short time. The young men have 
nearly all been supplied with rifles, with which they patrol the 
shores of the island and inlets, and whenever a sea-otter's head 
is seen in the surf, a thousand yards out even, they fire, the 
great distance and the noise of the surf preventing tlie sea- 
otter from taking alarm until it is hit; and, in nine times 
out of ten, when it is hit, in the head, which is all that is ex- 
posed, the shot is fatal, and the hunter waits until the surf 
brings his quarry in, if it is too rough for him to venture out 
in his " bidarkie." This shooting is kept up now the whole 
year round. 

The speariug-surround is the orthodox native system of cap- 
ture, and reflects the highest credit upon them as bold, hardy 



watermen. A party of fil'teiMi or twenty bidarkies, with two 
men in each, as a rule, all under the control of a chief elected 
by common consent, start out in pleasant weather, or when it 
is not too rou<;li, and spread themselves out in a long line, 
slowly paddling over the waters where sea-otters are most 
usually found. When auy one of them discovers an otter, 
asleep, most likely, in the water, he makes a quiet signal, and 
there is not a word spoken or a i)addle splashed while they are 
on the huut. He darts toward the animal, but generally the 
alarm is taken by the sensitive object, which instantly dives 
before the Aleut can get near enough to throw his spear. The 
hunter, however, keeps right on, and stops his canoe directly 
over the spot where the otter disappeared. The others, taking 
note of the position, all deploy and scatter in a circle of half a 
mile wide around the mark of departure thus nuule, and pa- 
tiently wait for the re-appearance of the otter, which must take 
place within fifteen or thirty minutes tor breath ; and as soon 
as this happens the nearest one to it darts forward in the same 
manner as his predecessor, when all hands shout and throw 
their spears, to make the animal dive again as quickly as pos- 
sible, thus giving it scarcely an instant to recover itself. xV 
sentry is placed over its second diving-wake as before, and the 
circle is drawn anew; and the surprise is often repeated, some- 
times for two or three hours, until the sea-otter, from inter- 
rupted respiration, becomes so filled with air or gases that he 
cannot sink, and becomes at once an easy victim. 

The coolness with which these Aleuts will go far out to sea in 
their cockle-shell kyacks, and risk the approach of gales that 
are as apt to be against them as not, with a mere handful of 
food and less water, is remarkable. They are certainly as hardy 
a set of hunters, patient and energetic, as can be found in the 

The clubbing is only done in the winter-season, and then at 
infrequent intervals, which occur when tremendous gales of 
wind from the northward, sweeping down over Saanach, have 
about blown themselves out. The natives, the very boldest of 
them, set out from Saanach, and scud down on the tail of the 
gale to the far outlying rocks, just sticking out above surf-wash, 
Avhere they creep up from the leeward to the sea-otters found 
there at such times, with their heads stuck into the beds of kelp 
to avoid the wind. The noise of the gale is greater than that 
made by the stealthy movements of the hunters, who, armed 


each with a short, heavy, wooden club, dispatch the animals, 
one after another, without alarming the whole body, and in this 
way two Aleuts, brothers, were known to have slain seventy- 
eight in less than an hour and a half. 

There is no driving these animals out upon land. They are 
fierce and courageous, and, when surprised by a man between 
themselves and the water, they will make for the sea, straight 
without any regard for the hunter, their progress, by a succes- 
sion of short leaps, being very rapid for a small distance. The 
greatest care is taken by the sea-otter hunters on Saanach. 
They have lived in the dead of a severe winter six weeks at a 
time without kindling a fire, and with certain winds they never 
light one. They do not smoke, nor do they scatter or empty 
food-refuse on the beaches. Of all this I am assured by one 
who is perhaps the first white eye-witness of this winter-hunt- 
ing, as he lived on the island through that of 1872-'73, and 
could not be induced to repeat it. 

The hunting by use of nets calls up the strange dissimilarity 
existing now, as it has in all time past, between the practice of 
the Atka and Attou Aleuts and that of those of Ounalashka and 
the eastward, as given above. These people capture the sea- 
otter in nets, from 16 to 18 feet long and 6 to 10 feet wide, with 
coarse meshes, made nowadays of twine, but formerly of 

On the kelp-beds these nets are spread out, and the natives 
withdraw and watch. The otters come to sleep or rest on these 
places, and get entangled in the meshes of the nets, seeming to 
make little or no effort to escape, paralyzed as it were by fear, 
and fall in this way easily into the hands of the trappers, who 
tell me that they have caught as many as six at one time in one 
of these small nets, and frequently get three. They also watch 
for surf -holes or caves in the bluffs, and, when one is found to 
which a sea-otter is in the habit of resorting, they set this net 
by spreading it over the entrance, and usually capture the an- 

No injury whatever is done to these frail nets by the sea- 
otters, strong animals as they are ; only stray sea-lions destroy 
them. The Atka people have never been known to hunt sea- 
otters without nets, while the people of Ounalashka and the 
eastward have never been known to use them. The salt-water 
and kelp seem to act as a disinfectant to the net, so that the 
smell of it does not repel or alarm the shy animal. 




When the Russians first came into tlie country, in 17(J(i-"G.j, 
the abundance of sea-otter skins and their immensely-greater 
vahie tlian that of any others found, caused very litth^ atten- 
tion to be paid to the skins of fur-seals or those of other ani- 
mals; but the great diminution of otter-skins toward the end 
of 1777-'78 raised anew the question, often asked the natives 
but in vain, as to where the fur-seal bred, such numbers of 
them were seen every year in the spring passing nortli and in 
the autumn going south through the narrow channels, straits, 
&c., between the Aleutian Islands. This regular routine of 
travel followed by these animals every year pointed to some 
unknown breeding-ground in Bering Sea, and search was made 
for it, resulting in the discovery of the group under discussion, 
in 178G-'87, by Gehrman Prybilov, commanding a small schoon- 
er, and serving one of the twenty-eight different trading-com- 
panies and traders then about the Alentian Archipelago. The 
islands were without population, or the traces even of human 

The island of Saint George was first discovered and named 
after the little vessel commanded by Prybilov,* and in the follow- 
ing year, July, 1787, the island of Saint Paul was noticed by 
the men stationed at Saint George looming on the northwest 
horizon, twenty-seven miles distant. 

Prybilov endeavored to keep the discovery to himself, but in 
less than a month after his return to Ounalashka it was well 
known. The competition there was so lively, that as many as 
six companies established themselves at once on the Seal Islands, 
and a number of irregular visitors now and then appeared. The 
rapacity and shiftlessness of their management is well described 
by a Russian historian, from whom I have translated extracts 
bearing upon this subject, and which will be found in its proper 

* Prybilov died at Sitka while ia comuiaud of the ship "Three Saiuts," 
March, 1798. 


place. lu 1790 the Russian Ameiican Company received the 
monopoly of all Alaska, and it at once organized a colony of 
" one hundred and thirty-seven souls" at Sitka and Ounalashka, 
princii)ctlly natives of the latter place, and planted the settle- 
ments \vlii(;h still exist on the islands, and after many years of 
most ftiulty management of the sealing business they came to 
regard it with so good an eye to its preservation and perpetua- 
tion, that their rules and regulations in regard to these points 
are still in force, no subsequent observation having suggested 
an improvement on them until the date of the writer's arrival 
on the islands, April, 1872. 

Too much credit cannot be given to certain agents of the old 
Russian company, and a countryman of ours, in 1SG8-'G9,* who 
have by their attention and action saved this most interesting 
and valuable exhibition of animal life from the wanton, improv- 
ident destruction which has been visited upon the great fur-seal 
rookeries ot the Southern Ocean. 

The fact that the fur-seals frequent these islands, and those 
of Bering and Copper, on the Russian side, to the exclusion of 
all other land, is at first a little singular; but when we come to 
examine the subject we find that these animals, when they 
come out to lie two or three months on the land, as they must 
do by their habit during the breeding-season, require a cool, 
moist atmosphere; also, firm and dry land, or dr}^ rock, upon 
which to take their positions and remain for the season; if the 
rookery-ground is hard and flat, puddles are formed, making a 
slime, which very quickly takes the hair ofl'the animals; hence 
they carefully avoid any such landing. If they occupy a sandy 
shore, the rain beats the sand into their large, sensitive eyes, and 
into their fur, so that they are obliged from irritation to leave. 
The Seal Islands now under discussion oft'er very remarkable 
advantages for landing, especially Saint Paul, where the ground 
of basaltic rock and of volcanic tufa or cement slopes up grad- 
ually from the sea, making a suitable resting-place lor millions 
of these intelligent animals, which lie out here tvvo and three 
months every year in perfect peace and contentment. 

There is no ground of this character offered elsewhere in the 
country, on the Aleutians, on the mainland, or on Saint Mat- 
thew's, or Saint Lawrence; the latter islands were surveyed 
during the past season to settle this question, and the notes 
will be found in the appendix. 

* H. M. Hutchiusou. 



Tlie Pr.vbilov ^roiipof fur seal islands occupy the most iso- 
lated portion of any land in I>eiin<; 8ca, the tliicc nearest land- 
l)oints to tlieni luMn.i;' nearly Cipiidistant ; 8aint ^lattliew's 
and Nunivok Islands, Cape Kewenhain, on tlic niairdand, and 
Ounalashka Island, all about one hundred and eighty miles oil"; 
and in this location ocean-currents from the great Tacific, to 
the southward, warmer than the normal temperature of their 
latitude, ebb and How around them on their way to the Arctic 
and elsewhere, and .i^ive rise in this way during the summer 
months and early autumn to constant thick, humid fogs and 
drizzling niists which hang in heavy banks over the islands 
and sea, seldom breaking away to indicate a pleasant day. * 

By the middle or end of October, high, cold winds carry oil" 
the moisture and clear up the air, and by the end of January 
or early in February, usually bring down from the north and 
northwest great fields of broken ice, not very heavy or thick, 
but still covering the whole surface of the sea, shutting in the 
laud completely, and hushing the wonted roar of the surf for 
a month or six weeks at a time. In exceptionally cold seasons, 
for three and even four months the coast will be ice-bound; and 
winters, on the other hand, occur, like the last one, (1873-'74,) 
in which not even the sight of an ice-lloe was recorded, and 
there was very little skating on the little lakes, but this is not 
often the case. The breaking up of winter-weather usually 
commences about the first week in April, the ice beginning to 
leave or dissolve at that time or a little later, so that by the 
1st or the 5th of May generally, the beaches and rocky sea- 
margins are clear and free from ice and snow ; although snow 
occasionally lies in gullies and leeward hill-slopes, where it has 
drifted during the winter, until the end of July and middle of 
August. Fog, damp, thick, and heavy, closes in about the end 
of May, and this, the usual sign of summer, holds on steadily 
until the middle or end of October. 

The periods of change are exceedingly irregular in autumn 
and spring, but in summer the uniformity of the weather, with 
cool, moist, shady, gray fbg, is constant, and to this certainty 
of favorable climate, coupled with the i)erfect isolation and ex- 
ceeding fitness of tlie ground, is due, without doubt, the prefer- 
ence for it manifested by the warm-blooded animals which 
come here every year, to the practical exchision of all other 
ground, in thousands and hundreds of thousands, to breed. 



Tbe climate of tbese islauds lias received careful attention, 
as will be seen by reference to tlie report of Mr. Charles P. Fish, 
of the United States Signal-Service, to which reference may be 
made for more detailed information upon the subject. I sim- 
ply remark here that the winter of 1872-'73 was one of ^reat 
severity, and, according to the natives, such as is very seldom 
experienced ; but cold as it was, however, the lowest marking 
by thermometer was but 12° Fahrenheit below zero, and that 
for a few hours only during a day in February, while the mean 
of the month was 18^ above. The coldest month, March, gave 
a mean of 12^ above, while the mean of a usual winter is no 
lower than 22° or 20^5 but the high north winds which I ex- 
perienced during that winter were blowing more than three- 
fourths of the time, and made all outdoor exercise impractica- 
ble. On a day in March, for example, its velocity was at the 
rate of eighty-eight miles per hour, with as low a temperature 
as — 4°! With a wind blowing but twenty or twenty-five miles 
an hour, at a much higher temperature, as at 15o or IGo above 
zero, it is necessary to be most thoroughly wrapped up to 
guard against freezing, if any journey is to be made on foot. 

There are here, virtually, but two seasons, winter and summer. 
To the former belong November and the following months up to 
the end of April, with a mean of 20° to 28^, while the transition 
to summer is but a slight elevation in temperature, only 15=^ to 
20O; of the summer months July is perhaps the w.=.rmest, usually 
with a mean of 40° to 50^ in ordinary seasons. 

It is astonishing how rapidly snow melts here at a single 
degree above freezing, and after several consecutive days in 
April or May at 34° and 3Go, grass begins to grow, even if it be 
under melting drifts and the frost is many feet in depth under 
it. In the appendix I have placed a table, compiled from the 
report of Mr. Fish, above referred to, as interesting in show- 
ing the character of a very severe winter on the Seal Islands.^ 

Theformation of these islunds was recent, geologically speak- 
ing, and due to direct volcanic agency, which lifted them abruptly 
though gradually from the sea-bed, building upon them below 
the watei's-level as they rose, and subsequently above, by spout- 
holes or craters, from which water-i)U(l(lle(l breccia and vol- 
canic ashes and tufa were thrown. Soon after the elevation 
and deposition of the igneous matter, all volcanic action must 
have ceased, though the clearly blown-out throat and smooth, 
sharp-cat, funnel-like wails of a crater on Otter Island (one of 


the .i^ronp, six miles south of Saint Paiirs) would seem to 
indicate (juite recent ii(;t:on, and this is th(^ oidy i)lace on the 
rryl)ilov Islands where anything has been discharged from a 
crater at so late a date. 

Since the period of the upheaval of the group under discus- 
sion the sea has done nuu^h to modify and enlarge the most 
important island, Saint Paul's, while the others, Saint George 
and Otter, being lilted abruptly above the power of water and 
ice to carry and deposit sand, soil, and bowlders, are but little 

Saint Paul's Island is the largest and far the most import- 
ant and valuable of the whole group. Upon my first arrival there 
in April, 187-}, I was surprised to find that no steps had been 
taken to obtain an accurate or even approximately correct idea 
of the size and shape of it. I at once set lo work upon it, and 
give herewith as the result of this labor the first definite figures 
as to its dimension and area, together with a map showing the 
outline and topography, with special sketches of the area and 
position of each fur-seal "rookery" or breeding-ground. 

The Reef Point of the island stands in latitude 57^ 8' north, 
and w^est longitude 170^ 12', being the most southerly land. 
The island is in its greatest length, between northeast and 
southwest points, 13 miles air-line, and in greatest width a 
little less than six. It has a superficial area of about 33 
square miles, or 21,120 acres, of diversified, rough, and rocky 
uplands, small, rounded hills, which either set down boldly to the 
sea, or fade into wet, mossy flats and dry drifting sand-dune 
tracts. It has 42 miles of shore-line, IGJ of which are used 
by the fur-seals en masse. 

At the time of its first upheaval above the sea it must 
have presented the appearance of ten or twelve little rocky- 
bluff islets or points, upon some of which were craters, vomit- 
ing breccia and cinders, but with little or no lava overflowing ; 
the plutonic power after this ceased to act, and the sea com- 
menced the work of building on to the skeleton thus created, 
and to-day so thorough and successful has it been in its labor 
of sand-shifting, together with the aid of ice-floes, in their ac- 
tion of grinding, lifting, and shoving, that nearly all of the 
scattered islets, within the present area of the island, are com- 
pletely bound together by bars of sand and bowlders, which are 
raised above the highest tides by winds that whirl the sand up 


as it drives out from the wash of aiirf, and rocks lifted and 
l)ushed np by ice-fiekls. 

The saud which plays so important a part in the formation 
of Saint Paul's Island, and which is almost entirely wanting on 
and around the others in this group, i.s largely composed of J^o- 
raminifera, together with Biatomacca nuxed in with the volcanic 
base. It changes color like a chamelet)n as it passes from wet 
to dry, being a rich steely-black at the snrC-margin, then dry- 
ing out to a soft purplish brown and gray, succeeding to tints 
n)ost delicate, of reddish and pale gray when warmed by the 
sun and drifting with the wind. The sand-dune tracts on this 
island are really attractive in the summer at certain times 
when the weather is pleasant; the most luxuriant grass and a 
variety of beautiful flowers exist in profusion on them. 

As these sand and bowlder bars were forming on Saint Paul's 
Island, in making across from inlet to inlet, they inclosed small 
collections of sea-water, thus giving rise to a number of lakes, 
which nearly all become fresh ; in them are no reptiles or fish, 
but a great number of minute Ixotifera sport about in all of 
them whenever the water is examined 5 several water-plants 
and algai flourish, especially so in the large lake, which is very 

The total absence of a harbor in the group is much to be re- 
gretted. The village of Saint Paul, as will be seen by reference 
to the map, is located so as to command the best landings that 
can be made from vessels during the prevalence of any wiutls 
other than southerly ; from these there is no shelter for vessels, 
unless they run around to the north side, where they are unable 
to hold communication or to discharge. At Saint George mat- 
ters are still worse, for all northerly, westerly, and easterly 
winds drive the shipping away from the village roadstead, and 
weeks often pass at either island before a cargo is landed at its 
destination. The approach to Saint Paul during thick weather 
is ver^' hazardous, for the land is mostly low, and does not loom 
uj) like Saint George through the fog; there are, besides, nu- 
merous reefs making out, which are not found around the other 
island. Captain Baker carefully sounded out these localities 
last summer, while waiting for us, and I have placed the result 
of this valuable work on my chart, so that the next captain of 
a revenue-vessel coming here will be able to feel his way in 
with some degree of security. 

Saint Geokge's Islan'd is next in order of importance and 


size, and in rc^-ar<l to its sizo, sliai)o, vSic., I found tlio saMi(3 
Avnnt of knowledge' expeiiencA'd at Saint I'auPs ; a survey, wliich 
I iinincdiatc'ly made on my first arrival, June, IST.'J, «j;ives to 
tbe island a length of not quite ten and a half miles by four 
and a quarter between points of the greatest width. It has an 
area of about twenty-seven sijuare miles; has twenty-nine 
niik^s of coast-line, of which only two and a quarter are Visited 
by the fur-seals, and which is in fact all the eligible landing- 
ground ailbrded them by the structure of the ishiud, which 
rises everywhere else, save at the village-front, abruptly from 
the water, which breaks boldly at the bases of tbe lofcy clitis 
all tirouiid. ISIearly half of the shore-line of Saint Paul is a 
sand-beach, while on Saint George there is less than a mile of 
it all put together, viz, a few hundred yards in front of the 
village, the same extent at the Garden Cove, southeast side, 
and less than half a mile at Zapadnie, on the south side. Sev- 
eral thousand sea-lions hold exclusive though shy possession of 
half a mile of good landing on the east side. 

" Tolstoi .¥e^.9," or East Cape, lies in north latitude 50^ 31' V* 
and the west end, or '' JDalnol ilim*," 5G^ 38^ 3'^* with west 
longitudes of lOOo 27^* and IGQo M'*, respectively, while the 
village, on the north shore, is in 5CP 30' IG'^G, lGl)o IIV C^ 

On the north shore of the island, three miles west from the 
village, a grand bluff wall of basalt and tufa intercalated rises 
abruptly from the sea to a height of 020 feet at the reach of 
greatest elevation, and runs clear around the island to Zapad- 
nie, a distance of some ten miles, without affording a single 
passage-way up from or down to the sea. Upon the innumer- 
able ledges and in countless chinks and crannies millions of 
water fowl breed during the summer-months. 

The general elevation of Saint George, while not great, is on 
an average three times as great as that of Saint Paul, which is 
quite low, and slopes gently to the sea east ami north. But 
Saint George rises abruptly, with exceptional spots for land- 
ing. The highest land on Saint George is 030 feet, and the 
summit of the high bluffs before mentioned ; that on Saint 
Paul is Boga SIov Hill, GOO feet. All elevations on either island 
10 or 12 feet above sea-level are rough and hummocky, with 

* These observations arc taken from Russian authority, and are several 
miles out of the way, but the only ones available. That of the village was 
(leteriniued by Lieutenant Maynard last summer, July 10, and may be con- 
sidered accurate. 


the exceptiou of the suinmits of a few ciuder-liills. The supply 
of water is abuiidaut aud good. The only liviug stream of 
^Yater on the Seal Ishmds is found on Saint George, a small 
clear brook that empties into the Garden Cove ; but the area 
covered by fresh- water lakes on this ishind is very much less 
than that of Saint Paul. 

Weathered out or washed from the basalt and pockets of 
olivine on the islands are aggregates of augite, seen most 
abundant on the summit slopes of Ahlucheyeh Hill, Saint 
George. Specimens from the stratified bands of old, friable, 
gray lavas, so conspicuous on the bluffs of the north shore of 
this island, show the existence of hornblende and vitreous feld- 
spar in considerable quantity, while on the south shore, near 
the Garden Cove, is a large dike of a bluish and greenish-gray 
phonolitic rock, in which numerous small crystals of spinel are 
found. A dike with well-defined walls of old, close-grained, 
clay-colored lava is close by the village of Saint George, about 
a quarter of a mile east from the landing, in the face of breccia 
bluffs that rise from the sea. It is the only example of its kind 
on these islands. 

The foundations of the islands, all of them, are basalt, some 
compact, grayish-white, but most of them exceedingly porous 
and ferruginous J and upon this solid floor are many hills of 
brown and red basaltic tufas, cinder-heaps, &c. ''Polovina 
Sopka," the second point in elevation on Saint Paul's, (550 feet,) 
is almost entirely built up of red scorijB and breccia. The 
bluffs at the shore, *'Polovina Point," show the hard basaltic 
underpinning upon which the hill rests. The tufas on both 
islands decompose and weather into fertile soil, which the 
severe climate renders useless. There is not a trace of a granitic 
or gneissic rock found ui situ. Several metamorphic bowlders 
have been collected, which were dropped upon the beaches by 
ice-floes, brought down by the strong northwesters from the 
Asiatic coast. 

The black-brown tufa and breccia bluffs at the East Land- 
ing, Saint Paul's Island, rise abruptly from the sea there GO to 
80 feet, with stratified horizontal bands of a light-gray calcare- 
ous conglomerate or cement, in which are imbedded sundry 
fossils characteristic of the Tertiary age, such as Card i urn green- 
IxDidicuni, dccorafum, Astarte i}cctuncula^ ika. This is the only 
locality in the Prybilov Islands where any i)aleontological evi- 
dence of their age can be found. 


Otter Island lanks third in the. ^roup, juhI lies six miles 
soutli-soutlnvcvst I'rom the " Uoci' Point" of Saint raiiFs IshiiMl. 
It is about a mile and a (luarter in greatest length by less than 
half a mile in extreme width. The east, south, and west shores 
are bold and bhilVy, not to be approached by men, and hardly 
by seals, during rough weather ; but the north shore, for most 
of its extent, rises quite gradually from the surf; the beach is, 
however, broken and rocky, with no sand. The highest point 
is the summit of the bluil's on the west end, some 300 feet. A 
small shallow lake lies near the north shore and landing; water 
impure and uncertain. 

On this island there is no breeding-ground occupied l)y the 
fur-seals, but the non-breeding seals lie out here in large num- 
bers off and on. during the season. 

Walrus Island, fourth and last, is of little or Jio commer- 
cial iniportance, but a very interesting spot — a m3re table-rock, 
elevated but slightly above surf-wash, a quarter of a mile in 
length and a hundred yards in width, and, like Otter Island, 
has bold water all around, and, better still, entirely free from 
reefs or sunken rocks. It lies six miles south-southeast from 
northeast point of Saint Paul's. There is no fresh water 
on it. 

It is not resorted to by the fur-?eals, but several hundred 
male walrus {Rosmarus) are found here most of the year, and a 
few sea-lions breed there. On account of rough weather, fogs, 
&c., the island is seldom visited by the natives of Saint Paul, 
and then only during the cggingseason, in June and July, when 
the island is literally swarming with breeding water-fowl. 

The opportunity afforded here of seeing the strange walrus- 
herds to the very best advantage is not equaled by any other 
place in the Territory. Here can also be plainly seen the move- 
ments and habits of myriads of nesting water-fowl. 

Vegetation on these islands, with the exception of the last 
named, such as it is, is fresh and luxuriant during the growing 
season of June and July and early August, but the beauty and 
economic value of trees and shrubbery seem to be denied to 
them by climatic conditions, though I am strongly inclined to 
believe that any of the hardy shrubs and trees indigenous at 
Sitka and Kodiak would grow here if transplanted properly on 
some of the southern hill-slopes most favored by soil, drainage, 
and position for shelter; but they would never mature their 
seed, owing to the want of sunlight to ripen, so that reproduc- 


tiou of their kiutl would not follow. There are, however, ten 
or twelve species of grasses growing in every variety, from 
close, curly, compact tufts on tlie seal-grounds, to tall stalks, 
standing in favorable seasons waist-bigh ; the "wheat" of tbe 
nortb, [Elymus,) together with over a hundred varieties of an- 
nuals, perennials, sphagnum, cryptogamic plants, &c., all nour- 
ishing in their respective positions, and covering nearly every 
Ijoint upon which plants can grow with a living coat of the 
greenest of all greens, as there is not suulight enough to ripen 
any deep tinge of yellow into it — so green that it gives a deep- 
bUie tint to gray noonday shadows, contrasting pleasantly with 
the varied russets, reds, yellows, and grays of the lichen-cov- 
ered rocks and the bronzed purple of the wild wheat on the 
sand-dune tracts in autumn, and the innumerable blue, yellow, 
pink, and white blossoms everywhere interspersed. Occasion- 
ally by looking closely into the thickest masses of verdure our 
common wild violet will be found. The floral display predomi- 
nates greatly on Saint Paul, owing to the absence of the same 
extent of warm sand-dune country on the other islands. 

By the end of August and first week in September of normal 
seasons, the small edible berries [Empctrum nigrum and liiihus 
ckamccmorus) are ripe, which are found in considerable quanti- 
ties, the former being small, v/atery, and black, about the size 
of an English or black currant, and the other resembling an 
unripe and partly- decayed raspberry. They are the only fruit 
aflbrded by the islands, and are of course keenlj' relished by 
the natives. 

There are very few insects on the Seal Islands. A large 
flesh-fly appears during the summer in a striking manner, and 
settles upon the long grass-blades which flourish on the killing- 
grounds especially, settling by tens of millions, causing the 
vegetation over the whole slaughtering-field and vicinity to 
fairly droop to the earth as though beaten down by a tornado 
of wind and rain. Our common house-tly is not present, and 
those just mentioned never come into the dwellings unless by 
accident. It does not annoy man or beast. There are no mos- 
quitoes. A small gnat flits about, inoflensive, taking shelter in 
the grass. 

Aside from the seal-life on the Prybilov Islands, there are no 
indigenous mammalia with the exception of blue and white 
foxes, and the lemming, [MijodcH ohcns'm,) which latter is re- 
stricted, singularly enough, to the island of Saint George,where 


it is exceedingly abmuLiiit. Its burrows and paths niidcr and 
among- tlio grassy hummocks and mossy Ihits literally cluu^ker 
every sfjuare rod of land tliere covered with this vegetation ; 
and although Saint Paul's Island lies but twenty-nine miles to 
the northwest, not a single one of these active, curious little 
animals is found there. 

The foxes ( Vidpes lagopus) are also, of their kind, restricted 
to these islands, not being found elsewhere, except stray exam- 
ples, which get cast away on the ice at Attou or Saint Mat- 
thew's, and lind here among the countless chinks and crevices 
in the basaltic formation comfortable holes for their accommo- 
dation and retreat, feeding fat upon sick and pup seals, water- 
fowl, and eggs during the summer, and living through the win- 
ter upon the bodies of seals left upon the breeding-grounds and 
the carcasses upon the killing-fields. 

The ishinds are as yet free from rats, but mice have beeu 
brought long ago in ships' cargoes, and are a great pest in the 

As might be inferred from their formation, these ishiuds pos- 
sess no mineral wealth of economic value whatever. 

Stock cannot be profitably raised here; the proportion of 
severe winter is too great, as from three, at least, to perhaps 
six months of the year they would require feeding and water- 
ing, with good shelter. To furnish animals with hay and grain 
is a costly matter, and the dampness of the growing or summer 
season on both islands renders hay-curing impracticable. 

Perhaps a few head of hardy Siberian cattle might pick up a 
living through a rough winter on the north shore of Saint Paul 
among the grassy sand-dunes there, with nothing more than 
shelter and water given them, but the care of them would 
hardly return expenses, as the winter-grazing ground would not 
support an}' great number of animals, it being less than two 
square miles in extent, and half of this area being unpro- 

I am strongly inclined to think that reindeer would make a 
successful issue with any struggle here that they might have 
for existence, and be the source of an excellent supply, summer 
and winter, of fresh meat for the agents of the Government and 
the company who may be living u[)on the islands. The Pus- 
sians, as well as the present 0(*cupants of the place, were in the 
habit of keeping, and still do keep, a few head of cattle, and a 
number of hogs nud chickens throughout winters for table use, 


but it is without profit, except as a luxury. The natives take 
their poultry into their houses, and relish their pork after the 
hogs have fed fat upon seal-carriou, aud therefore it is profitable 
to them. 

lu the appendix will be found a detailed chapter upon the 
ornithology of these islands, but the great exhibition of pinni- 
pedia preponderates over every other form of animal life. Still 
the spectacle of birds nesting and breeding, as they do on Saint 
George's Island, to the number of millions, flecking the high 
basaltic blufi's, (a shore-line of that character twenty miles in 
length,) black, brown, and white, as they porch or cling to the 
clififs in the labor of incubation, is a sight of exceeding interest 
and constant novelty, affording the naturalist opportunity for 
investigation into the most minute details of the reproduction 
of these vast flocks of circumboreal water-fowl. Saint Paul's 
Island, owing to the low character of its shore-line, a large por- 
tion of which is but slightly elevated above the sea aud is 
sandy, is not visited by such myriads of birds as are seen at 
Saint George ; but the small rock, Walrus Island, is fairly cov- 
ered with sea-fowls, and the Otter Island blufi's are crowded to 
their utmost. The variety in these millions of breeding-birds 
is not great, since it consists of only ten or twelve names, and 
the whole list belonging to the Prybilov Islands, stragglers 
and migratory, contains but forty species. Conspicuous among 
the last-named class is the robin, which was brought from the 
mainland, evidently against its own will, by a storm or gale of 
wind, as must also be the case with the solitary hawks and 
owls occasionally noticed here. 

After the dead silence of a long ice-bound winter, the 
arrival in the spring of large, noisy flocks of "choochkies" 
{PhaJeris microceros) is most cheerful and interesting. Thtse 
are bright, fearless little birds, with bodies generally plump and 
fat, aiul come usually in chattering flocks by the 1st to the 5th of 
May. They are caught by the people, to any number required, 
in hand scoop-nets, as they fly to and from their nests, made in 
the cliffs and among bowlders. They are succeeded about the 
20th July by large flocks of fat, red-legged turn-stones, likewise 
edible, {^Strepsilas interpres^) which come in suddenly from the 
west or north, where they have been breeding, and sto[) on the 
islands for a month or six wrecks, to feed fat upon the flesh flies 
and their eggs, which swarm over the killing-groumJs ; these 
handsome, red-legged birds go familiarly among the seals, 


cliasiDff fiies, gnats, &c. Tliey are followed, as tboy leave iu 
September, by several species of jacksnipe, {Frinfja and Chara- 
drills,) wliicli, however, ilei>art by the end of 0(;tober and early 
in November, and when winter fairly closes in upon the islands, 
the loud roaring, incessant seal-din, togetluu' with the screams 
aud darkening llight of innumerable water-fowl, are replaced 
by absolute silence, ma>'king out, as it were, in lines of sharp 
aud vivid coutrast, summer's lile aud winter's death. 

I have beeu unable to discover a single representative of the 
rei)tiles on the islands, aud a small list only of the fishes and mol- 
luscans rewarded the most careful search. The presence of such 
great numbers of seals in the water about the islands during 
five and six months of every year renders all fishing abortive, 
unless expeditions are made seven or eight miles, at least, from 
the land, with the exception of halibut, which the natives cap- 
ture within two or three miles of the reef-point and south 
shore during July and August; but the weather is usually, 
after this season, too stormy and cold for the fishermen to 
venture in their bidarkies during the fall or spring. 



Until my arrival on the Seal Islands, xipril, 1872, no steps 
had been taken toward ascertaining the extent or the impor- 
tance of these interests ofthe Government by either theTreasury 
agent in charge, or the agent of the company leasing the islands. 
This was a matter of no especial concern to the latter, but was 
of the tirst importance to the Government. It had, however, 
failed to obtain a definite knowledge upon the subject, on account 
ofthe inaccurate mode of ascertaining the number of the seals 
which had been adopted by its agent, who relied upon an 
assumption of the area of the breeding *' rookeries," but who 
never took the trouble to ascertain the area and position of 
these great seal-grounds intrusted to his care. 

After a careful study of the subject during two whole seasons, 
and a thorough review of it during this season of 1871, iu com- 
pany with my associate. Lieutenant Maynard, I propose to show 
plainly and in sequence the steps which have led me to a solu- 
tion of th3 question as to the number of fur-seals on the Prybi- 
lov Islands, together with the determination of means by which 
the agent of the Gove»rnment will bo able to correctly report 
upon the condition of the seal-life from year to year. 


At tbe close of my investigation for the season of 1872, the 
fact became evident that the breeding-seals obeyed implicitly 
a fine, instinctive laic of distribution, so that the breeding-ground 
occupied by them was always covered by seals in an exact ratio, 
greater or less, to the area to be held j that they always covered 
the ground evenly, never crowding in at one place and scatter- 
ing at another ; that the seals lay just as thickly together where 
the rookery was a small one of only a few thousand, as at 
Naspeel, near the village, as they did where a million of them 
came together, as at Northeast Point. 

This fact being determined, itis at once plain that just as the 
hrecfJinggrounds of the fur-seal on these islands expand or contract 
in area from their present dimensions, so the seals tcill have in- 
creased or diminished. 

Impressed, therefore, with the necessity and the importance of 
obtaining the exactarea and position of these breeding-grounds, 
I surveyed them in 1872-7 3 for that purpose, *and resurveyed 
them this season of 1871 ; the result has been carefully drawn 
and plotted out, as presented in the accompanying maps. 

The time for taking these boundaries of the rookeries is 
during the week of their gr atest expansion, or when they are 
as full as they are to be for the season, and before the regular 
system of compact^ even organization brealcs up, the seals then 
scattering out in pods or clusters, straying far back, the same 
number covering then twice as much ground in places as they 
did before, when marshaled on the rookery-ground proper; 
the breeding-seals remain on the rookery perfectly quiet and 
en masse for a week or ten days during the period of greatest 
expansion, which is between the 10th and 20th of July, giving 
ample time for the agent to correctly note the exact boundaries 
of the area covered by them ; this step on the part of the Gov- 
ernment officer puts him in i)ossession every of exact data 
upon which to base a report as to the condition of the seal-life, 
as compared with the year or years previous. In this way my 
record of the precise area and position of the fur-seal breeding- 
grounds on Saint Paul's Ishind in the season of 1872, and that 
of Saint George in the season of 1873, correctly serves as a 
definite basis for all time to comeu[)on whicli to found author- 
itative reports from }ear to year as to any change, increase, or 
dnninution of the ji;eal-life. It is, therefore, very important that 
the Government should have an agent in charge of these novel 
and valuable interests who is capable, by virtue of education 


and energy, to correctly observe and report tbe area and posi- 
tion of the rookeries year by year. 

With a knowledge of the superficial area of these breeding- 
grounds, the way is opened to a very interesting calculation 
as to the number of the lur-seals upon iheni. For an estimate 
based apparently upon good foundations, the following is the 
phm by which I have been guided : 

When tbe adult males and females (fifteen of tbe latter to 
every one of tbe former) all arrive upon tbe rookery, I think a 
space a little less than two feet square to each female is a large 
one for that required by each animal, in obedience to its habit, 
and may safely be said to be under tbe mark ; now, every female 
or '•'•cow'^' on its two feet square doubles herself that is, brings 
forth her young, and in a few days, or about a week after its 
birth, she visits tbe water, and is not one-quarter of the time 
on land again during the season. In this way it is clear that 
the female seals almost double their number on tbe rookery- 
grounds without causing the expansion of the same beyond the 
limits that would be required by tbe adults alo.ue ; for every 
100,000 breeding-seals will be found to consist of more than 
85,000 females and less than 15,000 males, and in a few weeks 
after the landing of the females, they will sbow about 180,000 
males, I'emales, and young, on the same area of ground occu- 
pied previous to tbe birtb of the " pups." 

Xow the males, being treble and quadruple tbe size of the 
females, require about four feet square for tbeir use on this 
same ground, but as they are less than one-fifteenth tbe number 
of the lemales, they tberefore occupy only one-eigbtb of tbe 
breeding-ground of the 100,000 supposed, and this surplus area 
of the males is more than balanced by tbe 15,000 to 20,000 
virgin females which come on to this breeding-ground for tbe first 
time to meet the males ; tbey come, rest a few days or a week, and 
retire, leaving no young to sbow their i)resence on the island. 
Taking all these points into consideration, I quite safely calcu- 
late upon two square feet to every aniuial, big and little, on the 
breeding-grounds. Without following this system of computa- 
tion, a person may look over these swarming myriads of seals, 
guessing vaguely and wildly at any nuuiber, from one million 
up to six or seven. 

Below are the figures made from my survey of the area and 
position of tbe breeding-grounds of the fur-seal on Saint Paul's 


Islatul, July 10-18, 1872. It is the first survey ever made or tbe 

islaud : 

Seals— ^ 9 o 

*' Xovastoshnab," or Northeast Point, has 15,810 
feet of sea-margin, with 150 feet of average depth, 
making ground for 1, 200, 000 

"Polavina" Rookery has 4,000 feet of sea-margin, 
with 150 feet of average depth, making ground 
for 300, 000 

'• Lukannon '' Rookery has 2,270 feet of sea-margin, 
with 150 feet of average depth, making ground for. 170, 000 

**Keetavie" Rookery has 2,200 feet of sea-margin, 
with 150 feet of average depth, making ground 
for 1G5, 000 

" Reef" Rookery has 4,016 feet of sea-margin, with 
150 feet of average depth, making ground for 301, 000 

«^ Garbutch " Rookery has 3,CC0 feet of sea-margin, 

with 100 feet of average depth, making ground for . 183^ 000 

*' Nahspeel" or Village Rookery has 400 feet of sea- 
margin, with 40 feet average depth, making ground 
for 8, 000 

" Lagoon " Rookery has 750 feet of sea-margin, with 
100 feet of average depth, making ground for 37,000 

^' Tolstoi " Rookery has 3, 000 feet of sea-margin, 
with 150 feet of average depth, making ground 
for 225, 000 

"Zapadnie" Rookery has 5,880 feet of sea-margin, 
with 150 feet of average depth, making ground 
for 441, 000 

A grand total for Saint Paul's Island of males, 

females, and young, of 3, 030, 250 

The breeding-grounds on Saint George's Island, surveyed July 

12-15, 1873, gave the following figures j also the first survey 

ever made here : 

" Eastern " Rookery has 900 feet of sea-margin, with 

CO feet of average depth, making ground for 25, 000 

''Little Eastern" Rookery has 750 feet of sea-mar- 
gin, with 40 feet of average depth, making ground 
for 13, 000 

" North" Rookery has 2,000 feet of sea-margin, with 
25 feet of average depth, making ground for 25, 000 


"North" Kookery bas 750 foet of sea-mar^qn, witli 

150 feet of average depth, making;' ground for 52, 000 

" Starry Ateel" Itookery has 500 feet of sea-margin, 
with 125 feet of average de])tli, making ground 
for ;j(), 420 

^'Zai)adnie" Kookery has GOO feet of sea-margin, 
with 00 feet of average depth, making ground for. IS, 000 

A grand total for Saint George's Island of 

males, females, and young, of 103, 420 

These figures show a grand total of 3,103,070 breeding-seals 
and their young, and this aggregate is entirely exclusive of the 
great numbers of the non-breeding seals, whieh are never permit- 
ted to come upon the same ground with the females by the 
males in charge. This class of seals, to which the killing is con- 
fined, come up on the land and sea-beach between the rookeries, 
going to and from the sea at irregular intervals during the sea- 
son. It has no systematic, definite method, like the breeding- 
class, of filling up to certain bounds and keeping so for several 
weeks at a time, and is, therefore, beyond reach for ground 
npon which to found calculation, and I can only give an esti- 
mate based upon my close observation with especial reference 
to this subject, and this is my conclusion : 

The non-breeding seals, consisting of all the yearlings and all 
the males under six or seven years, seem nearly equal in number 
to the breeding-seals, and I put them down at 1,500,000 as a 
fair estimate, and make the sum of the seal-life on the Prybilov 
IsUmds over four million seven hundred thousand. 

The seals after leaving these islands in the autumn and early 
winter do not visit land again until the time of return, next 
April, May, and June, to the grounds here, or those of the Rus- 
sian " Copper" and " Bering" Islands. They spread themselves 
out over the vast North Pacific, following schools offish, or fre- 
quenting shoals and banks Avhere an abundance of fishy food is 
found. They can sleep with the greatest comfort and sound- 
ness on the surface of the water, and in this state they are often 
surprised by the natives of the northwest coast, all the way up 
and down, from the Columbia River to Bering Sea. On the 
killing-grounds at Saint George, June, 1873, the natives would 
frequently call my attention to seals that they Avere skinning, 
in which buck-shot were imbedded and encysted just under the 


hide in tbe blubber. From one animal fifteen sliot were taken, 
and the holes which they must have made in the skin wer«j 
entirely healed so as not to leave a scar. These bullets were 
undoubtedly received from the natives of the northwest coast, 
anywhere between the Straits of Fuca and the Aleutian 
Islands, used by them in attempting the capture of the animals 
some season or seasons previously. A small number of seals, 
not definitely known, however, are taken by the Indians every 
year along' the coasts above mentioned, who surprise them 
while soundly asleep in the water, either by shooting or si)ear- 
Ing. The number taken in this way every year will not average 
5,000; some seasons more, some seasons less. 

That these animals are preyed upon extensively by killer- 
whales, {Orca gladiator,) sharks, and other foes now unknown, 
is at once evident ; for were they not held in check by some 
such cause, they would quickly multifdy to so great an extent 
that Bering Sea itself could not contain them, and the present 
annual killing of one hundred thousand out of a yearly surplus 
of over a million males does not, in an appreciable degree, dimin- 
ish the seal-life, or interfere in the slightest with its regular 
perpetuation on the breeding-grounds every year. We may 
properly look upon this number of four and five millions of fur- 
seals, as we see them here every year on these islands, as the 
maximum limit of increase assigned by natural laws. I think 
I make this clear in my chapter upon the habits of these valua- 
ble and interesting animals, without a knowledge of which it 
is not possible for any one to fully appreciate the truth of these 
generalizations. Before, however, the subject of the possible 
increase or diminution of the seal-life is taken up for discussion, 
it is best to consider the — 


Talcing the seals.— By reference to the habits of the fur- 
seal, it is plain that two-thirds of all the males that are born 
(and they are equal in number to the females born) are never 
permitted by the remaining third, strongest by natural selec- 
tion, to land upon the same ground with the females, which 
always herd together en masse. Therefore, this great band of 
bachelor seals, or " holluschickie," is compelled, when it visits 
land, to live apart entirely, miles away frequently, from the 
breeding-grounds, and in this admirably perfect manner of na- 
ture are those seals which can be properly killed without injury 


'to the rookeries selected {iiul held aside, so that the natives can 
visit and take them as they would so many hogs, without dis- 
turbing in the slightest degree the peace and (juiet of the breed- 
ing-grounds where the stock is perpetuated. 

The manner in which the natives capture and drive the hol- 
lus(*hickie up from the liauling-grounds to the slaughtering- 
liclds near the villages and elsewhere, cannot be improved upon, 
and is most satisfactory. 

In the early part of the season large bodies of the young 
bachelor seals do not haul up on land very far from the water, 
a few rods at the most, and the men are obliged to approach 
slyly and run quickly between the dozing seals and the surf, 
before they take aliirm and boU into the sea, and in this way a 
dozen Aleuts, running down the long sand-beach of English 
Bay, some driving-morning early in June, will turn back from 
the water thousands of seals, just as the mold-board of a 
plow kys over and back a furrov/ of earth. As the sleeping 
seals are first startled they arise, and seeing men between them 
and the water, immediately turn, lope and scramble rapidly 
back over the land ; the natives then leisurely walk on the 
flanks and in the rear of the drove thus secured, and direct 
and drive them over to the killing-grounds. 

A drove of seals on hard or firm grassy ground, in cool and 
moist weather, may with safety be driven at the rate of half a 
mile an hour ; they can be urged along with the expenditure of 
a great many lives in the drove, at the speed of a mile or a mile 
and a quarter even per hour, but this is highly injudicious and 
is seldom ever done. A bull-ssal, fat and unwieldy, cannot 
travel with the younger ones, but it can lope or gallop as it 
w^ere over the ground as fast as an ordinary man can run for a 
hundred yards, but then it fulls to the earth supine, utterly ex- 
hausted, hot and gasping for breath. 

The seals, when driven thus to the killing-grounds, require 
but little urging; they are permitted to frequently halt and 
cool off, as heating them injures their fur; they never show 
fight any more than a llock of sheep would do, unless a few old 
seals are mixed in, which usually get so weary that they prefer 
to come to a stand-still and fight rather than to move; this 
action on their part is of great advantage to all parties con- 
cerned, and the old I'eliows are always permitted to drop behind 
and remain, for the fur on them is of little or no value, the 
pelnge very much shorter, coarser, and more scant than in the 


younger, especially so on the parts posteriori^'. This cliauf^e in 
the condition of tbe far seems to set iu at tbe time of their 
shedding, in the fifth year as a rule. 

As the drove progresses the seals all move in about the same 
way, a kind of a walkiug-step and a sliding, shambling gallop, 
and the progression of the whole body is a succession of starts, 
made every few minutes, spasmodic and irregular. Every now 
and then a seal will get weak in the lumbar region, and drag 
his posterior after it for a short distance, but finally drops 
breathless and exhausted, not to revive for hours, days per- 
haps, and often never. Quite a large number of the weaker 
ones, on the driest driving-days, are thus laid out and left on 
the road; if one is not too much heated at the time, the native 
driver usually taps the beast over the head and removes its 
skin. This will happen, no matter how carefully they are 
driven, and the death-loss is quite large, as much as 3 or -4 
per cent, on the longer drives, such as three and four miles, 
from Zapadnie or Polaviua to the village on Saint Paul's, and 
I feel satisfied that a considerable number of those rejected 
from the drove and permitted to return to the water die sub- 
sequently from internal injuries sustained on the drive from 
overexertion. I therefore think it improper to extend drives 
of seals over any distance exceeding a mile or a mile and a 
half. It is better for all parties concerned to erect salt-houses 
and establish killing-grounds adjacent to all of the great haul- 
ing-grounds on Saint Paul's Island should the business ever be 
developed above the present limit. As matters now are, the 
ninety thousand seals belonging to the quota of Saint Paul 
last summer were taken and skinned in less than forty days 
within one mile from either the village, or salt-house on North- 
east Point. 

Killing the seals. — The seals when brought up to the kill- 
ing grounds are herded there until cool and rested; then 
squads or ''pods" of fifty to two hundred are driven out from 
the body of the drove, surrounded and huddled up one against 
and over the other, by the natives, who carry each a long, 
heavy club of hard wood, with which they strike the scijls down 
by blows upon the head ; a single stroke of a hea\ y oak 
bludgeon, well and fairly delivered, will crush in at once the 
slight, thin bones of a seal's skull, laying the creature out life- 
less; these strokes are usually repeated several times with 
each animal, but are very quickly done. 


The killiiig-ganff, consisting usually of fifteen or twenty 
men iit a time, are under the supervision of a chief of their 
own selection, and have, before going into action, a coniniou 
understanding as to what grades to kill, sparing the others 
^vhich are unlit, underage, &c., permitting them to escape and 
return to the water as soon as the marked ones arc knocked 
down ; the natives then drag the slain out from the heaj) in 
which they have fallen, and spread the bodies out over the 
ground just free from touching one another so that they will 
not be hastened in "heating"' or blasting, finishing the work of 
death by thrusting into the chest of each stunned and sense- 
less seal a long, sharp knife, which touches the vitals and 
bleeds it thoroughly ; and if a cool day, another "pod" is started 
out and disposed of in the same way, and so on until a thou- 
sand or two are laid out, or the drove is finished ; then they 
turn to and skin; but if it is a warm day, every "pod" is 
skinned as soon as it is knocked down. 

This work of killing as well as skinning is performed very 
rai)idly; for example, forty-five men or natives on Saint Paul's 
during June and July, 1872, in less than four working-weeks 
drove, killed, skinned, and salted the pelts of 72,000 seals. 

The labor of skinning is exceedingly severe, and is trying to 
an expert, requiring long practice before the muscles of the 
back and thighs are so developed as to permit a man to bend 
down to and finish well a lair day's work. 

The bcdy of the seal, preparatory to skinning, is rolled over 
or put upon its back, and the native makes a single swift cut 
through the skin down along the neck, chest, and belly, from 
the lower jaw to the root of the tail, using for this purpose a 
large, sharp knife. The fore and hind flippers are then succes- 
sively lifted, and a sweeping circular incision is made through 
the skin on them just at the point where the body-fur ends ; 
then, seizing a flap of the hide on either one side or the other of 
the abdomen, the man proceeds to rapidly cut the skin clean 
and free from the body and blubber, which he rolls over and 
out from the skin by hauling up on it as he advances with his 
work, standing all the time stooping over the carcass so that 
his hands are but slightly above it or the ground. This opera- 
tion of skinning a fair-sized seal takes the best men only a min- 
ute and a half, but the average time on the ground is about 
four minutes. 

Nothing is left of the skin upon the carcass save a small 


patch of each upper lip, ou which the coarse mustache grows, 
the skiu ou the tip of the lower jaw, the iusigiiiucant tail, to- 
gether with the hare hide of the flippers. 

The blubber of the fur-seal is of a faiut yellowish white, and 
lies entirely between the skin and the llesh, none being d^'pos- 
ited in between the muscles. Around the small aud large intes- 
tines a moderate quantity of hard, iirm fat is found. The b.ub- 
ber possesses an extremely ofieusivc, sickening odor, difficult to 
wash from the hands. It makes, however, a very fair oil for 
lubricating, burning, &c. 

The flesh of the fur-seal, when carefully cleaned from fat or 
blubber, cau be cooked, and by most people eaten, who, did 
they uot know what it was, might consider it some poor, tough, 
dry beef, rather dark in color and overdone. That of the pup, 
however, while on the land and milk-fed, is tender and juicy but 

The skins are taken from the field to the salt-house, where 
they are laid out open, one upon another, " hair to fat,'' like so 
many sheets of paper, with salt profusely spread upon the 
fleshy sides, in " kenches *' or bins. After lying a week or two 
salted in this style they are ready for bundling and shipping, 
two skins to the bundle, the fur outside, tightly rolled up and 
strongly corded, having an average weight of twelve, fifteen, 
and twenty-two pounds when made up of two, three, and four 
year old skins respectively. 

The company leasing the islands are permitted by law to 
take one hundred thousand, and no more, annually : this they 
do in June and July ; after that season the skins rapidly grow 
worthless by shedding, and do not pay for transportation and 
tax. The natives are paid forty cents a skin for the catch, and 
keep a close account of the progress of the work every day, as 
it is all done by them, aud they know within fifty skins, one 
way or the other, when the whole number have been secured 
each season. This is the only occupation of some three hun- 
dred and fifty people here, and they naturally look well alter 
it. The interest aud close attention paid by these Aleuts on 
both islands to this business was both gratifying and instruct- 
ive to me while stationed there. 

The common or poi)ular notion regarding seal-skins is that 
they are worn by those animals just as they appear when offered 
for sale. This is a very great mistake; few skins are less at- 
tractive than the sealskin as it is taken from the creature. 
The fur is not visible, concealed entirely by a coat of stiff over- 


hair, dull graj', brown, and p^rizzlod. The host of tliese raw 
sK'ins are wortli only §5 to $10, but after dressing they bring 
Ironi $25 to $40 ; and it takes three of them to make a lady\s 
sack and boa. In order that it may be apparent that there 
is reason for this great advance in price over the raw quota- 
tion, I take great pleasure in submitting a description ol* tlic^ 
process, kindly furnished me by a leading furrier i)racrically 
and skillfully conversant with the subject, probably the only 
person in the couutry long familiar with it. His connnunicati(jn 
is as follows : 

"Albany, October 22, 1S74. 

" Sir : The Alaska Commercial Company sold in London, De- 
cember, 1873, about sixty thousand skins taken from the islands 
leased by our Government of the catch of LS73. The remain- 
der of the catch, about forty thousand, were sold in March. 
This company have made the collection of seal from these 
islands much more valuable than they were before their lease, 
by the care used by them in curing the skins, and taking them 
only when in season. We have worked this class of seal for 
several years — when they were owned by the Eussian Ameri- 
can Fur Company, and during the first year they were owned 
by our Government. 

" When the skins are received by i>3 in the salt, we wash off 
the salt, placing them upon a beam somewhat like a tanner's 
beam, removing the fat from the llesh-side with a beaming- 
knife, care being required that no cuts or uneven places are 
made in the pelt. The skins are next washed in water and 
placed upon the beam with the fur up, and the grease and 
water removed by the knife. The skins are then dried by mod- 
erate heat, being tacked out on frames to keep them smooth. 
After being fully dried, they are soaked in water and thoroughly 
cleansed with soap and water. In some cases they can be un- 
haired without this drying-process, and cleansed before drying. 
After the cleansing-process the^^ pass to the picker, who dries 
the fur by stove-heat, the pelt being kept moist. When the 
fur is dry he places the skin on a beam, and while it is warm 
he removes the main coat of hair with a dull shoe-knife, grasp- 
ing the hair with his thumb and knife, the thnmb being pro- 
tected by a rubber cob. The hair must be pulled out, not 
broken. After a portion is removed the skin must be again 
warmed at the stove, the pelt being kept moist. When the 
outer hairs have been mostly renu^ved, he uses a beaming- 
knife to work out the finer hairs, (which are shorter,) and the 


remaining coarser hairs. It will be seen that great care must 
be used, as the skin is in that soft state that too much pressure 
of the knife would take the fur also ; indeed, bare spots are 
made ; carelessly-cured skins are sometimes worthless on this 
account. The skins are next dried, afterward dampened on the 
l)elt side, and shaved to a fine, even surface. They are then 
stretched, worked, and dried ; afterward softened in a fulling- 
mill, or by treading them with the bare feet in a hogshead, one 
head being removed and the cask placed nearly upright, into 
which the workman gets with a few skins and some line, hard- 
wood sawdust, to absorb the grease while he dances upon them 
to break them into leather. If the skins have been shaved 
thin, as required when finished, any defective spots or holes 
must now be mended, the skin smoothed and pasted with paper 
on the pelt-side, or two pasted together to protect the pelt in 
dyeing. The usual process in the United States is to leave the 
pelt sufiQciently thick to protect them without pasting. 

" In dyeing, the liquid dye is put on with a brush, carefully 
covering the points of the standing fur. After lying folded, 
with the points touching each other, for some little time, the 
skins are hung up and dried. The dry dye is then removed, 
another coat ap])lied, dried, and removed, and so on until the 
required shade is obtained. One or two of these coats of dye are 
put on much heavier and pressed down to the roots of the fur, 
making what is called the ground. From eight to twelve coats 
are required to produce a good color. The skins are then 
washed clean, the fur dried, the pelt moist. They are shaved 
down to the required thickness, dried, working them some 
while drying, then softened in a hogshead, and sometimes run 
in a revolving cylinder with fine sawdust to clean them. The 
English process does not have the washing after dyeing. 

^' I should perhaps say that, with all the care used, many skins 
are greatly injured in the working. Quite a quantity of En- 
glish dyed seal were sold last season for $17, damaged in the 

" The above is a general process, but we are obliged to vary 
for diflerent skins; those from various parts of the world 
requiie different treatment, and there is quite a difl'erence in 
the skins from the Seal Islands of our country — I sometimes 
think about as much as in the human race. 
" Yours, with respect, 


" U. W. Elliott, Esq." 


From this subject of tlio manner in which the sealin^-busi- 
ness is conducted on the ishinds and elsewhere, we naturally 
turn to the — 


A question frequently asked in regard to these islands is 
this : "At the present rate of killing the seals, it will not be long 
before they are exterminated; how much longer will they 
lastf The answer is, that as long as matters are conducted 
on the Seal Islands as they now are, one hundred thousand 
male seals, under the age of five years and over one, may be 
safely taken every year without the slightest injury to the regu- 
lar birth-rate or natural increase, provided the animals are not 
visited by any plague or pestilence, or any such abnormal cause 
for their destruction, beyond the control of man, and to which, 
like any other great body of animal life, they must ever be sub- 

From my calculations already given it will be seen that a 
million "pups," oryoungseals,are born upon these islands every 
year. Of this million, one-half are males. These 500,000 young 
males leave the islands for sea, when they are between live, and 
six months old, very fat and hearty, having suffered but a tri- 
lling loss in number (about 1 per cent.) while on and about the 
islands, about which there are no enemies whatever; but after 
Ihey get well down into the Pacilic in quest of food, they form 
the most helpless of their kind to resist or elude sharks, 
killers, &c., and they are so diminished in number by these 
natural enemies, that when they return to the Prybilov Islands 
in the following 3'ear, July, they will not present more than one- 
half of the number with which they left the ground of 
their birth the previous season ; that is, 250,000. By this time 
these survivors of last year's birth have become strong, active 
swimmers, and when they leave again, as before, in the fall, 
they are as able as any others of their older classes to take 
care of themselves, and at least 225,000 of them safely return 
in the second season after birth, and are very slightly diminished 
after that during their natural lives of lilteen to twenty years 
each ; and the same will hold good with the females. 

Now, the number of bulls required for the annual stock of 
225,000 virgin cows, to be save<l for this service every year, is by 
their law and habit only oncfiflcentk of the number of coicSj as 
on all the breeding grounds one male will have on an average 


fifteen cows ; bat to iiuike sure that we save two-year-old balls 
euoagli ever^' season, we will more tliau doable this [)roi)ortioii 
and set aside onejifth of the yoaug' males iu question, and that 
will leave 180,000 seals iu ffood condition that can be safely 
killed every year without the slightest injury to the perpetua- 
tion of the stock itself. 

In the above showing I have put the largest estimate upon 
the loss sustained at sea by the youngest seals, too large I am 
morally certain, but I wish to place the matter in the very 
worst light in which it can be put, and to give the seals the 
full benefit of every doubt. 

With regard to the increase of the seal-life, I do not think it 
within the power of human management to promote this end 
to the slightest appreciable degree beyond its present extent 
and condition in a state of nature; for it cannot fail to be evi- 
dent, from my detailed description of the habits and life of the 
fur-seal on these islands during a great p?lrt of the year, that 
could man have the same supervision and control over thi;:; 
animal during the whole season vrhich he has at his command 
while they visit the land, he might cause them to multiply and 
increase, as he would so many cattle, to an indefinite number, 
only limited by time and means ; but the case in question, unfor- 
tunately, takes the fur-seal six months out of every year far 
beyond the reach, or even cognizance, of any one, where it is 
exposed to known powerful and destructive natural enemies, 
and many others probably unknown, which prey upon it, and, 
in accordance with a well-recognized law of nature, keep it at 
about a certain number which has been for ages, and will be 
for the future, as affairs now are, its maximum limit of in- 
crease. This law holds good everywhere throughout the animal 
kingdom, regulating and preserving the equilibrium of life in a 
state of nature. Did it not hold good, these Seal Islands and 
all Bering Sea would have been literally covered, and have 
swarmed with them long before the Russians discovered them ; 
but there were no more seals when first seen here by human 
eyes in 178G-S7 than there are now, in 1874, as far as all evi- 
dence goes. 

With reference to the amount of ground covered by the seals 
when first discovered by the Kussians, I have examined avexy 
foot of the sh' ire-line of both islands, where the bones, &c., 
might be lying on any deserted ground ^ince then, and, after 
carefully surveying the new ground now occupied by the seals, 


and coinpniiii^^ tliis jucm with tlial which they hiivcMlcscilcd, 
I feel Jiistilied in statin*,^ that, lor the last twelve or liCteeu 
years at least, the liir-seals on these islands have not diminished, 
nor have they increased as a body to any noteworthy decree; 
and dnrin<;- all this time the breedin^^-^jiounds ha\e never been 
disturbed, and they have been living' in a perfectly quiet and 
natural condition. Without some natural check upon this life, 
with a million of young born every year, during the last ten at 
least, the annual taking of a hundred thousand males would 
not in the slightest degree retard the increase which w ould set 
in at once were it not for this check aforesaid. 

What can be done to promote their increase? We cannot 
cause a greater number of females to be born every year; we 
do uot touch or disturb these females as they grow up and live, 
and we save more than enough males to serve them. Nothing 
more can be done, for it is impossible to protect them from 
deadly enemies in their wanderings for food. 

This great body of four and five millions of hearty, active 
animals must consume an enormous amount of food every year. 
They cannot average less than live ])ounds of fish each per 
diem, (this is not half enough for an adult male,) which gives 
the consumption of over three million tons offish every year! 

To get this immense food-supply the seals are compelled to 
disperse over a very large area of the North Pacitic and lish. 
This brings them into contact more and more with their enemies 
as they advance south, until they reach a point where their 
annual destruction from natural foes is equal to their increase, 
and at this point their number will remain fixed. About the 
Seal Islands I have failed to notice the least disturbance anion ; 
these animals by anything in the water or out, and from my 
observation I am led to believe that it is uot until they descend 
well to the south in the North Pacific that they meet with 
sharks and voracious killer-whales.* 

In view, therefore, of all these facts, I have no hesitation in 
saying quite confidently that, under the present rules and regu- 
Litions governing the sealing interests on these islands, the in- 
crease or diminution of the life will amount to nothing; that 
the seals will continue for all time in about the same number 
and condition. 

To test this theory of mine, I have put the Government in 

*"Iu the stomach of one of these animals (year before last) fourteen small 
harp-seals wore found." — Itichasl Carroirs Ilvport, Canadian Fisheries, 1872. 


possessiou of data wbicli will serve as a correct guide from year 
to year. 

As the seals come to land boldly first and last, and are not wild 
or wary, the breeding-grounds may and sbould be inspected 
throughout, every few days, by the agent in charge, from the 
time of the early arrivals iu May until the period of general 
departure in the autumn, in order that he may map down and 
fix in black and white the x)recise boundaries assumed by the 
breediug-seals for the season, giving the result at the close of 
his labors of an accurate survey of the area and position of the 
ground covered during the season by the cows, bulls, and pups 
on the rookeries, so that he can at once detect any change that 
may and is likely to occur in their hauling and numbers for the 
next season. 

This is the only way in which an agent of the Government 
can correctly report, year after year, as to the condition of the 
seal-life on these grounds, detecting any increase or diminution 
of the same as season succeeds season. This is a step impera- 
tively necessary for a Government agent to take, and should 
not be neglected. 

During the first week of inspection some of those arriving 
earliest will frequently take flight to the water when approached, 
but these runaways soon return. By the end of May, however, 
they will hardly move to the right or left when you attempt 
to pass through them. At this time, about two weeks before 
the females begin to come in a body, they become entirely 
indifferent to man or anything else save their own kind, and so 
continue the rest of the season. 

The seals upon the rookeries and hauliug-grounds are not 
affected by the smell of blood and carrion arising from the 
killing-grounds or from the stench of blubber-fires which 
burn iu the native villages. This trait is well ilhistrated by 
the attitude of the two rookeries near the village of Saint Paul's. 
The breeding-ground on the spit at the head of the lagoon is 
not more than forty yards from the great killing-grounds, being 
separated only from the seventy or eighty thousand rotting 
carcasses by a slough less than ten yards wide. The seals can 
smell the blood and carrion upon this field from near the time 
they land in the spring until they leave in the autumn ; while 
the general southerly summer-winds waft to them the odor and 
sounds of a native village not over two hundred rods south of 
them. All this has no effect upon the seals, for the rookery, as 


tlic natives declare, lias been sliglitly but steadily increasing. 
The seals everywlieie on the breedin^-^^romids will become 
speedily habituated to close observation when it is quiet and 
undemonstrative, and take little notice of the ai)proach of* the 

The seals will be found to change a little every year from 
rookery to rookery, but the aggregate number will be steadily 
about the same. The condition of the seal-life this season of 
1874 comi)ares very favorably with that of 1.S72, as will be seen 
from extracts from my notes taken on the ground : 

" iSroRTiiEAST Point, July 18, 1874. 

" Quite a strip of ground near Webster's house has beea 
deserted this season, but a small expansion is observed oa 
Sea Lion Hill. The rest of the ground is as mapped in 1872, 
with no noteworthy increase in any direction. The condition of 
the animals and their young, excellent; small irregularities iu 
the massing of the families due to rain ; sealions about the 
same ; none on the west shore of the point.-' 

*' The aggregate of life on this great rookery is about the 
same as in 1872, the 'holluschickie,' or killable seals, hauling as 
well and as numerously as before. The proportions of the dif- 
ferent ages among them, of two, three, and four year olds, pretty 
well represented." 

" POLAVINA, Jiih) 18, 1874. 

^' Stands as it did in 1872 ; breeding and hauling grounds in 
excellent condition; the latter, on Upper Polavina,are changing 
down upon Polaviua sand-beach, trending for three miles to- 
ward Xortheast Point. The numbers of the 'holluschickie' 
on this ground of Polavina, where they have not been disturbed 
now for some five years to mention in the way of taking, do 
not seeui to be any greater than they are on the hauling-grounds 
adjacent to Northeast Point and the village, from which they 
are driven almost every day during this seasou of killing." 

" LUKANNON A^'D Ketavie, JuJij 19, 1874. 

"Not materially changed in any respect from its condition at 
this time in 1872." 

" GoRBOTcn, Juhj 19, 1874. 

" Just the same. Condition excellent." 

*' Peef, J?^?// 19, 1874. 
"A slight contraction on the south sea-uiargin of this ground, 
compensated for by expansion under the bluffs ou the north- 
west side. Coudition excellent." 


" Naspeel, July 20, 1874. 

" xV diminution of one-half at least. Very few here this year. 
It is no place for a rookery j not a pistol-shot from the natives^ 

»* Lagoon, Jnhj 20, 1874. 

" No noteworthy change j if any, a trifling increase. Condi- 
tion good." 

" Tolstoi, Juhj 21, 1874. 

*' No perceptible change in this rookery from its good shape 
of 1872. The condition excellent." 

*' Zapadnie, July 22, 1874. 

" An extension or increase of 2,000 feet of shore-line, with 
an average depth of 50 feet of breeding-ground, has been built 
on to Upper Zapadnie toward Tolstoi ; the upper rookery proper 
has not altered its bearings or proportions j the sand-beach belt 
between it and Lower Zapadnie deserted by the breeding-seals 
almost entirely, and a fair track for the holluschickie left clear, 
over which they have traveled quite extensively this season, 
some 20,000 to 25,000 lying out to-dny. Lower Zapadnie has 
lost in a noteworthy degree about an average of 20 feet of its 
depth, which, however, is much more than compensated for by 
the great increase to the upper rookery. 

" A small beginning had been made for a rookery on the 
shore just southwest from Zapadnie Lake, in 1872, but this 
year it has been entirely abandoned." 

On Saint George a survey gives for this season the following 
in comparison with that of 1873 : 

" Zapadnie, July 8, 1874. 

*' This rookery shows a slight increase upon the figures of h\st 
year, about 5,000. Fine condition." 

'' Stariiy Ateel, July 0, 1874. 
" No noteworthy change from last year." 

^' North Rookery, July G, 1874. 
*' Xo essential change from hist year ; condition very good." 

" Little Eastern, July 6, 1874. 
" A slight diminution of some 2,000 or so. Condition excel- 

" Eastern Eookery, July 7, 1874. 
" A small increase over last year of about 3,000, nudving tlie 
aggregate seal-life siinihir to that of last season, with the cer- 
tainty of a small inciease. 


^' The unusually early season, this year, brou-^lit the rookery- 
bulls on to the ^^round very uuu^h in advant^e of tie/ j^eueral 
time ; they landed as early as the lOth of April, but the arrival 
of the cows was as late as usual, corresponding to my observa- 
tions during the past two seasons. 

*' The general condition of the animals of all classes is most 
excellent — they are sleek, fat, and free from any taint of 

In this way it must be plain that the exact condition of these 
animals can be noted every season, and should a diminution be 
noticed, due to any cause known or unknown, the killing can be 
]n*omptly stopped. Four years have passed, with the end of 
ihis season, in which 100,000 young males have been annually 
taken, and the effect on the seal-life cannot be seen ; it has not 
injured it, to a certainty, and it has not i)romoted an increase. 
Two years more will make the matter conclusive, for then, if 
the breeding-grounds are as well supplied with males as they 
now are, then it will be evident that enough are saved every 
year for that service. 

We know pretty well now how many we can take without in- 
j.ury, but we do not know how many more than 100,000 can 
be. This problem of developing these interests to their full im- 
portance should not be taken in hand for a few years yet, not 
until the present system which I have drawn up for the watch- 
ing of the rookeries has been in operation for three or four 
years ; then, if it is advisable, on account of the superabun- 
dance of male seal-life, and the market will stand the increase 
of raw material, the killing may be very gradually increased 
from year to year, but not over five thousand each season. The 
rookeries, like a barometer, will show^ a falling off of necessary 
bulls when the killing has reached a point where the increase 
is detrimental. This can be seen at once by the proper persons 
and the killing checked without delay, in ample time to pre- 
vent harm. 

In this chapter I have given a translatiou of Bishop Veniami- 
nov's history, the only one written, and very valuable as illus- 
trative of the manner in wiiicli the Russians conducted affairs 
on the Prybilov Islands ; but it is at once apparent that much 
of it was written necessarily from hearsay and not based upon 
fact or personal observation, hence many grave errors are con- 
tained in it. 



It will be remembered that at the time this question was be- 
fore Congress mncb opposition to the principle of leasing was 
made, on the ground that the Government would realize more 
by taking the whole management of the business into its own 
hands. As to what arguments were used on either side of the 
question I am ignorant, but after a careful and impartial sur- 
vey of the subject on the ground itself, and in the trade, I am 
satisfied that those members of the House and Senate who, by 
their votes June, 1870, directed the Secretary of the Treasury 
to lease the Seal Islands of Alaska to the highest bidder, did 
the only correct and profitable thing that could be done in the 
matter, both with regard to the preservation of the seal-life in 
its original integrity, and its own pecuniary gain ; and to make 
this statement of mine x^erfectly evident, the following facts 
may be presented : 

First. When the Government took possession of these inter- 
ests in 1868-'G9, the gross value of a seal-slcin then in the best mar- 
Icet, London, icas less than the present tax and royalUj paid tqmn 
it by the lessees ! 

Second. By the action of the intelligent business men who 
took the lease, in stimulating and encouraging the dressers 
of the raw material, and in combining with leaders of fashion 
abroad, the demand for the fur has been greatly iucreased, and 
the price of the raw material has doubled, so that while the 
Government gets and nets nearly half of the gross sales, yet 
the lessees have a good margin of 15 to 20 per cent, at least on 
their capital, sustained entirely by their business capacity and 

Third. The Government, should it attempt to manage this 
business, could not secure the services of such men as those who 
compose the business management of the Alaska Commercial 
Company without paying salaries to four and five agents as large 
or hij'ger than that given to the President of the United States. 
This, however, the Government might cheerfully do, did it 
guarantee the selection and appointment of such men as those 
above mentioned, but it does not follow under our system of 
government, or any other that I know of, that a large salarj^ 
indicates a corresponding amount of ability on the part of its 
recipient J an imbecile or a very common man is just as apt 


to secure it as not. Ordinary men cannot conduct this business 

Fourth. As matters now stand, the greatest and best inter- 
ests of the lessees are identical with those of the Government ; 
that is, the preservation aud, if possible, the increase of the 
seal-life; and if these lessees had it in their power, which they 
certainly have not, to ruin these interests by a few seasons 
of rni)acity, they are too prudent to do so. 

Fifth. The frequent changes made in the office of the Secre- 
tary of the Treasury, who now, very properly, has the control 
of the business as it stands, do not guarantee on his part the 
close, careful scrutiny likely to be exercised by the lessees, who 
have but one purpose to carry out ; and the character of the 
leading men among them is enough to assure the public that 
the business is in responsible hands, and in the care of persons 
who will use every effort for the preservation of the seal-life, as 
it is their interest to do. 

It is frequently urged with great persistency by misinformed 

* Another great obstacle to the success of the business, if coutrolled entirely 
by the Government, would arise in the disposal of the skins after they have 
been brought down from the islands. The Government would need to offer 
them at public auction in this country, and would be at the mercy of any 
well-organized ccmbination of buyers ; the Government agents conducting 
the sale could not counteract the efforts of such a combination as success- 
fully as the agents of a private corporation, who can look after their inter- 
ests iu all the markets of the world aud are supplied with money ,to use in 
manipulation of the market. 

On this ground I feel quite confident that the Treasury of the United 
States receives more money, net, under the system now in operation than 
it would by taking the exclusive control of the business; were any Gov- 
ernment officer supplied with, say, $100,000, to expend iu " working the 
market," and intrusted with the disposal of 100,000 seal-skins, whenever he 
could so do to the best advantage of the Government, and were this agent 
a man of first-class business energy and ability, I think it quite likely the 
same success might attend his labor in the London market that distinguishes 
the management of the Alaska Commercial Company ; but the usual cry of 
fraud aud robbery that would be raised against him, however houest he might 
be, would be such as to bring the whole business into positive disrepute or 
constant suspicion. The Government officer in this matter is placed at a 
great disadvantage should any such line of action be adopted, and the most 
prolitable course is for the Government not to offer in the markets through 
agents, but to pursue its present policy, levy a tax, aud watch carefully the 
conditi(»n of the seal-life from year to year, as the killing is increased aud 
the business developed to its full extent. 

In this way Alaska may be made to yield, by a tax laid on its Seal Islands 
alone, a very handsome rate of interest upon the money paid for the entire 


or jealous autbority that the lessees can and do take tliousauds 
of skins in excess of the limit of hiw, and tbat this catch in 
excess is slyly shipped to China and Japan from the islands, &c. 

To show the folly of any such move as this on the part of the 
company, if even it were possible, I will briefly recapitulate 
tbe conditions under which tbe skins are taken. Tbe natives 
do all the driving and skinning for the company ; no others are 
])ermitted or asked to land upon tbe islands to do this work as 
long as tbe inhabitants of the islands are equal to it. Every 
skin taken by the natives is counted by themselves, as they 
get forty cents per pelt for the labor; and at tbe expiration of 
every day's labor in the field the natives know exactly how 
many skins have been taken by them, how many of tbese skins 
have been rejected by the company's agent because tbey were 
carelessly cut and damaged in skinning, (usually about tbree- 
fourtbs of 1 per cent, of the whole catch,) and they have it re- 
corded every evening by those among themselves who are si)e- 
cially charged with the duty. Thus, were 150,000 skins taken, 
or liOO,000, the natives would know it as quickly as it was 
done, and would demand their compensation for the labor; and 
were any ship to approach the islands at any hour of the diiy 
or night, these people would know it at once, and would be 
aware of any shii:)ment of skins that might be attempted. It 
would be common talk among the three hundred and seventy 
inhabitants, and thus leave it an open affair to any person who 
might come upon the ground charged with investigation. 
These people are constantly going to and from Ounalashka, 
where they have intimate intercourse with bitter enemies of 
the company, to whom they would not hesitate to tell the whole 
state of affairs on the islands. Should anything, therefore, be 
done contrary to the law, the act would be promptly reported 
by these people, even if the Treasury agents were in collusion 
with the company, which, however, is sim^^ly out of the ques- 

The Treasury agents count these skins into the ship, and one 
at least of their number goes down to San Francisco upon the 
vessel, where they are all counted out again by the custom- 
house ofQcers of that port. Of the one hundred thousand skins 
annually taken, the company's steamer "Alexander" usually 
carries down between sixty and seventy thousand, while the 
baLince of the catch are put into the hold of a sailing-vessel 


at Ounalaskba, and counted again and certified to by the Treas- 
ury agent. 

It will at once be seen by examining tlie state of affairs and 
the conditions upon which the lease is granted, that the most 
scrupulous care in fulfilling the terms of the contract is the 
best and most profitable course for the lessees to pursue; that 
it would be downright folly in them to deviate in the slightest 
degree from the letter of the law, and thus lay themselves open 
at any time to discovery and the loss of their contract ; their 
action can be investigated at any time by Congress, of which 
they are aware. They cannot bribe these three hundred and 
seventy-odd people on the islands to secrecy any more than 
they can conceal their action from them on the sealing-fields; 
and any man of average ability can go among these people and 
inform himself as to the most minute details of the sealing- 
catch from the time the lease was granted, should he have rea- 
son to suspect the honesty of the Treasury agents. 

I therefore have no hesitation in stating that as far as the re- 
lationship existing between the Alaska Commercial Company 
and the Government is concerned, the best interests of the lat- 
ter are honestly and faithfully served, simply because it is the 
very best policy for the former so to do ; that all the conditions 
of the lease are most scrupulously complied with and observed, 
and that the lessees hold themselves ready at any moment to 
comply with any just and proper modification of the regulations 
that time may develop. 

With regard to the profits of this company upon their yearly 
catch of one hundred thousand seals, the agents of the Gov- 
ernment have no concern whatever; after they have observed 
the faithful fulfillment of the terms of the contract existing be- 
tween the company and the Government, the amount of their 
profit is a pure matter of business over which the lessees have 
entire control, and in regard to which they should not be sub- 
jected to impertinent inquisition. 


This has been wonderfully improved by the action of the les- 
sees during the short time they have had control of affairs there. 
The truth of this will be realized by any one who may take the 
trouble to contrast the present condition of the people on these 
islands with what it was previous to the granting of the lease, 
and with that also of the i)eople of their class who are novr 
7 AL 


living upon the Aleutian Islands and tLe mainland. The rn- 
qairer will learn that these people, now so well and comfort- 
ably clad, fed, and housed, were at the time of the transfer of 
the Territory so poor and ill-provided for that they could not 
in many instances cover their nakedness ; that they existed in 
absolute squalor; whereas they are now living in snug houses, 
such as our laboring classes occupy in the United States; that 
they earn and receive in coin, in less than two working-montlis 
every year, more than the same number of our common work- 
ingmen receive on an average for a whole year's service ; and 
also that for all extra work other than of seal-skinning, such 
as loading and unloading the company's vessels, building, grad- 
ing, «S:c., these people are paid by the day from fifty cents to 
one dollar, according to the character of service rende-red. 

The agents of the company here do not pay the least atten- 
tion to or interfere with the private life and personal relations 
of the people among themselves ; and let me here state, to the 
credit of these people, that the peaceful and harmonious man- 
ner in which they live together as a rule, during nine idle 
months at least every year, would contrast most favorably with 
the lives of an equal number of our own working classes were 
they suddenly brought to these islands and put on the same 
footing. I will only hint at the insubordination and utter 
worthlessness of such a community after six or eigiit mouths 
of torpidity and isolation. 

It is true that the natives here have an inordinate fondness 
for liquor, and would destroy themselves were they not restrained 
in this propensity by the difficulty of obtaining this demoraliz- 
ing beverage, and hence the importance of the liquor prohibi- 
tion, which should be rigorously enforced. 

Only a small proportion of the present population are de- 
scendants of the pioneers who were brought by the several 
Russian companies in 1787-'8vS — a colony of 137 souls — recruited 
principally from the Aleuts at Ounalashka and Atka. Their 
early life here was one of much hardship, and on several occa- 
sions they were in actual need. They lived in a co-operative 
manner at first, in large barracoons or barrabkies, ])artly under- 
ground, economizing in this way their limited supi)ly of fire- 
wood, being dependent upon the sea for such drift- timber as 
might chance to lodge as the currents, deflected from the Yau- 
kon and elsewhere, sweep around the islands; but during the 


past tweiity-fivo or thirty years they have all come into the 
general ownership and occupation of a hut to a family. 

The Russian Fur Company, controlling tbe islands, maintained 
on Saint Paul and Saint George a store and an agent, the 
peopl<' supporting a priest and building a church upon each 
island, and living in this manner very dirty, poor, and miser- 
able, they were brought into contact with the Americans at 
the time of the transfer of the Territory. 

The people are now supplied without charge with a physi- 
cian and medical stores on each island, and also a school ; but 
the school is not well attended excei)t by the very young chil- 
dren, principally the little girls, although every winter lifteeu 
or twenty of the boys and young men are taught the Russian 
alphabet and church-service by three or four of the elder i)er- 
sons. The non-attendance at school is not to be ascribed merely 
to indisposition on the part of the children and parents to at- 
tend the English schools established by the Alaska Commercial 
Company on both islands. The view expressed to the writer by 
one of the oldest and most intelligent of the people may be 
explanatory of their feeling and consequent action. 

'*I do not," said old Philip Yollkov, "have any objection to 
the attendance of my children, nor have my neighbors to that 
of theirs, on your (English) school; but if our boys and young 
men neglect their Russian lessons, vrho is going to take our 
l^laces when we die, in our church, at our christenings, and at 
our burials V' To any one familiar with the teachings of the 
Greek Catholic faith the objection of Vollkov is well taken ; 
but it is to be hoped that in the course of time, however, the 
Russian church-service may be conducted in English, for until 
then no satisftictory work can be done by an English school- 
teacher among them in the way of education. 

Up to the time of the transfer of the islands to the Alaska 
Commercial Company the inhabitants all lived in huts or sod- 
walled and dirt-roofed houses or barrabkies, partly under- 
ground. jNIost of these huts were, and are, damp, dark, and 
exceedingly filthy. Under the Russian regime the people gen- 
erally here had some excuse for such squalor ; but as the case 
now stands it is due to the improvidence or shiftlessnessof the 
natives themselves if they are living in this unclean condition 
and wear an appearance of discomfort. The use of seal-fat for 
fuel causes the deposit upon everything within doors of a thick 
coating of greasy, black soot, strongly impregnated with a rank, 

100 ALASKA. 

moldy, and iudesciibably offensive odor. In early times tbey 
were obliged to burn blubber very largely, having no other fuel 
at command than the precarious supply of drift-wood that the 
ocean-currents might bring them ; but by the terms of the lease 
they are now supplied with a sufiicient quantity of coal to make 
them quite comfortable during the winter. 

Since the Alaska Commercial Com])any have taken posses- 
sion of the islands, the natives arc being quite rapidly put into 
neat and habitable houses, and plenty of lumber is distributed 
among those who have not as yet been removed to patch and 
make comfortable their old huts, and at the expiration of three 
more seasons the whole population of above eighty families 
will be occupants of as many suitable houses, where they will 
live more healthily. 

The example of the agents of the company on both islands 
and the assistant agent of the Treasury on Saint George during 
the last three years, who have maintained perfect order, neat- 
ness, and industry about their buildings and business, has been 
a silent but powerful one for the better among the people. The 
intercourse of these gentlemen with the natives is always court- 
eous, pleasant, and often generous, wlien deserved 5 giving 
the simple inhabitants a slow but stead}^ elevation toward mo- 
rality, sobriety, and industry, such as they never have had be- 
fore, having been treated like so many animals by the Russians ; 
and the conduct of most of the United States revenue and mil- 
itary officers and men stationed here between the transfer of 
the Territory and the granting of the lease cannot be described 
as other than disgraceful, their behavior being marked by drunk- 
enness, debauchery, and brawls, their habits soon rendering 
the Bume American offensive to even these simple i^eople. 

The population of Saint Paul is, at the present writing, U20 
men, women, and children 5 that of Saint George, 138. It has 
neither much increased nor diminished during the last fifty 
years, but would have fallen off' had not recruits been regularly 
drawn from the mainland and other islands, the births not 
being equal to the deaths. In view of the great iniprovement 
in their condition, it may be reasonably anticipated that these 
])eople will at least hold their own, even though they do not 
increase to any remarkable degree. 

As an incentive and encouragement for their good behavior, 
they have been assured that as long as they are cai)able and 
willing to perform the labor of skinning the seal-catch, so long 

ALASKA. 101 

will they enjoy the exclusive privilege of participating in tins 
labor and its reward. As to the especial fitness of these people 
for the labor connected with the sealing bnsincss, no coinniciit 
is needed; nothing better in the wjiy of manual service, skilled 
and rapid, con Id be rendered by any other body of men eqnal 
in nnnibers. They appear to shake oft' the periodic lethargy of 
Aviiiter, and rnsh with entimsiasni into the severe exercise and 
duty of capturing, killing, and skinning the seals. 

Seal-meat is their staple food, and the village of Saint Paul, 
220 souls, consumes about 400 pounds per diem, and they are 
permitted every fall to kill about 5,000 pups, or an average of 
22 or 23 to each man, woman, and child. The pups will dress 
10 pounds. This shows an average consumption of 515 pounds 
of seal-meat to each person during the year. In addition, the 
Datives eat a great deal of butter and sweet crackers. If these 
people could get all they desire, they would consume about 500 
pounds of butter and 450 pounds sweet crackers per week, and 
indefinite quantities of sugar. Of this article, 150 pounds a 
week is allowed them in this village. If unable to get sweet 
crackers, they consume about 300 pounds of hard or i)ilot bread, 
and, in addition to this, about GOO pounds of Hour per week ; of 
tobacco, 50 pounds; candles, 75 pounds; rice, 50 pounds each 
per week; they burn over OaO gallons of kerosene oil during the 
year; vinegar is used in limited quantities, about 50 gallons per 
season; mustard and pepper, J to 1^^ pounds per week for the 
whole village; beans they reject; split pease, a few; salt meats 
they will take reluctantly if given to them, but will never buy 
them ; they use a little coffee during the year, about 100 pounds ; 
canned fruit they will purchase to any quantity, and would 
bankrupt themselves to obtain it, if the opportunity were afford- 
ed ; potatoes they sometimes demand, as well as onions, but 
these vegetables cannot be brought here to advantage. 

The question will naturally be asked. How do these people 
employ themselves througliout the long nine months in whieh 
they have little or nothing to do! It may be answered that 
they are entirely idle during most of this period. Some of the 
men are, however, disagreeable exceptions, as they are enthu- 
siastic gamblers, passing whole nights at their sittings, even 
during the sealing-season, playing games at cards taught them 
by the Russians and persons who have been on the islands since 
the transfer of the Territory. But the majority of the men, 
women, and children, being compelled to make no exertion to 

102 ALASKA. 

obtain the necessaries of life — such as seal-meat, hard bread, 
tea, &c. — sleep most of the time when unoccupied in cooking, 
eating', and the daily observance of the routine of the Greek 
Catholic Church. Their religious duties alone preserve them 
from absolute stagnation ; for, in obedience to its teachings, 
they attend church quite regularly, make and receive calls on 
their saints' days, which are very numerous, and their birth- 
days are generally enlivened with home-brewed beer, or "quass,*' 
upon which all classes become more or less intoxicated. They 
add to these entertainments of the emannimik the music of the 
accordeon, an instrument of which they are very Ibnd ; and a 
great number of the women in particular can play indiffer- 
ently a limited selection of airs, many of which are the old 
battle-songs and ballads so popular during the rebellion, and 
which the soldiers quartered here in 1869 taught them. From 
the soldiers, also, the}' learned to dance various figures, and to 
waltz. These dances, however, the old folks do not enjoy, and 
they seldom indulge in them, unless under the influence of beer. 

From the following statement it will be seen that these people 
are doing better work every succeeding season j for example, 
00,000 seals were taken this year in sixteen days less time than 
it took to get 75,000 in 1871, viz : 

In Saint Paul's Island, 1871, 55 days' work of 6ij men secured 
75,000 seals. 

In 1872, 50 days' work of 71 men secured 75,000 seals. 

In 1873, 40 days' work of 71 men secured 75,000 seals. 

In 1874, 30 days' work of 84 men secured 00,000 seals.* 

This shows plainly that they are in better physical condition 
than at first ; it furnishes also iindeniahle^proof of the iindimi)i' 
islied supply of killahle seals. 


[The names in italics are either dead or absent from the island at the present ^yriting.] 

1. Philip Keemaclincelc. G. Marcena, his loife. 

2. Uffroseenia, his wife. 7. Alexsandcr, his son. 

3. Ivan, his son. 8. Sylvester, his son. 

4. Danelo, his son. 0. Eefeem Anoolanalc. 

5. Vasseele Seedoolee. 10. Matroona, his wife. 

*This increase of 15,000 ou Saint Paul was luado this season with a 
similar reduction on Saint George; the proportion ofseal-lile being small on 
the latter compared with the former. 



n. Simeon, adopted son. 
32. Marlm Avcelyah. 

13. Fecleechaf, his ici/e. 

14. Peter Peeslienkov. 
35. Matrooua, liis wife. 

16. Ivan Eemaiiov. 

17. Anna, liis wife. 

18. Yeagor, his sou. 

19. Loobov, his stepdaughter. 

20. Maxseeni, his step-sou. 

21. IMaria, his niece. 

22. Nickolai Krukov. 

23. Peter Krukov. 

24. Agrafeena, his wife. 

25. Ivan Korchooteeu. 

26. Ooleeana, his wife. 

27. Yalikov Koochootin. 

28. Lookahria, his sister. 

29. Natalia Malcooleena, 

30. Maria Pa ran eh in a. 

31. Keesar Shabby lean. 

32. Agrafeena, his wife. 

33. Neckon, his son. 

34. Ripsimia Plottnikova. 

35. Avdotia, her daughter. 

36. Prokoopee Meeseekin. 

37. Evediixsia, his wife. 

38. Avdotia Meeseekiua, his 


39. Anna, daughter of Meesee- 


40. Deemeetree Veatkin. 

41. Evelampia Yeatkin. 

42. Balakshin, (Benedict.) 

43. Matroonii, his wife. 

44. Meexhae, his son. 

45. Bahikshin, 2d, (Benedict.) 
40. Stepan Krukov. 

47. Natalia, his wife. 

48. Avdokia Seeribneekova, 


49. Timofa}', her son. 








Olga, her daughter. 

Paraskeevee, her daugh- 

Akooleena, her daughter. 

Michael Barrhov. 

Malania, his wife. 

Agnes, liis daughter. 

Daniel, his nepliew\ 

Avdotia Schepeteenah, 

Tahreehtee, her son. 

Elarie, her son. 

Ilee une-iah, her daughter. 

Kerick Booterin, 1st chief. 

Seeg-lee-teekiah, his wife. 

Patalamon, his son. 

Kerick, his son. 

Salomayee, his daughter. 

Ooleeta, his daughter. 

George Booterin, his son. 

Carp Booterin. 

Lookariah Booterin. 

Alexander Pancov. 

Porfeerie, his son. 

Avdotia, his step-daughter. 

Paraskeevie, his step- 

Yakov Sootyahgin. 

Eeroadea, his wife. 

Feedosayee Saydeek. 

Anesia, his wife. 

x\nna, his daughter. 

Feoktistn, his god- mother. 

Dayneese Saydeek. 

Baiz yahzGel:oi\ {Eclampia.) 

Anna, his wife. 

Maria, kis daughter. 

Maroon Nakock. 

Paraskeevie, his wife. 

Zachar, his step-son. 

, nephew. 

Paraskeevie, niece. 



80. Xatalia Habaroova. 

90. Pavel Habarov, her son. 

91. Paul Shics-ncel'oVj [j^riest.) 

92. Meehah-elo, his son. 

93. Meeloveedova,Alexsaiidra, 


94. Simeon, her son. 

9o. AUxsandra^ her daughter. 
9G. Autone, lier son. 

97. Marcia, her daughter. 

98. Kerick Artamanov. 

99. Olga, his wife. 

100. Meknia, his daughter. 

101. Yasseleesee,his daughter. 

102. Kah-sayn-yah, his 


103. Gearman Artamanov. 

104. Anna Tarantayvah, 


105. Anna, her daughter. 
lOG. Stepau Bayloghizov. 

107. Yealeena, his wife. 

108. Sayrgee, his son, 

109. Anna, his daughter. 

110. Paraskeevie, his adopted 


111. Ermolio Gushing. 

112. Faokla, his wife. 

113. Faokla, his daughter. 

114. Oolyahnah, his daughter. 

115. Aggie Gushing, his son. 
IIG. xVntone Sootyahgen. 

117. Oolyahnah, his wife. 

118. ^leetrofan, his son.- 

119. Meehaie, his son. 

120. Yahkov Mandrigan. 

121. Afanashia, his wife. 

122. Loolcaglccan, his son. 

123. Maria, his daughter. 

124. Oseep Pahomov. 

125. Yarvarah, his wife. 
120. Maria Seedova, (widow.) 

127. Ahkakee, her son. 

128. , daughter. 

129. , daughter. 

130. , daughter. 

131. , daugliter. 

132. Alexsayee Neederazov. 

133. Akooleena, his wife. 

134. Ghristeena, his daughter. 

135. Agrafeena, his daughter. 

136. Keer Saydeek. 

137. Yealeena, his wife. 

138. Maria, his daughter. 

139. Ivan Mandrigan. 

140. Tatahyahn, his wife. 

141. Yasseelee, his son. 

142. Marfa, his daughter. 

143. Feelat Teetov. 

144. Peter, his son. 

145. Yeaon, his son. 
14G. Yeagor Arkashav. 

147. Alexsandra, his wife. 

148. Martin, his step-son. 

149. Xekolaie, his step-sou. 

150. Stepan, his step son. 

151. Kereek, his son. 

152. Arsaynee, his son. 

153. Tatayahnah, his daughter. 

154. Timofay Evanov. 

155. Fevronia,his daughter. 
15G. Paymen Kooznitzov. 

157. Oseep Baizyahzeekov. 

158. Alexsandra, his wife. 

159. Paul, his son. 

IGO. Kahsaynyah, his step- 

IGl. Avdokia, his step-daugh- 

1G2. Kahsaynyah, Jiis daughter. 

1G3. Ivan Faranchin. 

1G4. Zaharrov Eveniainov. 

1G5. Keereenayah, liis wife. 

IGG. Fevronia, his daughter. 



107. IvJin rfapov. 

1G8. Aiiua, sister-ill-law. 

1G9. Alcxsandra, his daiiglitcr. 

170. Ivan, liis son. 

171. Yea<;()r Koicliootin. 
17ii. Zacliar Saydeek. 

173. Oostoenia, bis wife. 

174. Yasseelee, bis son. 

175. Marvra, bis tlangliter. 
17G. Kcl'on, his nephew. 

177. Feelip Saydeek. 

178. Stepau Skabvortsov. 

179. rbilip Vollkov. 

180. Ellen, bis daugbter. 

181. Matrooua, bis daugbter. 

182. Markiel Vollkov, bis son. 

183. Gavreelo Korcburgin. 

184. Lukajiean, bis sou. 

185. Ivan Sootyahgen. 
18G. Heeyouiab, bis wife. 

187. Aueesia, bis daugbter. 

188. Emelian Sootyabgen. 

189. Marko Korcbootin. 

190. Dareyab, bis wife. 

191. Ivan, bis son. 

192. Zeenovia, bis daugbter. 

193. Timofay Glottov. 

194. Maria, bis wife. 

195. , his son. 

19G. Ivan, bis sou. 

197. Yeafeemia, bis daugbter. 

198. Irakliu Mandrigau. 

199. Oosteenie, bis wife. 

200. Eeon, bis son. 

201. Paul Soovorrov. 

202. Vassa, bis wife. 

203. , his son. 

204. Akyleeua, bis motber. 



Agrafcena^ his adopted girl. 
Eeteeni Korcbootin. 
Palabgayee, bis wife. 
Peter J his so)l 
Luka 3Iandrigan. 
Eereena, bis wife. 
Neekeeta Yitcbniaifio.v 
Cbristeena, bis daugbter. 
Domenab, bis daugbter. 
Tabeesab, bis daugbter. 
Ivan Yitcbiuaniov. 
IMicbael Korzerov. 
Alexsandra, bis wife. 
Stepau Korzerov. 
Paul Korzerov. 
Ivan Kozlov. 
Palabgayab, bis motber. 
Feodor, ber son. 
Eveduclcsia, her daughter, 
Platone Tarakauov. 
Marfa, bis wife. 
Ahoolena^ his mother. 
Kerick Tarakanov. 
Domiau M. Kok, (Jobn 

Oolyabnab, bis v.ife. 
Anna, bis daugbter. 
Salomayab, Artomauov's 

White men in charge. 
Dr. Mclntyre. 
H. W. Mclntyre. 
Dr. Cramer. 
John M. Morton. 
Cbas. Bryant. 
D. Webster. 

, a cooper. 

, a carpenter. 

106 ALASKA. 

Annual division or cash settlement made hy the natives on Saint 
PanVs Island, among themselves, the proceeds of their work in 
tal'inrj and sldnning 75,000 seaJs, at 40 cents per sl'in, $30,000, 
tciih extra icorJc connected icith it, maldng $30,037.37. 

Seventy-four shares, proportioned as follows : 

December 31, 1872.— 37 first-class shares, at $451 22 each. 

23 second-class shares, at . 40G 99 each. 

4 third-class shares, at. . . 3G0 97 each. 

10 fouvth-class shares, at. . 315 85 each. 

The shares do not represent more than forty-five able-bodied 


Annual division or cash settlement made hy the peojjle on Saint 
George's Island, among themselves, the proceeds of their ivork in 
taking and skinning 25,000 seals, at 40 cents per skin, $10,000. 

Aug. 1, 1873.— 17 shares, each 961 skins, or $384.40. $6, 294 80 

2 shares, each 935 skins, or $374. . . 748 00 

3 shares, each 821 skins, or $328.40. 985 20 

1 share, 820 skins, or $328 328 00 

3 shares, each 770 skins, or $308. . . 924 00 
3 shares, each 400 skins, or $1G0. . . 480 00 

Twenty-nine shares, or the twenty-nine laboring sealers ; of 
this number two are women. Only twenty -five of them are 
able-bodied men. 

The divisions above are the result of their own choice. They 
make this apportionment among themselves without advice or 
suggestion from the agents of the company. These people have 
$3,320 on interest in the office of the Alaska Commercial Com- 
pany at this date, and have credit on the books for $31,800; 
and when the division is made up on Saint Paul at the regu- 
lar annual time of settlement in December, $30,000 will be 
added to the above exhibit. 

The people here are occupying, rent-free at the present time, 
thirty frame houses built by and belonging to the Alaska 
Commercial Company on the Seal Islands. Twenty of these 
houses are new frame, 11 by 20 leet. 

These people have their misers and spendthrifts, but it will 
be seen that very few of them care much for saving their money, 
inasmuch as only four or five of them have as yet taken any 
steps toward such action. One man on Saint Paul has over 
$1,800 saved, aud drawing interest at 9 per cent, to-day. 

ALASKA. 107 



[Translated by tho writer from Veniarainov'H Zapieskie, &c., Saint Petersburg, 
1842, vol.ii,i)p. 5G8. *] 

From tlio time of tbe discovery of the Prybilov Isliinds, up 
to 1805, (or that is, until the time of tbe arrival iu America of 
General Resanov,) the taking of fur-seals on both islands pro- 
gressed without count or lists, and without responsible heads 
or chiefs, because then (1787 to 1805 inclusive) there were a 
number of companies represented by as many agents or leaders, 
and all of them vied with each other in taking as many as they 
could before the killing was stopped. After this, in 180G and 

1807, there were no seals taken, and nearly all the people were 
removed to Ounalashka. 

In 1808 killing w^as again commenced, but the people in this 
year wereallowed to kill only on Saint George; on Saint Paul hunt- 
ers were not i)ermitted this year or the next: it was not until 
the fourth year after this that as many as half the number pre- 
viously taken wereannually killed. From this time (Saint George, 

1808, and Saint Paul, 1810) up tol822,takingfur-seals progressed 
on both islands without any economy and with slight circum- 
spection, as if there were a race in killing for the most skins. 
Coivs tcere taken in the drives and Jcilled, and were also driven 
from the rookeries to places where they were slaughtered. 

It was only in 1822 that G. Moorayvev (governor) ordered 
that young seals should be spared every year for breeding, and 
from that time there were taken from the Prybilov Islands, in- 
stead of 40,000 to 50,000, which Moorayvev ordered to be spared 
iu four successive years, no more than 8,000 to 10,000. Since 
this, G. Chestyahkov, chief ruler after Moorayvev, estimated 
that from the increase resulting from the legislation of Mooray- 
vev, Avhich was so honestly carried out on the Prybilov Islands 
that iu these four years the seals on Saint Paul increased to 
double their x:>revious number, he could give an order which in- 
creased the number to be annually slain to 40,000, and this last 
order or course directed for these islands demanded as many 
seals as could be got, but with all possible exertion hardly 
28,000 were obtained. 

After this, when it was most plainly seen that the seals were. 
on account of this wicked killing, steadily growing less and less 

* The italics are mine, ami the trauslatioii is ueaily literal, as might he inferred by the 
idioui here aud there. — H. W. E. 

108 ALASKA. 

in Dumber, the directioDS were observed for greater caution in 
killing the grown seals and young females which, came in with 
tlie droves of killing-seals, and to endeavor to separate, it pos- 
sible, these from those which should be slain. 

But. all this hardly served to do more than keep the seals at 
one figure or number, and hence did not cause an increase. 
Finally, in 1834, the governor of the company, upon the clear 
(or *' handsome") argument of Baron Wrangel, which was 
placed before him, resolved to make new regulations respecting 
them, to take effect in the same year, (1834,) and, following this, 
on the island of Saint Paul only 4,000 were killed instead of 

On the island of Saint George the seals were allowed to rest 
in 1826 and 1827, and since that time greater caution and care 
have been observed, and head-men or foremen have kept a care- 
ful count of the killing. 

From this it will be seen that no anxiety or care as to the pres- 
ervation of the seal-life began until 1805, {L c, with the united 

It is further evident that all half-measures, seen or not seen, 
were useful no longer, as they only served to preserve a small 
portion of the seal-life, and only the last step (1834) with the 
l^jresent people or inhabitants has proved of benefit. And if 
such regulations of the company continue for fifteen years, (?. e., 
until 1849,) it may be truly said that then Kie seal-life will be 
attracted quite rapidly under the careful direction of head-men, 
so that in quite a short time a handsome yield may be taken 
every year. In connection with this subject, if the company 
are moderate and these regulations are carried out, the seal- 
life will serve them and be depended upon as shown in this 
volume, Table No. 2. 

Nearly all the old men think and assert that the seals which 
are spared every year, ("zapooskat kotov,") i. c, those which 
have not been killed for several years, are truly of little use for 
breeding, lying about as if they were outcasts or disfranchised 
always. About these seals, they show that after the seals were 
spared, they were always less than they should be, as, for 
instance, on the island of Saint George, after two years of sav- 
ing or sparing of 5,500 seals, in the first year they got, instead 
of 10,000 or 8,000, as expected, only 4,778. 

But this diminution, whic^h is shown in the most Cvonvincing 
manner, (1,) is due to wrong and injustice, because it would not 

ALASKA. 109 

have been otherwise with any kind of animals — even cattle 
would have been exterminated j because ii ^reat many here 
think and count that the seal-mother brings forth her young in 
her third year, /. c, the next two years after her own birth. As 
it is well shown here, the s[)ared seals (''zapooskie") were not more 
than three years old, and therefore it was not possible to dis- 
cern the correct or true numbers as they really were. Ttddng the 
females killed by the i)eoi)le, together with all the seals wiiich 
were purposely spared, it was seen that the seal-mothers did 
not begin to bear earlier than the fifth year of their lives. Illus- 
trative of this is the following : 

(a) On the island of Saint George, after the first " zapooska," 
in 182S, the killing of five-year-old seals was continued gradu- 
ally up to five times as many as at first; with those of five 
years old, the killing stopj)ed ) then next year twelve times as 
many six-year-olds were observed on the islands as compared 
with their number of the last years, and with or in the seventh 
year came seven times as man}'. This shows that females boru 
in 1828 did not begin to bear young until their fifth year, and 
become with young accordingly ; that the large ones did not 
appear or come in six years, (from 1828,) as is evident, for in 
the fifth year all the females did not bring forth. 

1). It is kuo w n that the male seals cannot become " seecatchies " 
(adult bulls) earlier than their fifth or sixth year; following 
this, it may be said that the female bears earlier than the fourth 

c. If the male seal cannot become a bull ('^seecatchie") 
earlier than the fifth year, then, as Buffon remarks, " animals 
can live seven times the length of the period required for their 
maturity;" therefore a seecatch cannot live less than thirty years, 
and a female not less than twenty-eight.* 

Taking the opinion of Bufibu for ground in saying that 
animals do not come to their full maturity until one-seventh 

* "This remark is sustained by the observatiou of old me u, aud especially 
by one of the best Creoles, Shicsueekov, who was on the island of Saint Paul 
in 1817, and who knows of one " seecatch," (known by a bald head,) which 
in that time had already a largo herd of cows or females, surrounded and 
hunted by a like number of females and strong, savage old bulls ; therefore 
it may be safely thought that this bull did not get his growth until his fifth 
year, and at this time ho could not have been les3 than ten years old ; and 
this same bull came every j-ear to the island aud the same i^lace for lifteen 
years in succession, up to 18o2, and it was only in the later years that his 
liarem crew smaller aud smaller in number." 

110 ALASKA. 

of their lives bas passed, it ftoes also to prove that tlie female 
seal cannot bear young before ber fourth year. 

It is v/ithout doubt a fact that female seals do not begin to 
bear young before their fifth year, i. e., the next four years after 
the one of their birth, and not in the third or fourth. Certainly 
we can allow that some females bear in their fourth year; that, 
however, is not the rule, but the exception. To make it more 
apparent that females cannot bear young in their third year, 
consider the two-year-old females, and compare them with "see- 
catchie" (adult bulls) and cows, (adult females,) and it will be 
evident to all that this is impossible. 

Do the females bear young every year; and how often in 
their lives do they bring forth ? 

To settle this question is very difficult, for it is impossible to 
make any observations upon their movements ; but I think that 
the females in their younger years (or prime) bring forth every 
year, and as they get older, every other year ; thus (according 
to people accustomed to them) they may each bring forth in 
their whole lives from ten to fifteen young, and even more. 
This opinion is founded on the fact that never (except in one 
year, 1832) have an excessive number of females been seen 
without young ; that cows not pregnant hardly ever come to the 
Prybilov Islands ; that such females cannot be seen every year. 
As to how large a number of females do not bear, according to 
the opinions and personal observations of the old people, the 
following may be depended upou with confidence : not more 
than one-fifth of the mature or '^ effective" females are without 
young; but to avoid erroneous impressions or conflicting state- 
ments between others and myself, I have had but one season, 
(" trayt") in which to personally observe and consider the multi- 
plication of seals. 

There is one more very important question in the considera- 
tion of the breeding or the increase of seals, and that is, of the 
number ofyouiig seals horn in one year, Iwio many are males; and 
is the number of males always the same in proportion to the 
females f 

Judging from the hoUuschickie accumulated from the "za- 
pooska" in 1822-24 on the island of Saint Paul, and in 182G-'27 
on the island of Saint George, the number of young males was 
very variable ; for example, on the island of Saint Paul, in three 
years 11,000 seals were spared, and in the following three years 
there were killed 7,000, i. c, about two-thirds of the number 

ALA8KA. Ill 

saved ; opposed to this, on the ishuid of Saint Geor;:,^e, from 
8,500 apared seals in two years, less than 3,000 were talcen, 
hardly one-third. 

Why this irregularity ? Why should more youn;:;' males be 
born at one time, and at another less ''i Or why siiould there 
be years in which many cows do not bear younj;? 

Aeeordin<;- to the belief of the peoi)le here, I think that of the 
number of seals born e\xny year, half are males, and as many 

To demonstrate the above-mentioned conditions of seal-life, 
the table, Xo. 1, has been formed of the number of seals annu- 
ally killed on the Prybilov Islands from 1817 to 1838, (when this 
work was ended.) 

From this it will be seen that — 

1. J^o single successive year presents a good, number of 
seals killed as compared with the previous year; the number is 
always less. 

2. The annual number of seals killed was not in a constant 

3. And, therefore, in the regular hunting-season there is less 
need or occasion during the next fifteen years to demand the 
whole seal kind. 

4. Fewer seals were killed in those years generally following 
a previous year in which there were larger numbers of the 
"hoUuschickie;*' that is, when the young males were not com- 
l^letely destroyed, and more were killed when the number of 
" hoUuschickie " was less. 

5. The number of "hoUuschickie" is a true register or show- 
ing of the numbers of seals; i. e., if the "hoUuschickie" 
increase and exist like the young females, and conversely. 

G. IJolluschickie break from the (common) herd and gather 
by themselves no earlier than the third year, as seen in the case 
of the spared seals on the islands of Saint George and Saint 
Paul, the latter from 1822-'24, 1835-'37, inclusive; tlie former 
Irom 1820-^27. 

7. The number of seals killed on the island of Saint George 
after two years ("zapooska") was resumed and gradually in- 
creased to five times as many. 

8. In the fifth year from the first "zapooskie" (or saving) it 
became possible to count or reckon on the nnmber remaining, 
and six-year-olds began to appear twelve times as numerous, 
and seven-year-olds came in numbers sevenfold greater than 

112 ALASKA. 

their previous small number 5 and, therefore^ the number of 
three-year-old seals was quite constant. 

9. If on the ishiud of Saint George, in 182G-'27, the seals 
had not had this rest, ("zapooska,") and the killing had been 
continued, even at the diminished ratio of one-eighth, in 1840 
or 1842 there would not have been a single seal left, as appears 
by the following table : 


1S25 5,500 

182G 4,400 

1827 8,520 

1828 2,816 

1829 2,468 

1830 2,160 

1831 1,890 

1832 1,554 


1833 1,360 

1834 1,190 

1835 1,040 

1836 850 

1837 700 

1838 580 

1839 500 

1840 400 

10. Following two years of '^zapooska," (saving,) the seal-life 
is enhanced for more than ten years, and the loss sustained by 
the company in the time of *'zapooskov" (about 8,500) is made 
good in the long run. The case may be thus stated: If the 
company had not spared the seals in 1826-'27, they would have 
received, from 1820 to 1838, (twelve years,) no more than 24,000, 
but by making this znpooska regulation for two years they got 
in ten years 31,570, and, beyond this, they can yet take 15,000 
without another, or any, zapooska. 

11. And in this case, where such an insignificant number of 
seals was spared on Saint George, (about 8,500,) and in such a 
short time, (two years,) the result was at once significant every 
year; that is, three times more appeared than the number 
spared. The result, therefore, must be large annually on the 
island of Saint Paul, wiiere, in consequence of the last orders 
or directions of the governor, already four years of saving have 
been in force, in which time over 30,000 seals have been left for 

On this account, and in conformity with the above, I here 
present a table, a prophesy of the seals that are to come in the 
next fifteen years from 7,000 seals saved on the island of Saint 
Paul in 1835. 

On the island of Saint Paul, at the direction of the governor, 
a " zapoosk " or saving was made of 12,700 seals; that is, before 
the year 1834 there were killed 12,700 seals, and on the following 
year, if this saving had not been made, according to the testi- 
mony of the inhabitants, no more than 12,200 seals would or 

ALASKA. 113 

could liave been taken from the islands, it bein.!:,' tliou^ht that 
this niunber (lli,'J()0) was only one twenty-tilth of the whole j 
but instead of killing 12,200, only 4,052 were taken, leaving in 
1835, for breeding, 8,148 fresh young seals, males and females, 

In making this hypothetical table of seals that are to come, 
I take the average killing, that is, one-eighth part, and ])r()oeed 
on the supposition that the number of saved seals will not be 
less than 7,0G0. 

In the number of 7,000 seals we can calculate upon 3,000 
females; that is, a slight majority of males. With the new 
females born under this" zapooska" I place half of those born 
the first year, and so on. 

Females, in the twelve or eighteen years next after their birth, 
must become less in number from natural causes, and by the 
twenty-second year of their lives they must be quite useless for 

Of the number of seals which may be born during the next 
four years of " zapooska." or longer, we may take half for 
females. This number is inckided in the table, and the males, 
or "holluschickie," make up the total. 

From the II Table, observe that — 

1. Old females, that is, those which in 1835 were capable of 
bearing young, in 1850 must be canceled, (minus.) They prob- 
ably die in i)roportion of one-eighth of the whole number every 

2. For the first four years of zapooska, until the new females 
begin to bear, their number will be generally less. 

3. A constant number of seals wid continue during the first 
six years of their zapooska ; in twelve years these seals will 
double, in fourteen years they will have increased threefold ; 
and after fil'teen years of this zapooska or saving of 7,000, in 
the first year 24,000 may be taken from them, in the second 
28,000, in the third 32,000, in the fourth 30,000, in the fifth 41,000; 
thus in five years more that 100,000 can be taken. Then, under 
the supervision of persons who will see that one-fifth of the 
seals be steadily spared, 32,000 may be taken every year for a 
long time. 

4. ^loreover, from the production of fifteen years " zapooska" 
there can be taken from 00,000 to 70,000 hoUuschickie, which, 
together with 100,000 seals,jnakes 230,000. 

5. If this "zapooska" for the next fifteeu years is not made 

8 AL 

114 ALASKA. 

for the seal-life, diminiitiou ^vill certainly ensue, and all this 
time, with all possible effort, no more than 50,000 seals ^Yiil be 

Here it slionld be said that this hypothetical table of the 
probable increase of seals is made on the supposition of the 
decrease of females, and an average is taken accordingly. 
Furthermore, on the island of Saint Paul, in 1830-37, instead of 
7,900 seals being killed, but 4,800 were taken. Hence it follows 
that these 1,500 females thus saved in tvro years, and which 
are omitted from the table, will also make a very significant 
addition to the incoming seals.* 

* I frivc this chapter of Veniamiuov's without abridgment, although it is 
full of errors, to show that while the Russians gave this matter evidently 
much thought at headquarters, yet they failed to send some one on to the 
ground, who, by first making himself acquainted with the habits of the 
seals from close observation of th^ir lives, should then be fitted to prepare 
rules and regulations founded upon this knowledge. These suggestions of 
Veuiamiuov Avere, however, a vast improvement on the work as it was con- 
ducted, and they were adopted at once, but it was not until 1845 that the 
great importance of never disturbing the breeding-seals was recognized. 

H. W. E. 







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From this table behold that — 

a. Every fifteen years, from 3,G00 females, there can be received 
ill sixteen years 24,700 seals 5 in sixteen years still more; and 
in twenty years 41,040. 

h. In the twenty-first year the incomers begin to diminish, 
provided that if in the mean time, or the following- sixteen years, 
a certain unmber of young seals are not left to breed; and 
if every year a known number are left to breed, then in all 
following years the yield will never be less than 20,000 every 

Table III. — Calculation as to the coming of the seals on the island of Saint 
George, made up from two years, and based upon that experience, (1827-'28.) 









8. ; 9. 
















Li-Ut ... 










2 1827!!!!!!.. 

3 \lB-28 


600 600 
550 400 





1.200 1,4,10 
l,-:00 1,450 



HoUnschickio . 

2, 200 12,030 1,700 
2,200 2,050^ 1,6C0 



l,7G0'l;850 1.700 1,550 1,4001, 350; 

1,700 1,600 1,700 1,500 1.500 1,400 


4,400 4,100'3,300 





3,6.50 3,400 




30; 870 

The actual taking' of seals was as follows : 


In 1828 ^... 4,778 

In 1829 3,661 

In 1830 2,834 

In 1831 3, 084 

In 1832 3,296 

In 1833 3,212 

. 3,051 

In 1834 
In 1835 
In 1836 
In 1837 

2, 528 

2, 550 

2, 582 

Total 31, 476 

From this table it will be seen that up to 1838 my cal- Seals. 

culation makes a yield of ... • 30, 870 

While the actual result was 31, 476 

Difference of 006 

The difference determines that the hypothesis upon which 
the table is based is correct. 

ALASKA. 117 

JULY 2r)-2(3, 1874. 

For tlio ])iiri)oso ofleainiii^^ what tliese pi'Oplc^ inijrlit liavo to 
say in ivj;ai(l to tlie seal hiisiiioss as it is now condncteil, Lieu- 
tenant iNLi.vnanl and myself asked the cliiefs to select those 
men ani()nt>- themselves who knew most in rep^ard to the matter, 
especially tliose wlio had been most in the habit of noting the 
rookeries, and have them meet us piivately to hear what they 
mi^ht feel disposed to do if they had anything to say in the 
matter; and accordingly some fifteen of them, oldest and wisest, 
including all the chiefs of Saint Paul and one that belongs to 
Saint (leorge, met us. We had a smart Russian crcole for in- 
terpreter, a sailor from our own vessel, and sat for two long 
evenings with them in conlerence. The result may be summed 
up as follows : 

In regard to the condition of the seal-life, the natives are both 
watchful and solicitous, but do not present any argument 
against the annual killing of 100,000 young males over one year 
and under five, as is now conducted; that is, 90,000 on Saint Paul 
and 10,000 on Saint George; but the Saint Paul people have a 
very natural and strong feeling that they should alone reap the 
benefit that arises from the increase in the number killed on 
their island ; that the $0,000, which is represented by the ad- 
ditional 15,000 killed last summer on this island, should be 
shared among themselves, and feel a little sore about having 
the Saint George people come over here to do this work and take 
the proceeds, which they did on their own island (Saint George) 
last year. They do not think 90,000 any too many on Saint 
Paul, if they alone shall kill the animals and take the reward; 
but suddenly, when it is found that they are to be paid only for 
the original erroneous i^^'o rata, 75,000, they become very fearful 
of the result of killing 90,000, with as many five-year-old bulls 
as have been killed this summer. As this solicitude is due to 
no other reason than this very perceptible anxiety, its expres- 
sion must be taken with some reservation. But this constant 
anticipation of injurious results, even if there exist no grounds 
for apprehension, is of great advantage to both the agents of 
Government and the company; for tlie public may rest assured 
that the first evidence of any decrease of seal-life on these rook- 
eries of Saint Paul will be at once observed by the jealous eyes 
of their many native keepers, even were there no agents of 

118 ALASKA. 

either party now in control capable of discerning it, wbicli is not 
likely, however, to be the case. 

We explained to them, in return, that the law which limited 
the killinr»- on Saint George to 23,000, and on Saint Paul to 
75,000, was based upon the imperfect information furnished by 
the agents of the Government sent to the islands, and that kill- 
ing 25,000 out of 100,000 on an island where there was not 
one-twentieth of the number of seals that were on the ground 
where the remaining 75,000 were taken, was entirely wrong, and 
must be corrected, for the best interests of all parties concerned ; 
and that thej^ had no right to profit at the expense of their 
brethren on Saint George, who were expected, at the time the 
law was made, to share equally with them the proceeds of this 
labor, and in this spirit the defective law was framed. This 
exi)lanation appeared to relieve their minds. 

They spoke to us with great satisfaction of the bettered con- 
dition in which they are living as compared with the state in 
which they lived but a short time since. A very perceptible 
shade of gloom settled on the countenances of all when we as- 
sured them that the Government could not permit any more 
"quass"or beer drunkenness among them. We set forth the 
propriety of this course on the part of the Secretary of the Treas- 
ury as justitied by the following reasons: 

1. They are at present living without the restraint of police- 
men and prisons, fines, &c., which we employ for the suppression 
of such disorder in our own land, and it was best for them to live 
sober and avoid the necessity of having such institutions. 

2. That they were, by the great generosity of the Govern- 
ment and the company, allowed to enjoy the sole privilege of 
jiarticipation in the sealing-labor and its good reward, by which 
they were enabled to live in such comfort and ease j that if they 
indulged in drinking they would drop out from the sKinning- 
gangs, and be unable in a few years to attend properly to their 
duty on the killing-grounds; that then the company would 
have the power and would be justified in procuring others to do 
this work, and that then but a short time would elapse before 
the labor of persons not addicted to drink would crowd them 
and their children out of their comfortable possession. 

In the course of our conversation with them in regard to the 
eyents of early days on the island, they gave the following as 
facts, relying on the ^' vivid imaginations and faithful memories" 

ALASKA. 119 

witli which they nre credited l>y the man who, of all men, best 
knew them, Veniaminov: 

" In 18;)5, (3n the * Laffoon ' r(M)kery, there were only two hnlls ; 
the cows were, however, in nnmber excessive ; ahont as Fiiany 
as are on 'Na Speel' to-day, (L>,()()().) On 'Zapadnie' abont one 
thousand cows, bulls, and pups ; at Southwest Point there was 
iiothin*;-; two small rookeries were on the north shore of Saint 
Paul, near a place called » xMaroonitch ; ' they have been de- 
serted, however, by the seals for a lon<? time ; the oldest man 
on the island, Zachar Seedick, aged 57, has never seen them 
there ; has only heard of it. 

"On Northeast Point there were seven small rookeries rnnning 
around the point; only fifteen hundred cows, pups, and bulls, 
all told; this number includes the ' holluschickie,' wliich in 
those days lay in among the breeding-seals, there being so few 
bulls that they were permitted to do so. On ' Polavina ' there 
>vere about five hundred cows, bulls, pups, and ' holluschickie;' 
on 'Lukannon' and ' Ketavie/ about three hundred; only ten 
balls on 'Ketavie,'so few young males lying in all together that 
they took no note of them on these rookeries; on the 'Keef 
and 'Gorbotch,' about one thousand only; of these some eight 
hundred, ' holluschickie' included, lying in with the breeding- 
seals ; there were about twenty old bulls only on Gorbotch, and 
but ten on the Reef; on 'Xau Speel' there were about a hun- 
dred. The village was here then as now. 

"In 1845 we took the young males alone, respecting the 
sexes for the first time ; took only about twenty a day on North- 
east Point ; on the Eeef, all the way from one hundred and 
fifty to two hundred a day. 

" In 1857 the breeding-rookeries were nearly as large as they 
are now ; but have heoi rather graduaUy Increas'uifj ever since. 
Prior to 1835 the village was up at the little fresh-water lake, 
and the seals are reported, previous to this date, many years, 
to have run all over the present village ground, very much as 
they do at Zapadnie to-day." 

In regard to the numbers of the fur-seal when the Russians 
first took possession of the ground, in 1787, the present genera- 
tion, descendants of these pioneers, have only a general vague 
impression that the seals were somewhat more numerous in the 
first days of Russian occupation than they are now. 

With regard to the probable truth of the foregoing statement 
of the natives to us, I can only call attention to the fact that 

120 ALASKA. 

the entire sum of seal-life, as given bj tbera, is 4,100 of all 
classes ; now, Bishop Yeniaminov publishes an authentic record 
of the killing on these islands from 1817 to 1837, (tJie time in 
which he finished his work,) by which it will be seen that in 
this year of 1835, 4,052 seals were killed and taken ; and if the 
account of the natives was true, that would leave on the island 
only 50 for 183G, in which year, however, 4,040 were killed, and 
in 1837 4,220, and there was a steady increase in the killing 
by the llussians up to 1850, when they governed their catch 
by the market alone. 

TUis great diminution of the seal-life, setting in at 1817 and 
running on steadily in decline until 1834, when it began to 
mend, is well accounted for by Yeniaminov's account. From 
this it will be seen that after greedy Eussian companies on 
these islands had killed seals for over fifteen years iu unknown 
numbers ^Yithout causing any great change in the ratio of num- 
bers, a diminution began gradually to set in, which became 
obvious in 1817, and attained its maximum in 1834-'35, when 
hardly a tithe of the former numbers appeared on the ground ; 
but from that year change in the management, &c., promoted 
an increase, and they steadily augmented up to their former 
great numbers, by 1855-'57 reaching a maximum at which they 
have remained, as far as my investigations throw light on the 
subject ; a few years more of proper observation on the ground 
here will settle the matter to the satisfaction of all concerned. 

A variety of reasons have been given for this diminution, 
but the case is clear that as the animals to be slain were 
selected at random on the breeding-grounds from males and 
females, they gradually, in consequence of this incessant mo- 
lestation, began to shun the islands, seeking some other land, 
and there breeiiing, in spite of many natural difficulties j but 
as soon, however, as the Kussians began to respect the princi- 
ple of never driving or killing the females, the seals gradually 
regained their confidence, and finally returned to these islands, 
the most convenient and best adapted for their occupation in 
the northern hemisphere. This was the reason for their dis- 
appearance at that time, or they were suffering from the rav- 
ages of some unknown distemper. 



TuE Seal-life on the Prybilov Islands may be classed 
under four heads, as follows, viz : 

The Fuk-Seal, {Callorhlnus nrsuius,) Kautiekie of the Rus- 

The Sea-Lion, (Eumetopias stellcrii,) See vitchie of che Rus- 

The Hair Seal, (PhocavituUna,) Nearhpab of the Russians. 

The Walrus, {Rosmariis arcticus^) Morsjeeof the Russians. 

Of the above, tbe hair-seal is the animal upon wbieh pop- 
ular and, indeed, scientific opinion is founded as to what a seal 
appears like, and bas in this way given to the people a false 
idea of its relatives, above enumerated, and bas made it exceed- 
ingly difficult for the naturalist to correctly discriminate be- 
tween them J for, although it belongs to the same family, it 
does not even have a generic affinity to those seals- with whicb 
it has been persistently confounded, viz, tbe fur seal and sea- 
lion, no more so than has the raccoon to tbe black or grizzly 
bear, both being as nearly related to eacb other. 

A detailed description of this seal, Phoca vituUna, is quite 
unnecessary, as species of the genus are common pets all over 
the world where zoological gardens are established, and its 
grotesquely stuffed skin is still more frequently to be met with. 

It ditfers, bowever, so completely in shape and babit from its 
congeners on these islands, that it may be well, so as to pre- 
serve a sharp line of distinction, to state that it seldom comes 
up from the water more than a few rods, at the most, generally 
resting at the margin of the surf- wash; it takes up no position 
on land to bold and protect a barem, preferring the detached 
water-worn rocks which occasionally project out a little above 
the sea-level and are only wet entirely over by heavy storms ; 
and the animal when it is disturbed immediately goes to sea. 
Upon these small spots of rock^^, wet isolation from the main 
island, and some secluded places on the north shore, the " nearh- 
pah," as the natives call it, brings forth its young, which is a 

122 ALASKA. 

single pup, perfectly wbite, weigbiug about three or four pounds. 
This pup grows rapidly, and weighs, in three to four mouths, 
forty or fifty pouuds, and at that time has a coat of soft, steel- 
gray hair on the head, limbs, and abdomen, with the back mOvSt 
richly mottled and barred lengthwise with dark-brown and 
browu-black. AYhen they appear in the spring, following, this 
gray tone to their color has become a dingy ocher, and the mot- 
tling appears well over the head and on the upper side or back 
of the flippers, or feet, correspondingly dim. 

There is no appreciable difference as to color or size between 
the sexes. 

They are not polygamous, as far as I have observed. 

They are exceedingly timid and wary at all times, and iu this 
way they are diametrically opposed, not by shape alone, but by 
habit and disposition, to the far-seal and sealion. 

Their skin is of little value compared with that of the fur- 
seal, and their chief merit is the relative greater juiciness and 
sweetness of their flesh to those who are iu any way partial to 

I desire also to correct a common error, made in comparing 
Fhocidce with Otaridce, where it is stated that, in consequence 
of the peculiar structure of their limbs, their progression on 
land is ^'-mainly accomplished by a wriggling, serpentine motion 
of the body, slightly assisted by the extremities." This is not 
so; for, when excited to run or exert themselves to reach the 
water suddenly, they strike out quickly with both fore feet., 
simultaneously lift and drag the Avhole body, without any wrig- 
gling whatever, from G inches to a foot ahead and slightlj^ from 
the earth, according to the violence of the effort and the char- 
acter of the ground; the body then falls flat, and the fore-flip- 
pers are free for another similar action, and this is done so 
earnestly and rapidly that in attempting to head oif a young 
uearhpah from the water I was obliged to leave a brisk walk 
and take to a dog-trot to do it. The hind feet are not used 
when exerted in rapid movement at all, and are dragged along 
in the wake of the body, perfectly limp. They do use their 
posterior parts, however, when leisurely climbing up and over 
rocks, or playing one with another, but it is always a weak 
effort, and clumsy. These remarks of mine, it should be borne 
in mind, apply only to the Phoca vitulina, that is iound around 
these islands at all seasons of the year, but in very small num- 
bers. I have never seen more than twenty five or thirty at any 

ALASKA. 123 

one time, but I think its princi[)le of locomotion will be round 
to apply on land to all the rest of its genera. 

Tlie scarcity of this species and of all its generic allies is 
notable in the waters of the North Pacific as compared with 
those of the circnmpolar Atlantic, wliere the bair-seals are 
found in immense numbers, giving employment every year to a 
fleet of sailing and steam vessels which go forth from 8t. John's, 
Halifax, and elsewhere, fitted for seal-fishing, taking over 
three hundred thousand of these animals each season, the 
I>rin('ii)al object being the oil rendered from them, the skins 
having but small commercial value.* 


Which repairs to these islands to breed, &c., in numbers that seem 
almost fabulous, is by far the highest organized of all the Pinni- 
pedia, and, indeed, for that matter, when land and water are fully 
taken into account, there is no other animal superior to it from 
a purely physical point of view ; and few creatures that can be 
said to exhibit a higher order of instinct, approaching even 
intelligence, belonging to the animal kingdom. 

Eegarding a male six to seven years old, and full grown, 
when he comes up from the sea in the spring on to his station 
for the breeding-season, we have an animal that will measure 
GJ to 7^ feet in length, from tip of nose to end of tail, and 
weighing at least 400 pounds; and sometimes as much, perhaps, 
as GOO. (?) The head, which in comparison with the immense 
thick neck and shoulders, seems to be disproportionately small j 
but as we come to examine it we will find that it is mostly all 
occupied by the brain j the light frame- work of the skull su[)- 
ports an expressive pair of large bluish-hazel eyes, and a muz- 
zle and jaws of nearly the same size and form observed in any 
full-blooded Newfoundland dog, with the difference of having 
no flabby, hanging lips ; the upper lips support a white and 
yellowish-gray mustache, long, and, when not torn in combat, 
luxuriant, composed of heavy stiff bristles. 

Observe it as it comes leisurely swimming on toward the 
land ; how high above the water it carries its head, and how 
deliberately it surveys the beach, after having stepped up on it ; 

* An excellent aud, I have every reason to believe, correct descrip- 
tion of this seal-fishery in the North Atlantic has been published by Michael 
Carroll, who writes in a manner indicative of great familiarity with the 

124 ALASKA. 

it may be truly said to step with its fore flippers, for tliey regu- 
larly alternate as it moves up, carrying the bead well above 
them, at least three feet from the ground, with a perfectly erect 

The fore feet, or hands, are a pair of dark bluish-black flip- 
pers, about 8 or 10 inches broad at their junction with the 
body, running out to an ovate point some 15 to 18 inches from 
this union, which is at the carpal joint, corresponding to our 
wrist; all the rest of the fore-arm, the ulna, radius, and 
humerus, being concealed under the skin and thick blubber 
folds of the main body and neck, concealed entirely at this 
season when it is so ftit ; but later, when flesh or fat has been 
consumed by absorption, they come quite plainly into view. 

On the upper side of these flippers, the hair straggles down 
finer and fainter, as it comes down to a point close to and 
slightly beyond where the phalanges and the metacarpal bones 
are jointed, similar to the spot where our knuckles are placed, 
and there ends, leaving the skin bare and wrinkled in places at 
the margin of the inner side, showing five small pits containing 
abortive nails, which are situated immediately over the union 
of the phalanges with their cartilaginous continuations to the 
end of the flipi^er. 

On the under side of the flipper the skin is entirely bare from 
the end up to the body connection, deeply and regularly wrin- 
kled with seams and furrows, which cross one another, so as to 
leave a kind of sharp diamond-pattern. 

But we observe as the seal moves along that, though it han- 
dles its fore limbs in a most creditable manner, it brings up its 
rear in quite a different style ; for after every second step ahead 
with the fore feet it arches its spine, and with it drags and lifts 
together the hinder limbs to a fit position under its body for 
another movement forward, by which the spine is again straight- 
ened out so as to take a fresh hitch up on the posteriors. This 
is the leisurely and natural movement on land when not dis- 
turbed, the body being carried clear of the ground. 

The radical difl'erence in the form and action of the hinder 
feet cannot fail to strike the eye at once. They are one-seventh 
longer and very much lighter and more slender; they, too, are 
merged in the body like those anterior; nothing can be seen of 
the leg above the tarsal joint. 

The shape of this hind flipper is strikingly like a human foot, 
provided the latter were drawn out to a length of 20 or 22 

ALASKA. 125 

inelics, tlic instep flattened down and the toes ran out into 
tbin, membraneous, oval-tipped points, only skin-thick, leav- 
ing three strong cylindrieal grayish horn-colored nails, half an 
inch long, ba(;k six inches from these skinny toe-ends, without 
any nails to mention on the big and little toes. 

On the upper side of this foot tlie hair comes down to the 
point where the metatarsus and phalangeal bones joint and 
lades out; from this junction the phalanges, about six inches 
down to the nails, are entirely bare and stand ribbed up in bold 
relief on the membrane which unites them as a web ; the nails 
nuirk the ends of the phalangeal bones and their union in turn 
Avith the cartilaginous processes, which run rapidly tapering 
and flattening, out to the ends of the thin toe-flaps. 

Now, as we look at this fur-seal's progression, that which 
seems most odd is the gingerly manner (if I may be allowed 
to use the expression) in which it carries these hind-flippers; 
they are held out at right angles from the body directly oppo- 
site the pelvis, the toe-ends and flaps slightly waving and curl- 
ing or drooi:)ing over, supported daintily, as it were, above the 
earth, only suffering its weight behind to fall upon the heels, 
which are opposed to each other scarcely five inches apart. 

We shall, as we see him again later iu the season, have to 
notice a different mode of progression, both when lording it 
over his harem or when he grows shy and restless at the end 
of the breeding-season, and now proceed to notice him in the 
order of his arrival and that of his family, his behavior during 
the long i)eriod of fasting and unceasing activity and vigilance 
and other cares which devolve upon him, as the most eminent 
of all polygamists iu the brute world; and to fully comprehend 
this exceedingly interesting animal, it will be necessary to refer 
to my drawings and paintings made from it and its haunts. 

The adult males are first to arrive in the spring on the ground 
deserted by all classes the preceding year. 

Between the 1st and 5th of May, usually, a few bulls will be 
found scattered over the rookeries pretty close to the water. 
They are at this time quite shy and sensitive, not yet being 
satisfied with the land, and a great many spend day after day 
before coming ashore idl^- swimming out among the breakers Ji 
little distance from the land, to which they seem somewhat re- 
luctant at first to repair. The first arrivals are not always the 
oldest bulls, but may be said to be the finest and most ambi- 
tious of their class; they are full-grown and able to hold their 

126 ALASKA. 

Stations on tbe rocks, wliicli tliej' immediately take up after 
coming ashore. 

I am not able to say authoritatively that these animals come 
back and take up the same position on tbe breeding-grounds 
occupied by them during the preceding season; from my 
knowledge of their action and habit, and from what I have 
learned of the natives, I should say that very few, if any of 
them, make such a selection and keep these places year after 
year. One old bull was pointed out to me on the lieef Gar- 
butch llookery as being known to the natives as a regular vis- 
itor at, close by, or on the same rock every season during the 
past three years, but he failed to re-appear on the fourth 5 but 
if these animals came each to a certain place and occupied it 
regularly, season after season, 1 think the natives here would 
know it definitely ; as it is, they do not. I think it very likely, 
however, that the older bulls come back to the same rookery- 
ground wiiere they spent the previous season, but take up their 
l)Ositions on it just as the circumstances attending their arrival 
will permit, such as fighting other seals which have arrived be- 
fore them, &c. 

With the object of testing this matter, the Russians, during 
the early part of their possession, cut off the ears from a given 
number of young male seals driven up for that piupose from 
one of the rookeries, and the result was that cropped seals were 
found on nearly all the different rookeries or " hauling-grounds'^ 
on the islands after. The same experiment was made by agents 
two years ago, who had the left ears taken off from a hundred 
young males which were found on Lukannon Rookery, Saint 
Paul's Island ; of these the natives last year found two on No- 
vashtosh-nah Rookery, ten miles north of Lukannon, and two 
or three from English Bay and Tolstoi Rookery, six miles west 
by water; one or two were taken on Saint George's Island, thir- 
ty-six miles to the southeast, and not one from Lukannon was 
found among those that were driven from there; and, proba- 
bly, had all the young males on the two ishmds been driven up 
and examined, the rest would have been found distributed quite 
equally all around, although the natives say that they think 
the cutting off of the animal's ear gives the water such access 
to its head as to cause its death; this, however, I think re- 
quires confirmation. These experiments would tend to prove 
that when the seals approach the islands in the spring, they 
have nothing but a general instinctive appreciation of the fit- 

ALASKA. 127 

noss of the land as a icholcj and no especial fondness for any 
pariicidar ftpot. 

The landinfjj of the seals ui)()n tlie respective rookciifs is in- 
Ihienccd <i^reatly by the direction of tlie wind at the time of 
approach to the islands. Tlie prevailing winds, coming from 
the northeast, north, and northwest, carr^- far out to sea the 
odor or s(;ent of the pioneer bulls, wliicii have lo(;ated them- 
selves on dillcrent breeding-grounds three or four weeks usually 
in advance of the masses ; and hence it will be seen that the 
rookeries on the south and southeastern shores of Saint Paul's 
Island receive nearly all the seal-life, although there are miles 
of eligible ground on the north shore. 

To settle this question, however, is an exceedingly diflicult 
matter ; for the identiticjition of individuals, from one season to 
another, among the hundreds of thousands, and even millions, 
that come under the eye on a single one of these great rook- 
eries, is really impossible. 

From the time of the first arrivals in IMay up to the 1st of 
June, or as late as the middle of this month, if the weather be 
clear, is an interval in which everything seems quiet j very few 
seals are added to the pioneers. By the 1st of June, however, 
or thereabouts, the foggy, humid weather of summer sets in, 
and with it the bull seals come up by hundreds and thousands, 
and locate themselves in advantageous positions for the recep- 
tion of the females, which are generally three weeks or a month 
later, as a rule. 

Tlie labor of locating and maintaining a position in the rook- 
ery is really a serious business for those bulls which come in 
last, and for those that occupy the water-line, frequently result- 
ing in death from severe wounds in combat sustained. 

It api)ears to be a well-understood principle among the able- 
bodied bulls that each one shall remain undisturbed on his 
ground, which is usually about ten feet square, provided he is 
strong enough to hold it agjiinst all comers ] for the crowding 
in of fresh bulls often causes the removal of many of those 
who, though equally able bodied at first, have exhausted them- 
selves by fighting earlier, and are driven by the fresher animals 
back farther and higher up on the rookery. 

Some of these bulls show wouderful strength and courage. 
I have marked one veteran, who was among the first to take up 
his position, and that one on the water line, where at least fifty 
or sixty desperate battles were fought victoriously by him' 

128 ALASKA. 

with nearly as many difi'erent seals, who coveted bis position, 
and when the fighting-season was over, (after the cows have 
mostly all hauled up,) I saw him, covered with scars and gashes 
raw and bloody-, an eye gouged out, but lording it bravely over 
his harem of fifteen or twenty cows, all huddled together on 
the same spot he had first chosen. 

The fighting is mostly or entirely done with the mouth, the 
opponents seizing each other with the teeth and clenching 
the jaws; nothing but sheer strength can shake them loose, 
and that eflbrt almost always leaves an ugly wound, the sharp 
canines tearing out deep gutters in the skin and blubber or 
shredding the flippers into ribbon-strips. 

They usually approach each other with averted heads and a 
great many false passes before either one or the other takes the 
initiative by griping; the heads are darted out and back as quick 
as flash, their hoarse roaring and shrill, piping whistle never 
ceases, while their fat bodies writhe and swell with exertion and 
rage, fur flying in air and blood streaming down — all combined 
make a picture fierce and savage enough, and, from its great 
novelty, exceedingly strange at first sight. 

In these battles the parlies are always distinct, the oflensive 
and the defensive ; if the latter proves the weaker he with- 
draws from the position occupied, and is never followed by his 
conqueror, who complacently throws up oneof his hind flippers, 
fans himself as it w^ere, to cool himself from the heat of the 
conflict, utters a peculiar chuckle of satisfaction or contempt, 
with a sharp eye open for the next covetous bull or '' see- 

The period occupied by the males in taking and holding their 
positions on the rookery offers a favorable opportunity in 
which to study them in the thousand and one diff'erent attitudes 
and postures assumed between the two extremes of desperate 
conflict and deep sleep — sleep so sound that one can, by keei)- 
ing to the leeward, approach close enough, stepping softly, to 
pull the whiskers of Siuy one taking a nap on a clear place ; but 
after the first touch to these whiskers the trifler must jump 
back with great celerity, if he his any regard for the sharp 
teeth and tremendous shaking which will surely overtake hiui 
if he does not. 

The neck, chest, and shoulders of a fur-seal bull comprise 

* " See-car cli,'-' native iianie for the bails on the rookeries, especially those 
which are able to maiutaiu their position. 

ALASKA. 129 

' more than two-thirds of liis whole weight, nnd in this loii^^ 
thick neck aiul ioie limbs is embodied the larger portion of his 
strength ; when on land, with the fore feet he does all climbing 
over ro(;ks, over the grassy hnmmocks back of the rookery, the 
hind llipi)ers being gathered n[) alter every second step forward, 
as described in the manner of walking ; these fore feet are the 
propelling power when in water, almost exclusively, the hinder 
ones being used as rudders chielly. 

The covering to the body is composed of two coats, one being 
of short, crisp, glistening over-hair, and the other a close, soft, 
elastic pelage, or fur, which gives distinctive value to the pelt. 

At this season of first " hauling up" in the spring, the pre- 
vailing color of the bulls, after they dry off and have been ex- 
posed to the w^eather, is a dark, dull brown, with a si)rinkliug 
of lighter brown-black, and a number of hoary *or frosted-gray 
coats ; on the shoulders the over-hair is either a gray or rufous- 
ocher, called the '^ wig ; " these colors are most intense upon 
the back of the head, neck, and spine, being lighter underneath. 
The skin of the muzzle and flippers, a dark bluish black, fading 
to a reddish and purplish tint in some. The ears and tail are 
also similar in tint to the body, being in the case of the former 
a trifle lighter; the ears on a bull fur-seal are from an inch to 
an inch and a half in length ; the. pavilions tightly rolled up on 
themselves so that they are similar in shape and size to the lit- 
tle finger on the human hand, cut off at the second (phalangeal) 
joint,, a shade more cone-shaped, for they are greater in diame- 
ter at the base than at the tip. 

I think it probable that the animal has and exerts the power 
of compressing or dilating this scroll-like pavilion to its ear, 
accordingly as it dives deep or rises in the water; and also, I 
am quite sure that the hair-seal has this control over the meatus 
externus^ from what I have seen of it : but I have not been able 
to verify it in either case by observation ; but such opportunity 
as I have had, gives me undoubted proof of the greatest keen- 
ness in hearing ; for it is impossible to approach one, even when 
sound asleep ; if you make any noise, frequently no matter how 
slight, the alarui will be given instantly by the insignificant- 
looking auditors, and the animal, rising up with a single motion 
erect, gives you a stare of astonishment, and at this season of 
defiance, together with incessent surly roaring, growling, and 
*' spitting." 

This spitting, as 1 call it, is by no means a fair or full expres- 

9 AL 

130 ALASKA. 

sioii of tlie most characteristic sound and action, peculiar, so far 
as I liave observed, to the fur-seals, the bulls in paiticulur. It 
is the usual prelude to their combats, and follows somewhat in 
this way: when the two disputants are nearly within reaching 
or striking distance, they make a number of feints or false 
passes at one another, with the mouth wide open and lifting 
the lips or snarling, so as to exhibit the glistening teeth, and 
Tvith each pass they expel the air so violently- through tbe 
larynx as to make a rapid choo-choo-choo sound, like the steam- 
puffs in the smoke-stack of a locomotive when it starts a heavy 
train, and especially when the driving-wheels slip on the rail. 

All the bulls now have the power and frequent inclination to 
utter four entirely distinct calls or notes— a hoarse, resonant 
roar, loud and long; alow gurgling growl; a chucUling, sibi- 
lant, piping whistle, of which it is impossible to convey an ad- 
equate idea, for it must be heard to be understood ; and this 
spitting, just described. The cows* have but one note— a hol- 
low, prolonged, hla-a-ting call, addressed only to their pupsj 
ou all other occasions they are usually silent. It is something 
like the cry of a calf or sheep. They also make a spitting 
sound, and snort, when suddenly disturbed. The pups '' bla-af^ 
also, with little or no variation, the sound being somewhat 
weaker and hoarser than that of their mothers for the first two 
or three weeks after birth; they, too, spit and cough when 
aroused suddenly from a nap or driven into a corner. iS. num- 
ber of pups crying at a short distance off biing to mind very 
strongly the idea of a flock of sheep " haaaa-iiKjP 

Indeed, so similar is the sound that a number of sheep 
brought up from San Francisco to Saint George's Island during 
the summer of 1873 were constantly attracted to the rookeries, 

"Without explanation 1 may be considered as making use of misapplied 
terms iu describiug these animals, for the inconsistency of coupling "pups" 
with " cows" and " bulls," and " rookeries" with the breeding-grounds of the 
same, cannot fail to be noticed ; but this nomenclature has been given and 
used by the English and American whalemen and sealing-parties for many 
years, and the characteristic features of the seals suit the odd naming ex- 
actly, so much so that I have felt satisfied to retain the stylo throughout as 
rendering my description more intelligible, especially so to those who are en- 
gaged in the business or may be hereafter. The Russians are more consist- 
ent, but not so "pat." The bull is called "see-catch," a term implying 
strength, vigor, ifcc; the cow, " matkah," or mother ; the pups, " kotickie," 
or little seals; the non-breeding males, under six and seven years, " hollus- 
chickie," or bachelors. Tbe name applied collectively to the fur-seal by 
them is " morskie-kot," or sea-cat. 

ALASKA. 131 

running in nmono- tlio seals, and liad to be driven away to a 
good leedin<;-o round by a- small boy detailed for the i)uri)08e. 

The sound arising from these great breeding-grounds of the 
fur-seal, where thousands u[)on thousands of angry, vigilant 
bulls are roaring, ehuekling, piping, and multitudes of seal- 
mothers are ealling in hollow, bla ating tones to their young, 
whieh in turn respond ineessantly, is simi)ly indescriljable. It 
is, at a slight distance, softened into a deep booming, as of a 
cataract, and can be heard a long distance off at sea, under 
favorable circumstances as far as five or six miles, and fre- 
quently warns vessels that may be approaching the islands in 
thick, foggy weather, of the positive, though unseen, proximity 
of land. Night and day, throughout the season, the din of the 
rookeries is cteady and constant. 

The seals seem to suffer great inconvenience from a compar- 
atively low degree of heat ; for, with a teniperature of 4(>o and 
48° on land, during the summer, they show signs of distress from 
lieat whenever they make any exertion, imnt, raise their hind 
flippers, and use them incessantly as fans. With the thermom- 
eter at 550-GO0, they seem to suffer even when at rest, and at 
such times the eye is struck by the kaleidoscopic appearance 
of a rookery, on which a million seals are spread out in every 
imaginable position their bodies cau assume, all industriously 
fanning themselves, using sometimes the fore flippers as veu- 
tilatois, as it were, by holding them aloft motionless, at the 
same moment fanning briskly with the hind flipper, or flippers, 
according as they sit or lie. This wavy motion of flapping and 
fanning gives a peculiar shade of hazy indistinctness to the 
whole scene, which is difiQcult to express in language; but one 
of the most prominent characteristics of the fur-seal is this fan- 
ning manner in which they use their flippers, when seen on the 
breeding-grounds in season. They also, when idling, as it 
were, offshore at sea, lie on their sides, with oii]y a partial ex- 
posure of the body, the head submerged, and hoist up a fore or 
hind flipper clear of the water, while scratching themselves or 
enjoying a nap ; but in this position there is no fanning. I say 
"scratching," because the seal, in common with all aniuials, is 
preyed upon by vermin, a species of louse and a tick, peculiar 
to itself. 

All the bulls, from the very first, that have been able to hold 
their positions, have not left them for an instant, night or day, 
nor do they do so until the end of the rutting-season, which 

132 ALASKA. 

subsides entirely between tlie 1st and lOtb of August, begin- 
ning shortly after the coming of the cows in June. Of necessity, 
therefore, this causes them to fast, to abstain entirely from food 
of any kind, or water, for three months, at least, and a few of 
them stay four months before going into the w^ater for the first 
time after hauling up in May. 

This alone is remarkable enough, but it is simply wonderful 
when we come to associate the condition with the unceasing 
activity, restlessness, and duty devolved upon the bulls as 
heads and fathers of large families. They do not stagnate, like 
bears in caves; it is evidently accomplished or due to the ab- 
sorption of their own fat, ^vith which they are so liberally sup- 
l^lied when they take their positions on the breeding-ground, 
and which gradually diminishes wliile they remain on it. But 
still some most remarkable provision must be made for the en- 
tire torpidity of the stomach and bowels, consequent upon their 
being empty and unsupplied during this long period, which, 
however, in spite of the violation of a supposed physiological 
law, does not seem to affect them, for they come back just as 
sleek, fat, and ambitious as ever in the following season. 

I have examined the stomachs of a number which were driven 
up and killed immediately after their arrival in the spring, and 
natives here have seen hundreds, even thousands, of them 
during the killing-season in June and July, but in no case has 
anything been found other than the bile and ordinary secre- 
tions of healthy organs of this class, with the exception only of 
finding in erery one a snarl or cluster of worms,* from the size of 
a walnut to that of one's fist, the fast apparently having no effect 
on them, for when thret; or four hundred old bulls were slaugh- 
tered late in the fall, to supply the natives with '' bidarkee" or 
canoe skins, I found these worms in a lively condition in every 
l^aunch cut open, and their presence, I think, gives some reason 
for the habit which these old bulls have of swallowing small 
bowlders, the stones in some of the stomachs weighing half a 
pound or so, and in one paunch 1 found about five pounds in 
the aggregate of larger pebbles, which in grinding against one 
another must destroy, in a great measure, these intestinal pests. 
The sea-lion is also troubled in the same way by a similar 
species of worm, and I have preserved a stomach of one of these 
animals in which are more than ten pounds of bowlders, some of 
them alone quite large. The greater size of this animal enables 


ALASKA. 133 

it to swallow stonos wliich w('i<;li two and throe i)()uii(ls. I can 
ascribe no otlier cause lor this habit ainon<,^ these animals than 
that given, as they are of the highest type oC tlie caniivora, 
eating iish as a, reguhir means of subsistence; varying the mo- 
notony of this diet with occasional juicy fronds of sea-weed, or 
kelp, and perhaps a crab, or such, once in a while, provided it 
is small and tender, or soft-shelled. 

Between the 12th and 14th of June the first of the cow-seals 
come up from the sea, and the bulls signalize it by a universal, 
spasmodic, desperate fighting among themselves. 

The strong contrast between the males and females in size 
and shape is heightened by the air of exceeding peace and 
amiability which the latter class exhibit. 

The cows are from 4 to 4 J feet in length from head to tail, 
and much more shapely in their proportions than the bulls, the 
neck and shoulders being not near so fat and heavy in propor- 
tion to the posteriors. 

When they come up, wet and dripping, they are of a dull, 
dirty-gray color, darker on the back and upper parts, but in a 
few hours the transformation made by drying is wonderful; 
you would hardly believe they could be the same animals, for 
they now fairly glisten with a rich steel and maltese-gray luster 
on the back of the head, neck, and spine, which blends into an 
almost pure white on the chest and abdomen. But this beauti- 
- ful coloring in turn is altered by exposure to the weather, for 
in two or three days it will gradually change to a dull, rufous 
ocher below, and a cinereous-brown and gray-mixed above ; this 
color they retain throughout the breeding-season up to the time 
of shedding the coat in August. 

The head and eye of the female are really attractive; the ex- 
pression is exceedingly gentle and intelligent; the large, lus- 
trous eyes, in the small, well-formed head, apparently gleam 
with benignity and satisfaction when she is perched up on some 
convenient rock and has an opportunity to quietly fan herself. 
The cows appear to be driven on to the rookeries by an accu- 
rate ipstinctive appreciation of the time in which their period 
of gestation ends ; for in all cases marked by myself, the pups 
are born soon after landing, some in a few hours after, but 
most usually a day or two elapses befqre delivery. 

They are noticed and received by the bulls on the water-line 
stations with much attention; they are alternately coaxed and 
urged up on to the rocks, and are immediately under the most 

134 ALASKA. 

jealous supervision; but owing to the covetous and ambitious 
nature of tlie bulls, wbicli occupy' the stations reaching wa^* 
back from the water-line, the little cows have a rough-and-tum- 
ble time of it when they begin to arrive in small numbers at 
first ; for no sooner is the pretty animal fairly established on 
the station of bull number one, who hjis installed her there, he 
perhaps sees another one of her style down in the water from 
which she has just come, and in obedience to his polygamous 
feeling, he devotes himself anew to coaxing the later arrival in 
the same winning manner so successful iu her case, when bull 
number two, seeing bull number one off his guard, reaches out 
with his long strong neck and picks the unhappy but passive 
creature up by the scruff' of hers, just as a cat does a kitten, 
and deposits her on his seraglio-ground; then bulls number 
three, four, and so on, in the vicinity, seeing this high-handed 
operation, all assail one another, and especially bull number 
two, and have a tremendous fight, perhaps for half a minute or 
so, and during this commotion the cow generally is moved or 
moves farther back from the water, two or three stations more, 
where, when all gets quiet, she usually remains in i^eace. Her 
last lord and master, not having the exposure to such diverting 
temptatioxi as had her first, he gives her such care that she not 
only is unable to leave did she. wish, but no other bull can seize 
upon her. This is only one instance of the many different trials 
and tribulations which both parties on the rookery subject" 
themselves to before the harems are filled. Far back, fifteen or 
twenty stations deep from the water-line sometimes, but gen- 
erally not more on an average than ten or fifteen, the cows 
crowd in at the close of the season for arriving, July 10 to 14, 
and then they are able to go about pretty much as they please, 
for the bulls have become greatly enfeebled by this constant 
fighting and excitement during the past two months, and are 
quite content with even only one or two partners. 

The cows seem to haul in compact bodies from the water up 
to the rear of the rookeries, never scattering about over the 
ground ; and they will not lie quiet in any position outside of 
the great mass of their kind. This is due to their intensely 
gregarious nature, and for the sake of protection. They also 
select land with special reference to the drainage, having a 
great dislike to water-puddled ground. This is w ell shown on 
Saint Paul. 

I have found it difficult to ascertain the averaiie nuuiber of 

ALASKA. 135 

cows to one bull on tlio rookery, but I tliink it will be nearly 
correct to assign to eaeli male from twelve to fifteen leniales, 
oecup^iiig- the stations nearest the water, and those back in the 
rear from live to nine. 1 have counted forty-live cows all under 
the ehari;e of one bull, which had them penned up on ii Hat table- 
rock, near Kcctavie Point; the bull was enabled to do this quite 
easily, as there was but one way to f;o to or come from this 
seraglio, and ou this path the old Turk took his stand and 
guarded it well. 

At the rear of all these rookeries there. is always a large num- 
ber of able-bodied bulls, ^vho wait patiently, but in vain, for 
families, most of them having had to fight as desperately for 
the iniviJege of being there as any of their more fortunately- 
located neighbors, who are nearer the water than themselves; 
but the cows do not like to be in any outside position, where 
they are not in close company, lying most quiet and content in 
the largest harems, and these large families pack the surfa(!e of 
the ground so thickly, that there is hardly moving or turning 
room until the females cease to come np from the sea; but the 
inaction on the part of the bulls in the rear during the rutting- 
seasou only serves to qualify them to move into the places 
vacated by those males who are obliged to leave from exhaus- 
tion, and to take the positions of jealous and fearless protectors 
for the young pups in the fall. 

The courage with which the fur-seal hohls his position, as 
the head and guardian of a family, is of the very highest order, 
compared with that of other animals. I have repeatedly tried 
to drive them when they have fairly established themselves, 
and have almost always failed, using every stone at my com- 
mand, making all the noise I could, and, tinally, to put their 
courage to the full test, 1 w^alked up to within 20 feet of a bull 
at the rear and extreme end of Tolstoi Eookery, who had four 
cows in charge, and commenced with my double-barreled 
breech-loading shot-guu to pepper him all over with mustard- 
seed or dust shot. Ilis bearing, in spite of the noise, smell of 
l)Owder, and pain, did not change in the least from the usual 
attitude of determined defense which nearly all the bulls as- 
sume when attacked with showers of stones and noise; he 
^vould dart out right and left and catch the cows, which tim- 
idly attempted to run after each report, and lling and drag 
them back to their places; then, stretching up to his full height, 
look me directly and defiantly in the face, roaring and spitting 

136 ALASKA. 

Kiost relieraently. The cows, however, soon got away from 
him 5 bat he still stood his grouiicl, making little charges on me 
of 10 or 15 feet in a succession of gallops or lunges, spitting 
furiously, and then retreating to the old position, back of which 
he would not go, fully resolved to hold his own or die in the 

This courage is all the more note\Yorthy from the fact that, 
in regard to man, it is invariably of a defensive character. 
The seal, if it makes you turn when you attack it, never fol- 
lows you much farther than the boundary of its station, and 
no aggravation will compel it to become offensive, as far as I 
have been able to observe. 

The cows, during the whole season, do great credit to their 
amiable expression by their manner and behavior on the rook- 
ery : never fight or quarrel one with another, and never or sel- 
dom utter a cry of pain or rage when they are roughly handled 
by the bulls, who frequently get a cow between them and tear 
the skin from her back, cutting deep gashes into it, as they 
snatch her from mouth to mouth. These wounds, however, 
heal rapidly, and exhibit no traces the next year. 

The cov>s, like the bulls, vary much in weight. Two were 
taken from the rookery nearest Saint Paul's Village, after they 
had been delivered of their young, and the respective weights 
were 5G and 101 pounds, the former being about three or four 
years old, and the latter over six. They both were fat and in 
excellent condition. 

It is quite out of the question to give a fair idea of the posi- 
tions in which the seals rest when on land. They may be 
said to assume every possible attitude which a flexible body can 
be put into. One favorite position, especially with the cows, is 
to perch upon a point or top of some rock and throw their 
heads back upon their shoulders, with the nose held aloft, then, 
closing their eyes, take short naps without changinjr, now and 
then gently fanning with one or the other of the long, slender 
hind flippers; another, and the most common, is to curl them- 
selves up, just as a dog does on a hearth rug, bringing the tail 
and the nose close together. They also stretch out, laying the 
head straight with the body, and sleep for an hour or two with- 
out moving, holding one of the hinder flippers up all the time, 
now and then gently waving it, the eyes being tightly closed. 

The sleep of the fur-seal, from the old bull to the young pup, 
is always accompanied by a nervous, muscular twitching and 

ALASKA. 137 

slight sliiftinij^ of tlio flippers; fpiivciiii^ and nnoasy rDlliii;,^ of 
tlie body, accoiiipanied by a quick foIdiii<;' anew of the fore 
flippers, wliicli are sif^ns, as it were, of tlieir liaviii^- iii^lit- 
inares, or sportiii<^', i)erliai>s, in a visionary way, far otf in some 
dream-land sea; or disturbed, perhaps more probably, by tijeir 
intestinal parasites. I have studied hundreds of all classes, 
stealiuf]^ softly up so closely that I could lay my hand on them, 
and have always found the sleep to be of this nervous descri|)- 
tioD. The respiration is short and rapid, but with no breath- 
ing (unless your ear is brought very close) or snoring sound ; 
the heaving of the flanks only indicates the action. I have 
frequently thought that I had succeeded in finding a snoring 
seal, esi)ecially among the pups, but a close examination always 
gave some abnormal reason for it, generally a slight distemper, 
by which the nostrils were stopped up to a greater or less 

As 1 have said before, the cows, soon after landing, are de- 
livered of their young. 

Immediately after the birth of the pup, (twins are rare, if 
ever,) it finds its voice, a weak, husky hlaat^ and begins to pad- 
dle about, with eyes wide open, in a confused sort ut way for a 
few minutes until the mother is ready to give it attention, and, 
still later, suckle it; and for this purpose she is provided with 
four small, brown nipples, placed about eight inches apart, 
lengthwise with the body, on the abdomen, between the fore 
and hinder flippers, with some four inches of space between 
them transversely. The nipples are not usually visible ; only 
seen through the hair and fur. The milk is abundant, rich, 
and creamy. The pups nurse very heartily, gorging them- 

The pup at birth, and for the next three months, is of a jet- 
black color, hair, eyes, and flippers, save a tiny white patch 
just back of each fore foot, and weighs from 3 to -4 i^ouuds, and 
12 to 14: inches long ; it does not seem to nurse more than once 
every two or three days, but in this I am most likely mistaken, 
for they may have received attention from the mother in the 
night or other times in the day when I was unable to watch 

The apathy with which the young are treated by the old on 
the breeding-grounds is somewhat strange. I have never seea 
a cow caress or fondle her ofl'spring, and should it stray but a 
short distance from the harem, it can be picked up aLd killed 

138 ALASKA. 

before the mother's eyes Tritbout causing Ler to show the 
slightest concern. The same indifference is exhibited by the 
bull to all that takes place outside of the boundary of his se- 
raglio. While the pups are, however, within the limits of his 
harem-ground, he is a jealous and fearless protector ; but if the 
little animals pass beyond this boundary, then they may be 
carried oft* without the slightest attention in their behalf from 
their guardian. 

It is surprising to me how few of the pups get crushed to 
death while the ponderous bulls are floundering over them 
when engaged in fighting. I have seen two bulls dash at each 
other with all the energy of furious rage, meeting right in the 
midst of a small " pod" of forty or fifty pups, trampling over 
them with their crushing weights, and bowling them out right 
and left in every direction, without injuring a single one. I do 
not think more than 1 per cent, of the pups born each season 
are lost in this manner on the rookeries. 

To test the vitality of these little animals, I kept one in the 
house to ascertain how long it could live without nursing, 
having taken it immediately after birth and before it could get 
any taste of its mother's milk j it lived nine days, and in the 
whole time half of every day was spent in floundering about 
over the floor, accompanying the movement with a persistent 
hoarse blaating. This experiment certainly shows wonderful 
vitality, and is worthy of an animal that can live four months 
without food or water and preserve enough of its latent strength 
and vigor at the end of that time to go far oft' to sea, and return 
as fat and hearty as ever during the next season. 

In the pup, the head is the only disproportionate feature 
when it is compared with the proportion of the adult form, the 
neck being also relatively shorter and thicker. I shall have to 
speak again of it, as it grows and changes, when J finish with 
the breeding-season now under consideration. 

The cows appear to go to and come from the water quite fre- 
quently, and usually return to the spot, or its neighborhood, 
where they leave their pups, crying out for them, and recogniz- 
ing the iudividual replies, though ten thousand around, all to- 
gether, should blaat at once. They quickly single out their 
own and attend them. It would be a very unfortunate matter 
if the mothers could not identify their young by sound, since 
their pups get together like a great swarm of bees, spread out 
upon the ground in "pods" or groups, while they are young. 

ALASKA. 139 

and not very lar«4'0, but by the niiddlii Jind end of Sei)tcrnber, 
until they leiive in Is'oveinber, tlicy chister to^^ether, sleeping 
and liobckiug by tens of thousands. A mother comes u}) from 
the water, where she lias been to wash, and i)erhai)s to feed, 
for the hist day or two, to about where she thinks her pup 
shouhl be, but misses it, and linds instead a swarm of pups iu 
Avhieh it has been incor[)orated, owin«>- to its ^reat fondness for 
society. The mother, without at lirst enterin*'' into the crowd 
of thousands, calls out, just as a sheep does for her lamb, lis- 
tens, and out of all the din she — if not at first, at the end of a 
few trials — reco<»nizes the voice of her oft'spring, and then ad- 
vances, striking out right and left, and over the crowd, toward 
the position from which it replies; but if the pup at this time 
happens to be asleep she hears nothing from it, even though it 
were close by, and iu this case the cow, after calling for a time 
^Yithout being answered, curls herself up and takes a nap, or 
lazily basks, and is most likely more successful when she calls 

The pups themselves do not know their mothers, but they 
are so constituted that they incessantly^ cry out at short inter- 
vals during the whole time they are awake, and in this way a 
mother can pick, out of the monotonous blaating of thousands 
of pups, her own, and she will not permit any other to suckle. 

Between the end of July and the 5th or Sth of xVugust the 
rookeries are completely changed in appearance ; the systematic 
and regular disposition of the families, or harems, over the 
whole extent of ground has disappeared ; all order heretofore 
existing seems to be broken up. The rutting-season over, those 
bulls which held positions now leave, most of them very thin 
in flesh and weak, and I think a large proportion of them do 
not come out again on the land during the season ; and such as 
do come, appear, not fat, but in good flesh, and in a new coat 
of rich dark and gray-brown hair and fur, with gray and gray- 
ish-ocher "wigs" or over-hair on the shoulders, forming a 
strong contrast to the dull, rusty-brown and umber dress in 
which they appeared during the summer, and which they had 
begun to shed about the 15th of August, in common with the 
cows and bachelor seals. After these bulls leave, at the close 
of their season's work, those of them that do return to the laud 
do not come back until the end of September, and do not haul 
up on the rookery-grounds as a rule, preferring to herd together, 
as do the young males, on the sand-beaches and other rocky 

140 ALASKA. 

points close to the water. The cows, pnps, aud those bulls 
which have been in retirementj now take possession, in a very 
disordeil}^ manner, of the rookeries,- also, come a large number 
of young, three, four, and five year old males, who have not 
been permitted tQ land among the cows, during the rutting- 
season, by the older, stronger bulls, who have savagely fought 
them off whenever they made (as they constantly do) an attempt 
to land. 

Three-fourths, at least, of the cows are now off in the water, 
only coming ashore to nurse and look after their pups a short 
time. They lie idly out in the rollers, ever and anon turning 
over and over, scratching their backs and sides with their fore 
and hind flippers. Kothing is more suggestive of immense 
comfort and enjoyment than is this action of these animals. 
They appear to get very lousy on the breeding-ground, and the 
frequent winds and showers drive and spatter sand into their 
fur and eyes, making the latter quite sore in many cases. They 
also pack the soil under foot so hard and solid that it holds 
water in the surface depressions, just like so many rock basins, 
on the rookery; out and into these puddles they flounder and 
patter incessantly, until evaporation slowly abates the nuisance. 

The pups sometimes get so thoroughly plastered in these 
muddy, slimy puddles, that their hair falls off in patches, giving 
them the appearance of being troubled with scrofula or some 
other plague, at first sight, but they are not, from my observa- 
tion, permanently injured. 

Early in August (8th) the pups that are nearest the water on 
the rookeries essay swimming, but make slow and clumsy prog- 
ress, floundering about, when over head in depth, in the most 
awkward manner, thrashing the water with their fore flippers, 
not using the hinder ones. In a few seconds, or a minute at 
the most, the youngster is so weary that he crawls out upon 
the rocks or beach, and immediately takes a recuperative nap, 
repeating the lesson as quick as he awakes and is rested. They 
soon get familiar with the water, and delight in it, swimming 
in endless evolutions, twisting, turning, diving, and when ex- 
hausted, they draw u[) on the beach again, shakd themselves as 
young dogs do, either going to sleep on the spot, or having a 
lazy frolic among themselves. 

In this matter of learning to swim, I have not seen any 
" driving" of the young pups into the water by the old in order 

ALASKA. 141 

to teacli tliom this process, as lias been aflirinecl by wiilers on 
the subject of seal-Hl'e. 

The pups are constantlj' shifting, at the close of the rutting- 
season, back and fortli over the rookery \n large squads, some- 
tiuR'S numbering thousands. In the course of these changes 
of position they all come sooner or later in contact with the sea ; 
the pup blunders into the water for the first time in a most 
awkward nuinner, and gets out again as quick as it can, but so 
far from showing any fear or dislike of this, its most natural 
element, as soon as it rests from its exertion, is immediately 
ready for a new trial, and keeps at it, if the sea is not too 
stormy or rough at the time, until it becomes quite familiar 
with the water, and during all this period of self-tuition it 
seems to thorouglily enjoy the exercise. 

By the 15th of September all the pups have become familiar 
with the water, have nearly all deserted the background of 
the rookeries and are down by the water's edge, and skirt the 
rocks and beaches for long distances on ground previously un- 
occupied by seals of any class. 

They are now about five or six times their original weight, and 
are beginning to shed their black hair and take on their second 
coat, which does not vary at this age between the sexes. They 
do this very slowly, and cannot be called out of molting or 
shedding until the middle of October, as a rule. 

The pup's second coat, or sea-going jacket, is a uniform, 
dense, light pelage, or under-fur, grayish in some, light-brown 
in others, the fine, close, soft, and elastic hairs which comi)ose 
it being about one-half of an inch in length, and over-hair, two- 
thirds of an inch long, quite coarse, giving the color by which 
you recognize the condition. This over-hair, on the back, neck, 
and head, is a dark chinchilla-gray, blending into a white, just 
tinged with a grayish tone on the abdomen and chest. The 
upper lip, where the whiskers or mustache takes root, is of a 
lighter-gray tone than that which surrounds. This mustache 
consists of fifteen or twenty longer or shorter whitish-gray 
bristles (one-half to three inches) on each side and back of the 
nostrils, which are, as I have before said, similar to that of a 

The most attractive feature about the fur-seal pup, and up- 
ward as it grows, is the eye, which is exceedingly large, dark, 
and liquid, with which, for beauty and amiability, together with 

142 ALASKA. 

iutelligGDce of expression, those of no other animal can be com- 
pared. The lids are well supplied with eyelashes. 

I do not think that their range of vision on land, or out of the 
water, is very great. I have had them (the adults) catch sight 
of my person, so as to distinguish it as a foreign character, three 
and four hundred paces off, with the wind blowing strongly 
from them toward myself, but generally they will allow you to 
approach very close indeed, before recognizing your strangeness, 
and the pups will scarcely notice the form of a human being 
until it is fairly on them, whereupon they make a lively noise, 
a medley of coughing, spitting, snorting, blaating, and get 
away from its immediate vicinity, but instantly resume, how- 
ever, their previous occupation of either sleeping or playing, 
as though nothing had happened. 

But the power of scent is (together with their hearing, before 
mentioned) exceedingly keen, for I have found that I would 
most invariably awake them from soundest sleep if 1 got to the 
windward, even when standing a considerable distance off. 

To recapitulate and sum up the system of reproduction on 
the rookeries as the seals seem to have arranged it, I would say, 
First. The earliest bulls appear to land in a negligent, indo- 
lent way, shortly after the rocks at the water's edge are free 
from ice, frozen snow, &c. This is generally about the 1st to 
the 5th of May. They land first and last in perfect confidence 
and without fear, very fat, and of an average weight of five 
hundred pounds ; some staying at the water's edge, some going 
away back, in fact all over the rookery. 

Second. That by the 10th or 12th of June, all the stations on 
the rookeries have been mapped out, fought for, and held in 
waiting for the cows by the strongest and most enduring bulls, 
who are, as a rule, never under six years of age, and sometimes 
three, and even occasionally four times as old. 

Third. That the cows make their first appearance, as a class, 
by the 12th or 15th of June, in rather small numbers, but by 
the 2:3d and 25th of this month they begin to flock up so as to 
fill the harems very perceptibly, and by the Sth or 10th of July 
they have most all come, stragglers excepted ; average weight 
eighty pounds. 

Fourth. That the rntting season is at its height from the 10th 
to the 15th of July, and that it subsides entirely at the end of 

ALASKA. 143 

this month and early in An<;nst, and tliat it is confined en- 
tirely to the land. 

Filth. That theeows bear their first yoiinj^' when three years 
of age. 

Sixth. That the cows arc limited to a single pnp eaeh, as a 
rule, in bearing, and this is born soon after landing; no excep- 
tion has thus far been witnessed. 

Seventh. That the bulls who have held the harems leave for 
the water in a straggling manner at the close of the rutting- 
season, greatly emaciated, not returning, if at all, until six or 
seven weeks have. elapsed, and that the regular systematic dis- 
tribution of families over the rookeries isat an end for the season, 
a general medley of young bulls now^ free to come up from the 
water, old males who have not been on seraglio duty, cow s, and 
an immense majority of pups, since only about 25 per cent, 
of their mothers are out of the water at a time. 

The rookeries lose their compactness and definite boundaries 
by the 25th to 28th July, when the pups begin to haul back and 
to the right and left in small squads at first, but as the season 
goes on, by the 18th August, they swarm over three and four 
times the area occupied by them when born on the rookeries. 
The system of family arrangement and definite compactness of 
the breeding-classes begins at this date to break up. 

Eighth. That by the 8th or 10th of August the pups born 
nearest the water begin to learn to swim, and by the 15th or 
20th of September they are all familiar more or less Avith it. 

]^inth. That by the middle of September the rookeries are 
entirely broken up, only confused, straggling bands of cows, 
young bachelors, pups, and small squads of old bulls, crossing 
and recrossing the ground in an aimless, listless manner; the 
season is over, but many of these seals do not leave these 
grounds until driven off by snow and ice, as late as the end of 
December and 12tli of January. 

This recapitulation is the sum and substance of my observa- 
tions on the rookeries, and I will now turn to the consideration 
of the 


upon which the yearlings and almost all the males under six 
years come out from the sea in squads from a hundred to a 
thousand, and, later in the season, by hundreds of thousands, 

144 ALASKA. 

to sleep and frolic, ffoiiig from a quarter to half a mile back 
from the sea, as at English Bay. 

This class of seals are termed ^'holluschukie'' (or "bachelor 
seals ") by the natives. It is with the seals of this division that 
these people are most familiar, since tbey are, together with a 
few thousand pups and some old bulls, the only ones driven up 
to the killing-grounds for their skins, for reasons which are ex- 
cellent, and which shall be given further on. 

Since the " holluschukie" are not permitted by their own 
kind to hmd on the rookeries and rest there, they have the 
choice of two methods of landing and locating. 

One of these opportunities, and least used, is to pass up from 
and down to the water, through a rookery on a pathway left by 
common consent between the harems. On these lines of pas- 
sage they are unmolested by the old and jealous bulls, who 
guard the seraglios on either side as they go and come; gener- 
ally there is a continual file of them on the way, traveling up 
or down. 

As the two and three year old holluschukie come up in small 
squads with the first bulls in the spring, or a few days later, 
these common highways between the rear of the rookery-ground 
and the sea get well defined and traveled over before the arrival 
of the cows ; for just as the bulls crowd up for their stations, so 
do the bachelors, young and old, increase. These roadways 
may be termed the lines of least resistance in a big rookery ; 
they are not constant ; they are splendidly shown on the large 
rookeries of Saint Paul's, one of them (Tolstoi) exhibiting this 
feature finely, for the hauling-ground lies up back of the rook- 
ery, on a flat and rolling summit, 100 to 120 feet above the sea- 
level. The young males and yearlings of both sexes come 
through the rookery on these narrow pathways, and, before 
reaching the resting-ground above, are obliged to climb up an 
almost abrupt bluff, by following and struggling in the little 
water-runs and washes which are worn in its face. As this 
is a large hauling-ground, on which fifteen or twenty thousand 
commonly lie every day during the season, the sight always, at 
all times, to be seen, in the way of seal climbing and crawling, 
was exceedingly novel and interesting. They climb over and 
up to places here where a clumsy man might at first sight 
say he would be unable to ascend. 

The other method by which the "holluschukie" enjoy them- 
selves on land is the one most followed and favored. They, in 

ALASKA. 145 

tins case, repair to the hcaclies unocoiipied l)ctwoen the rook- 
eries, and there extend tlieniselves out all the way back from 
the water as far, in some cases, as a quarter of a mile, and even 
farther. I have had under njy eye, in one strai^^ht forward 
sweep, from Zapad-nie to Tolstoi, (three miles,) a million and a 
half of seals, at least, (ahout the middle of July.) Of these I 
estimated fully one-half were pui)s, yearlin«»s, and "holluschu- 
kie.'' The great majority of the two latter classes were hauled 
out and packed thickly over the two miles of sand-beach and 
Hat which lay between the rookeries 5 many large herds were 
back as far from the water as a quarter of a mile. 

A small flock of the younger ones, from one to three years 
old, will frequently stray away back from the hauling-ground 
lines, out and up onto the fresh moss and grass, and there 
sport and plaj-, one with another, just as puppy-dogs do; and 
when weary of this gamboling, a general disposition to sleep is 
suddenly manifested, and they stretch themselves out and curl 
np iu all the positions and all the postures that their flexible 
spines and ball-and-socket joints will permit. One will lie 
upon his back, holding up his hind flippers, lazily waving them 
in the air, while he scratches or rather rubs his ribs with the 
fore hands alternately, the eyes being tightly closed; and the 
breath, indicated by the heaving of his flanks, drawn quickly 
but regularly, as though in heavy sleep ; another will be flat 
upon his stomach, his hind flippers drawn under and concealed, 
^vhile he tightly folds his fore feet back against his sides, just 
as a fish will sometimes hold its i)ectoral fins ; and so on, with- 
out end of variety, according to the ground and disposition of 
the animals. 

While the young seals undoubtedly have the power of going 
without food, they certainly do not sustain any long fasting 
periods on land, for their coming and going is frequent and 
irregular; for instance, three or four thick, foggy days will 
sometimes call them out by hundreds of thousands, a million or 
two, on the difterent hauling-grounds, where, in some cases, 
they lie so closely together that scarcely a foot of ground, over 
acres in extent, is bare ; then a clearer and warmer day will 
ensue, and the ground, before so thickly packed with animal- 
life, will be almost deserted, comparatively, to be filled again 
immediately on the recurrence of favorable weather. They are 
in just as good condition of flesh at the end of the season as at 
the first of it. 
10 AL 

146 ALASKA. 

These bacbelor-seals are, I am sure, v.itliout exceptiou, tbe 
most restless animals in tbe wbole brute creation ; tbey frolic 
and lope about over tbe grounds for bours, Avitbout a moment's 
cessation, and tbeir sleep after tbis is sbort, and is accompanied 
with nervous twitchings and uneasy movements j they seem to 
be fairly brimful and overrunning with warm life. I have 
never observed anything like ill-humor grow out of tbeir play- 
ing together; invariably well pleased one with another in all 
their frolicsome struggles. 

Tbe pups and yearlings have an especial fondness for sport- 
ing on the rocks which are just at the water's level, so as to be 
alternately covered and uncovered by tbe sea-rollers. On the 
bare summit of these water-worn spots they struggle and 
clamber, a dozen or two at a time, occasionally, for a single 
rock; the strongest or luckiest one pushing the others all off, 
which, however, simply redouble tbeir efforts and try to dis- 
lodge him, who thus has, for a few moments only, the advan- 
tage; for with the next roller and the other pressure, he gen- 
erally is ousted, and the game is repeated. Sometimes, as well 
as 1 could see, the same squad of " holluschukie'' played 
around a rock thus situated, off " Kah Speel"' rookery, during 
tbe whole of one day; but, of course, they cannot be told apart. 

The " holluscbukie,*' too, are tbe champion swimniers; at 
least they do about all the fancy tumbling and turning that is 
done by the fur-seals when in tbe water around tbe islands. 
Tbe grave old bulls and tbeir matronly companions seldom 
indulge in any extravagant display, such as jumping out of the 
water like so many dolphins, describing, as these youngsters 
do, beautiful elliptic curves, rising three and even four feet 
from tbe sea, with the back slightly arched, tbe fore tiippers 
folded back against the sides, and the hinder ones extended and 
pressed together straight out behind, plumping in head first, 
re-appearing in the same manner after an interval of a few 

All classes will invariably make these dol[)bin-jumps when 
tbey are suddenly surprised or are driven into tbe water, turn- 
ing tbeir beads, while sailing in the air, between the "rises" 
and '' plumps," to take a look at tbe cause of tbeir disturbance. 
They all swim with great rapidity, and may be fairly said to 
dart with the velocity of a bird on the wing along under the 
water; and in all tbeir swimming I have not been able yet to 
satisfy myself how tbey use tbeir long, llexible, bind feet, other 

ALASKA. 147 

than as steering inedimns. The propelling motion, if they have 
any, is so rapid, that my eye is not quick enough to catch it; 
the lore leet, however, can be very distinctly seen to work, 
feathering forward and sweeping back flatly, opposed to the 
water, with great rapidity and energy, and are evidently the 
sole i)ropulsive i)ower. 

All their movements in the water, when in traveling or sport, 
are quick and joyous, and nothing is more suggestive of intense 
satisfaction and great comfort than is the spectacle of a few 
thousand old bulls and cows, off and from a rookery in August, 
idly rolling over, side by side, rubbing and scratching with 
the fore and hind flippers, which are here and there stuck up 
out of the water like lateen-sails, or ''cato'-nine tails,'' in either 
case, as it may be. 

When the '' hoUuschukie" are up on land they can be readily 
separated into two classes by the color of their coats and size, 
viz, the yearlings, and the two, three, four, and live year old 

The first class is dressed just as they were after they shed 
their pup-coats and took on the second the previous year, in 
September and October, and now, as they come out in the 
spring and summer, the males and females cannot be distin- 
guished apart, either by color or size; both yearling sexes 
having the same gray backs and white bellies, and are the 
same in behavior, action, weight, and shape. 

About the 15th and 20th of August they begin to grow 
*' stagey," or shed, in common with all the other classes, the 
pups excepted. The over-hair requires about six weeks from 
the commencement of the dropping or falling out of the old 
to its full renewal. 

The pelage, or fur, which is concealed externally by the hair, 
is also shed, and renewed slowly in the same manner; but, 
being so much finer than the hair, it is not so api)arent. It was 
to me a great surprise to " learn," from a man who has been 
heading a seal-killing party on these islands during the past 
three years, and the Government agent in charge of these in- 
terests, that the seal never shed its fur; that the over-hair only 
was cast off and replaced. To prove that it does, however, is a 
very simple matter, and does not require the aid of a micro- 
scope. For example, take up a i)rime spring or fall skin, after 
every single over-hair on it has been plucked out, and you will 
have difficulty, either to so blow upon the thick, fine lur, or 

148 ALASKA. 

to part it with the fingers, as to show the hide from which it 
has grown; then take a "stagey'' skin, by the end of August 
and early iu September, wheu all the over-hair is present^ about 
one-third to one-half (/rown, and the first puff you expend upon 
it easily shows the hide below, sometimes quite a broad welt. 
This under-fur, or pelage, is so fine aud delicate, and so much 
concealed and shaded by the course over-hair, that a careless^ 
eye may be pardoned for any such blunder, but only a very 
casual observer could make it. 

Tbe yearling cows retain the colors of the old coat in the new,, 
and from this time on shed, year after year, just so, for the 
young and the old cows look alike, as far as color goes, when 
they haul up on the rookeries in the summer. 

The yearling males, however, make a radical change, coming^ 
out from their " staginess*' in a uniform dark-gray and gray- 
black mixed and lighter, aud dark ocher, on the under and up- 
per parts, respectively. This coat, next year, when they come 
up on the hauliug-grounds, is very dark, and is so for the thirds 
fourth, and fifth years, when, after this, they begin to grow 
more gray and brown, year by year, with rufous-ocher and 
whitish-gray tipped over-hair on the shoulders. Some of the 
very old bulls become changed to uniform dull grayish-ocher 
all over. 

The female does not get her full growth and weight until the 
end of her fourth year, so far as I have observed, but does the 
most of her growing in the first two. 

The male does not get his full growth and weight until the 
close of his seventh year, but realizes most of it by the end of 
the fifth, osteologically, and from this it may be, i^erhaps, truly 
inferred that tbe bulls live to an average age of eighteen or 
twenty years, if undisturbed in a normal condition, and that the 
cows attain ten or twelve under tbe same circumstances. Their 
respective weights, when fully mature and fat in the spring, 
will, I think, strike an average of four to five hundred pounds 
for the male and from seventy to eighty for the female. 

From the fact tbat all the young seals do not change much in 
weight, from the time of their first coming out in the spring 
till that of their leaving in the fall and early winter, I feel safe 
in saying, since they, too, are constantly changing from land to 
water and from water to land, that they feed at irregular but 
not long intervals during the time they are here under observa- 
tion. I do not think tbe young males fast longer than a week 
or ten davs at a tiuu', as a class. 

ALASKA. 149 

The leave evideiues of tlu'ir being on these great repro- 
<lnetive liehls, ehielly on the rookeries^ such as hundreds of 
the dead eareasses of those of them that have been inlirm, sick, 
killed, or which have crawled oti' to die from death-wounds re- 
ceived in some struggle for a harem ; and over these decaying, 
putrid bodies, the living, old and young, clamber and patter, 
and by this constant stirring up of putrescent matter give rise 
to an exceedingly disagreeable and far-reaching *'fank," which 
has been, by all the writers who have spoken on the subject, re- 
ferred to as the smell which these animals have in rutting. If 
these creatures have any such odor peculiar to them when in 
this condition, I will frankly confess that I am unal)le to dis- 
tinguish it from the I'umes which are constantly being stirred 
up and rising out from these decaying carcasses of old seals 
and the many pups which have been killed accidentally by the 
old bulls while lighting with and charging back and forth 
against one another. 

They, however, have a peculiar smell when they are driven 
and get heated ; their steaming breath-exhalations possess a 
disagreeable, faint, sickly tone, but it can by no means be con- 
founded with what is universally understood to be the ruttiug- 
odor among animals. The finger rubbed on a little fur-seal 
blubber will smell very much like that which is appreciated in 
their breath coming from them when driven, only stronger. 
Both the young and old fur-seals have this same breath-smell 
at all seasons. 

By the end of October and the 10th of November the great 
mass of the '^holluschukie" have taken their departure; the 
few that remain from now until as late as the snow and ice will 
permit them to do, in and after December, are all down by the 
waters edge, and hauled up almost entirely on the rocky 
beaches oidy, deserting the sand. The first snow falling makes 
them uneasy, as also does rain-fall. I have seen a large haul- 
ing ground entirely deserted after a rainy day and night by its 
hundreds of thousands of occupants. The falling drops spat- 
ter and beat the sand into their eyes, fur, &c., I presume, and 
in this way make it uncomfortable for them. 

The weather in which the fur-seal delights is cool, moist, 
foggy, and thick enough to keep the sun always obscured so as 
to cast no shadows. Such weather, continued for a few weeks 
in June and July, brings them up from the sea by millions ; 
but, as I have before said, a little sunlight and the temperature 
as high as 50° to ^o^, will send them back from the hauling- 



grounds almost as quickly as they came. These suuuy, warm 
days are, however, on Saiut Paul's Island, very rare indeed, 
and so the seals can have but little ground of complaint, if we 
may presume that they have any at all. 

I saw but three albino pups among the hundreds of thousands 
on Saint Paul's and none on Saint George. They did not differ 
in any respect from the other (normal) pups in size and shape. 
Their hair, in the first coat, was, all over, a dull ocher; the flip- 
pers and muzzle were a flesh-tone, and the iris of the eye sky- 
blue. The second coat gives them a dirty yellowish-white 
color, but it makes them exceedingly conspicuous when in among 
the black pups, gray yearlings, and '' hoiluschukie." 

I have also never seen any malformations or "monsters'' 
among the pups and other classes of the fur-seal ; nor have the 
natives recorded anything of the kiud, so far as I could ascer- 
tain from them. 

Another curious fact may be recorded, that, with the excep- 
tion of those animals which have received wounds in combat, 
no sick or dying seals are seen upon the islands. Out of the 
great numbers, thousands upon thousands of seals that must 
die every year from old age alone, not one have I ever seen 
here. They evidently give up their lives at sea. 

Table slwiving the iveight, she, and growth of Ihe fur-seal, (CallorJdnus ursunts,) 
from the imp to the adult, male and female. 

[The wei^'bts and measurements were taken by Mr. Sanmel Falconer and tbe writer on tlio 
^ killmir-sroundsat Saint George's Island, in 1873.] 






weight of 


of skin. 






One week 

12 to 14 

10 to m 

6 to 7^ 


A male and female, being 
the only one of this class 

Sis montbs . . 





A mean of ten examples, 

males and females alike in 






A mean of six examples, 

males and females alike in 


Two years 





A mean of thirty examples, 
all males, Julv 24, 1873. 

Three years 





A mean of thirty-two exam- 

ples, all malts, July 24, 
A mean of ten examples, all 
males, July 24. 1873. 

Four years 





Five years 





A mean of live examples, all 
males, July 24, 1873. 

Six years 


1 " 



A mean of three examples, 
all malts, July 24, 1873. 

Eight to twenty 

75 to 80 

70 to 75 


45 to 50 

An estimate onlv. calculat- 
ing on thiir weight wlu-n 


fat, and early in the sea- 



ALASKA. 151 

The females, ndiilts, will correspond witli tlie three-year-old 
males in the above table, the youii<^er cows wcMghin^- IVeqiieiitly 
only 75 pounds, and many of the older ones goin^ as lii;^h as 
120, but an average of SO to So i)onnds is the rule. 

The tive and six year old mah's, when they lirst make their 
appearance in May and tTune, are very much heavier than at 
the time I weighed them in »July ; they an^ then, perhaps, when 
fat and fresh, luUy one-third heavier than the exhilut on the 
table, but the cows and other classes do not sustain [jrotracted 
fasts, and do not vary much through the season. 

152 ALASKA. 


This animal, altliongli much below the fur-seal with reference- 
to intelligence and physical organization, ranks next in natural 
order, and can, as well as its more sagacious and valuahle rela- 
tive, be seen to better advantage on these islands than else- 
where, perhaps, in the world. 

By looking at the plate, a glance will show at once the 
marked difference between this animal and the CaUorhinns. It 
has a really leonine appearance and bearing, greatly enhanced 
by the rich, golden-rufous of its coat, ferocity of expression, 
and bull-dog-like muzzle and cast of eye, not found and full, 
but showing the white, or sclerotic coat, with a light, bright- 
brown iris. 

Although provided with flippers to all external view as the 
fur-seal, he cannot, however, make use of them in the same 
free manner. While the fur-seal can be driven live or six miles 
in twenty-four hours, the sea-lion can barely go two, the con- 
ditions of weather and roadway being the same. The sea-lions 
balance and swing their long, heavy necks to and fro, with every 
hitch up behind of their posteriors, which they seldom raise from 
the ground, drawing them up after the fore feet with a slide 
over the grass or sand, rocks, &c., as the case may be, and 
pausing frequently to take a sullen and ferocious survey of the 
field and the drivers. 

The sea-lion bull of Bering Sea, when full-grown and in 
good condition, will measure oft' in length 11 to 12.5 feet from 
nose to tip of tail, (v,hich is seldom over 3 or 1 inches long,) 
and girth 10. Unfortunately, I was not able to weigh one of 
these big bulls, and can, therefore, only estimate this weight 
at a thousand pounds, while, perhaps, some of the largest and 
finest old fellows will touch twelve to thirteen hundred ; but I 
doubt it. 

The sea-lion is polygamous, but does not maintain any such 
regular system and method in preparing for and attention to 
its harem like that so finely illustrated on the breeding-grounds 
of the fur-seal. It is not numerous, comparatively speakin«', 
and does not *'haul" more than a few rods back from the sea. 
It cannot be visited and inspected by man, being so shy and 

ALASKA. 153 

"Nvaiy that on llie sli<^litest appioacli a sian)p<Mlc into the water 
is tlie certain result. The males ecjine out and locate on the 
narrow belts of rook ery-;L; round, preferred and selected by 
them ; the cows make their appearance three or four weeks 
after them, (1st to Cth June,) and are not subjected to that in- 
tense jealous sui)ervision so characteristic of the fur-seal harem. 
The bulls fi^j^ht savagely amon^;' themselves, and turn otf Irom 
the breeding-ground all the younger and weak males. 

The cow sea-lion is not quite half the size of the male, and 
^vill measure from 8 to I'eet in length, with a weight of four 
and live hundred pounds. She has the same general cast of 
countenance and build of the bull, but as she does not sustain 
any fasting period of over a week or ten days, she never comes 
out so grossly fat as the male or "see-catch.'' 

The sea-lion rookery will be found to consist of about ten to 
fifteen cows to the bull. The cow seems at all times to have 
the utmost freedom in moving from i)lace to place, and to start 
with its young, picked up sometimes by the nape, into the 
uater, and play together for spells in the surf-wash, a move- 
ment on the ymvt of the mother never made by the fur-seal, 
and showing, in this respect, much more attention to its oft- 

They are divided up into classes, which sustain, in a general 
manner, but very imperfectly, nearly the same relation one to 
the other as do those of the fur-seal, of which I have already 
spoken at length and in detail ; but they cannot be approached, 
insi)ected, and managed like the other, by reason of their wild 
and timid nature. They visit the islands in numbers compara^ 
tively small, (I can only estimate,) not over twenty or twenty- 
live thousand onSaintl^iurs and contiguous islets, and not more 
than seven or eight thousand at Saint George. On Saint Paul's 
Island they occupy a small x:>ortion of the breeding-ground at 
Northeast Point, in common with the CaUorhhiua, always close 
to the water, and taking to it at the slightest disturbance or 

The sea-lion rookery on Saint George's Island is the best 
place ui)on the Seal Islands for close observation of these ani- 
mals, and the following note was made upon the occasion of 
one of my visits, (June 1."), 1873:) 

•'At the base of cliffs, over 400 feet in height, on the east 
shore of the island, on a beach 50 or GO feet in width at low 
water, and not over 30 or 40 at flood-tide, lies the only sea-lion 

154 ALASKA. 

rookery on Saint George's Island — some three or four thousand 
cows and bulls. The entire circuit of this rookery- belt was 
passed over by us, the big, timorous bulls rushing off into the 
water as quickly as the cows, all leaving their young. Many 
of the females, perhaps half of them, had only just given birth 
to their young. These pups will weigh at least twenty to twen- 
ty-five pounds on an aAcrage when born, are of a dark, choca- 
late-brown, with the eye as large as the adult, only being a suf- 
fused, watery, gray-blue, where the sclerotic coat is well and 
sharply defined in its maturity. They are about 2 feet in lengthy 
some longer and some smaller. As all the pups seen to-day 
were very young, some at this instant only born, they were dull 
and apathetic, not seeming to notice ns much. There are, I 
should say, about one-sixth of the sea-lions in number on this 
island, when compared with Saint Paul's. As these animals 
lie here under the clift's, they cannot be approached and driven ; 
but should they haul a few hundred rods up to the south, then 
they can be easily captured. They have hauled in this manner 
always until disturbed in 1SG8, and will undoubtedly do so 
again if not molested. 

" These sea-lions, when they took to the water, swam out to 
a distance of fifty yards or so, and huddled all up together in 
two or three i)acks or squads of about five hundred each, hold- 
ing their heads and necks up high out of water, all roaring in 
concert and incessantly, making such a deafening noise that 
we could scarcely hear ourselves in conversation at a distance 
from them of over a hundred yards. This roaring of sea-lions, 
thus disturbed, can only be compared to the hoarse sound of a 
tempest as it howls through the rigging of a ship, or the play- 
ing of a living gale upon the bare branches, limbs, and trunks 
of a forest-grove."' They commenced to return as soon as .we 
left the ground. 

The voice of the sea-lion is a deep, grand roar, and does not 
have the flexibility of the CaUorhhius, being confined to a low, 
muttering growl or this bass roar. The pups are very playful, 
but are almost always silent. When they do utter sound, it is 
a sharp, short, querulous growling. 


The natives have a very high appreciation of the sea-lion, or 
see-vitchiey as they call it, and base this regard upon the supe- 
rior quality of the flesh, fat, and hide, (for making covers for 

ALASKA. 155 

their skin boats, hidarllcs and hidarrahs,) sinews, intestines 

As I have before said, the sea-lion seldom lianls baek lar 
from the water, generally very close to the surf-margin, and in 
this position it becomes quite a ditlicult task for the natives to 
approach ajid get in between it and the sea unobserved, for, 
unless this silent approach is made, the beast will at onee take 
the alarm and bolt into the water. 

By reference to my maj) of Saint Paul's, a small i)oint, near 
the head of the northeast neck of the island, will be seen, 
upon which quite a large number of sea-lions are always to be 
found, as it is never disturbed except on the occasion of this an- 
nual driving. The natives step down on to the beach, in the little 
bight just above it, and begin to crawl on all fonrs Hat on the 
sand down to the end of the neck and in between the dozing sea- 
lion herd and the water, always selecting a semi-bright moonlight 
night. Jf the wind is favorable, and none of the men meet with 
an accident, the natives will almost always succeed in reach- 
ing the point nnobserved, when, at a given signal, they all jump 
up on their feet at once, yell, brandish their arms, and give a 
sudden start, or alarm, to the herd above them, for, just as the 
sea-lions move, upon the first impulse of surprise, so they keep 
on. For instance, if the animals on starting up are sleeping 
with their heads pointed in the direction of the water, they 
keep straight on toward it; but if they jump up looking over 
the land, they follow that course just as desperately, and noth- 
ing turns them, at first, either one way or the other. Those 
that go for the water are, of course, lost, but the natives follow 
the land-leadets and keep urging them on, and soon have them 
in their control, driving them back into a small pen, which they 
extemporize by means of little stakes, with liags, set around a 
circuit of a few hundred square feet, and where they keep them 
until three or four hundred, at least, are captured, before they 
commence their drive of ten miles overland down south to the 

The natives, latterly, in getting this annual herd of sea-lions, 
have postponed it until late in the fall, and when the animahs 
are scant in number and the old bulls poor. This they were 
obliged to do, on account of the pressure of their sealing-busi- 
ness in the spring, and the warmth of the season in August and 
September, which makes the driving very tedious. In this way 
I have not been permitted to behold the best-conditioned 
drives, i. e., those in which a majority of tbe herd is made up 

156^ ALASKA. 

of fiue, enormously fat, and heavy bulls, some four or five buu- 
dred in number. 

The natives are compelled to go to tbe nortlieast point of the 
island for these animals, inasmuch as it is the only place ^yith 
natural advantages where they can be ai)proached for the pur- 
pose of capturing' alive. Here they congregate in greatest 
number, although they can be found, two or three thousand of 
them, on the southwest point, and as many more on " See- 
vitchie Cammin" and Otter Island. 

Capturing the sea-lion drive is really the only serious busi- 
ness these people ou the islands have, and when they set out for 
the task the picked men only leave the village. At Northeast 
Point they have a barrabkie, in which they sleep and eat while 
gathering the drove, the time of getting which depends upon 
the weather, wind, <S:c. As the squads are captured, night after 
night, they are driven up close by the barrabkie, where the 
natives mount constant guard over them, until several hundred 
animals shall have been secured, and all is ready for the drive 
down overland to the village. 

The drove is started and conducted in the same general man- 
ner as that which I have detailed in speaking of the fur-seal, 
only the sea-lion soon becomes very sullen and unwilling to 
move, requiring spells of frequent rest. It cannot pick itself 
up from the ground and shamble off on a loping gallop for a few 
hundred yards, like the CallorJdmis^ atid is not near so free and 
agile in its movements on land, or in tte water for that matter, 
for I have never seen the Uiimctopias leap from the water like 
a dolphin, or indulge in the thousand and one submarine acro- 
batic displays made constantly by the fur-seal. 

This ground, over which the sea-lions are driven, is mostly a 
rolling level, thickly grassed and mossed over, with here and 
there a fresh-water pond into which the animals plunge with 
great apparent satisfaction, seeming to cool themselves, and 
out of which the natives have no trouble in driving them. The 
distance between the sea-lion pen at Northeast Point and the 
village is about ten miles, as the sea-lions are driven, and occu- 
pies over five or six days under the most favorable circum- 
vStances, such as wet, cold weather; and when a little warmer, 
or as in July or xVugust, a few seasons ago, they wore some 
three weeks coming down with a drove, and even then left a 
hundred or so along on the road. 

After the drove lias been brought into the village on the kill- 

ALASKA. 157 

iiig-<;roiin(ls, the natives shoot down tlio bulls and then sur- 
round and huchUe up tlie eows, spearing- tliciu Just behind the 
t'ore-Jhpi)ers. The idlHn^- of the sea-lions is quite an exciting 
spectacle, a strange and unparalleled exhibition of its kind ; 
and I cannot do better than to refer directly and silently to my 
illustrations of it. The bodies are at once strip[»ed (jf their 
hides and much of the llesh, sinews, intestines, (with wliich the 
native water-proof coats, Scc.^ are made,) in conjunction ^vith 
the throat-linings, {(rso2)ha<jus,)iuH\ the skin of the llipi)ers, which 
is exceedingly tough and elastic, and used for soles to their 
boots or '' tarbosars.]- 

As the sea-lion is v>ithout fur, the skin has little or no com- 
mercial value; the hair is short, and longest- over the nape of 
the neck', straight, and somewhat coarse, varying in color greatly 
as the seasons come and go. For instance, when the Eumetopias 
makes his Urst appearance iu the spring, and dries out upon 
the land, he has n light-brownish, rufous tint, darker shades 
back and under the fore flippers and on the abdomen ; by the 
expiration of a month or six week, 15th June, he will be a bright 
golden-rufous or ocher, and this is just before shedding, which 
sets in by the middle of August, or a little earlier. After the 
new coat has fairly grown, and just before he leaves the island 
for the se.ison, in November, it will be a light sepia, or vaudyke- 
brow^n, with deeper shades, almost dark upon the belly; the cows, 
after shedding, do not color up so dark as the bulls, but when 
they come back to the land next year they are identically the 
same iu color, so that the eye iu glancing over a sea-lion 
rookery iu June and July cannot discern any noted dissimilar- 
ity of coloring between the bulls and the cows; and also the 
young males and yearlings appear iu the same golden-brown 
and ocher, with here and there an animal spotted somewhat 
like a leopard, the yellow, rufous ground predominating, with 
patches of dark-brown irregularly interspersed. I have never 
seen any of the old bulls or cows thus mottled, and think very 
likely it is due to some irregularity in the younger animals 
during the season of shedding, for I have not noticed it early 
in the season, and failed to observe it at the close. Many of 
the old bulls have a grizzled or slightly brindled look during 
the shedding-period, or, that is, from the lOtli August up to the 
10th or 20th of November; the pups, when born, are of a rich, 
dark chestnut- brown ; this coat they shed in October, and 
take one much lighter, but still darker than their parents', 
but not a great deal. 

158 ALASKA. 

Altbougb, as I liave already iiulicatccl, the sea-lion, iu its 
liabit and disposition, approximates the far-seal, yet iu no 
respect does it maintain and enforce the system and rejiu- 
larity found on the breeding-grounds of the CoUorhinus. The 
time of arrival at, stay on, and departure from the island is 
about tbe samej but if the winter is an open, mild one, the sea- 
lion will be seen frequently all tbrougli it, and tbe natives 
occasionally sboot tbem around tbe island long after tbe fur- 
seals bave entirely disap]ieared for tbe year. It also does not 
confine its landing to tbese Trybilov Islands alone, as tbe fur- 
seal unquestionably does, witb reference to our continent ; for 
it bas been and is often sbot upon tbe Aleutian Islands and 
many rocky islets of tbe nortbwest coast. 

Tbe sea-lion in no respect wbatever manifests tbe intelligence 
and sagacity exbibited by tbe fur-seal, and must be rated far 
below, altbougb next, in natarfJ order. I bave no besitation 
in putting tbis Eumetopias of tbe Prybilov Islands, apart from 
tbe sea-lion common at San Francisco and Santa Barbara, as a 
distinct animal ; and I call attention to tbe excellent descrip- 
tion of tbe California sea-lion, made public iu tbe April num- 
ber for 1872 of tbe Overland Montbly, by Capt. C. M. Scammon, 
iu wbicb tbe distinguisbing cbaracters, externally , of tbis animal 
are well defined, and by wbicb tbe difference between tbe 
Eumetopias of Bering Sea and tbat of tbe coast of California 
can at once be seen ) and also I notice one more point in wbicb 
tbe dissimilarity is marked— tbe nortbern sea-lion never barks 
or bowls like tbe animal at tbe Farralones or Santa Barbara. 
Young and old, botb sexes, from one year and upward, bave 
onlij a deep hass groicJ, ^ud irroJonged, steady roar ; wbile at San 
Francisco sea-lions break out incessantly witb a '' bonking" 
bark or bowl, and never roar. 

I am not to be understood as saying tbat all tbe sea-lions met 
witb on tbe Californian coast are different from E. stellerl of 
Bering Sea. I am well satisfied tbat stragglers from tbe uortb 
are down on tbe Farralones, but tbey are not migrating back 
and fortb every season ; and I am furtbermore certain tbat not 
a single animal of tbe species most common at San Francisco 
was present among tbose breeding on tbe Prybilov Islands in 

According to tbe natives of Saint George, some fifty or sixty 
years ago tbe Eumetopias beld almost exclusive possession of 
tbe island, being tbere in great numbers, some two or tbree 

ALASKA. 159 

luiiidied thousand ; and that, as the fur-seals were barely* per- 
mitted to hind by these animals, and in no great number, the 
Kussians directed them (the natives) to hunt and worrj' the 
sea-lions ofi' from the island, and the result was that as the sea- 
lions left, the fur-seals came, so that to-day they occupy nearly 
the same ground covered by the Eumctoplaa alone sixty years 
ago. This statement is, or seems to be, corroborated by Clioris, 
in his description of the lies S.-George's et S.-PauFs, visited 
by him lifty years ago ;* but the account given by Bishop 
Yeniaminov,t and placed in the Appendix, ditfers entirely from 
the above, for by it almost as many fur-seals were taken on 
Saint George, during the first years of occupation, as on Saint 
Paul, and never have been less than one-sixth of the number 
ou the larger island. For this the natives claim to have, on 
the one band, proof as to the truth of their statement, and 
Father Yeniaminov, on the other, publishes upon the credit of 
reliable lists and manuscripts in his possession at the time of 
writing. 1 am strongly inclined to believe that the island of 
Saint George never was resorted to in any great numbers by 
the fur-seal, and that the sea-lion was the dominant animal 
there until disturbed and driven from its breeding-grounds by 
the people, who sought to encourage the coming of its more 
valuable relative by so doing, and making room in this way 
for it. 

The sea-lion has but little value save to the natives, and is 
more prized on account of its flesh and skin, by the people liv- 
ing upon the islands and similar positions, than it would be 
elsewhere. The matter of its preservation and perpetuation 
should be left entirely to them, and it will be well looked after. 
It is singular that the fat of the sea-lion should be so different 
in characters of taste and smell from that of the fur-seal, be- 
ing free from any taint of disagreeable flavor or odor, while 
the blubber of the latter, although so closely related, is most 
repugnant. The flesh of the sea-lion cub is tender, juicy, light- 
colored, and slightly' like veal; in my oi)inion, quite good. As 
the animal grows older, the meat is dry, tough, and without 

* Voyage Pittorcsque autour du Monde. 

tZapeeskic ob O.strovah Oonablashkeaskabo Otdayla,. Sr. Petersburg. 1840. 

160 ALASKA. 


I ^Yrite " the walrus of Bering Sca,'^ because this animal is 
quite distiuct from the walrus of the North Atlantic and 
Greenland, differing from it specifically iu a very striking man- 
ner, by its greater size and semi-hairless skin. 

These clumsy beasts are, at the present time, only to be seeu 
on Walrus Island, being so shy and timid that they have de- 
serted the other islands as they were populated by man. In 
early days, or when the Eussians first took possession, a great 
many walruses were found at Xortheast Point and along the 
south shore of Saiut PauPs Island, but with the landing of the 
traders and sea-hunters the walrus abruptly took its departure, 
and ^Yalrus Island alone is now frequented by it, being isolated 
and seldom visited during the year by the natives. 

It is of small commercial importance; the ivory is of poor 
quality, mostly porous, pithy, and yellow, while the oil is of a 
low grade, and the hide is quite valueless. But it is the main 
support of the Esquimaux far to the north, where it breeds 
upon the ice, the females never coming down to the Prybiiov 
Gi^ou]) ;— only males are to be seen on AYalrus Island. 

On this little island I have enjoyed a fine opportunity of 
studying and painting these uncouth animals from life, being 
able to easily approach to within a slight distance from the 
flanks of a herd of over five hundred walrus-bulls, which lay 
closely packed upon a low series of basaltic tables, elevated but 
little from the surf-wash. I sat upon a small rocky ledge only 
a few feet above and from four or five heavy bulls, being, how- 
ever, on the leeward side. 

I was surprised to observe the raw, naked appearance of the 
hide, a skin covered with a multitude of pustular-looking warts 
and pimples, without hair or fur, deeply wrinkled with dark 
red venous lines, showing out in bold contrast through the 
thick, yellowish-brown cuticle, which seemed to be scaling oil' 
in places, as if with leprosy. They struck my eye at first in a 
most unpleasant manner, for they looked like bloated, mortify- 
ing, shapeless masses of llesh ; the clusters of swollen, warty 
pimples, of a yellow parboiled flesh-color, over the shoulders 
and around the neck suggested unwholesomeness forcibly. 

This walrus is sluggish and clumsy in the water, and is almost 


. helpless oh the rocks out of it, and can no more move on land, 
like even the lowest of the seals, i'Aom, than can the hii)popot- 
amus run witli the antelope; the immense bulk and weight 
compared ^vith the size and stren;:;th of its limi)s renders it 
quite impotent for terrestrial movement. Like the seal, it 
swims entirely under water when iravelino-, not rising, how- 
ever, quite so frequently to breathe; then it "blows"' not unlike 
a whale. On a cool, quiet morning in .May, I watched a herd 
otf the east coast of the island, tracing its progress by the tiny 
jets of vapor thrown off as tiie animals rose to respire. 

The adult male is about 12 feet in length from nostrils to tip 
of tail and has 10 or 12 feet of girth, and one bull, shot by the 
natives on Walrus Island, July 5, 1872, was nearly 13 feet long, 
with the enormous girth of 14 feet. The immense mass of 
blubber on the shoulders and around the neck makes the head 
and posteriors look small in proportion and attenuated. 

The strange flattened appearance of the head will be better 
understood by reference to the plate, where the nostrils, eyes, 
and ear-spots seem to be nearly placed on top of the head, the 
nasal apertures especially so, opening directly over the muzzle, 
oval, and about an inch in their greatest diameter. 

The tusks, or canines, are set firmly under the nostril-aper- 
tures, in a deep, massive, bony pocket, giving a broad, square- 
cut front to the muzzle. They grow down, varying in size 
and weight from 8 or 10 inches in length to over 2 feet, and 
from five pounds to fifteen, usually bowed out somewhat in the 
middle, the ends approaching quite closely. The larger tushes 
have a diameter at the heel of a little more than 2.^ inches, 
tapering down to less than half an inch at the tip. 

The upper lips are thick and gristly, full of short, stubbed, 
gray-white bristles, from one-half to three inches long. There 
are a few bristles set, also, on the chin of the lower jaw. 

The eyes are small, but prominent, placed nearly on top of 
the head, protruding from their sockets like those of the lob- 
ster. They are rolled about iu every direction when the ani- 
mal is startled. The iris and pupil is less than one-fourth of 
the exposed surface; the sclerotic coat bulges out from the 
lids, and is of a dirty, mottled coffee-yellow and brown, with 
an occasional admixture of white; the iris, light-brown, with 
dark-brown rays and spots. The animal has the power to roll 
the eyes when aroused, seldom moving the head more than to 
elevate it; but the range of sight out of water is not well 
11 AL 

102 ALASKA. 

developeil, at least, for, after throwing small chips of rock 
down upon the walrus-bulls near me, causiug only a stupid stare 
and low grunts of astonishment, I rose gently and silently to 
my feet, and stood boldly up before them, not more than ten 
feet away, but I was not noticed ; had I, however, given them 
a little noise, or had 1 been standing huudreds of yards away 
from them, to the windward, they would have taken the alarm 
instantly, and tumbled oft^ into the sea like so many hustled 
wool-sacks, for their sense of smell is keen. 

The ears of the walrus are on the same line at the top of the 
head with the nostrds and eyes, the latter being midway 
between. The lyaviUon is a slight fleshy wrinkle, or fold, not 
at all raised or developed, and from what I could see of the 
meatus externus^ it was very narrow and small, but they are 
quick and sensitive in hearing. 

The head of the walrus male, full grown, is, on an average, 
18 inches long between the nostrils and the post-occipital 
region, and weighs from sixty to eighty pounds. I can only 
estimate the gross-weight of a mature, well-conditioned bull at 
two thousand pounds. The skin alone weighs from two hun- 
dred and tifty to four hundred pounds. It is two and three 
inches thick on the shoulders and around the neck, and 
nowhere less than half an inch deep. 

It feeds exclusively upon shell-fish (LamelUhrancluata, or 
clams, principally) and the bulbous roots of certain marine 
grasses and plants, which grow in great abundance in the 
many broad, shallow lagoons and bays of the mainland coast. 
I have taken from the paunch of a walrus over a bushel of 
crushed clams, shells and all, which the animal had but re- 
cently swallowed, since digestion had scarcely commenced. 
Many of the clams in the stomach were not even broken ; and 
it is in digging these shell-fish that the service rendered by the 
enormous tushes becomes evident. 

In landing and climbing over the low, rocky shelves at '' Mor- 
serovia," this animal is almost as clumsy and indolent as the 
sloth ; they crowd up from the water, one after the other, in 
the most ungainly manner, accompanying their movemojits 
with low grunts and bellowiugs; the first one up from the sea no 
sooner gets composed upon the rocks for sleep than the second 
one comes prodding and poking with its blunted tusks, demand- 
ing room also, and causing the first to change its position to 
another still farther off from the water j and the second is in 


turn treated in tlie snnie way by the third, and so on, until 
hundreds will be packed together on the shore as thickly as 
they can lie, frequently pillowin*' their heads or posteriors 
upon the bodies of one another, and not at all (piarrelsoine ; as 
they i)ass all the time when on land in sluggish basking or deep 
sleep, they seem to resoit to a very singular method of keeping 
guard, if I may so term it, for in this herd of three or four hun- 
dred bulls under my eye, though all were sleeping, yet the 
movement of one would disturb the other, which would raise its 
head in a stupid manner, grunt once or twice, and before lying 
down to sleep again, in a few moments, it would strike the 
slumbering form of its nearest companion with its tusks, caus- 
ing that animal to rouse up for a few minutes also, grunt and 
pass the blow on to the next in the same manner, and so on, 
through the whole herd; this disturbance among themselves 
always kept some one or two aroused, and consequently more 
alert than the rest. 

In moving on land they have no power in the hind limbs, 
which are dragged and twitched up behind ; progression is 
slowly and tediously made by a succession of short steps forward 
on the fore feet. How long they remain out from the water at 
any one time I am unable to say. Unlike the seals, they breathe 
heavily and snore. 

The natives told me that the walrus of Bering Sea is 
monogamous, and that the difference between the sexes in size, 
color, and shape is inconsiderable ; that the female brings forth 
her young, a single calf, in June, usually on the ice-floes in the 
Arctic Ocean, above Bering Straits; that the calf closely 
resembles the parent in general proportio«ns and color, but 
that the tusks which give it its most distinguishing expression 
arc not visible until the end of the second year of its life; that 
the walrus mother is strongly attached to her offspring, and 
nurses it later in the season in the sea ; that the walrus sleeps 
profoundly in the water, floating almost vertically, w ith barely 
more than the nostrils above water, and can be easily ap- 
proached, if care is taken, to within easy spearing-distance ; 
that the bulls do not flglit as savagely as the lur-seal or sea- 
lion, the blunted tushes of the combatants seldom penetrate 
the thick hide ; that they can remain under water nearly an 
hour, or about twice as long as the seals, and that they sink 
like so many stones immediately after being shot. 

These animals are seldom molested on Walrus Island, the 

164 ALASKA. 

natives not making any use of their flesb, fat, or bides ; aud 
i;vhen they are shot, it is usually but a wanton undertaking by 
the people while visiting the island in June and July. For the 
purpose of getting eggs, the natives come from the village ou 
Saint Paul's twice or thrice every year, and only at this season. 

As the females never come down to the Prybilov Islands, I 
have not had an opportunity of observing them, and have in 
this way not been able to see this animal as well as I could 
wish. The reason why this baud of males, many of them old 
ones, should be here by themselves all through the year is not 
plain to me ; the natives assure me that the females, or their 
young, never have been seen around the shores of these islands. 
Over iu Bristol Bay great numbers of walrus congregate on 
the sandy bars and flats, where they are hunted to a consider- 
able extent for their ivory.* 

From descriptions of undoubted authority, the walrus of the 
North x\tlantic is a much smaller animal than his relative in 
the Pacific, and not nearly so timid. It is also covered with a 
coat of short brownish-gray and black hair, while the male adult 
of Bering Sea is almost entirely naked. The skins and skele- 
tons of the two animals are now in the Smithsonian collection. 

* 'No walrus are now found SQutb of the Aleutian Islands, but not more 
than tliirty or tlilrty-five years ago small numbers of tbese animals were 
killed now and tbeu on islands between Kodiak and Oonemak Pass. Tbe 
greatest number of tbem soutb of tbe arctic circle will now be found in 
Bristol Bay and on tbe north sbore of tbe peninsula. 

Tbe finest baidars that I bave seen in tbis country were tbe skin-boats 
of tbe Saint Lawrence natives, wbicb were made out of dressed walrus- 
bides sewed witb sinews. Tbe flesb is exceedingly rank in taste and smell 
wben fresb,and, iu fact, quite as offensive to tbe civilized palate tben as 
wben putrid. Tbe natives clean tbe small intestine and dry it, wbicb gives 
tbem a piece of ligbt, transparent gut-parcbment, over a bundred ftot iu 
lengtb and five to six incbes broad, tbat serves admirably as material for 
water-proof coats and trousers ; tbe flipper-skin makes tbe tougbest soles 
for tbeir bair-seal boots, wbile tbe bido itself answers for all styles of cord- 



The value of the interests in the Territory elassed under this 
Lead has been greatly overrated by writers, who have ereated an 
impression that there are extensive banks upon whieh cod may 
be taken, of the same quality and with the same sueeess that, 
attends the labors of fishermen on the Newfoundland Banks. 
This is untrue 5 but salmon, herring, and halibut*are abundant, 
the salmon being the most valuable fishing interest, and only 
one of real commercial importance on the whole northwest 

There are not on this coast the variety and excellence of fish 
that is common to the Atlantic seaboard, and the shad and 
scup runs of the East are without a parallel in these waters. 
There are but few species here that have an economic value in 
regard to the subsistence of the natives, from Bering Straits 
to Dixon's Sound, viz: the salmon, cod-fish, sculpius or rock- 
cod, {Sehastes^) and halibut. Of the first, there is, both in 
quality and quantity, enough to warrant commercial activity 
und importance; of the second, the quantity and quality 
are insufticient, in a business point of view, provided even the 
demand was always equal to the supply. Halibut might be 
cured in a small way; but the rock-cod and sculpius are worth- 
less, except to the Indians, when unable to procure either 
salmon or cod ; the famous " oolichan-' is confined to the Xasse 

These fish are distributed throughout the Territory as fol- 
lows ; and first in the order of importance is — 

1. Salmon. — Almost every stream, big or little, that empties 
into the sea or its bays, throughout the whole Territory, islands, 
and mainland, is visited at regular periods by one or more spe- 
cies of this genus, in greater or less numbers, with the widest 
range of variation in quality ; the runs of this fish in 3Iay and 
June up the large rivers in this Territory being enormous. 

During the last ten or twelve years»steps have been taken by 
competent men on the Frazer lliver and the Columbia to util- 
ize and turn to profit these great runs of the finest fish; but 
the industry of salting them for exportation failed, and a new 

166 ALASKA. 

business — that of canning the fish— is being engaged in exten- 
sively on the Columbia Eiver ; and, it would seem, with a fair 
profit, capital might be advantageously employed in the prose- 
cution of salmon-canning at the months of all the principal 
streams in this country, as there is enough of the raw material 
to employ a large number of men several months in the year in 
its preservation and profitable disposition ; and I see no reason 
why this industry should not become one of great importance 
in the Territory. 

The demand for canned salmon will grow in proportion as it 
becomes known, for it is a superior article of food, either plain 
as it comes in»the can, or pickled quickly after opening. 

2. Cod. — This fish is the most widely distributed of any belong- 
ing to the waters of Alaska or the ]^sorth Pacific and Bering Sea. 
It will be found on soundings, wherever a hook may be dropped 
in Bering Sea, south of the latitude of Saint Lawrence Island, 
all around the Aleutian Islands, the Alaskan Peninsular, Ko- 
diak, and becomes scarce and fails to the eastward as far as 
Kenai and Copper Eiver, and then from Sitka and Prince of 
Wales Island to Fort Simpson, where it is only caught for a few 
weeks in the year, when runniug in schools, passing usually up 
toward the north. 

The immense area frequented by this fish will be at once 
appreciated by glancing at the map and noting the soundings, 
which show that nearly the whole of Bering Sea bounded or 
staked out by our islands is a single great bank, aud that 
large areas south of the Aleutian Islands, the Peninsular, aud 
Kodiak, are shoaled off in a similar manner. ^Nevertheless, the 
catch and quality of Alaskan cod is much inferior to our east- 
ern fisheries. 

There is cod enough, however, of fair quality, to supply the 
immediate home-consumption of a large population, should 
there ever be such in the history of the Territory, but the fish- 
ing-grounds are not valuable enough to induce capitalists to 
engage in taking and curing fish for exportation. This matter 
has been honestly tested by experienced fishermen, who have 
been trained on the eastern banks, and is therefore beyond 
doubt. At present, however, in securing the small supply re- 
quired by local demand, the characteristic impatience of the 
people of this coast is strikingly shown; for, even could they 
sell their fish caught in the north at as good a rate as that of 
the imported stock, they, as a class, would be dissatisfied with 
the small profits. 


The coast-cod avenj^^e in this Territory, "from the knife," 
about three to live iiouiids, and the dee[) or outer water cod, of 
the same species, average about eight or ten, but they are not 
as plentiful as the smaller. The best baidcs in the Territory 
are those south of Uuga Island, about the Shumagins and 
south of Kodiak. The catch is best off Unga. 

3. UalibKt. — 1^'ound throughout the Territory on soundings 
south of the sixtieth parallel of north latitude. Halibut are 
quite abundant and of excellent quality, but the climate is such 
that the lishermen cannot properly dry or cure them for exporta- 
tion, even in small cargoes. They are, however, not abun- 
dant enough for exportation, and must therefore be regarded 
as only of local importance. 

The other hsh — rocl'-cod, sciilpiu, icliitc-fifih — peculiar to the 
rivers, &c., which are found along the coast and in the bays 
and estuaries, possess no special merit, and have no commer- 
cial importance, but they are valuable factors to the natives' 

It will be observed that the waters of the Territory of Alaska 
are well stocked with fish for home use ; in the salmon inter- 
ests, the natural wealth is great, and will doubtless be utilized 
sooner or later by canning, but that the experiment of salting 
cod and salting salmon has not been profitable for sale in the 
Australian, South American, and even in our own market. 
There are twelve to thirteen small cod-fishing vessels that 
supply the San Francisco trade, but it is a significant fact 
that out of this number nine or ten deserted the xVlaskan 
banks last season, and went on nearly two thousand miles 
farther into the Ochotsk for their catch, where the fish are 
superior in quality and more plentiful. 

It will not be untrue to assert, from what is now known in 
regard to the fishing-interests of Alaska, that there is nothing 
there that can be considered parallel or at all equal to the runs 
of cod, scup, shad, and mackerel of the Xew England coast, 
save the periodic visit of salmon, which come in truly magnifi- 
cent number and condition. 

In the small harbor of Woods's Hole, Mass., Professor Baird 
caught in his nets, during one summer, over scventi/ sjyecies of 
food-Jishes. That cannot be done in the Xorth Pacific, no matter 
when or where the naturalist or fisherman may choose to try. 
The variety and number of piscatorial life in this region is poor 
indeed when compared with that of the North Atlantic. 



By Dh. Elliott Coues, U. 8. A. 
(Bosed on Mr. II. W. ElUoV's manuscripts and coUcctions.*) 

Mr. Elliott's manuscripts and specimens Laving been sub- 
mitted to me for elaboration in the present connection, an 
account of the birds of the islands is herewith rendered. His 
collections furnish the data for most of the technical portions 
of the memoir^ while the biographical notices are, in substance, 
his own 5 these are placed between quotation-marks. The 
nomenclature and sequence of the species are adapted to the 
present paper from the latest systematic work upon American 
ornithology, the author's " Key to Xorth American Birds,'' in 
which may be found a diagnosis of each species and variety 
not herewith described. The numeral prefix of each species is 
that which it bears in the author's "Check-List of Xorth Amer- 
ican Birds." 

With the scientific names are given the English, and, in gen- 
eral, the Eussiau equivalents— the latter between quotation- 
marks. In most cases the synonyms and references of special 
pertinence are added. 


"While a few species of water-fowl come to these islands in 
innumerable numbers for the purpose of breeding, yet tbe list 
of birds to be met with here is a small one. It is, however, of 
exceeding interest to tbe naturalist, comprising many desiderata 
scarcely obtainable elsewhere. 

"Over fifteen miles of the bold, high, basaltic, bluft' shore- 
line of Saint George's Island is ftiirly covered with hundreds of 
thousands of nesting gulls (Rlssa) and arries, {Uria^) while 

*The scientilic readers of this report will, I am sure, approve of the refer- 
ence of rny MSS. to Dr. Coues for elaboration, as tbe revision of synouomy 
has become a serious matter iu regard to the uomeuclature of uatural scieuce, 
and, already, too many writers have added to existing confusion in this 
respect by attempting to do that which others thfin themselves ore much 
better qualified for. — H. W. E. 


down in the countless cliinks and IkjIcs over tlic entire surface 
of the north side of this ishmd millions of ' choochkies' {Simo- 
rhynchus microccros) breed, fillin;^' the air and darkening the 
light of di»y with their cries and tlutteriug forms. On Walrus 
Island the nests of the great white gull of the north {Larus 
glaucus) can be visited and inspected, as well also as those of 
tho sea-parrot or puffin, {Fratcrcida^) shags or cormorants, 
{GracuJuSj) and the red-legged kittiw^ake, [Larus hrevirostrin.) 
These are all accessible on every side, affording the observer 
an unequaled opportunity of noticing these birds through the 
breeding-season, from its beginning in May until the end in 

*' Not one of the water-birds found on and around the islands 
is exempted from a place in the native's larder; even the 
delectable shags, ^ oreelie,' are unhesitatingly eaten by the peo- 
ple, and indeed furnish, during the winter-season especially, 
an almost certain source. of supply for fresh meat. The large, 
gaily-colored eggs of the ' arrie' {Lomvia arra) are gathered in 
June and July, without stint, for use, and might be packed 
away in lime-water by the barrel, so as to keep through the 
year, if any provident or thoughtful action was taken in the 
matter. Walrus Island would alone supply the whole demand 
from year to year. On the occasion of my visit there, July 5, 
1872, six men loaded a bidarrah, capable of carrying four tons, 
exclusive of crew, down to the waters edge with eggs, in less 
than three working-hours. 

"During the winter-months the birds are almost wholly 
absent. They begin to make their first appearance, in any 
number, for the season, early in May, and by the middle or end 
of September the great body of the millions that have bred 
during this time go to sea, and are not again noted, save a few 
stragglers now and then, until they re-assemble next May, for 
the repetition of their reproductive processes. The stress of 
severe weather in the winter- months, driving snow-storms, and 
lloating ice-floes brought down from the north, which shut the 
islands in, still, cold, and quiet, are cause enough for the dis- 
appearance of the water-fowl. 

"The position of the islands is such as to lie somewhat ou> 
side of the migratory path pursued by the birds on the mainland, 
and, owing to this reason, they are only visited by a few strag- 
glers from that quarter, and also from the Asiatic side. One 

170 ALASKA. 

species, {SfyejysUas interpyes,) however, comes here every slim- 
mer, for three or four weeks' stay, in great number, and gets 
so fat in feeding upon the hirva} found on the killing-grounds 
that it often bursts open when it fidls, after being shot on the 
Aving. Our robin (T. mif/yatorlns) was seen by myself, near 
Saint Paul's Village, one cool morning in October, (the 15th,) 
and the natives told me that it had been noticed before in this 
way, never staying more than a few days or a week, and being 
brought there, undoubtedly, by some storm or gale of wind 
taking it up and off from its path over the mainland. In the 
same manner hawks, owls, and numerous strange water-fowl 
visit the islands, but never remain there long. 

" The Itussians tried the experiment of bringing up from Sitka 
and Ounalashka a number of ravens, with the view of stimu- 
lating them to live and breed upon these islands, where they 
would be almost invaluable as scavengers ; but the birds inva- 
riably, sooner or later, and within a short time, took flight for 
the mainland or the Aleutian Islands. At the time of present 
writing the Alaska Commercial Company have sent up to the 
village of Saint Paul's a number of domestic pigeons, and the 
experiment will be tried with them. 

'* The natives have always, and still do, keep a small number 
of chickens; and, where poultry is taken into the winter living- 
rooms of these people, they get return in eggs. But the main- 
tenance of a hennery, owing to the long season of cold, stormy 
weather, compelling the chickens to hunt shelter for weeks at 
a time, is impracticable, regarded with a view of profitable 
recompense for time and care. 

"Walrus Island is the most favorable spot, in this whole 
Alaskan country, to observe the nesting and breeding birds of 
Bering Sea. It is a low, lava rock, seven miles to the east- 
ward of Xortheast Point, with an area of less than five acres, 
rugged and bare of all vegetation, save a species of close-grow- 
ing curly grass. Here the Lomvia arra and many gulls, cor- 
morants, sea-parrots, and auks come to lay their eggs in count- 
less numbers. The face and brow of the low, cliif-like sea-front 
are occupied almost exclusively by the ' arries,' {Lomvia arra,) 
which lay a single Qgi; each, on the surface of the bare rock, 
and stand straddling over it while hatching, only leaviug at 
irregular and short intervals to feed. Hundreds of thousands 
of these birds alone are thus engaged about the 20th of June 

ALASKA. 171 

on this little ishiiid, stiiiuling stacked np to^etber like so iiianj- 
bottles, as tliiekly as they can be stowed, making all the time 
a deep, low, hoarse, grunting- noise. They quarrel among 
themselves incessantly, and in this way roll thousands of eggs 
otl into the sea, or into crevices and fissures, where they are 
lost and broken. 

"The 'arrie' lays but one o^g. If this is removed or broken, 
she will soon lay another; but, if undisturbed after depositing 
the first, she undertakes the hatching at once. The size, shape, 
and coloration of this Qg:g are exceedingly variable. A large 
proportion of the eggs become so dirt}', by rolling bere and 
there in the excrement while the birds tread and quarrel over 
them, as to be almost unrecognizable. The shell is very tough, 
and the natives, when gathering them, fill tubs, baskets, «S:c., 
on the cliffs, carry them down to the general heap collected 
near the boats' landing, and pour them out upon the rocks with 
a single Hip of the hand, just as a basket of apples would be 
emptied ; and, after this, they are again quite as carelessly 
handled when loaded into the 'bidarrah,' sustaining through it 
all very little injury. 

''The small grassy interior of the island, which is sharply 
margined by the surrounding breeding-belt of'arries'on the 
shore-line, is the only place, I believe, in this sea where the 
great white gull {Lams gJaucus) breeds. Among the little 
grassy tussocks here, it builds a nest of dry grass, sea-ferns, 
&c., very nicely laid up and rounded, and in which it lays usu- 
ally three eggs, sometimes only a couple ; in exceptional instances 
I have seen four. These big gulls could not breed on either of 
the other islands in this manner, for the foxes there would have 
the upper hand instantly,- and the bird is too large to settle 
on the narrow shelf-ledges of the cliffs, like the smaller gulls 
and other water-fowls. 

'* The red-legged kittiwake, [Larus hyevirosfris.) and its cousin, 
Larus trUJactylusj build in the most amicable manner together 
on the faces of the cliffs, associated with cormorants, sea-par- 
rots, and auks, all together, and, with the exception of the 
latter, the nests are easy of access. 

"As we land, the ' arries' Hy from their eggs off' and around 
for a short distance, and then settle down into the sea in platoons 
or files, swaying hither and thither with the movement of swell 
and tide, trailed out over the water like iireat whii)-lashes. 

172 ALASKA. 

Watcli a boat as it approaches one of these swimming pha- 
lanxes and alarms it ; out the birds sprawl, half swimming and 
half flying, making a noise like a shower of hail-stones falling 
upon a roof, as the scare spreads from bird to bird, until the 
whole vast flock is beating the water with a hundred thousand 
wings in almost vain endeavor to rise from the calm surface, 
for these birds in still weather have great difficulty in taking 
flight. They, however, succeed well and quickly when heavy 
sweHs or little wavelets lift them. A gull, on the contrary, rises 
gracefully and easily from the water, and, indeed, is the most 
attractive bird on the wing of all water-fowl." 

" I have time after time been struck by the wonderful temer- 
ity of the foxes, (on Saint George's Island especially,) while 
secretly watching them as they were climbing up and down 
the faces of almost inaccessible cliffs, seeking eggs. They go 
on a full run or a stealthy tread over the brows of clifls that 
fairly overhang the sea six and nine hundred feet below. They 
always bring the eggs up in their mouths, and carry them back 
from the brink of the precipice, where they leisurely suck them, 
usually biting the shell out at the large end. The ' arrie ' suffers 
the most from these enemies, which are the only natural foes 
that the bird-kind has to contend with on these solitary isl- 

1. Turcltas masTaforiMS, Li^s.—nohh). ^'Rap-o-loof." 

Casual, and rarely seen; never resident. (Spec, October, 

'< I was most agreeably surprised, one cool morning early in 
October, while walking up on the Village Hill, Saint Paul's 
Island, to see a robin, a red-breasted robin, silent and gloomy, 
hopping and fluttering before me. It had evidently been 
brought to the island by the gale which blew two days pre- 
viously, and was even now casting about for a good chance to 
leave. In order that I might observe the length of time this old 
friend of mine would stay with us, I did not shoot him, but 
strolled out to the locality every morning and evening until the 
end of the third day, when I missed him. The natives recognized 
it as a chance visitor, though seen almost every year in this 
manner. Two weeks later I observed a small flock of JEfjioidi^ 
(red polls.) which were passing over the island, alighting here 
and there to feed. They are regularly seen migrating to the 
southward everv fall." 

ALASKA. 173 

50rt. Aiioi'tliiiia fro;;l<»<lylcs v:ii. a I a see lis is, (Bd.) Coles. — 
AIuKhan U'htUr ll'nii. " Liuiiiiei-sljin." 
Trofjlodytcs aUiHcennis, Baiud. Tiau.s. CLic.-igo Acad., i, :U.j, pi. 130, 

i\\r. ;3, (18GI).) Saint George's Is. 
Anorthura aluscensis, Coues. Key N. A. Birds, 87, (187'2.) 
Auurthura troylodytcH var. alasccnsis, CouES. Ibid., 3.'>1. 
Troglodytes hyemalis var. aloscensis, Dall. Troc. Cala. Acad. 

Sci., (Feb. (r-, 187:5.) 

This iiiterostiii.i;' local loiin ()[' Anorthura differs from the ordi- 
nary North American bird in its superior size and darker brown 
colors, an»l in the much ;^reater length and caliber of the bilL 
lu 3'oang birds the difference is less strongly marked. The 
dimensions of an adult in ]\Ir. Elliott's collection are as fol- 
lows: bill, along- culmen, .38 ; wing, 1.90 5 tail, 1.30 j tarsus, .02; 
middle toe and claw, .04. The corresponding dimensions of an 
average specimen of var. InjemaUs are : .30, 1.80, 1.20, .02, .58. 

" This brave little bird was first brought into notice by Mr. 
Dall, who collected a single specimen while on the island in 
1808, and sent it to the Smithsonian Institution. In his brief 
note accompanying it he speaks of its being abundant there, 
^vhile I, in 1873, shot almost every one that I saw, and yet at the 
end of the season, August 4, I had but seven specimens. It 
was seldom seen, but then again in 1874 they were quite 

'' It is not a migratory bird, but remains permanently upon 
the island. Its nest is built in small, deep holes and crevices 
in the cliffs. I have not myself seen it, but the natives say that 
it lays from eight to ten eggs, in a nest made of soft, dry grass 
and feathers, roofed over, with an entrance at the side to the 
nest-chamber, thus being of elaborate construction. 

" The male is very gay during the period of mating and incu- 
bation, llying incessantly from plant to plant or rock to rock, 
singing a rather shrill and very loud song, and making, for a 
small bird, a great noise. 

^'I shot the young, fully fledged, on the 28th of July, differ- 
ing only from the parent in having a much shorter bill, and in 
a general darker and more diffuse coloration. 

''Although Saint Paul's Island is but twenty-seven miles to 
the northwest from Saint George's, not a single specimen of this 
little wren has been seen there. I made, during the whole sea- 
son of 1872, unavailing search for it. 

" The native name, ' limmer-shin,' signifies a • chew of tobacco,' 

174 ALASKA. 

and is given on account of the resemblance of this wee bird in 
size and color to a tobacco-quid." 

Mr. ^y. H. Dall found this species to be resident and abun- 
dant on tlie rocky cliffs of Amaknak Island, Ounalasbka, where, 
he says, " it is quite familiar and bold. It builds in the crevices 
of the rocks, but I was not able to find the nest. It has a 
cheerful and melodious note, and is, to some extent, gregarious, 
three or four being usually seen together. It was not seen in 
the Shumagins, though it may occur there." 

144«. L,eucosticte tephrocotis var. g^riseiniielia, (Brdt.) 

CoUES. — Gray-eared Finch. *' Pabtosbkie." 
Linaria griseinncha, Brandt. "Oru. Eoss., (1842.)" 
Leucosticte griseituicha, Bp. Consp. Av., i, 537, (1850.)— Bp. et 

SCHLEGEL. Mouog. Loxiens 5, pi. xli, (young,) (1850.)— Bd. B. 

N. Amer., 430, (1858.)— Dall et Banx. Trans. Cbicago Acad, i, 

282, (1869.)— Coop, B. Cal. i, 161, (1870.)— Dall, Pr. Cala. 

Acad., (Feb., 1873.) 
Leucosticte te2)hrocotis var. griscinucha, Coues. Key, 130, fig. 77, 

Leucosticte griseogenys, Gould. P. Z. S., 104, (184.3,) and Toy. 

Sulpbur, i, 42, pi. xxii, (1844.) 
Leucosticte Uttoralis, Bd. Trans. Cbicago Acad., i, 317, pi. xxviii, 

fig. 1, (1869.)— Coop. B. Cala. i, 163, (1869.)— Ball. Proc. 

Cala. Acad., (Feb., 1873.) 
Leucosticte tephrocotis var. Uttoralis, Coues. Key, 130, (1872.) 

(C/., ihicl, 352.) 

Numerous beautiful specimens of the adults of both sexes in 
high breeding attire, and others illustrating the earliest plu- 
mage of the young, are in the collection. There are no appre- 
ciable outward distinctions of sex. The bill at this season is 
black, the ash and black of the head are pure and well defined, 
the chocolate brown is rich, and the rosy tends to crimson. 
The very young birds are dark, sooty gray, overlaid with brown ; 
a lighter and more rusty shade of the same edges the wing- 
feathers, and the bill is in part light colored. 

Although this form is much larger than typical icphrocoih^ 
and otherwise different in the imtura of the head, we do not 
find ourselves enabled to separate it specifically, since numer- 
ous intermediate specimens attest its iutergradation with the 
Ibrmer. Xor do we find it necessary to distinguish the slight 
variety, UttoraUs., by name ; we refer it to var. (jrheinuclia^ con- 
sidering both forms as the single arctic representative of tephro- 
cotis proper. 

"This agreeable little bird, always cheerful and self-pos- 

ALASKA. 175 

ei'ssed, is are<4ulai' and i)(Minan(*iit settler on tlw islands, wliich 
it never leaves. In tlie dei)tli of dismal winter, as well as on a 
snniiner's day, the pabtosbkie greets you with the same pleasant 
ehirrup, wearing the same neat dress, as it' determined to make 
the best of everythin*;. It is particnlarly abnndant on Saint 
George's, where its habits may be studied to best advantage. 

"The pahtoshkie nests in a chink or crevice of the cliti's, 
building a warm, snug home for its little ones of dried grasses 
and moss, very neatly put together, and lined with a few 
feathers. The eggs vary in number from three to six, heing 
generally four. They are pure white, with a delicate rosy blush 
when fresh ; and measure .1)7 by .07 inch. The young breok the 
shell at the expiration of twenty or twenty-two days' incubaiion, 
the labor of which is not shared by the male, who, however, brings 
food to his mate, singing the while, as if highly elated by his 
prospects of paternity. The chicks, at first, are sparsely cov- 
ered with a sprinkling of dark-gray down, and in two or three 
weeks gain their feathers, fitting them for flight, although tliey 
do not acquire the bright rosy hues and rich brown of the 
l)arents the first year. Between the old birds there is no out- 
ward dissimilarity according to sex, the male and female being 
exacth' alike in size, shape, and coloration. 

" They feed upon various seeds and insects, as well as the 
larvje which swarm on the killing-grounds. They are fearless 
and confiding, fluttering in the most familiar manner around 
the village huts. In the summer of 1873, a i^air built their 
nest and reared a brood under the eaves of the old Greek church 
at Saint George's. 

" The nests, of which I collected fifteen or twenty, are very 
neatly made up of dry grass and moss, thick, and compactly 
interwoven, placed on the faces of the basaltic and breccia cliffs 
which rise from the shore-line of the islands. These disinte- 
grating tufa and breccia bluffs afford a thousand and one little 
pockets and crannies in which the pahtoshkie builds, secure 
from molestation by prowling foxes. It has no song, but utters 
a low, mellow chirp, alike either when flying or sitting. It is 
most abundant on Saint George's, where hundreds may be seen 
at any time during a short walk along tLe north shore. It con- 
sorts in pairs throughout the year, never going in flocks, and 
seldom flying or feeding alone." 

Mr. ^Y. II. Dall remarks upon the abundance of the bird on 
the Aleutians as well as on the Prybilov Islands. In August, 

176 ALASKA. 

lie says, it bas uo soug, " except a clear cbirp, sounding like 
'weet-a-w^et-a-wee-weet.^ It was on the wing a great part of 
the time, avoiding alighting on the ground, but darting rapidly 
iu a series of ascendiug and descending curves, now swinging 
on the broad top of an umbelliferous plant, now alighting on 
some ledge of the perpendicular cliff, jumping from point ta 
point, seemingly delighted in testing its own agility." He 
found it particularly numerous in Ounalashka, where it is resi- 
dent. A nest, which he discovered May 24, contained tive 
white eggs, fresh ; it was placed in a crevice of a rocky bank, 
about twelve feet above the beach, and was neatly built of 
grasses, lined with a few leathers. 

1.V2. PlectroplisiBies nivalis, (L.) Meyer.— *S?/o?y Bunting. " Sna- 

Among Mr. Elliott's many specimens in pure black and 
white attire are a few, in the earliest plumage of the young, 
probably never seen in the United States. The general color 
is gray, overlaid slightly with a light-brown cast, the inter- 
scapular feathers having a dusky center. The gray fades on 
the breast into dull whitish, which occupies the rest of the 
under parts. Most of the secondary quills are white, with a 
dusky touch on the outer webs ; the three inner ones, however, 
are black, with broad, chestnut-brown edging. Three lateral 
tail-feathers are mpstly w^hite. 

" The snow-bird is another permanent resident of these 
islands, but one which, unlike the Lcucostwfe, is rather shy and 
retiring, nesting high on the rocky, broken uidands, and only 
entering the village during unusually severe or protracted cold 

*' The snaguiskie builds an elegant and elaborate nest of 
soft, dry grass, and lines it warmly with a thick bed of feathers. 
It is placed on the ground, beneath some lava-slate, or at the 
foot of a bowlder. Five eggs are usually laid, about the 1st of 
June; they are an inch long by two-thirds broad, of a grayish 
or greenish white, spotted sometimes all over, sometimes at or 
around the larger end oidy, with various shades of rich, dark- 
brown, purplish-brown, and paler neutral tints. Sometimes 
the whole surface is quite closely clouded with diffuse reddish- 
brown markings. 

"The female assumes the entire labor of the three weeks' 
incubation required for the maturing of the embryos. During 

ALASKA. 177 

this ix'iiod the iii;ilo is assiduous iu l)iiii^iii<( food, and, at fic- 
(jueut intervals, sin<;s his simple but sweet son^% risin^^, as he 
be'^ins it, hi.nh u[) in the air, as the skylark does when caroling, 
and, with the end of the stave, dropping suddenly to the 
ground again. The young are early provided with a gray 
downy coating, which is speedily replaced by a i)luniage resem- 
bling that of the adult female, and, in less tlian four weeks 
from the day of hatching, the little snaguiskie is as l>ig as its 
parents, and weighs more. 

" The food of this species consists of the various seeds and 
insects peculiar to the rough, higher grounds it frequents. It 
never tlies about iu tiocks, and at this season cannot be called 
gregarious, like the Lapland longspur, wit*li which it is asso- 
ciated ou these islands." 

153. Fleet I'opliaiios lappoiiieiis, (L.) Selby.— Lflj>/a»d Loncjf<pnr. 
'* Karesch-navie suaguiskie." 

We give a description of the breeding-plumage of the female, 
probably not generally known : Upper parts of the body, 
wings, and tail almost precisely as iu the male. Cervical collar 
evident, but not sharply defined, nor so rich in color. Black of 
the crown variegated with pale tips of the feathers ; white of the 
supra-ocular and post-auricular lines tinged with buff; no con- 
tinuous pure black on the sides of the head, chin, or throat: 
sides of the head blackish, interrupted with grayish auriculars ; 
throat similarly varied, but chin left nearly pure white, the 
pattern of the black ^hich occurs in the male being thus clearly 
indicated, but interrupted and obscured ; sides of the breast and 
belly with disconnected, sparse, sharp, slender, dark-brown 
streaks, instead of the pure black, continuous, broad and 
heavy stripes of the male; other under parts as iu the male. Bill 
obscure yellowish, dusky at tip ; feet dark brown, but not black. 
Dimensions slightly inferior to those of the male. 

The eggs of the Lapland longspur are extremely variable in 
coloration — few more so. They range from a nearly uniform 
dark chocolate-brown, (much like those of a marsh-wren,) 
through a lighter chocolate in innumerable dots on a grayish- 
brown ground, to a peculiar brownish-white ground, variously 
clouded and smirched with chocolate, and having, besides, 
irregular sharp spots, scratches, and straggling lines of black- 
ish brown. The general aspect of these eggs is like that of an 
oriole's or blackbird's. They measure .80 to .90 in length by 
12 AL 


.55 to .GO in breadth. The labels of various specimens before 
us from Arctic ximerica record a nest of " hay," lined with deers' 
hair, or feathers. 

'<The longspar, a resident bird, is a delightful vocalist, sing- 
ing all through the mouth of June in the most charming man- 
ner, rising high in the air, and hovering on fluttering- wings 
over its setting mate. The song is only too short, lasting but 
a few moments, though continually repeated. The bird is much 
more shy and reserved than the common snaguiskie, rarely 
entering the village. It is most abundant on Saint Paul's, 
where, unlike the snowflake, it seeks the low, grassy grounds, 
both for food and nesting, being never found among the rough 
bowlders chosen for a home by the other species of Plectro- 

" T'wo nests which I found were built in tussocks of grass, on 
a low 'hummocky' flat, between the village and the main ridge 
of Saint George's, sheltered and half concealed beneath a dra- 
pery of withered grass. In each case the mother-bird did not 
fly away till I almost stepped on the nest, when she quickly 
disappeared, in perfect sih^nce. One nest contained four, and 
the other five eggs, rather smaller than a snowflake's, and of a 
rich, gray-brown color, with deep shades of brown running 
over them in spots and sufl'used lines. 

''Thesenests were not discovered until the Tthof July, at which 
date the eggs in both were perfectly fresh. They were, proba- 
bly, not laid until about the end of June. The young appear 
in the same manner as those of P. iiivaJis. The males do not 
assume the distinctive coloration of their sex until the next 
season. The natives say that very severe weather sometimes 
drives these birds away, although the other Flectroplianes is 
never forced to leave." 

22(). Corvus corax, L.— 7?«rf». " Var-rone." 

As noted in Mr. Elliott's general introduction, the experi- 
ment of introducing ravens was unsuccessfully tried by the Rus- 

"The natives still claim that if a number of young birds were 
brought here and raised, they could be induced to remain ui)on 
the islands during the whole season ; that the failure to keep 
those ravens brought up from Ounalashka, several years ago, 
was due to the fact of their being old birds. 

"At Ounalashka there is a Greek Catholic church, with a 
small cupola, surmountedj as is usual, by a large crucilix. tpon 

ALASKA. 170 

this ibese ill-omened, croakiiij:;' birds perch at all hours of the 
day, detiling the cross and tinned dome-roof below them, with 
oat exciting the si {«• litest sense of the ridiculous or impropriety 
among the people there, the stranger only being amused. 


3-U. Faleo sacc»r, Fousr.— Gz/r/a^.o/i. 

Fa'co saccr, Forst. Phil. Tiaus. Ixxii, 42:5, (1772.)— I^aiud. 
Trans. Chicago Aeud. i, 271, (IHU'J.)— (;(ni:s. Key N. A. Birds, 
2i:-., (1872. 

Finding nothing definite in Mr. Elliott's manuscripts respect- 
ing this bird, we conclude that it does not reside on the islands, 
where, however, its casual presence is attested by a specimen in 
the collection labeled " Saint PauFs, March, '73." It is a young 
bird, apj)arently in its second year, which had doubtless wan- 
dered or been forced out of its usual way. 

However we may interpret the relation subsisting between the 
various forms of Hierofalco, the name Falco saccr (FoRST.) is 
specially pertinent to the present one, and has priority over the 
several designations more frequently employed. 

" Hawks, like owls, are occasionally seen on the islands, the 
latter during the winter, especially. They do not remain long, 
and never breed, although the natives on Saint George's stoutly 
assert that a ' small brown owl' breeds there. I made unavail- 
ing search for it." Very probably the hawk-owl, {Suniia idiila.) 

,396. Cliaradrius fiilVllS, G:si.— Golden Plover. 

Chamdriusfulvus, Gm. Syst. Nat., i, GS7, (1788.) 

Charadriiis jAuvialis, IIOKSF. Traus. Linn. Soc, xii, 187, (1822.) 

Charadrius xatithocheihis, Wagler. Syst. Av., Charad. sp. 36, 

Charadrius iaitensis, Less. Man. Orn. ii, 321, (1828.) 
Charadrius virginianus, Jard. et Selb. 111. ii, pi. 85, (circ. 1830.) 
Charadrius glaucopus, Forst. Descr. An., ed. Licht., 176, (1844.) 
Charadrius virginicus, Blyth. Cat. B. Mas. As. Soc, 262, (1849.) 
Charadrius lon(jipeSj Temminck. 

Charadrius auratus orientalis, Temm. et Schleg. Fn. Japouica. 
Charadrius auratus, Schrenk. Amur Reise, 410, (1860.) 
Pluviulis fulvns, Sciilegel. Mas. Pays-Bas, Cursorcs, p. 50, 

PluviaUs fulvus, taiteusis, xanthocheilus, lougipes, Br. Coinpt. 

Reud., 417, (1856.) 

The single specimen of golden plover preserved by Mr. Elliott 
is of special interest and importance, since it is conclusively 
determined to be the true Asiatic fulniSj and not the Xorth 
American var. r/rr//«/e»s. This discovery represents an addi- 
tion to our Fauu((, for C. fulvns has not hitherto been recognized 

180 ALASKA. 

as Xortli American. We have made the comparison with 
numerous examples before us from various Asiatic and Pacific 
localities, finding the present specimen indistinguishable. 
Length, about 9.50; wing, G.40; tail, 2.60; tarsus, l.GO ; middle 
toe and claw, 1.10; culmen, .95. There is a yellowish suffusion 
about the head, particularly along the superciliary line, which 
is hardly to be noticed in the ordinary ZS^orth American bird. 
The specimen was taken on Saint PauFs, May 2, 1873. "A few 
stragglers laud in April, or early in May, on their way north to 
breed, but never remain long. They return in greater number 
in the latter part of September, and grow fat upon the larvae 
generated on the killing-grounds, leaving for the south by the 
end of October.^' 

40G. I§trcpsilas interpret, Ij.— Turnstone. " Krass-uie Ko-lit-skie.'^ 

The numerous specimens all alike indicate an interesting 
approach to the peculiar features of var. melanocephalus, in the 
extent and intensity of the black areas on the head, neck, and 
back. The chestnut, in fact, is reduced mainly to a scapular 
patch, some edging of the feathers of the interscapular region, 
and a diffuse area on the wing-coverts. The upper i^arts of the 
body are otherwise black, relieved by the broad, pure white 
area of the lower back and rump, and varied with white on the 
crown and cervix. The front, sides of head and neck, throat, 
and entire breast are intense black, relieved by loral, gular, 
auricular, and latero-cervical white areas. 

'• The turnstone arrives in flocks of thousands about the third 
week in July, and takes its departure about the 10th of Sep- 
tember. It does not breed here. On its arrival it is quite poor 
in flesh, but, feeding upon the larv?e and maggots of the killing- 
grounds, it rapidly gains, and at length becomes extraordinarily 
fat — so fat that frequently it bursts open as it falls to the ground 
w^hen shot on wing. 

'' It is a very handsome bird when in full plumage, with its 
bright-red legs, snowy, black-banded breast, and back tinged 
with brown and green reflections. Its well-known curious 
actions, in pursuit of its ordinary food, have given it its name. 
I met with it at sea, eight hundred miles from the nearest land, 
flying northwest toward the Aleutian Islands." 

410.|>0«i liyperbol'CtIS, (L.,) Cuv.—Xorthcm PhaJaropc. 

The e*^g of this species, not yet generally well known, pre- 
sents the following characters, taken from the unparalleled 

ALASKA. 181 

fserics in the Siiiitlisoniaii InstitiitiMii. collected at various points 
in the Yukon and Audersou lliver region : The ^aound varies 
from dark greenish olive, or brownish olive, through various 
lighter drab tints, nearly to a bnffy brown, occasionally to a 
light gray. Tlie markings are usually heavy and bold, consist- 
ing of large spots, and still larger blotches or splashes result- 
ing from their confluence, mingled with dots and scratches in 
interminable confusion. Jn general pretty evenly distril)uted, 
they often tend to aggregate about the larger end, in rarer in- 
stances forming a perfect wreath. In a few ijistances all the 
markings are mere dots. As a rule, the size and heaviness of 
the markings bear some proportion to intensity of the ground 
color ; the markings are dark bister-brown, chocolate, and some- 
times still lighter brown. The longest and narrowest egg of 
several dozen measures 1.30 by only .73 ; a short, thick egg 
gives only 1.10 by .82 ; the average is about 1.20 by .SO. The 
eggs are three or four in number, oftenest the latter, and are 
generally laid in June, oftenest in the latter half of the month. 
They are deposited in a slight depression of the ground, vari- 
ously lined with a little withered vegetation. 

"A few stray couples breed upon the islands, nesting around 
the margins of the lakelets. The egg I was unable to find, but 
I secured several newly-hatched young ones which were very 
pretty and interesting. They are only two or three inches long, 
with a bill about a third of an inch in length, and no thicker 
than an ordinary dressing-pin. The down of the head, neck, 
and upper parts is rich brownish yellow, variegated with 
brownish black, the crown being of this color mixed with yel- 
low, and a long stripe extends down the back, llanked with one 
over each hip, another across the rump, and a shoulder-spot on 
<?ach side. The under parts are grayish silvery white. This 
bird, when startled, or solicitous for the safety of its young, 
utters a succession of sonorous 'ticect' sounds, quickly repeated, 
with long intervals of silence." 

411. PEialiiropiis fiilicariu**;, ^L..) Box.— 7?tff Phalaropc. 

The nidification of this species is similar in all respects to 
that of L. hypcrhorcus, and the egg cannot be distinguished 
Avith certainty in any given instance. They average, however, 
somewhat larger — about 1.2.3 by .85. The largest specimen 
measured 1.30 by .00 ; the shortest, 1.15 by .00. ]S^umerous 
specimens, in the Smithsonian collection, were taken early in 
July, at Franklin Hay, on the arctic coast, by Mr. Iv. Macfar- 

182 ALASKA. 

'• Tlioiigb much more abuiulaDt than tbe jneceiling, at certain 
times, I am satislied tbat the red pbalarope does uot breed bere. 
It is found, like the other, by tbe marsbj' margins of the lake- 
lets, solitary or paired, but never in flocks. Tbe earliest arrivals- 
occur in June, but tbe birds re-appear in greatest number about 
tbe loth of August. They all leave by tbe oth of October." 

426 his. Tl'illg'a crassirostris, Temm. et ^CULEGBU—Thkk-diUed Sand- 
])\])er. " Ko-lits-kie."' 
Trinfia crassirostris, TEM^^. et Schlegel. Fauna Japouica, 107, 
pi. 64, (1846.) (?)— Dall. Amer. Naturalist, vii, 635, (Oct., 
1873.)— COUES. Check-List, 85, Xo. 426 his, (1873.) 

The most interesting result, in some respects, of Mr. Elliott's 
ornithological researches is the determination of tbe occur- 
rence of this species in abundance on tbe Prybilov Islands, 
■where it breeds. This discovery adds a species, previously un- 
recognized as Xorth American, to our Fauna. Tbe announce- 
ment was lately made by Mr. W. H. Dall, as above, upon tbe 
strength of one of Mr. Elliott's earlier specimens from Saint 
Paul's. This example was identified by Mr. J. E. Harting,* of 
London, well known for the extent and accuracy of his in^ esti- 
gations of tbe Limicoline groups, to whom it was transmitted 
for the purpose by the Smithsonian Institution. Mr. Elliott's 
later collections contain numerous specimens, among them sev- 
eral newly-batched ^oung, hitherto probably unknown. No 
description of tbe species having been published in this country, 
we subjoin the following : 

Adult, in breeding plumage. (No. 04240, :Mus. S. I.— G7G, Coll. 
H. W. E.— July 22, 1873. Saint George's.)— AYith somewhat 
the general appearance of a Tringa aljnna, but the black area on 
the under parts pectoral, not abdominal. Bill about as long as 
the head, straight to tbe end,t compressed, stout, and high at 

* Deferring to this excellent authority ou Limicoline birds, and without 
a copy of the work in which Tringa crassirostris was originally described,, 
at hand, we have presented it under the same name. But almost cer- 
tainly it is )wt the bird described by Schlegel as Tringa crassirostris in tlio 
Museum des Pays-Bas. The characters there given are those of a diliurent 
bird altogether. By no latitude of interpretation can the^* be rendered 
applicable to the present species. In case our bird, here described in de- 
tail, be found not the same as the true Tringa crassirostris, it may appro- 
priately be named T. ptiJocncmis, in allusion to the feathered tibijc. We 
consider it most nearly allied to 'Tringa maritima, next to which it may 
take its place in the system. 

tin other specimens, and usually, th?. bill isc onsiderably longer, excoed-^ 
ing the head, and decidodlv decurved at the end. 

ALA><KA. 183 

the base, witli very loii^' nasal Ibssii', reacliin^^ to witliiii i inch 
of the tip. ami deep at the base; the groove of the uikUt iiiaii- 
dibh.' coextensive in length, bnt Hnear thron<;liout. Feathers 
on side of under niandil)le exten(bn^- beyond those on the 
ui)per ; the interranial feathers projecting- still a litth^ ways 
farther. Legs very short, (much as in Trimja marltlma;) tibial 
feathers reaching nearly or quite to the snffrago; tarsus shorter 
thau the bill, or than the middle toe and claw. Wings and 
tail as usual throughout the genus. 

A coronal area, the upper back, interscapular region and 
scapulars black, completely variegated with rich chestnut- 
brown, paler ochery browu and whitish, the body of each 
feather being black, vrith one or another or all of these various 
edgings ; the coronal separated from the interscapular mark- 
ings by a grayish-white, dusky-streaked cervical interval. 
Lower back and rump and upper tail-coverts blackish brcjwu 
or grayish black, only varied with an occasional chestnut edged 
feather. Wing-coverts grayish browu, with narrow white edg- 
ing, the greater with broad, definite white tips. Secondaries 
nearly all pure white, a few of the outermost, and innermost 
also, with grayish-brown touches near the end. Primaries 
grayish brown with white shafts, except at tip, and fading to 
white on the inner webs toward the base ; several of the inner- 
most, also, largely white on the outer web, and with definite 
white tipping. Central tail-feathers brownish black- next pair 
abruptly paler, grayish; the rest white, or nearly so, with a 
faint gray tint. Front and sides of head, superciliary line, 
the tufts of flank-feathers, and entire under parts, white, inter- 
rupted on the breast with a large but not perfectly continuous 
nor well-defined blackish area, and marked on the upper breast 
and sides with a few narrow, sharp, blackish shaft-lines, a 
dusky auricular patch. Legs and bill dark. Length, appar- 
ently about 9.50 inches ; wing, about 5; tail, 2.50; bill, 1.10 
to 1.40 ; tarsus, .90 to 1.00; middle toe and claw, 1.05 to 1.20. 
• The sexes are not distinguishable by any outward mark. We 
have before us no specimen incomplete fall-plumage ; but one 
taken June 9, still retaining at that date the past season's 
plumage, for the most part, enables us to predicate the 
autumnal and winter vesture. The difference is entirely anal- 
ogous to that seen in various other sandpipers. It consists in 
the great development and intensity of the chestnut edgings of 
the feathers of the upper part, to the restriction of their black 
fields, and to the exclusion, nearly complete, of the pale ochery 

184 ALASKA. 

and whitish edgiugs which make up the characteristic variega- 
tiou of the breediug-plumage, in the absence of any dividing 
cervical interval between the coloration of the crown and that 
of the back, and especially in the strong, comi)lete suffusion of 
the sides of the head and the whole throat with tawny brown. 
The pectoral area is only indicated by scattered blackish feath- 
ers, being in the fall probably still more obscure, or rather re- 
placed merely by a few dusky streaks or spots. 

Xewly-hatched yoinuj^ (taken early in July.)— These interesting 
little creatures, two or three iuches long, are very prettily 
marked. The down of the under parts is silvery white; that 
of the upper is rich reddish brown, varied with black, and 
with curiously sharp, whitish dots of definitely rounded 
contour, appearing like spots of mihlew. Each such spot is 
about as large as a pin's head, and, examiued with a lens, is 
seen to be the enlarged, circumscribed, brushy end of a downy 
plume, whence several tiny bristles project. Each such plume 
is white basally, then black for a distance, ending in tbe whit- 
ish tuft. Tlie areas thus dotted correspond, consequently, to 
the areas of black variegation ; but there is, also, a black, un- 
dotted loral spot, frontal line, and a few other markings. The 
bill is mostly black, very short and slender; the legs are com- 
paratively long and stout, and appear to have been light- 

Kearly-fled[jecl, not quite groirn, young, (taken late in July.) — 
Several specimens retaining down, or traces of it, about the 
head and neck, otherwise completely feathered. The upper 
parts are much as in the adults in the breeding-season, as to 
the colors of the variegation, but the markings are in simple 
curved lines rather than sharj) V-shaped patterns, and the 
edgings are much narrower. The edgings of the wing-coverts 
have an ochery cast. The interior tail-feathers have rusty 
edgings. The throat and breast are more or less suffused with 
pale rusty ; there is no black pectoral area, but the jugulum, 
breast, and sides have an indefinite luimber of suffused, dusky 

* In Mr. Hartiug'-s letter upou the subject, handed us by Professor Boirtl, to 
whom it was addressed, the following occurs, in substauce : T. crassirostris, 
T. So S., Sen., M. P. B., SdojJ., 1^64, 28; Blak., Ibis, lH()-2, 315-330.— Hab., 
China, Japan, Java, Borneo. — Syn., Schcoiiclas magniis, Gould, P. Z. S., 1648, 
"39; B. Aust., vi, pi. 33; Tringa magna, Br., C. R., 185G ; Trbuja tenuirosins, 
Gould, Hdbk. B. Aust., ii, 1855, 200, (nee HonsF., Linn. Trans., xiii, 1820, 
192, qn(v Totanus stagnatilis, L.) '* Temmick & Schlegel say, (/. c.) ' This 



The following measurements of a number of adult specimens 
will illustrate the size and shape, and, to a great extent, the 
normal variations in dimension of the species: 










a: = 


5 . 

Saint Georges Island 


J ulV 











0. 9.-) 








1. l.'i 









1. 13 




1. 15 













"This is the only wader that breeds upon the Prybilov 
Islands, with the marked exception of a stray couple now and 
then of Thalaropus lujperhoreus. It makes its appearance early 
in May, and repairs to the dry uplands and mossy hummocks, 
where it breeds. The nest is formed by the bird's selection of 
a particular mossy bunch, and there setting. It lays four 
darkly-blotched pyriform eggs, and hatches within twenty days. 
The young come from the shell in a thick down, with 
dark-brown markings en the head and back, getting the plum- 
age of their parents and taking to wing as early as the 10th of 
August 5 and at this season old and young flock together for 
the first time, and confine themselves to the sand-beaches and 
surf-margins about the islands for a few weeks, when they take 

species belongs to the same typo as the Kuot, (T. canutas,) but is much more 
robust in size, the bill is longer, the tarsi are longer, and the toes more ro- 
bust,' (this is a mistake;) 'finally, it differs in the very different coloration 
of the plumage, notably in the breeding-season.'" * » # '' It seems to 
me that the bird is in every respect a large dunlin, (J. cinchis,) which it re- 
sembles much more nearly than it does canutus, not only in regard to the 
structure of the bill and feet, but in the character of the breeding-plumage," 
».tc. Now, our T. piihcnemis bears a wonderful superficial resemblance to 
an overgrown dunlin, but its affinities, as shown by the feathered iibia\ a)id 
tarsus shorter than the middle toe, are entirely with T. maritimus. as already 
said, and some plumages very closely resemble the extensively-whitened 
winter-dress of the latter. 

186 ALASKA. 

flight b\' the 1st or otb of September, and disappear until the 
opening of the new season. 

"It is a most devoted and fearless parent, and will flutter in 
feigned distress around by the hour, uttering a low piping note 
should one approach its nest. It also makes a sound exactly like 
our tree-frogs, and until I had traced the matter to this source^ 
I searched several weeks unavailingly for the presence of these 
reptiles, misled by the call of this bird." 

A set of four eggs of this species, the full complement, taken 
by Mr. Elliott,* June 10, 1873, on Saint George's, are perhaps 
the first specimens which have reached naturalists; certainly 
the first we have had in this country. They appear to have 
been nearly or quite fresh at the date mentioned. The egg is- 
rather a pecnliar one 5 of all the sandpipers eggs before us, it 
most resembles that of Tringa mariiima. The shape is regu- 
larly pyriform, as usual in this family. Measurements of the 
four examples are: 1.55 x 1.08; 1.52 x 1.05; 1.50 x 1.08; 1.48 x 
1.05. The ground is nearly clay-color, but with an appreciable 
olivaceous shade; the markings are large, bold, and numerous, 
of rich, burnt-umber brown, of varying depth, according to the 
quantity of the pigment. These surface-markings occur all 
over the shell, except the extreme point, and are solidly massed 
by confluence on the larger half of the egg-, all the markings are 
strong, as if laid on freely with a heavily-charged brush. With 
these surface-spots occur numerous shell-markings of the same 
character, but, of course, obscure, presenting a stone-gray or 
purplish gray shade ; some of them look as if the color of the 
surface-spots had '^ run*' and scaked into the olivaceous drab of 
the general surface. 

* The eggs were first discovered by Mr. George U. Adams, ageui of the Alaska 
Commercial Company, Saint George's Island. He, in order that they should 
be identilied, uotilied Mr. Elliott of their position, who immediately shot the 
parent and secured the eggs. Mr. Elliott has had frequent occasion to ac- 
knowledge the courtesy and facilities for natural-history work furnished by 
the agents of the Alaska Commercial Company on both islands, Dr. H. H. 
Mclutyro and Mr. Adams, above mentioned. To tlie last-named gentleman 
he is especially indebted for many desiderata. Mr. Samuel Falconer, assist- 
ant agent, and Drs. Otto Cramer and Meany, physicians on the two islands^ 
are also among the few to whom Mr. Elliott's grateful obligations are due. 
From Dr. Cramer we have reason to anticipate a very valuable and interest- 
ing paper upon the stomach and intestinal parasites of the fur-seal, which he 
was engaged upon when Mr. Elliott took his departure from the islands, 
August 10, 187:3. 

ALASKA. 187 

4:'.',]. LniBiosa iiropy;;:isiEis, (\i)V\.\>.— Wh\ie-rnmimJ(iochdt. 

Limom iiropiKiiaHs, iUniM.— hu. Trans. CliicMj^o Acad., i,320, pi. 
:V2, (IHC.D.)— Dall ami Banx. Jbkl, 29:3.— Coles. Key X. A., 
Birds ^58, (1H72.) 

This well-known Old World species, lately added to our 
fauna, as above, is readily distinguished by the black and 
white barrin^i^' of the up[)er tail-coverts. In winter the upper 
parts are pale gray, with dusky shaft-lines, and the under parts 
are nearly ^vhite — a condition never shown by our other species. 
In full plumage, the white of the rump and ui)per tail-coverts is 
more or less tinged with rusty, and the upi)er parts are brown- 
ish black, everywhere variegated with rust^^ Bills of different 
specimens before us range in length from 3i to 4i inches; those 
of the adults are mostly uark, but in the young fully the basal 
half is light-colored — dull whitish in the dried state. 

Mr. Elliott did not take the eggs of this species, but two 
examples were secured by Mr. Dall, June 18, 1868, at Kutlik, 
Alaska. These differ as much from each other as eggs of this 
species do from those of other species. The ground of one is 
quite greenish olive ; of the other, pale olive-gray. In the 
former, the markings are all subdued neutral tints, apparently- 
in the shell ; in the latter, the markings are nearly- all on the 
surface, and quite bright chocolate-brown. In both cases the 
markings are numerous and of indeterminate shape, mostly 
small, and generally distributed, though tending to aggregate 
at the butt, where alone they lose their distinctness in coalesc- 
ing to form a splashed area. Size, 2.20 x 1.45; 2.2o x 1.50. 

'' Migratory only, never breeding here. Comes in a strag- 
glifig manner early in May, passing northward with little de- 
lay, and re-appears toward the end of August in docks of a 
dozen to fifty.'' 

440. Ileteroscelus iescaiiiis (G.m.) Coues.— [r«»r/m»ry Tattler. 

^colopax incana, Gmel. Syst. Nat,, i, 658, (1768.)— Lath. Ind. 

Oni., ii, 724, (1790.) 
Totanus bicanus, Vieill. Diet. Deterv., vi, 400. (1816.) 
Heieroscdns hicauns, Coues. Key N. A. Birds, '261, (1872.) 
Triuya glanola, Pall. Zoo*;. Rosso- As., ii, 194, pi. 60, (1811.) 
Totanus hrevipes, Vieill. Diet. Deterv., vi, 400, (1816.)— Cass. 

Pr. A. N. S., viii, 40, (1856.) 
Hcteroscehis bnvipcs, Baiud. B. X. A., 734, pi. 88, (1858.)— Dall. 

Tr. Cbic. Acad., i, 293, (1869.) 
Totauus fuligiuosus, Gould. Voy. Beagle; Birds, 130, (1841.) — 

Ghav. G. of B., iii, pi. 154. 
Scolopax iiudnJata, FoiiST. Descr. Auiin., ed. Licbt., 173, (1844.) 

188 ALASKA. 

Totanus ])uh'enile)ttiis, Mull. YerbaiuL, 153, (1844.) — Sciilegel, 

Fauna Japan, pi. Co. 
Totanus oceanicus, Less. Comp. Buff., 244, (1847.) 
Totanus pohjnesicE, Peale. ^'oy. Vine, and Peac. ; Birds, 237, 

Totanus griseojyygius, Gould. B. Anst., vi, pi. 38. 
Gamhetia Ireripts, fidiguwsa, j;«?("f?-«?c«/a, oceanica, gnseoi)ijy'ia, 


Two specimens are contained in Mr. Elliott's collections. 

jVIigratory regularly, but does not breed here. It comes every 
year early in June, and subsequently re-appears toward the 
end of July, when it may be obtained on the rocky beaches. 
It never visits the uplands, and is a very shy and quiet bird. 

443. Niinienitis borealis, (Forst.) 'La.tii.— Esquimaux Curlew. 

This curlew only visits the Prybilov Islands in the same man- 
ner as the Limosa. It breeds, apparently' iu great numbers, in 
the Anderson Elver region, to judge from the numerous sets of 
eggs in the Smithsonian forwarded by Mr. K. Macfarlane. The 
usual nest-complement is four, made up usually the third week 
in June. The nest is i^laced on a barren plain, and made of 
decayed leaves phiced under the eggs in a depression of the 
ground. The eggs vary to the great extent usual among 
waders. The ground is olive-drab, either tending more ,to 
green, to gray, or to brown in different instances. The mark- 
ings are always numerous and bold, of the dark chocolate, 
bister, and sepia browns of different depths, together with the 
usual stone-gray shell-markings. These always tend to aggre- 
gation at the larger end, or, at least, are more inimerous on the 
major half of the egg, though the distribution is sometimes 
nearly uniform, and iu no instance is the small end entirely free 
from spots. In one set the large end is almost completely occu- 
pied by a denseconfluenceof very dark markings. The smallest, 
and at the same time shortest, egg measures only 1.90 x 1.40 • 
the longest and narrowest, 2.12 x 1.33; an average egg is 
2.00 X 1.45. 

We may refer, in this connection, to a species of curlew lately 
ascertained to inhabit Alaska, as one which may be expected 
to occur also on the Prybilov Islands. This interesting addi- 
tion to our fauna is the Xumenius femoralis of Peale — a species 
about as large as X. huflsoniciis, and somewhat resembling it, 
but readily distinguished by the curious long bristly filaments 
which tip the abdominal leathers, and otber characters. A 

ALASKA. 1 89 

luale specimen was taken by F. Bischoff at Fort Kenai, Alaska, 
May 18, 18G1>, and is now in the Smithsonian. (See Vigors, 
Zool. Jouru., iv, 356 ; and Zool. Voy. Blossom, 28.) 

A single specimen only of the Esquimaux curlew was taken 
by Mr. Elliott on Saint Paul's Island, June, 1872. iS'one other 
than this one was seen by him. 

4&2. PliilJicte oaiiaSBC^? (Sevast.) Bxsy;. —Empcroi' Goose. Fainted 
Anas canayica, Skvast. Nov. Act. Acad. St. Peters., xiii, 340, pi. 

10, (leou.) 

Jnser canafjicus, Brandt. Ball. Sc. St. Peters., i, 37, (1836.) 
Brandt. Descr. et Ic. Ad. Eosso-As., 7, pi. 1, (183G.) 

ChIocpha(ja canaffka, Bonap. Comptes Rendns, (185G.)— Baird. 
B. X. A., 768, (1858.)— Dall and Bann. Trans. Chic. Acad., 
i, 296, (1869.)— Dall. Proc. Cala. Acad., (Feb., 1873.) 

riiilacte canagica, Bann. Proc. Pbila. Acad., 131, (1870.)— 
CouES. Key, 283, (1872.) 

A set of five eggs, taken by Mr. Dall in Kuselvak Slough, 
June 20, 1868 are much elongated and nearly equal at either 
end. The color is white, but with fine pale-brown dotting, giv- 
ing a general light dirty-brown aspect. Specimens measure 
3.33 X 3.10 ; 3.40 x 2.90, &c. 

] " Visits the islands only as a straggler, sometimes landing 
so exhausted that the natives capture a whole flock in open 
chase over the grass, the birds being unable to use their wings 
for flight. I found the flesh of this bird, contrary to report, free 
from any unpleasant flavor, and, in fact, very good. The objec- 
tionable quality is only skin-deep, and may be got rid of by due 
care in the preparation of the bird for the table.-' 

Mr. Dall's interesting note may be appended, iu further illus- 
tration of the history of this species : 

" This magnificent bird abounds in profusion in the Kuselvak 
Slough, or mouth of the Yukon, to the exclusion of all other 
species. My endeavors to reach that point being unavailing, 
I was obliged to do my best to obtain specimens elsewhere. It 
is quite scarce around the Kwichpak Slough and on the sea- 
coast. By offering a large reward, I obtained four fine speci- 
mens from the marshes around Kutlik. It is the largest of the 
geese of the country, and the delicate colors of the body, with 
the head and nape snow-white, tipped with rich amber-yellow^ 
are a beautiful sight. The eye is dark-brown ; feet, flesh-color. 
The eggs are larger and longer than those of A. [/ambcJl, and 
rather brown fulvous, the color being in minute dots. It lajs- 

190 ALASKxV. 

on tbe ground, like tlie other geese. The Eskimo name is 
JS^achoicthlulx. Tbe raw flesh and skin have an intolerable odor 
of garlic, which renders it a very disagreeable task to skin 
them, but when cooked this entirely passes away, and the flesh 
is tender and good eating. 

*'This goose arrives about June 1, or earlier, according to the 
season. As soon as the eggs are hatched the birds begin to 
inolt. I saw half-molted specimens at Pastolik, July 29, 
1867. It remains longer than any other goose, lingering until 
the whole sea-coast is fringed with ice, feeding on 3Iytiliis edu- 
Us and other shell-fish, and has been seen as late as ^^ovember 
1 by the Eussians. It usually goes in pairs, or four or five 
together, rather than in large flocks. Its note is shriller and 
clearer than that of A, (jamheU or B. hutchinsi, and it is shyer 
than the other geese, except the black brant." ' 

According to Mr. Dall, the emperor-goose does not occur in 
the Aleutian Islands from Ounalashka eastward. 

485a. Bi aiita cawadeiisis, var. leiicopareia, (Brdt.) Coues — 

White-coUared goose. " Choruie Goose." 
Anser canadensis, Pallas, »jec a«c/. Zoog. Eosso-As.,ii, 230, (1811.) 
Anser Icucopareius, Brandt. Bull. Ac. Acad. St. Petersb., i, 37, 

(I83G.) Brandt. Descr. et Ic. Auim. Rosso-As., 13, pi. 2, (1836.) 
Bernicla lencoparela, Cassix. 111. 272^ pi. 45, (1855.)— Bd. B. K. 

A., 764, (1858.)— Dall. Traus. Cliic. Acau., i, 295, (1869.) / 
Branta leucojjareia, Gray. Hand-list, iii, 76, No. 10580, (1871.) 
. Branta canadensis var. Jeucojpareia, Coues. Key 284, Fig. 185 b, 

(1872.) T 

There is no reasonable question that this is anything more than 
a race of the common B. canadensis. The supposed specific char- 
acters, not very tangible at best, are not entirely constant. • 

According to Mr. Dall, this goose is abundant on the coast 
about the mouth of the Yukon, where it breeds, but it is rare 
at Nulato or farther inland. The eggs were obtained at Pasto- 

^' Occasionally straggles to the islands in small squads of ten 
to thirty, evidently driven by high winds from their customary 
line of migration along the mainland. Though not breeding 
here, it spends, occasionally, weeks at a time on the lakelets 
and uplands, before taking flight either, north or south, as the 
season may be." 

488. Anas bOSChas, {L.)—Mal}ard. 

''A pair bred during the season of 1872, on Polavina Lakelet, 
Saint PauFs Island, and several were observed later in the 

ALASKA. 191 

fall. The iMalljud was also notcMl on Saint George's Island, hut 
it is certainly not ii regular visitor of either island." 

492. Msirccsi peiaelopc, (L.) liv.— Jfiihjcoti. 

It is an interesting fact that the widgeon which visits the 
Prybilov Islands is not ^f. americaud, which would have been 
iinticipated, but the true 21. pt'udope^ as Mr. Elliott's specimens 

"It is seldom seen, never in pair^^ does not breed on the 
islands, and apparently the few individuals noted during two 
years' observation were wind-bound or astray. 

508. Ilarelda g:laciali8, (L.) hKxcn.—Lonfj-taihd Duck. '' Saafka." 

*' Common and resident. It breeds on the lakelets and sloughs 
of Saint Paul's, in limited numbers. 

"This is a very noisy bird, particularly in the spring, when, 
with the breaking up of the ice, it comes into the open reaches 
of water with its peculiar, sonorous, and reiterated cry of ah- 
naaJi-ncuXh yahy which rings cheerfully upon the ear after the 
silence and desolation of an ice-bound arctic winter." 

The eggs of this species, according to the sets before me, are 
six or seven in number, of the usual shape and smooth texture 
of shell; one set is more decidedly pale greenish than the other, 
which is lighter, and rather gray, slightly inclining to creami- 
ness. They measure 2.20x1.50, down to 1.90x1.40. One set 
was taken June 22, the other July 5. 

510. Histrionicus toi'qiiatiis (L.) Bp.— Harlequin Duck. 

"Common on and around the island shores, idly floating 
amid the surf in flocks of fifty or sixty, or basking and preen- 
ing on the beaches and outlying rocks. It may be seen all the 
year round, excepting only when forced away by the ice-floes. 
Its neat, however, eluded my search ; and, although I am quite 
confident that it breeds on either the rocky beaches or the high 
ridges inland, the natives themselves were equally ignorant of 
its eggs. 

"My experience of this bird, it will be observed, differs from 
Mr. Ball's, who states that it 'is an essentially solitary species, 
found, alone or in pairs, only in the most retired spots, on the 
small rivers flowing into the Yukon, where it breeds.' {Trans. 
Chlcafjo Acad., i, 298.) I did not find it particularly wild or 
shy, and numbers are killed by the natives every fall or spring. 
It is a remarkablv silent bird : I heard from it no cry what- 

192 ALASKA. 

ever during the whole year. It is a most gregarious duck ; sol- 
itary pairs uever stiay away from the flock. The females seem 
to outnumber the males, two to one." 

511. Soiiiatei'ia stelleri, (Pall.) Newt.— 5feZ/ers Eider. 
Anas stelleri, Pall. Spic. Zool., vi. 35, pi. 5, (1769.) 
Clangula stelleri, Boie. Isis, 564, (1822.) 
Fuligula stelleri, Bp. Syn. B. U. S. 394, (1828.) 
Macropus stelleri, Nutt. Mau., ii, 451^ (1834.) 
Fohjsticta stelleri, Eyton. Hist. Brit. B., 79, (1836.)— Bd. .B. N. 

A., 801, (1858.) 
Eniconetta stelleri. Gray. List Gen. of B., 95, (1840.) 
Harelda stelleri, Keys, et Bias. Wirb. Europ., 230, (1840.) 
Heniconetta stelleri, Agass. lud. Univ., 178, (1846.) 
Somateria stelleri, Newt. P. Z. S., 400, (1861.)— Coues. Key, 291, 

Anas dispar, Sparrm. Mus. Carls., pi. vii, viii, (1786.) 
Fuligula dispar, Steph. Sbaw's Gen. Zool., xii, 206, (1824.) 
Stelleria dispar, Bp. Comp. List B. Eur. and N. A., 57, (1838.) 
Anas occidua, Bonn, et Vieill. Ency. Met., i, 130, (1823.) 

''A few of these ducks were observed, but not secured, on 
Saint PauPs, in tne spring of 1872. Two were shot at the East 
Point, Saint George's, the same year. It is only a straggler." 

As several experienced ornithologists have stated, Steller's 
duck is a true eider in all essential respects. Various views of 
its systematic position which have been entertained are indi- 
cated by the foregoing synonymy. 

An egg of Steller's duck, in the Smithsonian, from the Peters- 
burg Museum, through H. E. Dresser, esq., collected in 
Kamtschatka, measures 2.20 x 1.60, and is like that of the com- 
mon eider in shape, color, and texture of shell. 

534. Oraciiliis bicristatus, (Pall.) Gray. Fied-faced Cormorant. 

'' Oreel." 
? Red-faced Cormorcmt or Shag, Pennant & Latham. (Arct. Zool., 

11, 584 ; Gen. Syn. vi, 601. Kamtschatka.) 
f Felecanus urile, G^r. Syst. Nat., 1, 575, (1788.)— Lath. lud. 

Orn. ii, 888, (1790.) 
Phalacrocorax bicristatus. Pall. Zoog. Rosso-As., ii, 301, pi. 75, 

f. 2, (1811.) 
Graculus bicristatus, Gray. Gen. of Birds. Hand-list, iii, 128, 

No. 11129.— Bd. Tr. Chic. Acad., 1, 321, pi. '3'S, (1869.)— Dall. 

& Bann. Ibid., 302.— Coues. Key, 304, (1872.) 
Urile bicristatus, Bp , partim. Comp. A\\, 11, 175, (1851.) 
" Fhalacrocorax pelagicus, Pall." Zoog. Rcsso-As., ii, 303, pi. 

76, (1811.) 

The cormorant, which .swarms on the Prybilov Islands, ap- 
pears to be unquestionably the bird of Pallas, which is most 

ALASKA. 193 

probably the rod-faced cormorant, P. urile^ of earlier authors. 
In adiUt phiina-e it is readily recognized by the naked red 
skin which entirely surrounds the base of the bill, somewhat 
caruncuhite, and the blue base of the under mandible, as well 
as by the other points noticed in the later treatises above 
quoted. h\ the gieat confusion subsisting among authors re- 
spectiug the North Tacihc cormorants, we do not venture to 
cite several names more or less probably synonymous. 

Several eggs of this cormorant, brought in by Mr. Elliott, are 
covered with the white, chalky incrustation, in a maximum 
amount of depth and irregularity, the shell being very pale 
bluish beneath. They measure about 2 J inches long by 1 J wide, 
being thus narrowly elongate, though little njore pointed at 
one end than at the other. They are all much soiled with the 
filth of the nest. 

"This cormorant, the only one of its tribe visiting the Seal 
Islands, is a common bird, and is found the whole year round. 
The terrible storms in February and Marcjh are unable to drive 
the "shag" away from the sheltered clifts of the island, while 
all other species, even the big northern gull, depart for the open 
water south. 

" It comes on to the cliffs to make its nest and lay, the earliest 
of the birds in this sea. Two eggs were taken from a nest on 
the reef. Saint Paul's Island, June 1, 1872, which is over three 
weeks in advance of the other water-fowl, almost without ex- 
ception. The nest is large, carefully rounded up, and built upon 
some jutting point or narrow shelf along the face of a cliff or 
bluff; in its constrnctiou sea-ferns, {Scrtularidcv,) grass, &o., 
are used, together with a cement made largely of their excre- 

" The eggs are usually three in number, sometimes four, and, 
compared with the size of the bird, are very small. They are 
oval, of a dirty, whitish gray, green, and blue color, but soon 
become soiled ; for although the bird's plumage is sleek and 
bright, yet it is exceedingly slovenly and filthy about the nest. 
The young come from the shell at the expiration of three 
weeks' incubation, without feathers, and almost bare even of 
down. They grow rapidly, being fed by the old birds, who 
eject the contents of their stomachs, such as small fish, crabs, 
and shrimps all over and around the nest. In about six weelis 
the young cormorant can take to its wings, being then fully as 
large and heavy as the parents; but it is not until the beginning 
of its second year that it has the bright plumage and metallic 
13 AL 

194 ALASKA. 

gloss of the adult, weariug, during- the first year, a dull drab- 
browo coat, with the brilliant colors of the base of the bill and 
gular sac subdued. 

^' This shag is a bold and very inquisitive bird, and utters no 
sound whatever except when flying over and around a boat or 
8bip, which apparently has a magnetic power of attraction for 
them. When they are hovering and circling around in this 
way, I have heard alow, droning croak come from them. 

" The cormorant cannot be called a bird of graceful action at 
any place, either on the wiug or en shore. Its flight is a quick 
beating of the wings, (which are usually more or less ragged,) 
with the neck and head stretched out horizontally to the full 
length. It is exceedingly inquisitive, flying around again 
and again to satisfy its curiosity, but never alighting on a boat 
or ship, though coming close enough sometimes to be almost 
touched by hand. It is very dirty on the rocks, and does not 
keep its nest in tidy trim like the gulls; but in regard to 
its plumage, it cannot be surpassed, or even equaled, by 
any bird of Bering Sea for brilliant gloss and glittering 
sheen. It fairly shimmers, when in the sunlight, with deep 
bronze and purjfle reflections, as though clothed in steel armor. 

" In their stomachs I have found almost invariably the re- 
mains of small fish and a coil of worms, {Xematoda.) 

" As this bird is found during the whole winter, in spite of 
severe weather, perched on the sheltered bluffs, the natives re- 
gard it with a species of aflection, for it furnishes the only sup- 
ply that they can draw upon for fresh meat, soups, and stews, 
always wanted by the sick ; and were the shags sought after 
throughout the year, as they are during the short spell of 
intensely-bitter weather that occurs in severe winters, driving 
the other waterfowl away, they would certainly be speedily ex- 
terminated. They are seldom shot, however, when anything 
else can be obtained.'' 

I>ioBiiedCM brachyura, TE^m.—Short-falhd Albatross. 

*' Twenty or thirty years ago, wiien whaling-vessels were 
reaping their rich harvests in Bering and the Arctic Seas, the 
albatross was often seen about the islands, feeding upon the 
whale-carrion which might drift on shore. But with the decrease 
of the whale-fishery the birds have almost disappeared. Only 
a single individual was noted during my two years' residence.' 
This was taken by Dr. Mean}', on the north shore of Saint 

ALASKA. 105 

"It is coiiimou Mroiiud Oiinaljislika Island, where I saw a 
large number, on my way to San Franei.sco, in August, 1873." 

bc2a. FcaBBsaan'tis l^lncsaEi!^ var. ro<1g:crsfl, (Cass.) CaiT.s.—Iiodfjcrii's 

J-'iiliiKir, '• J.iipiis." 
F((lmanis roclfjcrnii, C.vss. Proc. Pbila. Acad., 290, ( IsG^.)— Coues. 

oi>. df., 29,(18GC.)— Baikd. Tr. Chicago Acad., i, 323, pi. 34, 

fig. 1, (1809.)— Dall et I3AXN. Ibid, 303. 
FalmarKS gJacialis var. rodgcrsi, Col'ks. — Key X. A. Birds, 327, 

(1872.) . 

Distinguished from the ordinary fulmar by the restriction of 
the darker slate-gray mantle, mostof the wing-coverts and some 
of the secondaries being white. 

An egg of this fuhnar, procured by Mr. Elliott, is much more 
elongate than the only specimen of F. glaciaUs before me, and 
the shell is even rougher than in the latter, with innumerable 
raised points and minute fossae. It measures 2.00 in length by 
1.90 in breadth, and is scarcely more pointed at one end than 
at the other. The color is white, much soiled, in this instance, 
with adventitious yellow discoloration. The description applies 
to the whole of a large series examined. 

" This is the only representative of the ProceUarhuv I have 
seen on or abont the Prybilov Islands. It repairs to the cliffs, 
especially on the south and east shores of Saint George's, 
comes very early in the season, and selecting some rocky 
shelf, secure from all enemies save man, where, making no nest 
whatever, it lays a single large, white, oblong-oval egg, and 
immediately commences the duty of incubating. It is one of 
the most devoted of all water-fowl to its charge, for it will not 
be scared from the egg by any demonstration that may be 
made in the way of throwing rocks or yelling, and will even 
die as it sets rather than take to flight, as I have frequently 

^'The fulmar lays by 1st to oth of June. The egg is very 
palatable, fully equal to that of our domestic duck — even 
better. The natives lower themselves over the cliffs, and 
gather a large number of eggs every season on Saint George's 

* But it is hazardous work, and these iieople on St. George seldom gather 
more tban they want at the time of taking. The sensation experienced by 
the writer, who has dangled over these precipices on a slight thong of 
raw-hide, with the surf boiling three or four hundred feet below, and loose 
rocks rattling down from above, anyone of which was liable to destroy life, 
is one not to be expressed by language, and which, I think, quite sufficient 
excuse for the natives to be content with just as few eggs as possible. — H. W.E. 

196 ALASKA. 

^' The Lupus uever flies iu flocks ; it pairs early, aiul is theo 
exceedingly quiet. I bave never heard it utter a sound save a 
low, droning croak, when disgorging food for its young. 

" The chick comes out a perfect puff-ball of white dowu,^ 
gaining its first plumage in about six weeks. It is a dull gray^ 
black at first, but by the end of the season it becomes like the 
parents in coloration, only much darker on the back and scap- 
ularies. j 

" They are the least edible of all the birds about the islands. 
Like others of the family, they vomit up the putrid contents 
of their stomachs upon the slightest provocation." 

540. Stercorariiis poiiiatoiiiinus, YiEiLi^.—Pomarine Jciger. "Raz- 

Larus parasiticus, Mey. et Wolf. Tascb. Deutscb., 11, 490, (1810.) 
Lanis creindatus, Gm. L. N., i, G02, ( 1788. ) (Qu. tes Sterc. striatus 

Les'tris striatus, Eyton. Br. Birds, 53. 
Stercorarius iwmarinns, Yieill. Nonv. Diet. d'Hist. Nat., xxxii,. 

158, (1819.)— COUES. Proc. Pbil. Acad., 129, (18G3.) 
Stercorarius jyomatorhinus, Coues. Key, 309, (1872.) 
Cataractes pomarinus, Steph. Gen. Zool., xiii, 21C, pi. 24, (1825.) 
Cojirotlieres pomarinus, Reich, Syst. At., 52, (1580.) 
Cataractes parasita var. camtschaiica, Pallas. Zoog. Rosso-As.., 

ii, 312,(1811.) 

^'A rare visitor. The specimen secured was the only one 
seen on the islands. It was found on the high, mossy uplands, 
perched in a listless attitude on a tussock of grass." 

541. Stercorarius parasiticus, (Bruxx.) Q-r ax. —Parasitic Jdgcr. 

Catharacta parasitica, Bruxx. Orn. Bor., 37, (1764.) 
Larus parasiticus, Lixx. Syst. Nat., i, 226, (176 j.) 
Cataractes parasita, Pall. Zoog. R. A., ii, 310, (1811.) 
Lestris parasita, Illiger. Prod., 273, (1811.) 
Lestris parasitica, Keys et Blas. Wirb. Eur., 1, 240, (1840.) 
Stercorarius parasiticus, GUay. Gen. of B., 10, 652, (1849.) — Lawr. 
B. N. A., 839, (1858.)— Coues. Pr. Pbila. Acad., 133, (1863.)— 
Dall et Baxn. Tr. Cbicago Acad., i, 303, (1869.) 
Lestris richardsoni, Sw. F. B. A., 11, 43.3, pi. 73, (1831.) 
Stercorarius richardsoni, Coues. Proc. Pbila. Acad., 135, (1863.) 
Cataractes richardsoni, Macgillivray. Man. Orn., ii, 257, (1842.) 
Catharacta coprothcres, Bruxn, Orn. Bor., 38, (1764.) 
Lestris coprotheres, DesMurs. Traits Ool., 551, (1860.) 
Stercorarius crcpidatus, Vieill. Nouv, Diet., xxxii, 155, (1819.) 

(Not ofGmeliu.) 
Lestris crepidata, Deglaxd. Mem. Soc. Roy. Lille, 108, (1838.) 
Stercorarius cepphus, Sw. F. B. A., ii, 432, (1831.) 
Lestris hardyi et spinicauda, Bp. Consp. Av., ii, 210, (1856.) 



'^I bave seen but four or five examples of tbis species, wbieb 
imxy be rated as an infrequent visitor. It may be found upon 
the grassy upbmds, where it will alight and stand dozing in an 
indolent attitude for liours. >:o one of the three species of 
Stercorarius was observed to breed here." 

Numerous eggs of this species from the l)arren grounds of 
the Anderson Kiver region, and the arctic coast to the east- 
ward, otfer the following characters: The ground color is as 
various, and of tUe same shades, as that already mentioned 
under head of ynmcuius horeaJlH, and in fact tbe whole aspect 
of the egg, markings included, is quite similar. But although 
pointed, they have not the peculiar pyriform shape usual among 
Limicohv. 1 lind no specimens heavily marked at the butt, 
though the tendency is to a wreath by confluence around 
the larger end. In some specimens the markings are all small 
and scratchy, and distributed with "uniform irregularity "over 
the whole surface. A certain proportion of stone-gray shell- 
markings always appears to accompany the various chocolate 
and other browns of the surface. Specimens range from 2.40 
X 1.70 to 2.00 X 1.50, averaging nearer the former dimension. 
. The eggs of the next species cannot be distinguished from 
those of the present with certainty, since, though they average 
less in size, the larger specimens overlap the measurements of 
-even average ])amsiticus. A fair specimen is 2.10 x l-")l) ; the 
smallest examined measured only 1.90 x lAO. 

.542. Stercorarius buffoni, (Boie.) Coues.— Xo»i;-^a/7eJ Jujer. 
f Catharada cepphns, Brunx. Oin. Bor., 36, (1764.) 
Lestris cepplius, Keys et .Blas. Wirb. Eur., i, "240, (1840.) 
Stercorarius cepplms, Gkay. Gen. of B., iii, 65*2, (1849.)— Lawu. 

A., 840, (1858.)— CoUES. Proc. Pbil-a. Acad.,"243, (1861.) 
f Harm parasiticm, Lath. lud. Om., ii, 819, (1790.) 
Lestris parasiticus, Tem.m. Mau. Orn., iv, 501, (1840.)— Sw. & 

Rich. F. B. A., ii, 430, (1831.) 
Stercorarius longicandatus, Biussox.— Vieill. Xouv. Diet.. 

xxxii, 157, (1819.) 
Lestris Jomjicaudatus, Tiiomp. Xat. Hist. Ireland, iii, 399, (1851.) 
Cataractis longicaudatus, Macojill. Mau. Orn., ii, 258, (1842.) 
Lestris huffoui, Boie. Isis, 562-570, (1822.) 
Stercorarius huffoni, Coves. Proc. Pliila. Acad., 136, (1863.)— 

DALLetBAXX. Trans. Chic. xVcad., i, 304, (1869.)— Coles. Key 

N. A. Birds, 310, 1872. 
Lestris lessoni, Deglaxd. Mem. Soc. Roy. Lille, ('1838.) 
Lestris crepidata, Bheiim. Xaturg. Eur. Yo^^., 747, (1823.) 

"Seldom seen. The specimen in my collection is one of 

198 ALASKA. 

the only two I ever observed on the islands. When I came 
upon them, July 29, 1872, they were apparently feeding upon 
insects, and upon a small black berry which ripens on the 
highlands,*' (the fruit of the Empetnun nigrum.) 

543. Icarus g:lai1C CIS, BRt^^.—GJaueous Gull. Burcjomasicr. "Cbikie." 

" This large, handsome bird is restricted by reason to Walrus 
Island alone, although it comes sailing over and around all the 
islands, in easy, graceful flight, every hour of the day, and fre- 
quently, late in the fall, will settle down by hundreds upon 
the carcasses on the killing-grounds. But upon Walrus Island 
this bird is at home, and there lays its eggs in neat nests, built 
of sea-ferns and dry grass, placed among the grassy tussocks 
on the center of the island : — there are no foxes here. 

^' It remains by the islands during the whole season. Though 
it is sometimes driven by the ice to the open Avater fifty to a 
hundred miles south, it returns immediately after the floe dis- 

''The 'chikie' lays as early as the 1st to 4th of June, depos- 
iting three eggs usually within a week or ten days. These 
eggs are large, spherically oval, having a dark grayish-brown 
ground, with irregular patches of darker brown-black. They 
vary somewhat in size, but the shape and pattern of coloring is 
quite constant. 

" The young htirgomastcr comes from the shell at the expira- 
tion of three weeks* incubation, in a pure-white, thick coat of 
down, which is speedily supplanted by a brownish-black and 
gray plumage, with which the bird takes flight, having nearly 
the size of the parent. This dark coat changes within the 
next three months to one nearly white, with the lavender-gray 
back of the adult; the legs change from a pale-grayish tone to 
the rich yellow of the mature condition, and the bill also passes 
from a dull-brown color to a bright yellow with a red spot on 
the lower mandible. 

^^It has a loud, shrill cry, becoming soon very monotonous. 
by its constant repetition, and also utters a low, chattering 
croak while coasting. 

"It is a very neat bird about its i^est, and keeps its plum- 
age in a condition of snowy purity. It is not very numerous^ 
I do not think that there were more than five or six hundred 
nests on W^alrus Island at the time of mv visit, in 1872.'' 


ALASKA. 199 

55'J. Larias tridactyloos var. kof-tf^obtii, (lir.) Coves.— Pacific Kltti- 
ivakr. " t'lioniit'-iiiiu.slikic, govcrooskii.'." 
liissa ho(^(bni, Jip. Coiisp. Av., 11, '220, (IWoO.)— Coues. Pr. 
Pbila. Acad., m'j, (ldG2. )— Cocks. Pr. Pbila. Acad., '^07, (18(]y.) 
Luni8 tridactylus, Dall &, Bann. Tr. Cbic. Ac;vl., 1, 305, (18C9.) 
Larm tridactijlus var. kotzchui, Coues, Key, 314, (1^;72.) 

Wo have called attention, in our publications above quote*], 
to the fact that the North Paciiic kittiwake has the hind toe 
better formed than that of the Atlantic l)iid ; and this is the 
sole basis of the supposed species. 

Although thus so similar to the true LaruH tridactijlus that it 
cannot be specifically distin<]fuished, and also totally distinct 
from the next species, there has been a strange confusion regard- 
ing it. I do not venture now to add to the foregoing synon- 
ymy several names more or less doubtfully here applicable. Bo- 
naparte quotes as synonymous, Iiissa nivca of Bruch, J.f. O.^ 
1855, 285; and also quQvies R. byachi/rJnjncha of Bruch, ?^u7., 
1853, 103. Xo one of the four species of Elssa described by 
Mr. Lawrence, in 1858, in Baird's work, pp. 85^, 855, belongs 

" This kittiwake breeds here by tens of thousands, in com- 
pany with E. hrevirostriSj coming at the same time, but laying 
a week or ten days earlier ; in all other respects it corresponds 
in habit, and is in just about the same number. It is a remark- 
ably constant bird in coloration, when adult, for I have failed 
to observe the slightest variation in plumage among the great 
numbers here under my notice. 

'^ In building its nest it uses more grass and less mud-cement 
than the brevirostris does. The eggs are more pointed at the 
small end and lighter in the ground-color, with numerous spots 
and blotches of dark brown. The chick is difficult to distin- 
guish with certainty from the brevirostris^ and it is not until two 
or three weeks have passed that any difference can be noted in 
the length of bill and color of feet. 

^'' Like Bissa brevirostris, the male treads the femnle on the 
nest, and nowhere else, making a loud, shrill, screaming sound 
during the ceremony.*' 

553. Larus brcvii*osti*i§, (Jln\SDT.)—Short-'b'dJc(l or Bcd-Uggcd Kitti- 
irakc. '* Goverooskie/"' 
Hissa hrevirostris, Brandt.— Lawr. B.N. A., 655, (1858.)— Dall 

& Banx. Tr. Chicago Acad., i, 305, (1809.) 
Lants hrevirostris, Couks. Key N. A. Birds, 315, (167*2.) 

200 ALASKA. 

Larus orcuhijrliynclins, Gould. P. Z. S., (July 2'), 1 ^-18.)— Guild. 

Voy. Sulphur, 50, pi. 34, ( .) Not of KiciLvHLsf^x. 

liissa brathi/rliyncha, Bp. Consp. Av., ii, 223, (18."G.)— Cours. 

Proc. Pbila. Acad., 306, (18o2.) 
Bissa nivea, Lawh. B. N. A., 855, (1858.) (Exci. Syu. Not Larus 
niveus, Pall.) 
This excellent species will instantly be distinguished from tlie 
preceding by its short bill, and especially by its rich coral, ver- 
milion, or lake-red legs, (drying straw-yellow.) There is no 
possibility of confounding the two, although their synonymy 
has become involved to such an extent that the task of disen- 
tangling it is almost hopeless. The names above quoted are of 
unquestionable pertinence here ; several others that might be 
quoted are preferably left untouched. 

"This beautiful gull, one of the most elegant of birds on the 
wing, seems to favor these islands with its presence to the ex- 
clusion of other land, coming here by tens of thousands to bieed. 
It is especially abundant on Saint George's Island. It is cer- 
tainly by far the most attractive of all the gulls ; its short, sym- 
metrical bill, large hazel eye, with crimson lids, and bright-red 
feet, contrasting richly with the snowy-white plumage of the 
head, neck, and under parts. 

"Like Larus gJmicits, this bird remains about the islands 
during the whole season, coming on the clift's for the purpose of 
nest-building, breeding by the Dth of May, and deserting the 
bluffs when the young are fully fledged and ready for flight, 
early in October. 

"It is much more cautious and prudent than the 'arrie,' for 
its nests are placed on almost inaccessible shelves and points, 
so that seldom can a nest be reached unless a person is lowered 
down to it by a rope passed over the cliff. 

"]S'est-building is commenced by this bird early in May, and 
completed, usually, not much before the first of July. It uses 
dry grass and moss, cemented with mud, which it gathers at 
the margin of the small fresh- water sloughs and ponds scattered 
over the islands. The nest is solidly and neatly put up, the 
parent birds working in the most diligent and amiable nKinner. 
"Two eggs are the usual number, although occasionally three 
will be found in the nest. If these eggs are removed, the female 
will renew them, like the 'arrie,' in the course of another week 
or ten days. They are of the size and shape of the common 
lien's egg, but colored with a dark-gray ground, spotted and 
blotched with sepia-brown patches and dots. Once in a while 

ALASKA. 201 

ail egg will liavo on its siniiller end a large nuiiiber of suft'used 
blood-red 8i)ots. 

"Both parents assist in the labor of incnbation, whieh lasts 
from tweuty-four to twenty-six days. The chiek eonies out ^vith 
a pnre-white downy coat, and pale whitish-gray bill and feet, 
resting helplessly in the nest while its feathers grow. During 
this period it is a comical-looking object. The natives capture 
them now and pet them, having a number every year scattered 
through the village, where they become very tame, and it is not 
until fall, when cold weather sets in and makes them restless, 
that they leave their captors and fly away to sea. 

" This bird is very constant in its specific characters. Among 
thousands of them I have never observed any variation in the 
coloration of the bills, feet, or plumage of the mature birds, with 
one exception. There is a variety, seldom ^een, in which the 
feet are nearly yellow, or rather yellow than red, and the edge 
of the eyelid is black instead of scarlet ; there is also a dark 
patch back of each eye. The color of the feet is probably an 
accidental individual peculiarity; the dark eye-patch and 
absence of bright color from, the eyelids may depend upon 

600. Colymbws an'Clycus, (h.)— Black-throated Diver. 

It is interesting to observe that this bird is the true C. arcticus^ 
and not var. pacificus, which might have been expected to occur. 
This is sufficiently attested by the measurements of a line adult 
specimen. No. 408 of Mr. Elliott's collection. Length, about 31 
inches; wing, 12; bill, along culmen, 2f ; along gape, 4; its 
depth at base, .80; tarsus, SJ; middle toe and claw, 4. The 
bill is quite stout, with the culmen convex throughout, showing 
nothing of the slender, straight, or almost recurved shape char- 
acteristic of var. pacijicus. 

We find nothing respecting this species in ]Mr. Elliott's ]MSS. 
It was the only one seen by him. It was found dead, cast upon 
the sand-beach at Zapadnie, Saint George's Island, and brought 
to Mr. E. by the natives, who differed among themselves as to 
whether they had ever noticed it before about the islands. At 
all events, it is seldom seen there. 

610. Podiccps griseigcna, {J}oi)D.)—ned-necked Grebe. 

As in the case of the last species, the present is of the typical 
form rather than of the Xorth American variety. The difference, 
as stated in our synopsis, (Pr. Phila. Acad., 18G2, 232,) lies in 

202 ALASKA. 

tbe size and coloratioD of the bill. In true (jriseUjena the bill is 
little, if any, over 1.50 inches along the culmeii, or 2.00 along 
the gape, and the yellow is either entirely restricted to the base, 
or only extends thence a little on the edge of the under man- 
dible. In var. hoIbolU the above-mentioned measurements of 
the bill are respectively 1.90 and 2.10, and much or most of the 
under mandible, with the cutting-edges of the upper, are yellow. 
In the present specimen, the culmen measures 1.60; the gape, 
2.15, and there is little yellow, excepting at the base of the 

£ggs of the American red-necked grebe, from the Yukon 
and other interior arctic localities, are rough, white, either 
inclining to pale-greenish or with buffy discoloration, and of 
the usual narrowly-elongate shape common in the family. They 
measure from 2.10 to 2.35 in length by 1.25 to 1.45 in breadth, 
the longer eggs not always being jiroportionally wide. 

"It is the only specimen seen during my residence upon the 
islands. It has been observed before by the natives, who, how- 
ever, affirm that it is uncommon.*' 

C17. Fraterciila coriticulata, (Xaum.) Brandt.— Homed Puffin. 

(l)AIca arciica, var. B., Lath. lud. Orii., ii, 792, (1790.) 
Lunda cn-ctica, Pau.. partim., Zoog. R. A., ii, 865, (1811.) 
Mormon corniculatum, Xaum. Isis, 782, pi. 7, f. 3, 4, (1821.) — 

KiTTL. Kupf. Xaturg. Vog. pi. i, fig. 1. — Dall &, Bann. 

Trans. Chic. Acad., i, 308, (1869.) 
Mormon (Fratercula) cornicidata, Bp. Comptes Reudiis, 774, 

(1856.)-Cass., in Bd. B. X. A., 902, (1858.) 
Fraterciila {Ceratohlepharum) cornicidata, Bp.axdt. Bull. Sc. 

Acad. St. Petersb., ii, 348, (1837.) 
• Fratcrcula corniculata, Geay. Geu. B., iii, 637, pi. 174, (1849.)— 

CouES. Pr. Pbila. Acad., 1868.— Coces. Key, 340, (1872.) 
Lunda cornicidata, Schlegel. M. P. B., ix, Kerin., 28, (1867.) 
Lunda {Ceratohlepliarum) cornicidata, Brandt. Bull. Sc. Acad., 

St. Petersb,, vii,242, (1869.) 
]^ormon glacialis, Gould, nee. Leach. B. Eur., v, pi. 404, 

(1837.)— AUD. Oru. Biog., iii, 54'J, pi. 29?, (1835.)— Id. B. 

Auier., vii, 236, pi. 463. 

An eg^ before me is noticeably more elongate than that of 
F. arctica or of F. cirrhata^ though not more pointed. Tbe shell 
is rather rough, and dead-white. We may anticipate that in 
some in.stances a few obscure obsolete spots may appear, as 
they occasionally do in the eggs of F. arctica^ and, doubtless, 
also show the usual discolorations in many cases. The pres- 
ent .«^pecimen measures 2.75 by 1.75. 

ALASKA. 203 

^' The eye never tails to be arrested by this otld-lookiii^- bird, 
with its <;reat shovel-like, lemon-yellow and red bill, as it sits 
squatted in glnui silence on the rocky cliff-perches, regarding 
approaeh with an air of stolid wonder. It seems to have been 
fashioned with especial regard to the fantastic and comical. 

" This mormon, in common with one other species, .1/. cirrhata, 
comes np from the sea, from the south, to the cliffs of the 
islands about the 10th of May, always in pairs, never coming 
or going in Hocks. It makes a nest of dried sea-ferns, grass, 
moss, &c., iar back or down in some deep, rocky crevice, where 
the Q^g when laid is generally inaccessible—nothing but blast- 
ing-powder would reach it. 

'' It lays but a single ^g^^, large, oblong-oval, pure white, 
and, contrary to the custom of the gulls, arries, choochkies, &c., 
when the ^gg is removed the sea-parrot does not renew it, but 
deserts the nest, perhaps locating elsewhere. The young chick I 
have not been able to get— not until it comes out fledged and 
ready for fliglit in August, when it does not differ materially 
from its parent. The species leaves the islands about the lOtU 

" This bird is very quiet and unobtrusive f it does not come 
in large numbers to the islands, for it breeds everywhere else 
in Bering Sea. Its flight is performed with quick and rapid 
wing-beats, in a straight and steady course. There is no ditt'er- 
ence' between the sexes as to size, shape, or plumage.*' 

619. Fcaterciila cirrliata, (Pall.) STErii.— J(//^«7 P»^«. "Tawpa^- 

Alca cirrhaia, Pall. Spic. Zool., 7, pi. 1, ii, fig. 1, 2, 3, (17G9.) 
' Ltniila cirrhata, Pall. Zoog. R. A., ii. 363, p. 82, (1811.)— 

SCHLEG. Mus. Pays-Bas, rnH.27, (1807.)— CouES. Pr. Phila. 

Lnnda {Gymnohleplianim) cirrhata, Bijandt. Bull. Sc. St. Petersb.,. 

vii., 244,(1867.) 
Fratcrcula cirrhata, Stepit. Shaw's Gen. Zool., xiii, 40, (1825.) 
Fratcrcida {G!im)whle2)harHm) cirrhata, Biiandt. Bull. Sc. St. 

Peteisb., ii, 349, (1837.) 
Morr.ion cirrhata, Xaum. Isis, 781, pi. 7, f. 1, (1821.)— Cass. B. 

N. A., 902, (1858.)— Dall Sc Banx. Trans. Chicago Acad., i, 

308, (1969.) 
Fratcrcula carinata, Vigors. Zool. Journ., iv, 358. 
Sagmatorhina lathami, Bp. P. Z. S., 202, pi. 44, (1851.)-Coues. 

Pr. Phila. Acad., (1868.) 
Sagmatorhina labradoria, Cass. B. N. A., 904, (1858.)— Dall it 

Bann. Trans. Chic. Acad., i, 309, (1869.) 

204 ALASKA. 

As Professor Brandt showed, shortly after the publication of 
our Monograph, the Sagmatorhina lathami of Bonaparte {— S. 
labmdoria, Cass.) is merely the young- of this species, at an age 
before the bill has attained its final shape and coloring. Of 
this fact we became ourselves aware about the same time, from 
examination of various specimens in the Smithsonian. 

The genus, of course, falls, as well as the species. In our 
Monograph we were so far wrong as to assign to it a second 
supposed species, the Cerorhina sucldeyi of Cassin, which is the 
young of Ceratorliinamonocerata. 

"Comes to the islands at the same time as F. coyniculata, 
and resembles the Epatlcie in its habits generally. It lays a 
single large white G,gg^ of a rounded-oval shape. I was never 
able to see a newly-hatched chick, owing to the retired and in- 
accessible nature of the breeding-places. Could Walrus Island 
be visited frequently during the season, interesting observations 
might be made there, for the nests are more easy of access. 
The young tawpawkie, six weeks old, resembles the parents 
exactly, only the bill is lighter colored, and the plumes on the 
head are incipient. This is the only place where the birds can 
be daily seen and watched with satisfactory results. I took 
eggs from over thirty nests in July. The natives say it is very 
quarrelsome when mating, its cries sounding like the growling 
of a be»r as they issue from far down under the rocks that 
cover its nest." 

The Qgg is much thicker and more capacious than that of 
F. corniculata, though no longer. The shell is rough, dead- 
white, and, besides the frequent discolorations, shows in several 
specimens very pale, obsolete shell-markings of purplish gray. 
Several specimens measure as follows: 2.8j x I.Oj; 2.80 x 
1.92; 2.75 x 2.00; 2.G3 x 1.05. 

C21. Pliafioris psjttacula, (Escii.) TE^^iM.—Parroquet Aitl: "Baillio 

AIca psittacula, Pall. Spic. Zool., fuse, v, l:^, pi. 2, pi. 5, f. 4, 5, C, 

Lunda jmttacida, Pall. Zoog. Eosso-As., ii, 3GG, pi. 84, (1811.) 
Fhaleris jisittaciiht, TKyisi. Mau. Oiu., i, 112, (1820.)— Cuues. Key 

N. A. Birds, .342, fijr. 222, ( 1872.) 
Oinhria imttacnla, Escilsch. Zool. Atlas, iv, 3, pi. 17, (1831.)— 

Brandt. Bull. .Sc. Acad. St. Petersb., ii, 348, (1837.)— Id. Ibid., vii, 

237, (18G9.)— Cass. B. X. A., 410, (l5'58.)-Ei.Lior. B. N. A., pt. i, 

pi. 70. 
Simorhijnchns jyslttaciihts, Sciileg. Mns. Pays-Bas, ix. 24, (18G7.) — 

CouES. Proc. Pbila. Acad.. (ls(;>\) 

ALASKA. 205 

Xot only on acconnt of the form of the bill, which, thou^di 
singnlar lunong Aklda., is not more dilTerent from that of some 
others than these are among themselves, bnt also in conse- 
qnence of a ditfereut mode of life, to which the shape of the bill 
fits it, as attested by various observers, we now place the bird 
in a separate genus from Simorlnjnchm, under which we formerly 
included it. The species is said to live chielly upon bivalve 
mollusks, such as Miftllus, &c., for opening which its bill is 
adapted; and Professor Brandt notes the curious aiuilogy 
attbrded, in this respect, with Ua'matojms, as compared with 
allied Charadriue genera. 

:\lr. Gray adduces a reference to the unexpected occurrence 
of this species in Sweden. 

"This quaintly-beaked bird is quite common on the Prybilov 
Group, and can be obtained at Saint George's in considerable 
numbers. It comes here early in Mny, and locates in a deep 
chink or crevice of some inaccessible cliff, where it lays a single 
egg and rears its young. It is very quiet and undemonstrative 
during the pairing-season, its only note being a low, sonorous, 
vibrating whistle. Like SlmorliyncUus cristatellus, it will breed 
in company with the ' choochkie,' but will not follow that lively 
relative back upon the uplands, the'baillie brushkie' being 
always found on the shore-line, and there only. 

" The eggj which is laid upon the bare earth or rock, is pure 
white, oblong-ovate, measuring 2J by 1^ inches. It is exceed- 
ingly difficult to obtain, owing to the birds' great caution in 
hiding, and care in selecting some deep and winding crevice in 
the face of the cliff. At the entrance to this nesting-cavern the 
parents will sometimes squat down and sit silently for hours at 
a time, if undisturbed. 

" It does not fly about the islands in flocks, and seems to lead 
a quiet, independent life by itself, caring nothing for the society 
of its kind. The young,* when first hatched, I have not seen, 
but by the 10th to the 15th of August they may be observed 
coming out for the first time from their secure retreats, and 
taking to wing as fully fledged and as large as their parents. 

*' They take their departure from the 20th of August to the 
1st of September, and go out upon the ^orth Pacific for the 
winter, where they find their food, which consists of ampldpoda 
and fish-fry. I have never seen one among the thousands that 
were around me when on the islands 'opening 'the bivalve- 
shells, such as mussels, ike, as stated by Professor Brandt. It 

206 ALASKA. 

feeds at sea, flying' out every Daoriiing, returning in the after- 
noon to its nest and mate." 

The egg of Plialeris psittacula is about as large as a small 
hen's egg, which it resembles, although averaging more elon- 
gate. The shape, however, is extremely variable; thus, one 
measures 2.25 by I.jO, and another 2.35 by only 1.45, the latter 
being remarkably narrow, elongate, and pointed. The shell is 
minutely granular, and rough to the touch. It is white, un- 
marked, but often found variously soiled and discolored, some- 
times by mechanical eftect, and sometimes by fluids of the 
oviduct or cloaca. Mr. Elliott says, " So effectually do these 
birds secrete their eggs in the deep recesses of cliff crevices and 
chinks that I was unable to obtain more than four perfect speci- 
mens, although several hundred ' baillie brushkies' were breed- 
ing on the cliffs, each pair marked by myself, (in daily observa- 
tion,) close by the village, at Saint George's Island, during the 
summer of 1873. Nothing, save blasting-powder, or similar 
agency, can open the basaltic crevices in which the bird hides, 
and, of course, resort to this action would also destroy tlie egg^ 

622. Saznorliyaicliiis crestatelUis, (Pall.) 'Merr.— Crested Aitk. 

" Cauooskie." 
Aica cristateUa, Pall. Spic. Zool. fasc. v, 00, pi. 3, pi. 5, figs. 7, 

Uria cristateUa, Pall. Zoog. Eosso.-As., ii, 370, (1611.) (Excl. 

syu. Alca comtsc7irt//cft, Lepech.) 
Simorliynchust crisateUus, Merrem. — Schl. M. P. B., ix, 25, 

(1S87.)— CouES. Proc. Pliila. Acad., (1868.)— Coues. Key N. 

A. Birds, 342, figs. 223, 224, (1872.) 
Simorhynchus {Tylorliamphus) cristatellus, Brandt. Bull. Sc. 

Acad. St. Petersb., vii, 223, (1869.) 
Tylorhamplius cristatellus, Brandt. Oj). cit., ii, 348, (18.37.) 
Phaleris cristatellus, Steph. Shaw's Gen. Zool., xiii, 47, pi. 5, 

(1825.) (Nee Temm.) — Schrengk. Eeise Amur-Laud, i, vt. 

ii, 500, pi. 16, figs. 4, 5. 
Phaleris {Simorhynchus) cristatellus, Cass. B. X. A., 903, (1858.) 
Uria duhia, Pall. Zoog. 11. A., ii, 371, (1811.)— (^fis ptil. hijem. 

vestita, sec. Brandt.) 
Phaleris duhia, Brandt. Bull. Sc. Acad. St. Petersb., ii, 347, 

Tylorhamphus duhius, Bonap. Comptes Reudus, xlii, 774, (1856.) 
Simorhynchus duhius, Coues. Proc. Pliila. Acad., (1868.) 
Alca tetracul a, Vaj^i.. Spic. Zool. fasc, v, 23, pi. 4, (1769,) (Junior.) 
Uria tctracula, Pall. Zoog. E. A., ii, 371, (1811.) 
Phaleris tetracula, Step. GeuH. Zool., xiii, 46, (1825.)— Brandt. 

Bull. Sc. Acad. St. Petersb., ii, 347, (1837.) 

ALASKA. 207 

Tylorhamphus ictracidii>i, iJoXAi-. Coniptes Kendus, xlii, 774, 

ritakris {Ti/Iorhamphii>i) teiracula, Cass. li. N. A., 907, (IS.'ir-.) 
^imorlninciin tttraadus, CoUKS. Proc. Tbilu. Acad., (l-iC-^.)— 

CouKS. Key N. A. 13., 342, ( 1872. ) 
rimlcna jmtlaciihi, Tkmm. Man. «r<Jrnitli., i, p. cxii, (18i0.) 
riialeria siqKrciliata, Aud. Oni. Uio-;., iv, pi. -Mhi, (lc:3'J.) (Xcc 

LiciiT. ; iiec Bi'.) 

'' This faiitastic-l()okiii«4' bird, conspicuous by reason of its cuil- 
in<;- crest and bright crimson bill, breeds iu company with the 
aS. microco'os, but in no number whatever comi»ared with the 
'choochkie'— a few thousand pairs only at Saint Paul's, aud 
relatively more on Saint George's, of course. 

" It makes its appearance iu early May, and repairs to chinks 
and holes in the rocky clift's, or deep down under large bowlders 
aud rough basaltic shingle, to lay, making no nest whatever, 
depositing the egg upon the bare earth or rock. But so well 
do these birds succeed in secreting it that, although I was con- 
stantly upon the ground where several thousand pairs were 
hiying, I was unable to successfully overturn the rocks (under 
which they hide) and get more than four eggs, the result of 
over a hundred attempts. 

•' The note of the ' canooskie' while mating is a loud, clanging, 
honlc-Wke sound ; at all other seasons they are silent. 

" The Slmorhynchus cristateJlus lays but one egg, and the 
parents take turns, I am inclined to believe, in the labor of 
incubation aud in feeding their young. The egg is rough, pure 
Avhite, but with frequent discolorations, aud, compared with 
size and weight of the parent, very large. It is an elongated 
oblong-oval, the smaller end being quite pointed. Length, 
2.10; width, 1.40. 

" I have not seen a chick, nor could I get any notes upon its 
appearance from the natives, but I have shot the young as 
they came out for the first time from their dark, secure hidiug- 
places, fully Hedged, with exception of crest, being by this 
time, the 10th to 15th August, as large as the old birds, aud of 
the same color and feathering. 

"The 'canooskie,' like its cousin, the ^choochkie,' has no sex- 
ual variation in size or plumage. Males aud females are, to all 
external view, precisely alike. 

"The bright crimson bill, however, varies considerably, not 
in color, but in its relative strength and curve, the slenderer 
bill not being confined, as far as I could see, to the young 

208 ALASKA. 

birds, some old ones having the I:gbt and more pointed 

We do not besitate now to follow Professors Scblegel and 
Brandt in uniting tbe duhia and tetracula with the cristatella of 
Pallas. We were never satisfied of tbe distinction of tbe 
former, and in our Monograph expressed tbe strongest doubts 
of its validity as a species. Tbe otber, however, we fully be- 
lieved, until recently, to be a good species. 

C-24. Siniorliyiicliiis piisilliis, (Pall.) Cov-es.— Least, or Knoh-hiUed, 

Auk. '' Cboocb-kie."' 
? ? Alca pygnum, Gmelix. Syst. Nat., i, 555, (1788.)— (-Vo«Me 

jwtiiis:^. Alca camtschatica, Lepecil, juv. ; li. e. = S. cassini, 

XOB. ?) 
Fhaltris pygmcm, Brandt. Bull. Sc. Acad. St. Peterslj., ii, 347, 

(1837.) (Excl. syn. A. pygmcea, Gm.) 
Tylorhamplnis pygnma, Bp. Comtes Eendns, xlii, 774, (1806.) 

(=rna pusUla, Pall.) 
Symorhyndius pygma'us, ScnL. Mus. Pays-Bas, ix, 23, (1867.) 
Urla J;^^si7/rt, Pall. Zoog. R. A., ii, 373, pi. 70,(1811.) (ExcL 

Phakris jnisiUa, Cass. Proc. Pbila. Acad., 324, (1862.) 
Phaleris (Ciceronia) jmsilla, Cass. B. N. A., 909, (1858.) 
Simorhynchiis pusilhts, Coues. Pr. Pliila. Acad., (1868.)— Brandt. 

Bull. Sc. Acad. St. Petersb., vii, 230, (1869.)— Coues. Key N. 

A. B., 343, figs. 227, 228, (1872.) 

Phaleris corniculata, Eschsch. Zool. Atl., 4, pi. 16, ( .) 

Phaleris microceros, Brandt. Bull. Sc. Acad. St. Petersb., ii.. 

346, (1837.) 
Phaleris (Ciccronia) microceros, Cass. B. N. A., 908, (1858.) 
Ciceronia microceros, Reichenbach. 

Simorhynchns microceros, Coues. Proc. Pbila. Acad., (1868.) 
Phaleris nodirostra, Bp. Conip. & Geog. List, 03, (1838.) 
Ciceronia nodirostris, Bp. Couiptes Rendus, xlii, 774, (1856.) 

There is now no reasonable doubt of the identity of tbe 
names above quoted, excepting Alca injfjmcva, which remains 
unidentified. It may have been this species, but most probably 
it was the young of aS'. camtschaticiis, in the same state as tbe 
young bird we recently called S. cassini. The strong doubt we 
expressed in our Monograph respecting the distinction between 
tbe microceros or nodlrostris of authors and the i)usilla of Pallas, 
has been confirmed. 

"This little bird is the most characteristic of the water-fowl 
frequenting the Prybilov Lslands, to which it repairs every 
summer by millions to breed, with its allies, aS'. cristatella, (ca- 
nooskie,) and the Phaleris jysittacula. 

" It is comically iuditferent to the proximity of man, and caa 

ALASKA. 209 

be approached almost within an arm's length before takinp^ 
Ibght, sitting- ui)ri<^ht and eyeing- one with an air of great wis- 
dom, combin(Hl with profound astonishment. 

"Usually about the 1st or 1th of May, every year, the 
choochkie makes its lirst appearance around the islands for the 
season, in small Hocks of a few hundreds or thousands, hover- 
ing over and now and then alighting ui)on the water, sporting 
one with another, in apparent high glee, and making an inces- 
sant low chattering sound. By the 1st to the Gth June they 
have arrived in greatest number, and they then commence to 
lay. They frecpient the loose stony reefs and boAvlder-bars on 
Saint Paul's, together with the cliffs on both islands, and an 
area of over live square miles of basaltic shingle on Saint 
George's. To the last island they come in greatest number. 
There are millions of them. They make no nests, but lay a 
single e^g each, far down below among loose rocks, or they 
deposit it deep within the crevices or chinks in the faces of the 

^'Although, owing to their immense numbers, they seem to 
be in a state of great confusion, yet they pair off and conduct 
all of their billing and cooing down under the rocks, upon the 
spot chosen for incubation, making during this interesting 
l)eriod a singular grunting or croaking sound, more like a 
'devil's fiddle' than anything I have ever heard outside of 
city limits. 

"A walk over their breeding-grounds at this season is exceed- 
ingly interesting and amusing, as the noise of hundreds of 
these little birds directly under foot gives rise to an endless 
variation of sound, as it comes up from the stony holes and 
caverns below, while the birds come and go, in and out, with 
bewildering rapidity, comically blinking and fluttering. 

" The male birds, and many of the females, regularly leave 
the breeding-grounds in the morning and go off to sea, where 
they feed on small water-shrimps and sea-fleas, {AmphqmJa,) 
returning to their nests and sitting partners in the evening. 

"The choochkie lays a smgle pure-white egg, exceedingly 
variable in size and shape, usually oblong-oval, with the smaller 
end somewhat pointed. I have several specimens almost spher- 
ical, and others drawn out into an elongated ellipse j but the 
oblong-oval, with the pointed smaller end, is the prevailing 
type. The egg is very large, compared with the size and weight 
of the little parent. Average length, 1.55 : width, 1.12. The 
11 AL 

210 ALASKA. 

general aspect is much like that of a pigeoirs egg, excepting 
the roughness of the shell. 

^'The chick is covered with a thick, uniform, dark- grayish- 
black down, which is speedily succeeded by feathers, all darker 
than those of the parent, when it takes flight from the islands 
for the year six weeks after. The parents feed their young by 
disgorging, and when the young birds leave, they are as large 
and heavy as the old ones. I am strongly inclined to think 
that the male bird feeds the female while incubating, but have 
not been able to verify tins supposition by observation, as the 
birds are always hidden from sight at the time." 

634. Lomvia troJIe var. caiiforiisca, (Bry.) Coues.— IT/o-re Guilk- 
Cepphfis lomvia, Pall. Zoog. E. A., ii, 345, (1811.) 
Lria troile, Newb. Pac. R. R. Kep., vi, pt. iv, 110, (1S57.) 
Cataractes calif oruicus, Bryant. Proc. Bost. Soc. 11, fig. 3, 5, (1861.) 
Lomvia calif ornica, Coues. Prcc. Phila. Acad., fig. 16, (1868.) 
Lomvia troile var. californica, Coues. Key N. A. Birds, 346, (18r2.) 

All the Murres of the troUe type we have seen from the North 
Pacific agree in possessing a particular shape of the bill, readily 
distinguishable from that presented by the Atlantic birds. 
AVhile we would by no means insist upon, or even admit, that 
this is a specific character, especially since we have no doubt 
that some of the circum polar colonies of these birds will show 
an intermediate style, we think it as well to recognize the char- 
acter by a varietal name. The shape is difficult to descri])e in 
words: the gonydeal angle is stronger, pointed, and more pro- 
tuberant, the gonys straighter and more decidedly ascending, 
the culmen less deflected at the tip, and the commissure conse- 
quently straighter than are these several points in true troile. 
It is, in short, some approach to the configuration of the bill in 
L. svarbag, {hriinnichii of authors.) 

*' Limited numbers of the Californian guillemot are found 
occasionally perched on the cliffs with the ^arric^ tiiey can 
only be distinguished at a slight distance by a practiced eye, 
for they resemble their allies so closely and conform so strictly 
to their habits, that it will be but repeating the description of 
the L. arm., given here, should I attempt it. The largest gath- 
ering of these birds I have ever seen at any one place on the 
islands was a squad of about fifty, at the high blufl's on Saint 
George's, last summer; but they are generally scattered by 
ones, twos, and threes, among thousands and tens of thousands 
of the arra.^^ 

ALASKA. 211 

035. L.oiii\'i:i ari'n, (PArL.) Coves.— Thid-hllled duiUmot. "Arrie." 
('il>l>hiis and, I'ALL. Zoovr. R.-A., ii, 347, (l-^U.) 
Uria ana, Cass. I'roc. Thila. Acad., 3*24, (l^C)\i.) 

(Also, Urla hriinulchii, tfcc, of authors referring to tbe North Pacitic 
thick-billed bird.) 

It is an iutcrestiug fact that these specimens, unquestionably 
of the "thick-billed" guillemot, do not exhibit the extreme 
shortness and stoutness of bill shown by those of the North 
Atlantic, the bill being almost exactly- intermediate. AVith the 
chord of culmen about I5 inches long, the depth of the bill 
opposite the nostrils is hardly, or not, 3 of an inch, and thus 
much less than half as long, instead of about half as long. 
The gape is about 3 inches. While the bill shows the dilated 
and denuded basal portion of the maxillary tomium, character- 
istic of the species, this raised, naked border is not yellowish, 
but of a peculiar glaucous bluish-gray color. The tip of the 
bill is less hooked than in true ''•hrihimclili,''^ though more so 
than in troile. The modification of the bill appears somewhat 
singularly analogous to that which takes place in var. cali/or- 
nica as compared with true troile. 

This bird is,- of course, the true arra of Pallas, (a name ap- 
parently derived from the Eussian vernacular,) whatever be its 
relationshii) to the Atlantic bird. We should not be surprised 
if some of the circumpolar forms were to connect the exti;emes 
of brilnnichii and troile by insensible gradations. 

"The great egg-bird of the North Pacific, frequenting these 
islands by millions. This Uria and one other, the var. cali/or- 
nicaj are the only birds of the genus found here, but the latter 
is in comparatively no number whatever, not one being seen 
where a thousand of the former are visible at once. 

" They appear very early in the season, but do not begin to 
lay until the 18th or 25th of June, and the natives tell me that 
in open, mild winters these birds are seen in straggling flocks 
all around the islands. I feel quite well assured that all the 
individuals do not migrate from this sea and the vicinity of the 
Aleutian Islands. 

" They lay their eggs upon the points and narrow shelves on 
the faces of the cliti- fronts to the islands, standing over the 
eggs, side by side, as thickly as they can crowd, making no 
nests. They quarrel desperately, and so earnestly, that all along 
under the high bluffs on the north shore of Saint George's hun- 
dreds of dead birds are lying, having fallen and dashed them- 

212 ALASKA. 

selves to death upon tbe rocks while clinched in combat with 
rivals in mid-air. 

" They lay but a single egg, upon the bare rock. The egg is 
large and very fancifully colored, a bluish-green ground with 
dark-brown mottlings and patches, but exceedingly variable in 
size and coloring. The outline of the egg is pyriform, some- 
times more acute. It is the most palatable of all the varieties 
found on the islands, haviug no disagreeable flavor, and, when 
perfectly fresh, being fully as good as a hen's egg. 

" Incubation lasts nearly twenty-eight days, and the young 
come out with a dark thick coat of down, which is speedily sup- 
planted by the plumage and color of the old birds within six 
weeks of hatching. They are fed by the disgorging parents, 
apparently without intermission, uttering all the while a harsh 
rough croak, lugubrious enough. 

^' The males and females have no sexual distinction as to size, 
shape, or plumage. On Saint George's Island, while the 
females begin to set, along toward the end of June and first of 
July, the males go flying around the island in great files and 
iflatoons, always circling against, or quartering on, the wind, 
at regular hours in the morning and the evening, malcing a dark 
girdle of Urds more than a quarter of a mile broad and thirty 
miles long, ichirling round and round the island, and forcing upon 
the most casual observer a lasting impression. The flight of 
the 'arrie' is straight, steady, and rapid, the wings beating 
quickly and powerfully ; it makes no noise nor utters any cry, 
save a low, hoarse, grunting croak, and then only when quar- 
reling or mating. 

*'This 'arrie' is a valuable bird to the inhabitants of the 
Seal Islands, and, indeed, for that matter, is the only one that 
has much economic worth to man in Bering Sea.'' 


A P P E X D I X . 


This island lies about 200 miles north-northwest from Saint 
Paul's, and is not large, being some 22 miles in length and ex- 
cessively narrow in proportion, nail's, a small island, lies west 
from it, separated by a strait less than 3 miles in width, and a 
sharp jagged rock stands out some 1,200 feet abruptly from the 
sea, 5 miles south of Sngarloaf Cone. 

Our first landing, early in the morning of August 5,was at the 
slope of Cub Hill, near Cape Upright, the easternmost point of 
the island; the air coming in from the northwest was cold and 
chilly, and snow and ice were on the hill-sides and in the 
gullies. The hillsides and summits were of a grayish-russet 
tinge, with rich green swale-slopes running down into the low- 
lands, which are more intensely green and warm in tone there. 

The island everywhere presents the appearance of a long 
straggling reach of bluffs and headlands connected with bars 
and lowland spits, at a small distance resembling half a dozen 
distinct islands, when seen from the ship. 

The pebble-bar formed by the sea between Cape Upright and 
Waterfall Heads is covered with a deep stratum of glacial drift 
carried down from the slopes of Polar and Cub Hills, and ex- 
tending over two miles of this water-front to the westward, 
where it is met by a similar washing from that quarter. Back 
and in the center of this neck are several small fresh lakes and 
lagoons without fish, but emptying into them are a number of 
clear, lively brooks in which are brook-trout of large size and 
fine quality. A luxuriant growth of deep moss and grass inter- 
spersed exists on the lowest ground, and occasionally strange 
dome-like piles of peat lifted four or five feet above the marshy 
swale appear like abandoned huts, with a great variety of pretty 
flowers, growing thickly everywhere on these places. 

xVs these lowlands rise on to the flanks of the hills th« vegeta- 
tion changes rapidly to a simple coat of cryptogamic gray and 
light russet, with a slippery slide for the foot wherever ascent 

216 ALASKA. 

of a steep place is nnide, water oozing and trickling almost 
everywhere uuderneatli. The swales frequently rise high, and 
cross the hill-siuumits and ridges without any interruption in 
their wet swampy chnracter from valley to valley. 

Uere, on the highest summits, where no moss ever grows and 
nothing but a tine porphyritic shingle slides and rattles under 
tread, are bear-roads leading from nest to nest, or lairs, which 
they have scooped out on the hill sides and where the she-bears 
undoubtedly bring forth their young, but it is not plain where 
these bears, which are all around us by hundreds, spend their 
winters. I am inclined to believe that they do not stay on the 
island ; but as soon as the floes come down from the north, driv- 
ing oil' the seal and walrus, they leave the island and to 
this ice, keeping by the vrater's edge, where their prey will be 
found, and returning as soon as the season opens. Xow 
as we see them they are all eating grass and roots, digging or 
browsing, or else heavily sleeping on the hill-sides. Their man- 
ner of browsing is very similar to the action of a hog engaged 
in grazing. 

The action of ice in rounding down and grinding hills, carry- 
ing the soil and debris off into depressions and valleys, is most 
beautifully exhibited here. The hills at the northern foot of 
Sugarloaf Cone are bare and literally polished by ice-sheets and 
slides of melting snow; the rocks and soil from the summits and 
slopes are carried down and dumped, as it were, in numberless 
little heaps at the base. Xowhere can the work of ice be seen 
to better advantage than here, especially so with regard to the 
chiseling power of frost on the faces of the porphyry clifls. 
Tlie flora here is more extensive than on the Seal Islands, -OI) 
miles to the southward, but the species of grass are not near 
so varied ; indeed, there is very little grass-land here. Wher- 
ever there is soil it seems to be converted by the abundant 
moisture into a swale or swamp, over which we traveled as on 
a quaking water-bed ; but on the rounded hill-tops and ridge- 
summits the smooth shingle makes good walking. The high 
land everywhere here is paved witli this fine shingle, that has 
been created by tlie disintegrating power of frost, which evi- 
dently has an annual iron gri[) on the island. 

The west end of the island differs materially from the east; 
the fantastic weathering of the rocks at Cathedral Point, Hall's 
Island, strikes the eye of the most casual observer as the ship 
enters the straits going south. This eastern wall of the point 

ALASKA. 217 

looms up from the water like a row of vast cedar-trunks; tlie 
scaling* off of the basaltic pori)liyry and growth of 3'cllowisli- 
grecn and red mossy lichens made the cilect most real, while 
a dense bank of fog lying just overhead seemed to shut out 
from our vision the foliage and branches that belonged above. 
The north cape of Hall's Island changes like a chameleon when 
approached, presenting with every mile's distance a new and 
characteristic feature. 

At our anchorage in the straits (20 fathoms) we (taught a gcjod 
supply of cod and halibut of fair quality. Great liocks of 
murres (L. arra) came otf from the cliffs, where they were breed- 
ing, aud settled iu the water around the ship, as we had 
anchored on a feeding-ground. ]\rany walrus ap[)eared around 
the "Keliance," amusing us greatly by the stui)id alertness dis- 
placed wheu they rose head and shoulders out of the water and 
discovered us; a short look and a snort, then, stern foremost, 
they dropped iuto the sea out of sight, as though a trap-door 
had been suddenly sprung beneath them. 

The grass on Hall's Island^ like Saint Matthew's, is confined 
mostly to the swale, which runs from the valleys up to the very 
highest ridges; patches of deep, rich green contrasting quite 
pleasantly with the dull russet aud ocher which covers every- 
thing else. 

Our visit at the west end of this island of Saint Matthew's was 
most interesting ; the rich, elegant coloring of the rocks aud 
fantastic arrangement of the basalt and porphyry at Statue 
Point caused an old sailor in our boat to cry out, " That reminds 
meof Constiintinople, a regular Turk's house!" aud it certainly 
did resemble Ottoman architecture. 

AYe found the ruins of the huts built b}' a party of five Itus- 
sians and seven Aleuts who passed the winter of ISlO-'ll on 
the island, but were stricken down with scurvy, so that all the 
Eussians died save one; the rest recovered and left the follow- 
ing year. 

The result of a careful examination of this island shows coji- 
clusively that the character of the gravel spits and necks is 
such as not to be tit for the reception of breediug-seals, as it 
would be speedily converted by a rookery into a sheet of mud 
aud slime, and there is no other landing aflibrded save at the 
base of cliffs rising abruptly from the sea. Seals also, if landing 
here, would, independent of bear warfare, find a climatic disad- 
vantage, for snow and ice do noi" leave the landings until late 

218 ALASKA. 

in June ; this was evident, although we had an exceptionally 
mild winter, for on August 12, patches of ice and snow were 
on the beaches, and a considerable quantity on the hill-slopes^ 
without any regard to the sun-s position. 

Vegetation on the island is varied and abundant where it is 
able to grow, but the greater part of the country is either a 
fine porphyry shingle or cold wet swale, so that grasses do not 
thrive as they do on the Seal Islands; the small annuals and 
perennials, however, are scattered in great variety, and where 
the sand has been cast up at the barrabkie beach, west end, 
it has mixed in with the drift-soil, and warmed it so that the 
wild wheat [EUjmus) was growing thick, with ears which gave 
promise of ripening. Mosses and lichens are especially abun- 
dant, the " tripe cle roche'- covering the high rounded summits 
with its dark-brown tinge. The only berries, Empetrtim nigrum 
and Buhus chanuvmornSj were very common. The high summit 
slopes of Glacial Head, 1,670 feet, were fairly spangled with 
beautiful flowers, blue, red, white, and yellow. Three varieties 
of the creeping willow [Salix) grow here in great profusion, 
large masses of the leaves being collected in hollows, upon 
which bears have made very comfortable beds; several of the 
higher hills, contiary to the general rule, are well covered with 
grass and flowering plants, such as the south slope of Upright 
Ridge, 1,560 feet, all of Camp Hill, north slope of Pyramid 
Eidge, &c. 
\ ^S'owhere on the island can a well-defined crater-summit or cra- 
ter be found, unless the smoking cleft in the ridge of Pinnacled 
Eock will answer to that description ; but this island is inaccessi- 
ble, rising sheer and abrupt from the sea to a height of at least 
1,200 feet. Its greatest width is not over 500 feet, and it ap- 
pears to be made of reddish lava. Its sharply-serrated ridge 
looms up from the southeast like a great brick cathedral in the 
hazy glow of the morning sun ; upon its steep sides myriads of 
wator-fowl breed, principally murres, (L. arra.) From the sum- 
mit of Sugarloaf Cone, 1,520 feet, we can look upon its great- 
est latitude, and view what appears to be a blackened crater 
or smoky fissure between the two walls ; one or two small rocks 
convoy it, but the water is bold all around, as well as at Saint 
Matthew's, which can be approached with great safety from all 
sides ; theix3 is, however, no harbor, but the roadsteads are 

Polar bears breed here, and live chiefly during the summer 

ALASKA. 219 

upon roots, *>Tassi's, tS:r., o.n<;s, birds, and an occasional walrus 
or liair-seal. On liall's Island a small walrus was discovered 
where the bears had eaten out the entire animal, leaving the 
skin intJK't, touj^h and thick, untouched from the head down to 
the posteriors, where it was broken in to ^et at thellesh; it 
lay just like a bag, bones and all taken out, even to the head, 
and polished. 

Xo less than sixteen of these big beasts were seen at once 
(ten upon the beach together) as the ship's boat approached 
the water-fall on Hall's Island. Of course, it is impossible to 
say how many '^ medvaidie'' there are on Saint Matthew's, 
but it is safe to assert that there cannot be less than a hundred 
and fifty to two hundred; but they must go off on the ice during 
winter and early spring. 

I do not think a full-grown polar bear, powerful as it is, can 
successfully capture a mature walrus; the thick skull and hide, 
immensely tough, of the latter wonld resist any sudden attack 
from the former, and, the alarm once given to the walrus, the 
bear could not prevent the clumsy but strong animal from 
floundering into the water and safety. The bears, however, 
can and do swim in between a young walrus and the water and 
secure it. 

We shot some fifteen or twenty bears, all that we could use 
or care for, relishing the meat very much, it being fully as good 
and tender as the generality of beef. The bears were easily 
killed, never showing fight in any instance. They were in most 
excellent condition, fat and sleek. If caught napping or asleyep, 
they were easily approached, as the hunter could get within a 
few yards before alarming them ; but if they got wind of us, 
they would turn and shamble oft" with considerable speed, 
taking to the hills at once. 

AVhen surprised, the bear would arise and face us for a few 
moment.^, and sniff' and snort, making no other sound ; but in 
its death-agonies after shooting it was silent. 

I searched everywhere for its bones, skulls, &c., which should 
be found, it seemed to me, bleaching on the hill-sides and in 
the valleys, but, with the exception of one very old, battered 
head, and a small one, nothing was seen on the island of this 
character. At this season (August D) the she-bears and their 
cubs were by themselves, (they usually have two cubs,) and the 
young he-bears going about in squads of twos, threes, and 
fours, the old males sleeping and feeding apart. 

220 ALASKA. 

They sleep soundly, but litfully, rolling their heavy arms and 
legs about ; for naps they prefer little grassy depressions on the 
hill-sides and along the numerous small water-courses ; and the 
paths they made were broad and well-beaten all over the island. 

These bears, when full grown, are exceedingly muscular and 
very strong. One shot by Lieutenant Maynard measured eight 
feet from tip of nose to tail, and could not have weighed less 
than a thousand or twelve hundred pounds; it liad a girth of 
24- inches around the muscles of the fore-arm, when the skin 
was removed, just back of the carpal joint, corresponding to 
our wrist ; it was fat, and had scars upon its head, which were 
evidently received in fighting with its kind. Xo worms were 
found ill the intestines or stomach; the liver was speckled 
with light grayish-green dots and patches. 

j^OTE.— Lienteuaut Maynard and myself surveyed this island, and made 
a careful chart of it ; Captain Baker gave us soundings, which accompany 
the map. The only existing chart is a Eu.>sian one, and very inaccurate.— 
H. W. E. 


This is the largest island in Bering Sea, and lies directly 
south from Bering's Straits about 180 miles ; it is about SO to 
83 miles in length, with an average width of 15 to 20, The sea 
has built on to it most extensively, in the same manner as on 
the island of Saint Paul, but it is quite dissimilar in form and 

We made our first landing on this island early in the morning 
of August 18, near Kagallegak, or opposite Poonook Islets, 
and a baidar with a number ot the natives, Mahlemute Eskimo, 
came off to us as soon as we dropped our anchor. 

We found the island, at this landing, to be made up of coarse 
feldspathic red granite flats and hills, with extensive lagoons 
and lakes. The skeleton of the island seems to be of these low 
granitic hill-ranges, and between them stretch long, low, even 
reaches of sand-beach for miles and miles. At Kagallegak the 
eye sweeps over extensive, level plains to the northward, upon 
which the green Eriophorum anf/usiifoJium principally grows, 
the ground, or "tundra," being wet and boggy; while, on the 
sand-beach reaches, the 'Mvild wheat*' {Eli/mus mollis) grows 
abundantly, short and stunted. 

ALASKA. 221 

These {jieat level, low areas, so peculiar to this island, are 
made up of tine granitic drift, lined at the sea margin with sand; 
the hills and hill-ranges are rich in color, with deep blue-black 
])atehes caused by protrusions of trap; l)ut no shrubbery what- 
ever grows on those at the east end and north end of the island^ 
save the creeping salix, dwarfed and stunted — cryptogamic 
plants chiefly. The main body of the range is coini)osed of 
reddish, coarse and tine grained feldspathic granite, with abun- 
dant trap protrusions, which weather out and fall down upon 
the flanks of the ridges in dark patches and streaks, contrast- 
ing, at a distance of eight or ten miles, very sharply with the 
main ground of pinkish rock, moss-grown, and colored here and 
there with the greenish-russet tinge peculiar to such vegeta- 
tion; this dark marking of the trap, at a little distance, ai)pears 
like low-growing shrubbery. Snow and ice lay in the gullies 
and on the hill-sides. 

The low plains have the russet yellowish green peculiar to 
the tundra of the north; the sand is a bright light brown. 
Small streams flow down from the hills and empty into the sea 
and lakes, in which we found a few parr or young salmon ; the 
lakes and lagoons are fairly stocked with a white-fish — nothing 
else of this kind. 

The entire expanse of the lowlands over which we traveled 
was like a great sponge filled and overrunning with water, the 
chief vegetation upon it being the beautiful tufted or plumed 
grass, [EriopUorum,,) bearing exquisite tassels of white, silkeu 
floss; this grass, in conjunction with several cryptogams, a few 
scattered Ruhus cliamoemorus and Empetrnm^ make up the rich 
russet-green, flecked with gray-green spots, which mark these 
great marshy tracts in the Alaskan country. There are many 
places w^here this vegetation, during ages past, has decayed and 
formed bog-holes or pools, into which the pedestrian will mire 
down to his waist at a single step. 

A small succincay or land-snail, was very abundant on these 
flats, near our landing at Northei^st Point, and all along the 
shore-line we saw an abundance of drift-wood, logs, and pieces, 
most of it pine or spruce, a few poplar sticks, and a luimber of 
unrecognizable twisted knots. 

Very little algcCy or sea-weed, or any marine life whatever, was 
evident from the surf-castings ; only a few mussels and small 
conch-shells, {Fusus.) The beach is made up, in some places 

2.12 ALASKA. 

for loii<4- distances, of granite pebbles and bowlders, scattered 
with some trap. 

At Northeast Point the natives have quite a wood-cut tiug 
camp, hewing' and carving, and the chips are scattered all aloug 
the beach-levels for miles: there are places here where the ice, 
in some unusual season, has carried large logs and pieces of 
drift-wood back full half a mile from the sea } and there they 
lie to-day deeply imbedded iu the swale, settliug and decay- 
ing. The ice-jams which have taken place to effect this must 
have been very severe. 

The southwest point of Saint Lawrence is largely made up of 
trap and porphyry, slate, &c. ; the water very bold and deep. 

The natives on the island cannot be much over three or four 
hundred iu number, and are living in five settlements, about 
equidistant, around the coast. They are well formed and 
hearty, genial and good-natured. The}* are of Mongolian cast 
and build, strongly resembling Chinamen, only that nearly all 
the men shave the occipital portion of the head instead of the 
frontal, as practiced by the Celestials; the women, however, do 
not shave their heads, and do their hair up in two braids hang- 
ing down behind, tied up with beads, &c. 

They met us in an unaffected, free manner, showing no fear 
or hesitation, and, coming upon deck, commenced a vociferous 
cry for tobacco, and that alone; yet they were civil and curious: 
'three or four women usually came in each baidar with them, 
paddling like the men ; the boats, about 14 feet long with 4 feet 
of beam, consisted of a frame, very neatly lashed together, of 
pine, with whalebone fastenings, over which walrus-hide was 
stretched ; they propelled it with paddles and oars, which were 
also well made. 

They live in summer-houses made of walrus-hides, weighted 
down by logs and stones so as not to be blown away ; and close 
by are the winter-houses, which are under ground, with a tun- 
nel entrance. 

The food of these people is whales' blubber, cut in large 
chunks, of the strongest, rancid odor; mullets from the fresh- 
water lakes, and caught in nets of walrus-thongs; murres, small 
waders, walrus and hair-seal meat, varied by geese and ducks. 
They had no iron cooking-utensils; all wood, and made by them- 
selves, using hot stones for boiling water. Seal and whale oil 
they had cached both above and under ground ; they preserve 
all fish and bird offal and devour it raw, saving the skins of the 

ALASKA. 223 

latter, which they make up into " pai kie.s'' or sacks for ch>thinj:.f : 
this is, however, a poor fjarmeiil when made of bird-skins; it 
is always giving way at the seams, feathers flying, &c. ; the 
skin is usually turned outside and the feathers worn next to the 
body. Furs are nearly all worn in this way; and the garments 
worn were principally made of reiudeer-skins, procured frotn 
the Asiatics in exchange for wood and ivory and tanned hair- 

They were poor, and had nothing for trade but clothing 
made from the intestines of the walrus, walrus-teeth, and some 
whalebone; but they had an ample supply of food, such as it 
was, and their desire that we should taste of it was almost equal 
to our determination not to do so. 

They were exceedingly^ anxious to trade, and I noticed that 
the women seemed to have equal rank with the men, doing 
more than half the talking, and barter solicitation ; they seemed 
to be warmly attached to one another. The females all had their 
faces curiously tattooed in pale-blue lines on the cheeks and 
chin, and the arms. 

They had a few dogs, very large, with long, shaggy hair, 
pointed ears, and short, bear-like tails ; they were of a mild 
and inoffensive disposition, and were highly valued by their 

They took us to a place where they had six polar-bear skulls 
placed on the sand, side by side, with a post at the head, which 
they gave us to understand we could not touch ; for I wanted 
to carry off one of the bear-skulls, which was 17 inches long 
and measured 10 across the zygomatic arch ; it was undoubt- 
edly a grave where some one of their number had perished by 
the agency indicated by the skulls. Bears, however, rarely 
visit this island, and foxes are the only land-animals. 

The natives were supplied with coarse, smooth-bore muskets, 
which, I thought, they seldom used. xA.ll the birds, such as 
murres and geese or ducks, are caught in large nets stretched 
over the brows of cliffs, or across the lagoons. These nets are 
very neatly made of walrus-hide. 

No animals were seen by us in the water about the island 
save an occasional hair-seal thrusting its head out from the 
sea. A few cod-lish were caught, and when the natives came 
aboard, on the 18th, the cods' heads and intestines lying in 
the ship's scuppers, where the cook had been cleaning the 

224 ALASKA. 

fish, were eagerly picked up and carried off by the Eskimo in 
great glee, as if regarded as a prize. 

Bird-life was uot so extensive as at Saint Matthew's, the 
murres {Lomvia arra) predominating on the sea-fiont, while in 
the lagoons were several large flocks of the emperor- goose (C. 
canagica.) Tringa cmssirostis, so common on the Seal Islands 
and on Saint Matthew's, was not seen here. A stone-chat (S. 
cenanthe) was observed, as also Budytes flava. The small Asiatic 
tern, in large numbers, hovered over the lagoons. The turn- 
stones here (>S'. interpres) have a much blacker, duller tone than 
the variety on the Seal Islands. 

Our observations here would make Saint Lawrence of the 
same formation as the mainland on either side of the straits, 
and just as old, but the islands of Saint Matthew's and the 
Prybilov group, as much more recent, and belonging to a differ- 
ent epoch. Saint Lawrence is ice-bound and snow-covered too 
large a portion of the year ever to become a fit i)lace for the 
fur-seal to breed ; and it may be safely said that no land of 
ours in the north is adapted to the wants of that animal ex- 
cept that of Saint Paul and Saint George. 




List of uafirtsi JivUuj on Ihe Ahntian Islands in Ift5:{-':}1, iakin from liisloqy 
I'cniaminov^s ^^ ZupitHka, Wc." 

Xaine of sottlonK-nt. 

Xiiniber of 









i s > 



























<^ Vavsaylovskoi 



</)Kab]t-cliteiisk()i ... 


Total 9 settlements 




~ 45' 










Total 2 settlements 

















Total 3 settlements 






Saydankooskoi . 























Total 6 settlements 


Bell ko vskoi 


Peninsula Alaska. . 









Total 3 settlements 



206 1 25 



Saint Paul and Saint George 



Piybilov Islands . . . 







Total 3 settlements 

Making a grand total of 26 




1 4g4 i«;7 



Note.— The mark ^ is prefixed to all stations not existing at the present -nTitinff. Sep- 
tember, 1874. 01 &. f 

15 AL 

22 G 


List of pcopU living on the AJcuiian Islanch, 1^.74, talccn from rather Innocent 
Shiesnekor'^i record, September '2, 1("^74. 

























Cboriiovskie • .....................I ... 













Pnitabsavskoi , 










J 62 


Atka. 187-2: 





^'azau - . 







* Cbnrcb-worker.s, Sec. 

t Thirty-live souls iiidepondeut of this number went to Copper Island iu 1872; twenty- 
tbree came to Ouualasbka also. 

" la 1848 tbere were some 1,400 souls on tlie Aleutian Islands 
west of tbe Peninsula ; the small-pox then broke out, and over 
500 died that season, leaving some 000, about which number 
still remain. In those days these i^eople were very poor com- 
pared with their present condition ; they had but little money, 
very little tea, bread, and sugar, and very few clothes/' — Father 
IShiesncl'OV, OunaJasltla, September 2, 1871.* 

The following table shows the population of Eussiau America 
in 183-1, as given by Bishop Yeniaminov : + 

* This priest, who is a very iutelligent aud uuassumiug man, gave Lieu- 
tenant Maynard and myself a long and exceedingly interesting account of 
the manner in which the Alents were living under Russian rule, in order 
that we might have a basis for comparison of the present, as we saw it, with 
that of the past. The testimony of this gentleman I regard as of the great- 
est value, for he knows more of the subject than any other man living who 
can be found, as his whole life has been passed in this country, and his char- 
acter as a prelate and a gentleman is highly respected by all who know him. 

t Veuiaminov appears to have been the only Kussian who, during the whole 
occupation of Alaska by that jieople, has given to the world anything like a 
history of the country or a sketch of its inhabitants, that has ability or 
the merit of truth. He is at present living, and ranks second to the Em- 
peror in the Kussian Empire, being the primate of the national church. He 
must have been a man of line personal bearing, judging from the descrip- 
tion given of him by Sir George Simpson, who met him at Sitka in 164'2 : 
'' His appearance, to which I have already alluded, impresses a stranger with 
something of awe, while, on further intercourse, the gentleness which char- 
acterizes his every word and deed insensibl}' molds reverence into love j and 

ALASKA. 227 

Koloshiauii .J, 000 

Copper Ikivtr ''M) 

ChoogacJi ie 171 

Peninsula 1 , (>00 

Kodial-s 1, 50.S 

Koslcoquim 7, 000 

Yukon Biver not Uiiowii 

Kussians 70(i 

Oogahlcnsic, (Mount Saiut Elias, near) L"iO 

KolchcuiSj (interior) not knov/n 

Kenai 1 , GL\S 

Aglahmutes lOi* 

Ou)ialas]il'a Aleuts 1, 497 

A tJca Aleuts ^ . 7.30 

Mahlemutes^ ^c not known 

Creoles 1,295 

Total actnally known Hi*, 800 

Estimate of the rest 17, 000 

Making a total, for the Territory, of some 40, 000 

The following is a list of the different tribes of Indians living 
between Prince of Wales Island and Yahkutat, or Bering's 
Bay, Alaska, in 1837-38, (from Yeniamiuov, part III :) 

" The numbers of these people (Indians) living in Eussiau 
America between Prince of Wales and Bering's Bay in 1835 
was 10,000, but now (1838) not much over G,000. The settle- 
ments, and people in them, number as follows: 


Yahkutatskie, (Bering's Bay) 150 

Ahkvaystkie, (Lituya Bay) 200 

Laydauoprodevskie 250 

Chelkatskie (Chilcats) , 200 

Ahkootskie 100 

Seetheuskie, (Sitka) 750 

Kootsuovskie, (Hootsino) 300 

Kaykovskie, (Cakes) - 200 

Koonjeskie 1 50 

Gaynoovskie 300 

at the same time his talents aud attaiumeuts are such a^ to be worthy of 
his exalted station. AVith all this, the bishop is sufficieutly a man of the 
^^'orld to disdain anything like cant. His conversation, on the contrary, 
teems with amusement and instruction, and his company is much prized by 
All who have the honor of his aciiuaintauce." 




Stobenskie, (Stickeen) 1, 500 

TaDgasskie, (Toiigass) 150 

Kabeganskie, (Piiuce of Wales Island) 1, 200 

Cbasenskie . , 150 

Soanabiiskie 100 

Total 5, 850 

"A count equal to tbis may be made on tbe Nasse, Skeeua, 
&C., a country now under tbe control of tbe Englisb, including 
Queen Cbarlotte's Island at 8,000, makes tbe number of all tbe 
Kolosbes (Indians) living in tbis country at tbis time (1838) 
25,000, and not less tban 20,000." 

Table showing the entire numher of Christians^ in the Territory of Alasla in 1863^ 
(Techmainov, j;. 264.) 

Xame of people. 

Males. Females. Total 



Aleuts, (Ounalashka, Kodiak, aud Atka) 




Copper Hirer 



A ziagmutes 


K vich])aka 




























2, 185 




















4, 392 
















12, 018 

* The term "Christian" here simply indicates the baptism of the Indians, with the 
marked exception of the Aleuts. For instance, the 1,395 Koskoquims who permitted the 
priests to baptize them, had then no more idea of tbe principles or practice of Christianity 
than they have now ; they received some trifling reward at the time, of tobacco, cloth. 
&c., for submitting to the ceremony. 

ALASKxV. 229 


Wliilc' in tlic Tenitoiy last season, I liad tlic satisfaction 
of nieotin<>- this gentleman, an employe of the United States 
Coast Snrvey, and we bad occasion to exchange views iu 
regard to the condition of the people. The opinions of Mr. 
Dall were, in some instances, so ditierent liom mine that I 
asked him to embody his conclusions Iq the form of a letter 
in order that I might publish them, to show the contrast. This 
he has done, and I take pleasure in making known the views 
of Mr. Ball, and in appending a criticism based upon my 
knowledge and judgment. I may say at the outset that, -while 
I concede for the sake of argument that Mr. Dall " has seen 
moreof the country than any other individual," lam not willing 
to grant the plain inference that he has studied that which he 
lias seen more intelligently or patiently than others, who may 
have seen less, but still enough to form a correct opinion.* 


U. S. Coast Sueyey Schoo^'ee Yukon, 

August 31, 1874. 

Gentlemen : At the instance of .Mr. Elliott, I have addressed 
to you the present letter, intended to embody the conclusions 
to which I have been led during a long residence in this Terri- 
tory^, bearing on the subject of your inquiry. 

For nearly ten years I have been constantly engaged either 
in the study of the subject or in active investigation in this re- 
gion. Three winters and more than seven years of this period 
I have been actually resident in the Territory, and the duties 
assigned to me have carried me to nearly every point in it 
which is of any importance. I have consequently seen more of 
the country than any other individual, and never having be£ii 
connected in any way with any trading comi)any, it may be 

* In making my comments npon this letter, I do not wish to appear iu the 
light of 'laying down the law' in every case, for it is a question well open 
to argument as to the effect of any attempt to educate these peo])le. A long 
interview with General Eaton, Commissioner of Education, upon this sub- 
ject pleased me very much, for I found that he had a quite different idea 
from the plan now followed of schools on our Indian reservations ; indeed, 
it was almost identical with the views of the Russian bishop iu San Fran- 
cisco, who has charge of the Greek Catholic church in this, Territory. The 
system of General Eaton will uudoubteillv be fouml in his report for this 
.year. ' II. ^Y. E. 

230 ALASKA. 

reasoDably assumed that I have been in the position of an im- 
partial observer, and that my views on the subject are not 
without a certain weight. 

I will eudeavor to state as succinctly as practicable the 
present condition of the Aleutian people and its relation to 
their past condition, the position which they hold in regard to 
the traders, and what action seems to me desirable on the part 
of the Government to protect its honor and their rights from 

Briefly, the past may be summed up in the statement that 
the Aleuts were found by the early Eussian explorers a race 
possessed of much intelligence, not without spirit, yet far less 
warlike and aggressive than the Eskimo of Kodiak and else- 
where, (who are usually confounded with the Aleuts,) and an 
entirely different people in character and disposition from the 
Indians of the coast or the interior. They were reduced by 
the most barbarous and inhuman treatment to less than 10 per 
cent, of their original numbers, and were regarded as the slaves 
of the traders. 

The first reaction against this system took place in 1794, and 
then and afterward in 1799, 1805, and especially 1818, the 
Eussian government, recognizing its duty, interposed between 
the Aleuts and the trading companies regulations intended to 
curb the exactions of the latter and improve the condition of 
the former. 

In 1821, Father lunocentius Veniaminoff, a noble and 
devoted missionary, now primate of the Greek Church, began 
his labors among the Aleuts, and to him is due directly most 
of their improvement, mental and moral, since the time men- 
tioned. In 1861 and 1802 the report of Imperial Commissioner 
Golovin was prepared and submitted, and the result showing 
that the regulations of the government had been more or 
less unsuccessful in checking the rapacity of the traders, their 
charter was not renewed.(l) 

In the Kussian plan, the Aleuts were in a condition of serf- 
dom to the company which controlled the colonies. Yet the 
com})any had its own obligations to fulfill toward them, and 
when these were enforced, no Eussian, except the commander 
of a trading-post, could strike a native -, the xVleuts were in- 
sured a subsistence ; the making of quass, a fermented liquor, 
of which the basis is meal and sugar or molasses, was forbid- 
den under heavy penalties, and intoxicating spirits were only 



fiiriiisliLMl to the natives wlieii actually eii-agcd in iieavy 
iiiaiiual labor lor the (company, and then in very limited quan- 
tities. Schools were oblii;ed to be maintained by the company, 
iQ which the priests were usually the teachers, and though 
these were of rather a poor character, yet the children who 
manifested more than usual ability were able to enter a hi*;her 
seminary at Sitka, and to obtain in this manner a tolerable 
education, for which in return they were bound to the com- 
l)any^s service at stated wa*;es for a term of years. A number 
of individualsthusedncated(2) participated with creditto them- 
selves in the exploration of the Territory, and commanded ves- 
sels belonging to the comi)any, or otherwise held positions of 
responsibility. The entire race became christianized, their re- 
ligion being of a low type it is true, but unmistakably earnest 
and devoted. 

So much for the past. Under this system of tc^telage the 
Aleuts lost almost entirely the feeling of independence or the 
capacity for independent action and self-guidance. 

In describing their present condition, I must premise that no 
one who has studied them at all has ever placed them in a light 
which would class them with our wild and unruly Indian tribes, 
and that the care and endeavors wasted on some of these should 
not be taken as factors in forming a judgment of what is desir- 
able or practicable to be done for the Aleuts. The latter are a 
mild, intelligent, and docile people, always ready to submit to 
authority', even if groundless or self-constituted. 

1 have visited personally all the principal settlements in the 
Pribiloff and Aleutian Islands, and with Ouualashka am especi- 
ally familiar, having wintered here and been brought into tol- 
erably close relations with the people during the last three 

The settlements can be assigned to four principal groups, ex- 
cluding that of Attu, which I am informed is about to be aban- 
doned. These are Atka, Ounalashka, Belkofifsky, and the Shu- 
magiu Islands. There are a number of very small outlying set- 
tlements, but all of them are closely contiguous to one or the 
other of these principal places. 

The people of Atka are more enterprising and intelligent ia 
hunting, and have been less demoralized by contact with 
traders ) the converse is true of Belkoffsky and the Shumagins ; 
otherwise the uniformity of character and condition through- 
out the Aleutian chain is remarkal)le. The people of the Pribi- 

232 ALASKA. 

loft' group have been under exceptional conditions for several 
years. They have had schools, (after a fashion,) steady and 
remunerative employment, a resident physician, and are able 
to purchase provisions and other necessaries at a reasonable 
price ; hence they cannot be compared with the others who 
have had none of these advantages. That the former show the 
good effects of their situation, it is hardly uecessary to state. 

The relations between these people and the traders, or, more 
strictly, with the one trading company which has at i^resent au 
overwhelming predominance throughout the xVleutian region, 
are peculiar, and require a word of explanation. 

Tlie Aleuts, except on the Pribiloft' Islands, gain a livelihood 
by hunting the sea- otter and by fishing. [N^one of the islands 
afford any subsistence except that drawn from the sea. 

To hunt or fish, in fact to live, the Aleut is totally depend- 
ent on his shin-canoe. To make this canoe he must have hair- 
seal or sea-liou skins. From various causes the sea-lions are 
not now to be found, as formerly, within reach of the large wset- 
tlements, except on the Pribiloft' Islands. This made no dift'er- 
ence under the Eussian rule, as the sea-liou skius were taken 
under the company's direction at the Pribiloft' Islands, and were 
then distributed to the various points where they were needed, 
and were given to the Aleuts gratis. Xow, ou the contrary, 
they arc obliged to buy them, and to buy them of the company, 
who hold the lease of the Pribiloff Islands, except in very rare 
cases. As the company's agents, in the natural course of busi- 
ness, will sell these materials only to those natives who are 
known to bring all their furs to the company's store for sale, it 
follows tbat the lease of the fur-seal islands carries with it a 
practical monopoly of all the fur-trade of the Aleutian nation, 
that is to say, the sea-otter as well as the seal trade.(3) 

Though questions may arise in the minds of those less famil- 
iar with the subject than myself as to the necessity of this mo- 
nopoly, it is suliicient to say that it is a fact, and, joined with 
the Very great profits of the seal-trade, gives such a weight to 
a com[)any possessing these advantages as to enable them to 
kill out all opposition traders, or to reduce their business and 
influence to a nullity. In point of fact, then, except in Belkoff- 
sky and the Shumagins, where sea-lion are yet obtainable by 
the natives without the intervention of the company, the latter 
is in the possession of absolute and unchecked power over the 
whole Aleut nation. 

ALASKA. 283 

Before proceeding to discuss how tbis power lias been exer- 
cised, it is necessary to call attention to certain characteristics 
of the natives which your own observation will doubtless con- 
Urm. Like all races of a low degree of civilization, the attrac- 
tion which intoxicating liquors, fermented or distilled, exercises 
over them is not equaled by any other influence to which they 
are subjected. The manufacture of quass, which they derived 
from the llussians, although prohibited by the regulations of 
the Itussian compauy, has become a universal practice, and, 
joined to the absence of any elevating influences, such as 
schools, or the supervision of agents deriving their authority 
from the Government, is rapidly aud surely degrading the 
character and increasing the mortality of the Aleuts. Where- 
ever opposition traders meet, they both connive at this 
infamy, and iu such places the deterioration of the 
people is more marked and rapid. There are no grounds for 
stating, uor is it my opinion, that the present company has 
abused its position more than any other would do in the same 
case ; this, however, is not the question at issue, but whether 
it is consistent with the honor of the Government and with its 
duty toward a people who occupy the position of wards of the 
United States to leave them in a condition where the grossest 
tyranny is possible, and where gradual degradation and re- 
lapse into barbarism is certain. Let us examine for a moment 
the condition of the Territory. There is absolutely no law, no 
means of protection, no redress for injury for any citizen of the 
United States even, to say nothing of natives.(4) A number of 
murders among the whites have occurred during the past few 
years. Only one man was ever apprehended, aud I am in- 
formed that he was discharged by the courts of Washington 
Territory for want of jurisdiction. That acts of injustice and 
oppression have occurred between the traders and the com- 
pany I have abundant evidence, though such things are not 
likely to occur in the presence of a United States officer. Sup- 
pose some act of gross injustice should occur, in what way would 
the unfortunate Aleut make his troubles known, if his long ex- 
perience under the Russians, and disappointed hopes under the 
various visits of United States officials, had not taught him 
that the best way was to bear it in silence .' 

If he desired to communicate with civilization, the only 
mails are by the company's vessels, and 1 have positive evi- 
dence that they do not always respect even the sanctity of ofii- 

234 ALASKA. 

cial commuuications intrusted to their agent for transmis- 
sion. (5) 

Does he desire to communicate with the cutter during her 
annual visit, (if he is fortunate enough to live in Ounalashka 
when she does come,) he knows that a year must elapse before 
any result can be attained, and meanwhile he will be subjected 
to ill-treatment from the agent of whom he has complained, 
inteusitied by the knowledge that complaint has been made.((>) 

In old times each village had a tyone or chief elected by 
suffrage, whose duty it was to be present at all trade, and arbi- 
trate between the traders and the natives, and prevent any 
cheating of the latter by the former. Now, the tyone is the 
creature of the company, paid by them ; if there are opposition 
traders there are two tyones, and it is evident how impartial 
must be their arbitration, and what is the character of the pro- 
tection they afford. 

The Ivussians left these people with their self-reliance en- 
feebled, but tlieir intelligence and morals elevated to some 
extent above their original condition. We have done nothing 
to sustain them in this position, nor to cultivate their self-reli- 

I think I may say that inquiries on your part in relation to 
specific acts of oppression would be quite fruitless. Those na- 
tives who may have suffered have long since learned by experi- 
ence that complaints result in nothing unless in an aggravation 
of the original difficulty, and the tyone paid by the company 
can always bring forward evidence such as his employers may 
desire. I must again repeat, that it is not a question of punish- 
ing actual offenses, but of providing against the perpetration 
of them ; and to await outrages so gross as to force their way 
to our ears, before extending protection, is to wait till the stable 
is empty before locking tlie door. 

I do not blame the traders for doing little or nothing to ele- 
vate or improve the natives.(7) It is not their business ] and^ 
even if they were willing to work against their own pecuniary 
interciit in this way, it still should not be left to them. 

The description of men who gain their livelihood as fur- 
traders are, with rare excei)tions, unfit to be trusted with abso- 
lute power over unresisting natives, notwithstanding the pos- 
sible high character of tlie distant heads of the company who 
employ them. 

ALASKA. 235 

What tlic'ii slumld lie dune to iv<^ulate* tlu' action of tlie two 
parties ? 

It is with SOUR' hesitation that I oiler my ()[)inion on so grav(* 
a question. One thing I feel certain of: the manufacture of 
quass slionld be put «lown, and no intoxicating licjuor sliouhl 
be alh)\ved to enter the country on any pretext whatever. 

1 think it the duty of the Goveruuneut to provide schools for 
the younger people, who are growing up in ignorance, while 
many of their parents can read and write in the liussian lan- 
guage. These schools should teach the rudiments of English 
education, and should be free from any religious bias, as other- 
wise they would fail. Attendance should be made compulsory. 

But it may be said that this would require many oflicials and 
great expense to get at the separated communities. I think I 
can show that this need not necessarily be the case. Suppose 
that the laws governing the Indian reservations were extended 
over the Aleutian region. A beginning could be made at the 
four ])rincipal places I have named, or at one or more of them ^ 
and extended, or the plan modified, as experience would show 
desirable. The few outlying smaller settlements could be 
reached from these, if not at once, at least eventually. Let the 
settlement be declared a reservation, and the resident oflicial 
invested with the power:, of an Indian agent, and supplemented 
by a schoolmaster. Then the first would be in a position to 
arbitrate between the natives and traders in disputed cases, 
and to enforce justice on both sides.(8) 

I have not arrived at that point where I should believe that 
the Government habitually employs dishonest agents, though 
long experience in Alaska might shake any man's optimism. 

At all events, it seems to me to be the duty of the Government 
to act in the matter, if only to save its own honor. I think 
there is a duty involved aside from economical considerations. 
The citizens, if not the wards of the United States, are entitled 
to the protection of the law, and it should be extended to them. 
Whether the method which I have suggested is the best or not 
is a question to be decided by others, but I cannot see how 
there can be two opinions about the duty of extending the pro- 
tection of the laws and an opportunity for education to these 
and other civilized inhabitants of this Territory. 

That these are now wanting no honest or sane man can deny. 

It would be very desirable, also, that the headquarters of au- 
thority in the Territorv be transferred to Ounalashka. It is 

236 ALASKA. 

the most important and central point ; but even Kodiak would 
be better than Sitka, which has uow no importance and hardly 
any business.(O) 

Apologizing for having trespassed on your attention with so 
lengthy a communication, 1 will now close this letter with one 
remark, which has no special connection with the foregoing, but 
which I believe of some importance. This is, that it would be 
very desirable that the ofticers of the United States employed 
on the Pribiloff Islands should be prohibited from receiving 
pay from, or rendering services for pay to, the company whom 
practically they are placed there to watch. That this has oc- 
curred iu several instances I am aware, and probably in some 
cases without any improper intent on either side ; but it is ev- 
ident at once that it opens a wide door for scandal, if not for 

I remain, with great respect, yours, very trulj', 

Acting Assistant United States Coast-Survey, 

In charge Hgdrograpliic Bcconnaissance of Alasl'a. 
Messrs. H. W. Elliott and 
AVashburn Maynard, r. S. N., 

United States Commissioners. 


(1) The fact the Russian American Company, at tlie close of its 
third term of twentj^ years, in 18G2, was over two millions of sil- 
A'er rubles in debt may have had a great deal to do with the 
failure in getting a renewal of its charter. A losing business is 
not often persisted in a great while by either corporations or in- 
dividuals. The extravagance and shiftlessness in the manage- 
ment of affairs in Alaska by the officers of the Kussian Ameri- 
can Company, during the last twenty or thirty years of its exist- 
ence, may alone have tended to the result. 

(2) Here Mr. Ball, not directly perhaps, but i)lainly, gives us 
to understand that a number of natives, Aleuts, were educated 
in Kussian schools, and •' participated with great credit to them- 
selves in the exploration of the Territory, and commanded ves- 
sels belonging to" the company, or otherwise held positions of 
responsibility." This is a mistake ; for these people, serving with 
such credit, educated by the company in question, were not Aleuts, 
but Creoles, or half-breeds, and octoroons. There is no record of 
^n^- service rendered the Russian company by the Aleuts, other 

ALASKA. 237 

tbaii that oi' ^ood, honest mannal hibor, with the exception of 
a certain Ak'nt named Oo8ti;;ov, who at Sitka "was considered 
a fair navi j;ator." These people made good ordinary cari)enters, 
blacksmiths, coopers, locksmiths, and sailors — ;:;ood enough for 
the Iiiissian service — but such a grade of labor will not satisfy 
our traders or captains; and there is, therefore, no demand for 
such upon these people, and there never will be, as long as the 
country is under American control. AYe have in San Francisco 
to-day too many idle workmen of all grades better than the Aleuts 
could be made, and when such labor is wanted in Alaska, these 
men will be employed there. Eemoviug the Russian Company 
from the country leaves no future employment whatever for the 
Aleuts, in the capacity above mentioned, no matter what may be 
their educational advantages. 

(3) That Mr. Dall can advance such an argument in regard 
to the monopoly of the fur-trade of the xVleutian Islandsby the 
control of the sea-lion skins of the Prybilov Islands is very stran ge, 
for the fact is, that any trader to-day who may deem the fur- 
trade of that section worth the outlay necessary to fit up a small 
schooner or sloop, and send it out every other season equipped 
for sea lion hunting among the Aleutian Islands, on the north side 
of the Peninsula and those islands south of it, can secure skins 
enough for the entire use of the whole Aleutian population ! An 
annual outlay of only $2,500 is all that is necessary for an oppo- 
sition trader at Ounalashka to place himself on the same foot- 
ing, in this respect, with his present rival there. "Whether the 
fur-trade of that district is worth enough to warrant this small 
expenditure or not is a matter for the traders themselves to 
settle, not us, but the fact speaks for itself. Even if there were 
no sea-lions except on the Prybilov Islands, (which is not true,) 
the traders who take any interest in this section are perfectly in- 
dependent of the Alaska Commercial Company, for there are 
thousands upon thousands of walrus not four hundred miles 
from Ounalashka, the skins of which can be made, with a little 
more labor, quite as valuable for covering the bidarkies or canoes 
of the sea-otter hunters ; if anything, they are more durable^ 
and these walrus can be obtained as easily as so many hogs or 

(4) In this paragraph I concur; it is true. 

(5) This is a case in which I think, or rather know, that Mr. 
Dall casts an unworthy reflection upon the Alaska Commercial 
Company without just ground. The facts are as follows: In 

238 ALASKA. 

the spring of 1872 the Alaska Commercial Compauy sent a man 
from San Francisco, on trial, to serve as assistant agent at 
Oanalaslika ; he was fonnd wanting, and in less tban six months 
from the time of bis engagement be was dismissed from its 
service as unfit and incompetent. IMr. Dall bad given a letter 
to the person in question, Avbile tbat person was acting for tbe 
company as assistant trader at Ouualasbka, for transmission to 
tbe postmaster at San Francisco. Tbis letter contained a small 
jsum of money, (a twenty-dollar greenback, I believe,) and never 
reached its destination. I am, of course, not prepared to say 
whether tbe man robbed tbe letter or not ; but I should acquit 
tbe company of collusion in so contemptible a matter, even if 
tbis man did do so. Then, again, ]Mr. Dall writes tbis letter with 
tbe ship of an opposition trader laying over ten days at anchor 
in the same harbor with us — no other vessels tban those of the 
company to carry tbe mails! 

(G) Tbis is one of tbe reasons why 1 ask for a steam revenue- 
vessel in tbis Territory: it is impossible for a saiU)i(j-ciitier to go 
about from place to place, as she ought to do. 

(7) In tbis case I think I have shown, in a foregoing chap- 
ter, that, contrary to Mr. Ball's statement, it is to the direct 
interest of traders to do all in their power to improve and elevate 
the 7iatives, and tbat the natives are to-day living, at Ounalashka 
and elsewhere in the Aleutian district, in better condition than 
they have ever lived before. 

The traders, however, difier in their appreciation of this truth ; 
biit two very successful traders in the Territory, Capt. E. Hen- 
nig and M. Mercier, have given me good reason for making 
this statement — so emphatic : a trader who does the best by the 
natives will be tbe better served by them. Father Shiesnekov 
makes a deliberate statement which I print in this appendix 
(page 220) tbat conflicts with Mr. Ball's decidedly, and as this 
priest has spent over twenty-five mature years of active intelli- 
gent labor among these people, bis judgment is worth some- 
thing, inasmuch as he " has seen more of the country tban any 
other individual," and no one can controvert tbe fact. 

(8) Tbis policy of Mr. BalFs, of declaring four or five Indian 
reservations in the Aleutian district, with an Indian agent and 
schoolmaster in each, would, in my best judgment, amount to 
nothing but discord and mischief. What security can the Gov- 
ernment have for tbe disinterestedness and honesty of its Indian 
iigents? Are such agents to tell the traders in tbe country 

ALASKA. 239 

liow much tlu'y shall pay the natives, or to advise the natives 
how to meet the trailers ? Interference thus by the Government 
with the relationship of the traders to the natives will surely 
be bad; i.e., if the natives are lleeced now, they will, with 
an Indian agent arbitrating, be doubly lleeced. The i)oor 
Aleuts are the gainers by having only one power, the traders, 
to deal with, as at present, or they could not live as they do. 
There is no middle ground here. If Alaska is an Indian reser- 
vation, then there can be no white people there ; if not, theu 
Government cannot interfere with legitimate trade. 

With regard to the schoolmasters, were the Government able 
to select and send the most zealous and excellent of their class, 
they would find in this Territory a barren field. Let the Greek 
Catholic Church continue its work ; it is the only power that 
can accomplish any good in the mental future of tho Aleut. 

(9) I think myself that Ouualashka is the best place, but 
Kodiak is more central. 

(10) I happened to be talking about this matter, in the 
spring of 1S72, with one of the persons, perhaps, of whom Mr. 
Dall complains. It is, however, a very clear case, and the only 
one that has occurred since the granting of the lease, and in no 
way improper j but " as it opens a wide door for scandal, if not 
for fraud," I was assured by the company that the thing should 
never again occur. The facts are these : During the sojourn of 
one of the Government agents, stationed on the islands, this 
gentleman took a deep interest in the language of the Aleuts, 
being himself a linguist of fine accomplishment ; the agent of 
the company conceived the idea of getting him to teach the 
school, on account of his knowledge of the Russian, which the 
schoolmaster employed did not possess, in the hope that the 
school would be more attractive to the native children. During 
the winter, therefore, the Government officer voluntarily taught 
school, although the attendance was small, for reasons which I 
have given in the body of my report. The oidy other instance 
where anything of this kind had occurred was in the case of 
tbis same gentleman, who had with great labor and i)ains com- 
piled an English and Aleutian vocabulary, which was deemed 
by the Alaska Commercial Company to be of value for the use 
of their traders, and they purchased it for some 8100, 1 believe, 
soon after tlie connection of this gentleman with the Seal 
Islands was dissolved. But long before the date of Mr. DalTs 
letter the conipany's agent informed me of tliis action on their 

240 ALASKA. 

part, and, at the same time, auiioiuiced tbeir determination to 
do so no more, iu consequence of its liability to misrepresenta- 
tion. Tliis Government a^ent left the Seal Islands in 1872, at 
his own request, on account of the isolation and distance from 
his family, and has been in Washington, employed in the Treas- 
ury Department, ever since. Most likely, in this matter Mr. 
Dall refers to transactions that took place on the islands before 
the granting of the lease, and of which I have no knowledge 
other than that of hearsay ; but as to what has transpired on 
these islands since the inauguration of the present state of 
affairs, I am fully cognizant j that which took place previous 
to this is now of no importance. It was a disorderly medley 
of civil and military authority, and, as near as 1 can learn, 
reflects no special credit upon any of the ofiicers concerned on 
the part of the Government. 

ALASKA. 241 


" Under the iiaine of the Pryhilov Lsktnds are known two small 
islands*,^ in Jieriii'^ Sea, between 50'^ and 57^ north lati- 
tude and KJS^ and 17(P west lon^dtude. 

'* These ishmds were not known before the year 178G; mate 
(/. Pryhilor, tiien in the service of a swanhnnting company, 
tirst, in the IJnssian name, found them, but at the same time he 
was not the first discoverer, because, as before said, (Part I, 
chap. 1,) on one of them (southwest side of Saint Paul) signs, 
such as a pipe, brass knife handle, and traces of fire were 
found, indicating- that people had been there before, but not 
long, as places were observed where the grass had been burned 
and scorched. But if we can believe the Aleuts in what they 
relate, the islands were known to them long before they were 
visited by the Ivussians. They knew and called them ' Aieck^ 
after having heard about them. 

" Eegad-dah geek, a vson of an Oonimak chief by the name of 
Ah-kak-nee-kak, was taken out to sea in a bidarkie by a storm, 
the wind blowing strong from the south. He could not get back 
to the beach, uor could he make any other landing, and was 
obliged to run before the wind three or four days, when he 
brought up on Saint Paul's Island, north from the land which, 
he had been compelled to leave. Here he remained itntil autumn, 
and became acquainted with the hunting of different animals. 
Elegant weather one day setting in, he saw the peaks of Ooni- 
mak. He then resolved to put to sea, and return to receive the 
thanks of his people there ; and, after three or four days of trav- 
eling, he arrived at Oonimak, with many otter tails and snouts.f 

'' The islands were both at first without vegetation, with ex- 
ception of Saint Paul's, where there was a small talneelc creep- 
ing along on the ground ; and on Saint George, if we believe 

* Translated by the writer from Bishop Innoceut VeDianiinov's work 
'' Zapieska ob Octrovah OonahlasbkeKskaho Otdayla. St. Petersburg, 18-10. 
(The only Russian treatise upon the subject found. The selections mo.s/ jkt- 
tinent to the subject are introduced alone in this transhition.) H. W. E. 

t Here Yeniauiinov says that he does feel inclined to believe this story, as 
the peaks of Oonimak can be seen occasionally f-om Saint Paul's ! I have no 
hesitation in saying that they were never observed by any mortal eye from 
the Prybilov Group. The wide expanse of water between these points, and 
the thick, foggy air of Bering Sea, especially so at the season mentioned iu 
this story above, will always make the mountains of Oonimak invisible to 
the eye from Saint Paul's Island. A mirage is almost an impossibility ; it 
may have been much more probable if the date was a winter one.— H. W. E. 


242 ALASKA. 

the accounts of tbe tirst ones there to see, nothing grew, even 
grass, except on the places where the carcasses of dead animals 
rotted. In the course of time both islands were covered with 
grass, a great part of it being of the sedge kind. On them are 
two varieties of berries, &c., &:c. 

" The Aleuts serving the company here sustained the follow- 
ing relations betw^een themselves and it, to wit : Each of them 
worked without solicitation and at whatever was found, and to 
which they were directed, or that which they understood. Pay- 
ment for their toil was not established by the day or by the 
year, but in general for each thing taken b}' them or standing 
or put to their credit by the company ; for instance, especially, 
the skins of animals, the teeth of walrus, barrels of oil, &c. 
These sums, whatever they might be, were placed by the com- 
l)any to their credit, for all general hunting and working was 
established or fixed for the whole year fairly. The Aleuts in 
general received no specific wages, though they were not all 
alike or equal, there being usually three or four classes. 

" In these classes, to the last or least, the sick and old work- 
men were counted in, although they were only burdens, and 
therefore they received the smaller shares, about 150 rubles, 
and the other and better classes received from 220 to 250 rubles 
a year. Those who were zealous were rewarded by the com- 
pany with 50 to 100 rubles. The wives of the Aleuts, who 
worked only at the seal-liunting, received from 25 to 35 rubles.* 

'''Animals on the Pnjhilov Islands. — Foxes and mice. Some- 
times the ice brings bears and red foxes. The bears were never 
allowed to live since they could not be made useful ; and also 
the red foxes, as they would only spoil the breed already exist- 
ing, with regard to color of the fur. 

"Fur-seals, sea-lions, hair-seals, and a few walrus are the only 
animals that may be said to belong to the Prybilov Islands. 

'• Birds. — The guillemonts,{ov arries ;) gulls; puffins; crested, 
horned, and white-breasted auks; snow-finches; geese, (two 
kinds ;) a few kinds of Tringa ; sea-ducks, black and gray. Most 
of these birds come here to lay, and with them jagers, hawks, 
owls, and 'chikeeSjU^higLaurus glaucus.)[\ud the albatross is fre- 
quently to be seen around the beaches.'' 

^^Sea otters became scarce generally in 1811, and in the next 
thirty years extinct. 

* Compare this annual payment ma«le by the Russians with the cash set- 
tlement made every year by the Alaska Commercial Company, the prosout 
lessee of these islands, as presented in the chapter on the condition of atlairs 
on the seal islands.— ^H. W. E. 

ALASKA. 243 

" 77/ r //(/•-. sra/.v (' scjicMts 'j ;istuiii>li us l>y llicir ;;real miin- 
bers, jis tlioy «:;rauually come up on to tlieir bieedin^^placcs, 
notwithstanding liarsli and foolish treatment of them, eontinued 
almost half a century (until 1824) without mercy. 

"In the first years, on ISaint J^aul's Island, from ."i(),(M)() to 
00,0(10 were taken annually, and on JSaint George from 40,000 
to 50,000 every year. Such horrible killing was neither neces- 
sary nor demanded. The skins were ire(|uently taken without 
aijy list or count. In 1803, 8()0,()0() seal-skins had accumulated, 
and it was impossible to make advantageous sale of so many 
slvins; for in this great number so many were spoiled that it 
became necessary to cut or throw into the sea 700,000 pelts! 
If G. Kezanov (our minister to Japan) had not given this his 
attention, and put himselt between the animals and this foolish 
management of them, it appears plainly to me that these crea- 
tures Avould have long ago changed for the worse. 

" Of the number of skins taken up to 1817, 1 have no knowl- 
edge to rely upon, but from that time, and up to the present 
writing, I have true and reliable accounts, which I put in the 
appendix to this volume. From these lists it will be seen that 
still in 1820, ou both islands, there were killed more than 50,000 
seals, viz, on Saint Paul's, 39,700 j and on Saint George, 10,250. 
There were eye-wituesses to the reason for this diminution of 
the seals, and it is only wonderful besides that they are still 
existing, as they have been treated almost without mercy so 
many years. The cows produce only one pup each every year. 
They have known deadly enemies, and also are still exposed to 
many foes unknown. From this killing of the seals they steadily 
grew less, except ou one occasion, which was on Saint George's 
Island, where an opportunity was given suddenly to kill a large 
number; but the circumstances do not seem to be important. 
On one occasion a drive was made of 15,000 male and female 
seals, but the night was dark, and it was not practicable to 
separate the cows from the males ; and they were, therefore, 
allowed to stand over until daylight should come. The men 
put in charge of the herding of the drove were careless, and 
the seals took advantage of this negligence, and made an 
attempt to escape by throwing themselves from the blufts over 
the beach near by into the sea ; but, as this bluti" was steep, 
high, rough, and slippery, they fell over and were all injured. 
Now, for the first time, great numbers of seals were missed, 
and why, it was not signilicant or apparent; but on the follow- 
ing year, instead of the appearance and catch of 40,000 or 



50,000. less tliau 30,000 were killed and taken, and then, too, 
the numbers of seals were known to diniinisb, and in tlie same 
way, only greater, on the other island. For instance, in the first 
years, on the island of Saint George, the seals were only five or 
six times less than on Saint Paul, but in 1817 they were only 
less than one-fourth ; but in 182G they were almost one-sixth 

"The diminution of seals there (Saint Paul's) and on the 
other island, from 1817 to 1835, was very gradual and visible 
every year, but not always equal. 

"The killing of seals in 1831, instead of being 80,000 or 
GO.OOO, was only 15,751 from both islauds, (Saint Paul, 12,700; 
Saint George's, 3,051)/' 

In the first thirty years, according to Veuiaminov's best under- 
standing, there were taken 'hnorethan two and a half millions of 
sealsldns;'^ then, in the next twenty-one years, uj) to 1838, they 
took 578,024. During this last taking, from 1817 to 1838, the 
skins were worth ou an average " no more than 30 rubles each," 
(80 apiece.) 

"A great many sea-otters {Enhydra marina) were found on 
Saint Paul's Island at first, and as many as 50,000 were taken 
from the island, but years have passed since one has been seen 
in the vicinity, even, of the islands.'^ 

Table I, Part II, Bishop Veniami)wr\s ZapiesTca, tj-c, showing the seal-catch dfn-- 
ing the period of gradual diminution of life on ihe islands from 1817 down to 
183G, ihe year of scarcity, and from wliich date they have as gradually increased 
tip to the jiresent number, their maximum limit in a state of nature, at which ihe 
seal-life has stood during ihe past twenty years ; ihe killing has also been grad- 
ually increased up to the present figure, 100,000 annually. 

Taken from — 




1820. 1 1821. 



Saint Paul's Island 

Saint Geoi'i^e's Island 

47, 860 
12 328 

45, 932 

40, 300 

39, 700 35, 750 
10, 520 9, 245 

28, 150 

5 773 

1-, 0^0 "-•-" 

Total .*. 

60 188 1 ^^ «ifi 1 ^^ '325 

50, 220 44, 995 

36, 4G9 

29, 873 


" ' — 

Taken from— 








Saint Paur.s Island 

19, 850 

24, 600 
5, .5C0 


17, 750 



17, 150 


15, COO 

Saint Gruor'^e's Island ... 

2, 834 

Total I 

25, 400 

30, 100 

23, 250 

19, 700 

23, 228 

20, 811 

18, 034 

Taken from— 








Saint Paul's Island 

Saint Georges Island 


12, 950 
.3, 084 

16, 034 

1.3, 150 
3, 296 

16, 446 

13, 200 
3, 212 

16, 412 

12, 700 

15, 751 

4, 052 
2, .528 

6, 580 

2, 5.50 


4. 220 

2, 582 


*Left to brood. 

Grand total for Saint Panl's Island 

Grand total for S;iint Georpe s Island 

404. 2.59 
114,065 catch duriuj; nineteen years of diminution 



Mvtcorolofjh'cil (ihnlntct for Ihv inoulliH from Scptriuhvr, \r7'2, to April 1^*73, \n- 
clnn'nr, iiKdU' hi/ Chan. J'. I'mh, i'liilcd >7«/r.-< ,Sitfiial-i>(rrive,at the ojjict of the 
iJltiff Sif/iKil-Ulficrr, United Statci Armij, division of rvportu and telvfframh for 
the inland of >Saint Paul, Hcrintfn 6Va, for the bimrfit of commerce and ayri- 

Month of record. 


]^Ioau oibaroincttT, corrected ' 

J^Iaxiiuiiiu of Itaromcter, corrected I 

Miiiiimiiii ol' barometer, correrted [ 

^loiitlily raiij^o of barometer, corrected, .j 

<!reaftst daily rauyc of baromelei-, cor- i 
rtiti'd j 

Least dailyraiiiri'of barometer, corrected i 

^haii daily raii;;(- of barometer, corrected 

Mean of expo-sed thermometer 

Maximtnu ot exposed thermometer 

ilitiimum of exi)o.sed thermomtter 

^lonthly raii<;e of expo.sed theriuometer 

Greatest daily ran>ie of exposed ther- j 
mometer . . ' f 

Least daily range of exposed thermom- 
eter ! 

Mean of maxima of exposed thermom- 

Mean of minima of expo.sed thermom- 

Mean daily range of exposed thermom- 

^leaii relative humidity 

Maximum relative huiiiidity 

ilinimum relative humidity 

Prevailiu'X wind " 

Number of miles traveled by wind 

Mean daily velocity of wind 

Mean hourly velocity of %\ iud 

Maximum hourly velocity of wind 

Proportion of cloudiuessr 

Anjount of laiu-fall, in inches 

Greatest daily amount of rain-fall 

Amount of melted hail and snow, (in- 
cluded in rain-fall) 

aS'umber of days ou which precipitation 

Nutuber of days on which hail or snow 

29. 773 

30. 4G 

2h. hi 
J. 59 


. 2ryj 

4'P. 2 






41^. 8 


9, 138 
12. 7 
2. 89 




October. November. , December. 

29. 512 

30. 04 
2H. 51 




. ^93 


38=. 7 

330. 3 



11, 872 






29. 453 

30. 23 
-2H. 62 








36^. 2 


14, 539 

2. 38 





29. 488 

30. 04 
2f . 05 

I. 99 

. i.'49 

26 ^ 6 






5-\ 1 
16, 644 
22. 1 

27 . 

Month of record. 





Mean of barometer, corrected 

29. 953 

29. .=507 

29. 768 

29. 709 

Maximum ot barometer, corrected 

30. 50 



30. 35 

Minimum of barometer, corrected 

29. 32 

28. 26 

29. 05 


Monthly ian<re ot baronietei', corrected.. 


2. 25 



Greatest daily range of barometer, cor- 






Least daily range of barometer, corrected . 





]\Icau daily range ot barometer, corrected. 

. 194 



. 242 

15=. 7 

18= 6 
34 = 

12=. 6 

23= 9 

Maximum of exposed thermometer 


Minimum of exposed thermometer 


— 12 = 



]Monthly ranire of exposed thermometer . 





Greatest daily range of exposed ther- 


O.I 3 


20 = 

24 = 

Least daily range of exposed thermom- 



3 = 



Mean of maxima of exposed theriuom- 

16:. 9 

22=. 6 

l7^ 1 

27=. 9 

Mean of minima of exposed thermom- 


11=. 9 

15=. 1 

7=. 4 

19=. 4 

Mean daily range of exposed thermom- 



7=. 5 

9=. 7 

8=. 5 

Mean relative humidit v 

85. 7 



84. 29 



MexeoroJofjkaJ abstract, cjc. — Coutiunetl. 

Month of record. January. February. 



100 100 


14, 512 





iliDiumin relative humidity 

I'lfvailingc wind 

Xiunltcrof miles traveled by wind 

ilean daily velocity of wind 

^Jean hourly velocity of wind 

^laxinium liourly velocitj- of wind 


E. ^^ E. 
17, 903 

62. 8 





16, 646 
594. 3 





18, 607 
620. 2 
2.1. 84 

Amount of rain-fall in inches . ... 


Greatest daily amount of rain-fall 

Amount of incited hail and snow, (in- 
cluded in rain-fall) . • - - • 


^'umber of days on which precipitation 


Xuraber of days on which hail or snow 


XoTE.--It will be noticed that I have not spelled the name Bchring in accordance with 
the usual custom observed by English writers, who have thus given the phonetic value of 
the Sclavonic characters used by the Eussiaus in writing the name of this celebrated navi- 
gator : but by reference to the following statement made by Profes.sor Gill, of the Con- 
gressional Library, it will be seen that the name in question may properly be spelled 
" Bering.' Professor Gill says : " The name of the navigator which has been conferred on 
the strait separating America and Asia, is unquestionably spelled Bering and not Beiiuixo. 
I submit, in explanation, my reasons : 1st. The navigator himself was born in Jutland, antl 
a .scion of a Danish family, whose members bore the name of Bering, and two represent- 
atives of which had the same Christian name, viz, (1) Titus Bering, born 1617, died 1675, 
some time professor of poetry at Copenhagen, and (2) Titus Bering, born 1682, died 1753, a 
priest of OUerup and Ivirkeby. The form Behring, so far as I can ascertain, is unknown 
in Denmark, (see Xyerups Dansk-Xorsk Litteratur-lexicon, v. i, pp. 56, 57, 1818.) 2d. The 
form Bering is almost (but not quite) universally adopted in all non-English works ; for 
example, Biographic Tniverselle, (Micbaud,) v. 4, p. 261, 1811, also, nouv. ed., v. 4, p. 28, 1854; 
Xouvelle Biographic Generale, (Hoefer,) v. 5, p. 527, 1855 ; Allgemeine Encyclopiidie der 
Wissenschaften und Kiinste, (Ersch und Gruber,) v. 9, p. 136, 1822; Xeues Konversations- 
Lexicon. (Meyers.) v. 3, p. 238, 1862; Deutsch-Amerikanisches Conversations-Lexicon, 
(Schem.) v. 2, p. 206, 1869, and numerous others. The exceptional cases, e. g. Tierer's Uni- 
versal Lexicon, Grande Dictionnaire Universelle du xix. siede, &c. In English dictiocarii-s, 
the true form Bering is adopted in the Brief Biographical Dictionary, by Holes, 1865, and 
the Dictionary of Biographical Reference, by Phillips, 1871. and is gradually superseding 
the more familiar English form. An explanation of the reason of the origin of the name 
Behring is found in the fact that it was originally derived from the Pvussian, without a 
knowledge of its primitive source, and was the nearest English phonetic expression of the 
Russian characters. Inasmuch, however, (1) as the original form of a name, without re- 
gard to its pronunciation, is universally adopted in our biograpliies and bibliographies, and 
(2) as the original form of the navigator's name was Bering, such is the correct one, and 
that which must ultimately supersede the other. It need only be added that Bering him- 
self, and the Ku.ssians universally, (?) adopt that form when writing iu English characters, 
and that the Russian letter (e) in his name, represented by 'eh,' is especially ordained by 
the Rnssiaus to be rendered by the Latin character 'e." iu accordance with the pronunciar 
tiou of the Latin and continental races generally." 

ALASKA. 2i7 


[Takfii iVoiii VoiiiiiMiiiiov, Z:i[)icsk:i, jcirt !, \). i:M.] 

Kaygamilyak is the longest ; lias a iiiunber of smoking 
hills, soiiR'tinKvs burning'. On the southeast side of the island 
are the remains of what once must liave been lar^e settlements. 
On these islands are arries {Lomvia arra) and a tundra goose,, 
whieh latter comes here to shed feathers and rear its young, and 
on the rocks around the coast are sea-lions and hair-seals.* 

Taiinak is the largest of the group. On this island are red 
foxes, with verj- coarse fur, and a few sea-fowl. In 17G4, 100 
Aleuts lived here or hereabouts. At this time (1834) the men 
have nearly all been destroyed by the hand of Stepan Glottov, 
and the women nearly all perished of hunger. What remains 
of the Aleuts is on the island of Oomnak. This is the highest 
one of the groui^ under discussion. Hot springs are to be 
found on the east side, and on the southeast side are the ruins 
of old dwellings. Sea-otters are found about this place. A 
small island lies to the west; it is round and full of bold hills, 
steep. On the southeast side, in 1834, was a small settlement^ 
which the Aleuts say was occupied by a most savage and war- 
like people. They were destroyed by Glottov. A few sea lions- 
are found here. Near this is another small island, round and 
full of high hills. There are remains of two settlements on it ; 
signs of sea-otter; noone there, now; (1834;) sea-fowls, sea-lions, 
and hair-seal. 

Unaska is quite large ; high hills, cliftV., Szq. On the east 
side is a volcano, which began in 1825 to burn ; no hot springs 
there ; no people there, though the relics of two old settlements 
are seen. Birds breed on the cliffs ; on the beach sea-lions, and, 
at times, sea- otters. 

A3I00T0Y0N is another small island, round, bluffy, and moun- 

" Last September, (1874,) Captain Henuig, while cruising with a party 
of sea-otter hunters, discovered a warm cave on the northeast side of this 
island, in which he found eleven mummies well embalmed. A full and 
interesting history of the matter was given to him by the natives, but 
it is too long for insertion here. Those mummies are now in the Smithsonian 
Institution, presented by the Alaska Commercial Company. These bodies 
were put into this cave, according to the people, in 17*24 or 1725. — H. W. E.- 

248 ALASKA. . 

tainons — the least important of this oToup ; no bays, no streams, 
nothing but arries, sea-lions, and, at times, sea-otters. Be- 
tween this island and Uaaska is a rock where a great many 
sea-fowl breed, and sea-lions. 

003INAK is the largest of the Aleutians. It has three high 
mountains; is very hilly, with a number of large lakes and 
streams. In 1805 the people were able to take 2,000 salmon 
every year, but now (1834) they cannot get more than 200 to 
400; in the winter from 50 to 100. On the northeast side of 
the island, in the mountains, is a lake, on the bluffy beaches 
of whicli a*mber is found. Everything grows on the island 
that is peculiar to Ounalashka, save the willow. In the year 
some 50 black foxes are killed, 80 cross, and about 10 red. On 
the north shore and under Tuleeskoi Sopka is a large number 
of sea-lions, hair-seal, and sea-otters, from 10 to 40 annually 
killed. In older times the Aleuts used to get porphyry from 
the nortli-uorthwest side of Tuleeskoi for their weapons. There 
is less snow here than on Ounalashka. A great many hot springs 
here ; one on the north side is so hot that meat can be cooked 
in it. Under most of these springs is a subterranean noise. 

Before the coming of the Russians on Oomnak there were 
twenty settlements, some of them quite large, like the one at 
Tuleeskoi, w^bere there were so many people that they were able 
to take at one time all the meat and blubber of a large whale. 
At the present time (1834) there are only two villages, Baychesnoi 
and Tideeshoij altogether 109 souls. The former lies on the 
southwest side of the island, and a wooden church was built 
here in 1820; 13 huts and 3 bath-houses, under the supervision 
of Krukov, a Creole, were built in 1834 ; 38 males and 45 females ; 
they had plenty of hens and raised at times potatoes ; tisli quite 
scarce; crabs and sea-urchins abundant. They have plenty of 
roots, but at times are without oil, and cannot then cook or use 
the roots, and they frequently go a year without gotting a. 
whale. In the winter they go to SamaJga and kill from 3 to 10 
sea-otters. Tuleenkoi, on the east side, in 1834, had 11 men and 
15 women. In 1830 there were 3 settlements on this island, on 
the south si<le, and on the island Yeagorslde. At Samalga in 
olden times (1704) there was a large settlement, 400 souls, but 
ill! are scattered and gone now. On the south side is a beach 
out upon which sea-otters used to come during the prevalence 
of furious gales of wind from that quarter. 

BoGA Slov Island made its appearance hrst in 179G,(May,) 

ALASKA. 240 

and was liiiislicd in lS2rj'j is o\al sliapi d : no I'lesli water; sea- 
lions breed there. 

OUNALASIIKA. — M((lo().sltin is tli(i lii^liest inonntain on the 
ishind ; r),47.") feet ; volcano. No one remembers of its havin.i^ 
disturbed tho settlement near it. In 1<S1S it made the earth 
tremble aud a loud noise, but nothing more ensued. It cau be 
ascended in August and September, ^Yhen there is least snow 
and the winds do not blow so hard. A great many creeks and 
streams on the island, running down from the high hills to the 
sea ; many pretty water-falls. There are twenty streams in which 
fish run up from the sea, independent of the trout found in all of 
them ; salmon, salmon-tront, '' keezoog," hump-backed salmon, 
and " liie-eks."' Lakes on the island are nearly as numerous as 
the streams, and are frequently found high up in the mountains; 
many of them are very deep ; one of them more than ten versts 
in circumference, and in this one no bottom was found. 

Gulfs and bays on all sides of this island, especially on the 
north side, and more good ones than on any other island of the 
whole Aleutian chain ; three are on the eastern side, Beaver, 
Captain's, and Mal-ooshiu. The tirst ship entered Captain's Har- 
bor in 17G0, Captain Layvashava. At Oohiennah Bay a squad of 
Aleuts destroyed a Russian ship. Matreslcenslaijah Bay, a great 
place for hump-backed salmon, aud Paystrolxovslie, two small 
bays distinguished by the coming of a great many whales ; and 
from these bays to the west, about eight versts, are some small 
lakes, but very deep ; all these bays are good places for ships 
to stand at anchor. 

In Starry Gavan the first Eussiau ship entered in 1701. 
Anglieslde Bay is where Captain Cook anchored. Chernovslie 
is the finest harbor on the island, in the straits between Oom- 
nak, and a dozen others, but of less importance. Kahlecta 
Point received its name because in a little bay under it a great 
many whales used to resort; this point is the land-mark for the 
harbor of Ounalashka. Cheerful or Jolly Point, so called by the 
sailors who usually make it in a fog. It is made up of some 
thirty differently colored strata or layers, horizontal, distin- 
guishing it from all other capes or points ; from its very summit 
down to the water's edge, on one side, is a vivid gieen slope. 

At Morkrovskie Point, to the southward in the hills, are the 
remains of a fossil elephant, and a little farther, trending from 
the southeast to the northwest, behold an elephant of the true 
kind, lying quite horizontally, over 14 feet wide, and about 10 

250 ALASKA. 

above the water. At AspcetHyie Point tbe Russians found a 
stone slate which belonged to one of the first chiefs. The Eus- 
sians also called the people living near this place '^Afipeet:^ 

The points on the southern side of Ounalashka are not well 
known ; they are not safe to approach, on account of reefs and 
submerged rocks, which extend out to sea a long way, and the 
water breaks very heavily on them and on the clitts. 

Vegetation on Ounalashka is found everywhere, except on the 
summits of the highest mountains and the faces of steep clift's. 
On the east side of the island, in Captain's Bay and part of 
Beaver Bay, the small willow grows best, berries, mushrooms, 

Animals. — Foxes, mice, (brought by the Eussians,) cows, and 
rats; the latter came only in 1828, brought in the ship *' Fin- 
land," and in less than two years they increased so that they 
got over to Maloosliin settlement, a distance of over fifty 
versts, in spite of high, snowy ridges and high streams between, 
and attacks by foxes. The foxes on this island yield to the 
hunters about 500 annually ; of these 100 are black, 250 cross, 
and 150 red. Of the water- animals, in early times there were 
great numbers of hair-seal, fur-seal, sea otter, and sea-lions, 
but nowadays they come in such small numbers that from 
them all hardly more than a hundred skins are taken per 
annum. Sea-otters are found only on the southern side near 
the beach, and in very small numbers, as they come from the 
sea ; sea-lions in less number and only in one place, on the 
southern side, not far from Osofsl'ie Bay, on a rock separated 
from the beach by a narrow canal. Fur-seals used to come 
into the bays here until the discovery of the Prybilov Islands, 
and since then hardly a single one. 

The island was not known earlier than 17G0. In 17G2 the 
Ilussians, who first discovered this place, were unhappily nearly 
exterminated, and in revenge for this the natives were nearly 
all destroyed in 17G3 by Solovayiat, and the rest in the follow- 
ing year. 

There are only two hot springs on the island ; one on the 
point near Makooshin settlement has a little run of water and 
is not very hot; the other near a small lake back from Indian 
Bay, five versts from llloulook, has a temperature of about 
570 to COO. 

From a lake known to and spoken of b}' the Aleuts, near 
2Ia7croi'sl'oi GulJ] high up in the mountains, under the cliffs on 

ALASKA. 251 

the e«astern beach, is loiind the liiiest (Dnhrr ; liair-seals go up 
into the lake. 

year ^lakooshiu Gulf, betweeu a loii*;* tula or breccia place 
or edge and Tarahsorslcoi/an Baij^ in the niouutaius, isa lake on 
the beach of which is found native copper; and above this, in 
the mountains of the third range, also, is a lake, on the beach 
of which is found hollow stones which rattle when shaken, and 
in the cleft of a cliff or cave is seen the gleam of light, like 
water. On the south side of the island, near Oinnomaden Bay, 
are two lakes also in the mountains, in one of which hair-seals 
go, and on the beach ur.der the cliffs are found shining stones. 
In the mountains near Captain's Harbor is a lake on the beach 
of which white pearls were reported found, but in 1812 men 
were sent, in August, to look for them and found only ice. 

In Beaver Baj^, on the left side, near Agamgcelc Bay^ is a water- 
fall tumbling down from high cliff's, the water of which the 
Aleuts dare not drink for fear of death, and near this place 
stands a stone wdiich is honored as a petrified devil. 

There is a stream under Makooshin Mountain, on the north 
side, \yy the banks of which are iron bogs, and above them it is 
said native copper is found ; back from Makooshin Gulf, in the 
mountains of the third range, mica ("slnda") is found. 

Before the Russians came, in 17G2, there were on this island 
twenty-four settlements, and altogether a great many people. 
Even as late as 1805, there were fifteen counted settlements, 
and in them 800 souls; but at present (1834) there are only ten, 
and in them only 470 ; and all of them placed, with one excep- 
tion, on the west and northwest shores. 

lUou-look is the head settlement. Solovayiah is said to 
have lived here. Built here (1834) is a wooden church, with 
bells; five houses, three magazines or warehouses; five ''bar- 
rabkies,'' or huts, and one barn — all the property of the com- 
pany. The head office for the whole Aleutian district is here, 
under a chief trader and three store-keepers. Twenty-seven 
yourts, or huts, belong to the Creoles and Aleuts, 275 souls in 
number. (Male Aleuts, 90; females, lOG; over them Russians 
and Creoles, 75.) Here, with the exception of the Russian 
American Company's office at Sitka, was the first school. It 
was opened the 12th March, 1835 ; started in 1834 by 22 males, 
Creoles and Aleuts. In this school no more than twelve boys 
could be brought together in 1835. Tbere was a hospital with 
eight sick men attended by a surgeon, and a home for orphan 

252 ALASKA. 

girls, with twelve of tbem in it. Some of the compauy's serv- 
ants raised pigs, chickens, and ducks, and nearly all the house- 
keepers had a garden, where they raised turnips and potatoes. 
(In 185S, one hundred and twenty kegs were raised by the 
whole settlement.) The groun<l for the first church was pre- 
pared in 1825; church built in 1820; provided with bells, and 
pictures in gilt frames; built by the Aleuts. 

The profits of this country, or settlement, in especial: from 
ten to forty fur-seals are taken every year as they come down 
from the north ; the yield from the fish is not important; the 
river which comes down from the mountains in Katil'ensl'oi 
Bay is the best place, and sometimes the dog-salmon are there 
in such numbers that it is difficult to get through the water. 
It is said that the river which is by this settlement used to be 
the best for fish; it is now spoiled. 

Cod-fish are caught a long way out, as far as twenty to eighty 
*'sajeDS,"* and in late years in small numbers. A willow grows 
near the settlement, quite large, and, though the company 
have annually repaired and built with it some sixty baidars 
and over one hundred and twenty boxes, it is still abundant. 
For cattle this place is not very profitable, because, around this 
settlement, though grass grows earlier than elsewhere in the 
district, snow falls and lies from five to seven months, and the 
mowing has to be done in bad or hard places, and, on account 
of the rare occurrence of sunlight and the frequency of rains, 
hay-making is exceedingly difficult. Potatoes and turnips do 
not thrive in a noteworthy manner. 

Natielcoiislcoi settlement lies on the west side of Captain's 
Harbor. It has two yourts and 15 souls, (0 males, 9 females.) 

Faistrahlovskie is on the left side of Captain's Harbor; five 
yourts; 37 souls, (IG males, 21 females.) The mountain above 
it has a bowl-shaped crater, and in it is a lake. 

YaysayloiHlde lies on the left side of the point of the same 
name; 15 souls, (7 males, 8 women.) 

MalcoosJienslol lies on the north side of Makooshin Gulf; 
built here, a j'ourt, barrabkie, store-house, and bath-house 
belonging to the company, and a trader stationed here. The 
Aleuts possess six yourts and six barrabkies; 35 souls, (15 
males, 20 females.) 2sot far from the settlement, back from the 
mountains near the sea, pumice stone is found. There were 
five settlements near this place in ancient times, excepting 

* " Sajeu," eqnivak'iit to seven feet. 

ALASKA. 253 

Starric-chortihiho, ^vhi(•h existed up to ISO.";. They ^et fioin 80 
to loO luxes here, with varying' trades of liir. 

Koshcocnsl'ol lies inside of Koshegenskaho Gulf, on the left 
side, on a very even ])la(;e, near the debouchure of a stream. 
The company has erected liere a yourt, store-house, bath-house, 
and a barn belonging to it, which has a trader here, who attends 
to the business of all the southern part of the island. The 
AU'uts have eiglit yourts, and are U souls in number, (18 men, 
'So women.) Theie are not many tisli here ; in the best days 
of salmon-running not over 300. Sometimes sea-lions lie on 
the south side. A snudl number of hair-seals are killed on the 
rocks. Hoots in abundance. In 1833 the company introduced 
cattle here. 

Chenwrsl^ie, on the northwest side of tbe island, has four 
yourts and U souls, (20 males, 24 females.) The harbor is 
elegant, but not always without danger to sailing-vessels; for, 
if caught outside in the straits, Tvithout wind, they may be 
carried against the cliffs of Oomnak vStraits. 

On the south side of Chernovskie stands a citadel, and to the 
north, a distance of 20 versts, near an old settlement, was 
Ibund a copper chain, four links. This settlement is the poorest 
on the island. The principal subsistence is mussels. There is 
only one fish-stream, and that falls near the settlement. 

Emagensloi is in Captain's Harbor, 8 versts northeast from. 
lUoulook, on a little bay of the same name j 32 souls (15 males, 
17 females) live here in four yourts. 

Kahlechtensl-ol—ThvdQ yourts; 14 souls. A small stream 
here, where a great many tish are taken. Sometimes more than 
2,000 salmon are secured. The natives frequently get whales 

Bohrovslde.—Voviy-owa souls, (21 males, 20 females,) four 
yourts, and a few gardens; they get a small number of salmon- 
trout and dog-salmon in three small streams. 

BorM or ^S^irlan lies on the south side of the island, divided 
from the mainland by a wide strait. This island stands out 
bold and abrupt, high from the sea. On the north shore are a 
few small bays; above one of them is the settlement, of six 
yourts, 44 souls, (17 males, 27 females.) They have a few gar- 
dens. Principal subsistence, sea-hsh and mussels. On this 
island is found a green stone, irony, or blackish, shiny red, 
which the Aleuts require in painting their ''kamlaykas:'* 

* Skin shirts. 

254 ALASKA. 

On Amaknak Island were three settlemeuts before tbe coin- 
ing of the Ens^ians in 1762, but now there are none ; hogs run 
from April to October ; on the little island to the west, Ooliia- 
dal'^ was a small settlement. 

TheKRAMEETSA ISLANDS are seven in number, lyingbetweeu 
Oiinalashka andOonemak, viz: OonaJga, Aloolan, Al'oon, Goloi, 
AcatanaJ:, Tecrjalda, and Oogomal'. iVkootaii is the largest and 
most mountainous ; the smallest and lowest is Oonalga, and all 
of them have inhabitants save Goloi and Oogomak -, all have 
Ibxes save Goloi -, the catch is from 180 to 230 yearly. 

Oonalga has a smalllake and three small streams, into which 
only salmon-trout run. The berries are " sheksa," [Empetrum 
nigrum,) salmon-berry, and "moroshkie,'* {Ixiibns chamcvmonis.) 
Snow does not lie long here. The settlement is on the south 
side, on the cliffs ; 3 yourts, 23 souls, (10 males, 13 females.) The 
little, bold rocky islands to the northeast of Oonalga are fre- 
quented by hair-seals ; on only one of them is a spring of water. 
Ships can go all around these islands without danger: they are 
free from rocks or shoals. 

Akootan, a rough, rocky island, with a high volcano near the 
middle ; the beaches are few and far between, and but little land 
tit for vegetation. Two lakes on it, with five streams^ one bay 
on the south side; a few fish come into the streams. Berries 
of all kinds grow here, peculiar to this country ; (from 10 to GO 
foxes are killed here every year, the greater number red.) On 
the northeast side, in a small bay, are hot springs, coming from 
the mountains, with so high a temperature, that meat and fish 
can be cooked in them. On the very summit of the volcano are 
found small, but deep, lakes, and the place where the volcano 
breaks out strongly resembles the spout-hole of a huge w^hale, 
the ridge of the mountain resembling the back and head of this 

In old times there were 7 settlements, with COO people ; in 
1810 there was but one, and in the present time (1831) but one, 
and this is on the north side, where a snmll stream runs down, 
surrounded by high and rugged mountains. This is the small- 
est settlement in this district, 13 souls, living on fish, which 
come into the streams and along the beach. 

Akoon lies near Akootan ; it is smaller, and the mountains 
not so high ; one mountain, on the south side, always smokes, 
but the smoke is never noteworthy. The beach is mostly bluffs, 
rugged. The berries "moroshkie*' and '' zemlianeeka" are 

ALASKA. 255 

t'oiu'id. Plenty of lakes, lour lar^e ones and five stivanis, into 
two of w iiich lisli run in small nunibeis. Fiom .SO U) 120 loxes 
are annually killed. In IS.'JO the people here captured two 
solves; they must have been of only one sex, or they would 
have increased; these animals are very disagreeable, lor they 
kill the foxes aud spoil the traps. There were, long aj;o, eight 
settlements ou this island, Avith more than 500 people, but now 
(is;;i) there aie only three, with 85 souls, viz: Artelnovalcie^ 
southwest side of the island, on a high bluif, with two yourts, 
two barrabkies, and a bath-house, and a trader belonging to the 
company ; the Aleuts have seven yourts, 32 souls, (IG males, IG 
females.) The trader and a few Aleuts have a small garden. 
They sometimes capture a whale. JUiychesnoi is on the north 
side, near a stream ; five yourts built here and a fe\y barrabkies, 
37 souls, (19 males, 18 females.) Seeraidemhn is inside of a 
bay of that name, looking out on Avatanak; two yourts and 
IG souls. The people in both of these settlements live by the 
beach, depending upon it aud a few hair-seals that may come 

AvATA^^AK IsLATsD has onits Southeast side a hot spring, only 
open to view at low water. This is the only island where the 
Aleuts find red chalk. Above this island, near Akootan, are 
two remarkable rocks, " Ooshenadskie." On them in early times 
sea-lions were found, and one of them from all sides resembles 
a bell. This island lies between Goloi and Teegalda. From 
two lakes rises quite a stream on the north side, and which in 
old times was a great fish-place, and since the extermination of 
the Aleuts there by Salovayiah's comrade, Xatoorbin, not a 
fish has come since. On the south side of the island sea-otters 
come, and ou the island foxes of different colors, of which 
twenty to thirty are taken per annum. In early times three, 
not large settlements, were here ; now there is but one, on the 
north side, and consists of five excellent yourts, and distin- 
guished by their being all clean and free from blackness ; 49 
souls, (24 males and 25 females.) Vegetation here is not good. 
When during my last visit to this place, in 1833, 1 saw the signs 
or ruins of the yourt where Salovayiah and Xatoorbin lived, 
and a woman was living then who had been a witness to their 
cruelty. A small island lies near Avatanak which a few hair- 
seal repair to, and ou the east side of it is found red chalk. 

Teegalda lies east of Avatanak. It is next in size to Akoo- 
tan. There are 3 lakes here from 300 to 1,000 sajens arouud, 

256 ALASKA. 

and a small stream flows, from wbicli about 1,000 fish are taken. 
All berries are fouud here except the hucklebeny. From 50 to 
70 foxes are killed here every year. The greatest number of 
them are black aud black-haired. In the autumu and winter are 
plenty of " beach-geese," and in the spring " toondra geese." 
On the southwest side of this island is fouud stone-coal, and in 
the lake near the settlement is a red or golden ocher. In ancient 
times there were five settlements, in them over 500 people, but 
now there is only one, which lies on the north side, with a pop- 
ulation of 92 souls, (39 males, 53 females.) They have a fine 
•' kozarmie," (barrack,) well built and always kept clean ; five 
yourts, a bath-house, and a'few barrabkies. The number given 
above of these people includes those who were brought over 
from Oogamak in 182G. In this place are the ruins of an old 
yourt, 30 sajens (210 feet) long. Opposite the town, on the 
north side of the island, near Oogamak, is a number of steep, 
high rocks (28) or islets. On them the big burgomaster-guli 
breeds, and over 500 eggs are taken every year. On them are 
three green places only, and on many of these islands lie hair- 
seals, acd on one of the northern ones are sea-lions. This is the 
chief supplying place for all these people here for winter-food. 
On them are no lakes or streams. On the nortli side is a green- 
ish red used by the Aleuts for painting their hats. 

Oogamak. — Xo water save a small spring ; a small number 
of foxes (7) killed annually. On the island comes a larger num- 
ber of hair-seals than are found on all the others. On the cliffs, 
sea-parrots breed, and over 500 are annually shot; on the 
low rocks sea-lions previously came in considerable numbers, 
one of which traveled over and back from the south to the 
north side of the island ; a good many stay all winter. In early 
times on the island there were many people, but they have been 
growing less and less, so that now there are only 18. 

OoNEMAK. — This island was in old times the most densely 
populated of all these islands; there were 12 settlements. In 
1831 the ruins of a " kozarmie" or barracks exhibited a length 
of over GOO sajens, (4,200 feet,) and yourts were from 12 to 30, 
and even 50 sajens. At the present time (1834) only one set- 
tlement, Sheshaldinsl'ie, with 71 souls, (30 males, 41 females,) who 
are poorest of all the Aleuts. They have but 2 yourts and 4 
bidarkies, and the company has a trader here and two work- 
men; theyhaveayourt,abarrabkie,and "banio,"(or bath-house.) 
Anim((h. — Mice or lemmings, minks, Parry's marmot, rabbits^ 

ALASKA. 257 

wolves, bears, deer, land-otter, and red foxes, bair-seals on all 
sides; sea-lions in small numbers; on tbe soutli and nortbwe«t 
sides, Avhere there are some lagoons, Wiilrus are sometimes 
found ; on tbe beacbes of tins island sea-otters came twice, 
lirst on the north beach, and second on the west. About the 
north shore is a considerable number of whales. From 80 to loO 
Ibxes were killed ])er annum, 1 to 3 wolves, and a few minks 
and land-otters constitute the real, hunting. Bears are plenty, 
l)ut they are coarse and mostly red, (cinnamon.) The most 
valuable thing is the whalebone ; but little, however, of this 
is found. 

[Translated from Veuiaminov's Zapieska, 1840.] 

(Part 1, chap, xii, p. G8.) " The numbers of several kinds of 
animals are growing very much less in the present as compared 
with past time. For instance, the company here (Ounalashka) 
regularly killed more than a thousand sea-otters, (annually ;) 
now (1840) from 70 to 150, (in 1832-1833 there were 175 to 
200, and a long time previous to this such a number was not 
obtained ;) and tbere was a time (182G) when the whole returns 
from the hunters of this Ounalashkan district were only 15 
skins." " The company on the island of Saint Paul killed from 
00,000 to 80,000 fur-seals per annum, and in the last season, 
(1836,) with all possible care in getting, they obtained only 
about 1,200. On the island of Saint George, instead of 40,000 
or 35,000, only 33,000 (1,300?) were killed.-' 

(Part 3, p. 520.) " The kind of deer here I have had a glimpse 
at, and I know that the large males do not weigh more than 
three poods, * (108 pounds.) They go to several islands of the 
Shumagin group, Oonemak, and all over the peninsula, 

" Bear. — Here all have patched and harsh fur, and are found on 
Oonemak and the peninsula ; they are also very quiet and sel- 
dom go for man. The hunters are only afraid of those which 
have torn ears. They eat meat, tish, and roots. At the time of 
salmon running in the rivers,bears generally go there and capture 
fish. The bears go into the water above their knees, stand up 
opposite the stream, and watch a fit opportunity when they can 

* This is an error obviolisly ; tbey will weigh from 216 to 324 pounds. — H.. 
W. E. 

17 AL 

258 ALASKA. 

grab cr snatch the fi^sb, wbicb, wben tbey see it Dear, tbey in- 
stantly strike at it with their paws and most alv\'ays hit; then 
they either throw or carry their prey to the beach and return 
to continue their work until they have as many as they want. 
AVith tbe last fish they go to the bank and begin to eat. After 
killing the fishes the bears eat only the heads, because tbis is 
the fattest part. 

"Bears in the winter sleep in dens, anywhere under clififs, in 
holes, or caves ; but I have heard that they have been some- 
times seen walking about in the winter. 

" Foxes may be divided into hlacl^^ cross, and red, the greater 
part red. They are caught in two ways, /. e., guns and traps j 
tbe latter is the best method, and by it the most are secured. 
Ilunting season is in the fall and winter, when they are in new 
and full fur. Trapping season begins about 5th October and 
continues as long as the snow lasts. 

" Blue foxes are confined to the Prybilov Islands, on Saint 
George especially, where they annually kill about 1,500. It is 
said that wben these islands were first discovered there was 
naught but blue foxes there, of most excellent quality : but a 
few winters afterward came white foxes, which breed very 
rapidly, and in a great measure spoiled the fur ; that now the 
fur which once was called blue is called smolcy. 

"ib>rto/fers are distinguished above everything on account of 
their great value and small numbers. There was a time wben 
they were killed in thousands, now only by hundreds. There 
are plenty of places where before there were great numbers of 
sea-otters ; now not one is to be seen or found. The reason for 
this is most evident : every year hunted witbout rest, tbey have 
fled to places unknown and without danger. 

" Land-otters are found onl^' on the Sbumagins, Oonemak, and 
the peninsula in this Aleutian district. Tbey do not live in 
the sea, but are found in the lakes and go close to the sea ; 
tbey have longer feet or limbs, and can run on land better than 
any of the other animals (amphibious) of their class. Of the 
number taken in tbis district tbere is no true record, but in the 
best years tbey do not get over 100. Tbey are hunted, like 
foxes, with guns and traps, but tbey are very strong and full of 




The follow iii^i' tal)U' shows the prices paid by the Russiau- 
Aineiicaii Coiiipany in tlie Alaskan Territoi y, where it had no 
eoni[)etition. (The (juotations are in paper rnbU'S = to -() cents 
each, (100 kopecks make a ruble:) a silver ruble is eipial to 
about 75 cents.) 





Now (l'^74) the natives 
receive — 

li. kop. 

Sea otter, prime 10 00 

oue year old J 4 00 

six months old | 60 

Fur-seals, live to three years.. I 20 
two to one year | 20 

^fartons, very best 
licavers, best ... 
I.and-otter, best 
P>ears, big black 


Mink, best 

Foxes, extra black . 


silver, extra 
red, extra . . . 

"Wolves, extra 

"Wolverines, extra.. 


1 20 

1 UO 

2 00 


1 00 


1 00 

li. kop. 

20 to 

10 00 

2 00 




1 00 

3 00 

1 50 

1 00 

2 00 

7?. kop. 1 J?, kop. 

M 00 i 50 00 

15 00 

:j 00 





















10 00 

^40 each. 


$2.50 eacJK 

40 cents to $3 each. 

From 81.50 to 83 each. 
From 50 cents to — each. 
From 82 to 82.50 each. 
From 83 to 85 each. 
From 81 to 82.50 each. 
From 50 cents to $1.50 

From 840 to 8100 each. 
40 cents each. 
From 83 to 810 each. 
From 81 to 81.50 each. 
From 82 to 85 each. 


Where this company bad competition, however, the prices 
ranged quite high, to wit: At Sitka, for sea-otter, 1-40 to 150 
silver rubles; beaver, from 2 to IS rubles; land-otters, 2 to 
18 ; mainland-foxes, black, 2 to 30 rubles ; silver foxes, 3 to 
18 ; red, 2 rubles to 50 kopecks ; martens, 50 kopecks to 3 
rubles ; lynx, from 3 to 9 rubles ; bears, 1 to 18 rubles ; wolver- 
ines, 2J to 18 rubles ; (these quotations are all iu silver rubles.) 

The value of staple furs of Alaska in the Chinese market 
during 1700 was — 

Sea-otter, prime, S75 to 8100 each. 

Fur-seal, prime, 83.50 to 83.75 each. 

This is interesting, as the value of a dollar has not changed 
since that time iu that country, and sea otter sells to day at 
about the same rate as given. 

Few fur-seaTs are sold iu this market now, but the great bulk 
of the sea-otter catch of the Kuriles goes into China. They do 
uot possess the art of dressing the former well, and were in the 
habit of wearing them simply tanned. The Chinese for all uu- 



dressed furs, like marten, beaver, &c., offer oue of the best 
cash markets in tbe world ; indeed, all the early trade of Alaska 
went into China, both from Paissiau, French, and English 

The following table shows the number of sea-otters and fur- 
seals secured off the coasts of California and Oregon by the 
Eussians during the period of their occupation of Ross, or 
Bodega, in California, Irom 181*4 to 1834 inclusive : 













. 475 



















1, 050 





During the last forty years there have been no sea-otters to 
speak of taken on the Californian coast ; and in 1835 the last 
fur-seals, fifty -four in number, were taken on the Farallones, two 
small rocky islets off the mouth of San Francisco Harbor. 
Hunters along the coast of Oregon still continue, however, to 
shoot a few annually, but at restricted localities, as on the 
small reach of coast at Gray's Harbor, where nearly all that are 
now obtained from the whole district are found. 

ALASKA. -J lit 


While tlic Cdllorhinus is foiuul in such great numbers in the 
Xortli PMcilie, there is not'liing of its genus found in the waters 
of the North Athmtie, and none to speak of in tlie South Paeiiie, 
and to-day the whole nninber tound elsewhere than Alaska is 
ijuite small, though in early days, some hundred years ago, 
when the fur-seal was hrst discovered on the South Shetland 
Islands, they were so abundant and so in>fnerons that hundreds 
of thousands were annually taken— taken without the slightest 
regard to sex or condition, although the skins were not of great 
value then. So numerous were these animals that for over fifty 
years an immense number, several hundred thousand skins, 
were yearly secured in this reckless, ruinous fashion, and it was 
not until the beginning of the last decade that the supply grew 
so small that scarcely a vessel of the former fleets remained on 
the ground ; and last season, the winter of 1873-'74, less than 
15,000 were gathered from the ground upon which many mil- 
lions of fur-seals were found forty years ago resting and 

The government of Buenos Ayres has from the first protected 
and cared for a small rookery of fur-seals under the bluffs at 
Cabo Corrientes, on its coast, where some. 5,000 to 8,000 are an- 
nually taken, but the seals here have no hauling-grouuds like 
those on Saint Paul ; they are taken with much labor under the 
high cliffs of this portion of the coast. This is the only govern- 
ment aid and care that the seals have ever received outside of 
Bering Sea. The following extract shows the way in which the 
fur-seals of the south came into notice : 

"Soon after Captain Cook's voyage in the Besolntion, per- 
formed in 1771, he presented an official report concerning New 
Georgia, in which he gave an account of the great number of 
elephant-seals and fur-seals which he had found on the shores 
of that island. This induced several enterprising merchants to 
fit out vessels to take them ; the Ibrmer for their oil, the latter 
for their skins. Ca[)tain AVeddell states that he had been cred- 
ibly informed that during a period of about tifty years not less 
than -!0,000 tons of oil were procured annually from this spot 
alone for the London market, which, at a moderate i)rice, would 
yield about £1,000,000 a year. 

262 ALASKA. 

^'Seal-skins are very mneh nsed in tbeir raw state as articles 
of apparel by the natives of the polar zones ; when tanned, 
they are used extensively in making shoes ; and the Eskimo 
have a x^rocess by which they make them water-proof, (?) so 
that, according to Scoresby, the jackets and trousers made of 
them by these people are in great request among the whale- 
fishers for preserving them from oil and wet. But the skins 
are not only used in this raw and tanned state as leather; on 
account of their silky and downy covering, they constitute still 
more important articles connected with the fur-trade. Thus 
considered, seal-skins are of two kinds, which may be distin- 
guished as liair-skins and fur-skins ; the former are used as 
clothing and ornament by the Eussians, Chinese, and other 
nations, and the latter yield a fur which we believe exceeds in 
value all others which have been brought into the market. 
Many seals supply nothing but hair, while others in different 
proportions produce both the hair, and underneath it soft and 
downy far. The majority, we believe, are to be considered 
merely as hair-skins, similar to the bear or sable, and of these 
some are excellent of their kind and much prized.'* — Hamilton''s^ 
AnqihihioHS Mammalia, Edinburgh, 1839. 

With regard to the manner in which the business was carried 
on down here we find in the Encyclopaedia Britannica the fol- 
lowing facts: " From about the year 180G till 1823 an extensive 
trade was carried on in the South Seas in procuring seal-skins;, 
these were obtained in vast abundance by the first traders and 
yielded a very large profit. The time was when cargoes of 
those skins yielded five or six dollars apiece in China, and the 
present price in the English market averages from SO to 50 
shillings per skin. The number of skins brought off from 
Georgia cannot be estimated at fewer than 1,200,000 ; the 
island of Desolation has been equally productive, and, in addi- 
tion to the vast sums of money which these creatures have 
yielded, it is calculated that several thousand tons of shipping 
have annually been employed in the traffic." 

An English writer in 1830 calls attention to the deplorable 
and ruinous management of affairs on the great rookeries of 
the South Pacitic in the following strong terms : 

'' It may be considered superfluous to read a lecture to the 
trader upon a matter so nearly touching his own interest ; and 
yet there is one point, at the same time, which forms so essen- 
tial a part of my subject, that we cauuot withhold a word or 

ALASKA. 263 

two. These valuable creatures (fur-seals) have often been 
fouud fnciucntin*;- some sterile islands in innumerable multi- 
tudes. Jiy way of illustration, 1 shall refer only to the fur-seal 
as occurring in South Shetland. On this barren spot their 
numbers were such that it has been estimated that it could 
have continued permanently to furnish a return of 100,000 furs 
a year; which, to say nothing of the public benefit, would have 
yielded annually a very handsome sum to the adventurers, 
but what do these men do? In two short years, 1821 and 1822, so 
great is the rush that they destroy 3i.H),000. They killed all, and 
spared none. The moment an animal landed, though big with 
young, it was destroyed. Those on shore were likewise imme- 
diately dispatched, though the cubs were but a day old. These, 
of conrse, all died, their number, at the lowest calculation, ex- 
ceeding 100,000. iS^o wonder, then, at the end of the second 
year the animals in this locality were nearly extinct. So is it in 
other localities, and so with other seals, and so with the oil-seals, 
and so with the whale itself, every addition only making bad 
worse. All this might easily be prevented by a little less bar- 
barous and revolting cruelty, and by a little more enlightened 

^' With regard to this seal-fishery of the south, the English 
and Americans have exclusively divided it between them, and 
with very great profits. It has lately been stated (1839) that 
they together employ not fewer than sixty vessels in the trade, 
of from 250 to 300 tons burden. These vessels are strongly built, 
and have each six boats, like those of the whalers, together 
with a small vessel of 40 tons, which is put in requisition when 
they reach the scene of their operations. The crew consists of 
about twenty-four hands ; their object being to select a fixed 
locality from which to make their various hatteaus. Thus it is 
very common for the ship to be moored in some secure bay and 
be partially unrigged, while at the same time the furnaces, 
try-pots, &c., required for making the oil are placed on shore. 
The little cutter is then rigged and manned with about half 
the crew, who sail about the neighboring islands and send a 
few men here and there on shore where they may see seals or 
wish to watch for them. The campaign frequently lasts for 
three years, and in the midst of unheard-of privations and dan- 
gers. Some of the crew are sometimes left on distant barren 
spots, the others being driven off by storms. They are left to 

264 ALASKA. 

perish or drag out for years a Diost precarious anil wretcLed 

This gives a very fair idea of tbo manner in wbicli the busi- 
ness was conducted in the South Pacific. How long would our 
sealing interests in Bering Sea withstand the attacks of such a 
■fleet of sixty vessels, carrying from twenty to thirty men each? 
:N"ot over two years. The fact that these great southern rook- 
eries withstood and paid for attacks of this extensive character 
during a period of over twenty years speaks eloquently of the 
millions upon millions that must have existed in the waters now 
almost deserted by them. 

* Robert HamiltOD, Auipbibious Mammalia, Edinburgb, 1839. 

ALASKA. 205 


As these animals live and breed upon tlie Pryhilov Islands, 
certain natural conditions of landing ground and climate ap- 
pear from my study of them to be necessary to their existence 
and perpetuation. From my surveys made upon the islands to 
the north, Saint Matthe^''s and Sa4nt Lawrence, and the authen- 
tic corroborating testimony of those who have visited all of the 
mainland-coast on our side as well as the islands adjacent, in- 
cluding the reninsula a!id the Aleutian Archii)elago, I have 
no hesitation in stating that the fur-seal cannot breed on any 
other land than that now resorted to within our boundary-lines; 
the natural obstacles are insuperable. Therefore, so far as our 
possessions extend, we have in the Pry bilov group the only eli- 
gible land on which the fur-seal can repair for breeding, and on 
Saint Paul alone there is still room enough vacant for the 
accommodation of ten times as many as we find there now. 

But we know that to the westward, and within the jurisdic- 
tion of llussia, are two islands — one very large — on which the 
fur-seal regularly breeds also, and though, from the meager 
testimony in our possession, we are told that it is in small num- 
bers only, stdl, if the land be as suitable for the reception of 
the rookeries as is that of Saint Paul, then what guarantee have 
we that at some future time the seal-life on Copper and Be- 
ring Islands may not be greatly augmented by a correspond- 
ing diminution of .our own with no other than natural causes 
operating ? Certainly, if the ground on either Copper or Be- 
ring Island is as well suited for the wants of the breeding fur- 
seal as is that on Saint Paul, then I say that we may at any 
time note a diminution .here and hud a corresponding augmen- 
tation there, for I have clearly shown, in my chapter on the hab- 
its of these animals, that they are not particularly attached to 
the respective places of their birth, but that they land with 
an instinctive api)reciation of its fitness as a whole. The want 
of definite knowledge in regard to the character of the Kus- 
sian islands is a serious drawback to any correct generalization 
as to the limit of migration, and they ought to be examined in- 
telligently with this view, for if these Eussian islands do not 
present any considerable area of eligible breeding-ground as on 
Saint Paul, then we know that they will never be resorted to 

266 ALASKA. 

by any great numbers of tbe fur-seal, not at least while so 
much good rookery-ground on the American side is vacant as 
is the case now. 

If we, however, possess virtually all the best-situated ground, 
then we can count upon retaining the leal-life as we now have 
it, and in no other way ; for it is not unlikely' that some season 
may occur when an immense number of the fur-seals which 
have lived during the last four or five years on the Prybilov 
Islands should be deflected from their usual feeding-range by 
the shifting of schools of fish, &:c., so as to bring them around 
quite close to the Asiatic seal-grounds in the spring, and the 
scent from those rookeries would act as a powerful stimulant 
for them to land there, where conditions for their breeding may 
be as favorable as desired by them. Such being the case, this 
diminution which we would notice on the Prybilov group would 
be the great increase observed here, and not due to any mis- 
management on the part of the men in charge of these inter- 
ests. Thus it appears to me necessary that definite knowledge 
concerning the Commander Islands and the Kuriles should 
be possessed ; without it, I should not hesitate to say that any 
.report made by an agent of the Department as to a visible dim- 
inution of the seal-life on the Prybilovs, due, in his opinion, 
to the effect of killing, as it is conducted, was without good 
foundation ; that this diminution would have been noticed just 
the same in all likelihood had there been no taking of seals at 
all on the islands, and that the missing seals are more than 
probably on the llussian grounds. 

If we find, however, that the character of this Eussian seal- 
land is restricted to narrow beach-margins under bluffs, as at 
Saint George, then we know that a great body of seals will never 
attempt to land there when they could not do so without sufl:er- 
ing, and therefore, with this correct understanding to start on, 
we can then feel alarmed with good reason should we observe 
a diminution to any noteworthy degree on Saint Paul. 

I do not think, however, that we will be called upon to look 
into this question for an indefinite time to come, though it may 
come soon j but the seals undoubtedly feed in systematic rou- 
tine of travel from the time they leave the Prybih)v Islands un- 
til their return, and therefore, in all probability, unless the fish 
upon which tbey feed suddenly become scarce in our waters on 
soundings, they (the seals) will not change their base as mat- 

ALASKA. 267 

ters now progress, but it cannot be considered superfluous to 
call ui) this <iuestion for discussion and future thought. 

In the mean time the movcnjents of the seals upon the sev- 
eral breeding-grounds of Saint Paul and Saint George should 
be faithfully noted and recorded every year, and the question of 
their increase or diminution will be soon settled beyond all 
theory or cavil. This action on the part of the Govern mcMit 
agent up there is of the first importance. The counting of the 
skins is done alike twice over, by the company in the presence 
of the natives, and then again in San Francisco by the custom- 
house oillcials there, and henvy bonds and self-interest would 
prevent any attempt 'at transgression of law, even if an ap- 
parent chance was ottered ; but the company is not bound to 
submit a report every year to the Treasury Department upon 
the condition of the seal-life there, and although it does take in- 
telligent cognizance of this matter, still no weight could be at- 
tached to any statement that it might make, for the simple rea- 
son of the cry that would be raised of interested machination 
if so done. 

AN ACT to prevent the extermiuatiou of fnr-Leariug animals in Alaska. 

Be it enacted h/ the Senate and Rouse of Bepresentatives of the 
United States af America in Congress assembled, That it shall be 
unlawful to kill any fur-seal upon the islands of Saint Paul's 
and Saint George's, or in the waters adjacent thereto, except 
during the months of June, July, September, and October, in 
each year ; and it shall be unlawful to kill such seals at any 
time by the use of fire-arms, or use other means tending to 
drive the seals away from said islands : Brovided, That the 
natives of said islands shall have the i^rivilege of killing such 
young seals as may be necessary for their own food and cloth- 
ing during other months, and also such old seals as may be 
required for their own clothing and for the manufacture ot boats 
for their own use, which killing shall be limited and controlled 
by such regulations as shall be prescribed by the Secretary of 
the Treasury. 

Sec. 2. And he it further enacted, That it shall be unlawful to 
kill any female seal, or any seal less than one year old, at any 
season of the year, except as above provided ; and it shall also 
be unlawful to kill any seal in the waters adjacent to said 
islands, or on the beaches, cliffs, or rocks where they haul up 
from the s«a to remain j and any person who shall violate 

268 ALASKA. 

either of the provisions of this or tlie first section of this act, 
shall be punished on conviction thereof, for each offense, by a 
fine of not less than two hundred dollars nor more than one 
thousand dollars, or by imprisonment not exceeding six months, 
or by both such fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the 
court having jurisdiction and taking cognizance of the offense ; 
and all vessels, their tackle, apparel, and furniture, whose 
crew shall be found engaged in the violation of any of the pro- 
visions of this act, shall be forfeited to the United States. 

Sec. 3. And he it further enacted, That for the period of 
twenty years from and after the passage of this act the number 
of fur-seals which maybe killed for their skins upon the island 
of Saint Paul's is hereby limited and restricted to seventy-five 
thousand per annum j and the number of fur-seals which may 
be killed for their skins upon the island of Saint George's is 
hereby limited and restricted to twenty-five thousand per an- 
num : Provided, That the Secretary of the Treasury may restrict 
and limit the right of killing, if it shall become necessary for the 
preservation of such seals, with such proportionate reduction 
of the rents reserved to the Government as shall be right and 
j)roper ; and if any i^erson shall knowingly violate either of the 
provisions of this section, he shall, upon due conviction thereof, 
be i)unished in the same way as is provided herein for a viola- 
tion of the provisions of the first and second sections of this 

Sec. 4. And be it further enacted, That immediately after the 
passage of this act the Secretary of the Treasury shall lease, for 
the rental mentioned in section G of this act, to proper and 
responsible parties, to the best advantage of the United States, 
having due regard to the interests of the Government, the 
native inhabitants, the parties heretofore engaged in the trade, 
and the protection of the seal-fisheries, for a term of twenty 
years from the 1st day of May, 1870, the right to engage in the 
business of taking fur-seals on the islands of Saint Paul's and 
Saint George's, and to send a vessel or vessels to said islands 
for the skins of such seals, giving to the lessee or lessees of said 
islands a lease duly executed, in duplicate, not transferable, 
and taking from the lessee or lessees of said islands a bond, 
with sufficient sureties, in a sum not less than $300,000, condi- 
tional for the faithful observance of all the laws and recpurements 
of Congress and of the regulations of the Secretary of the 
Treasury touching the subject-matter of taking fur-seals and 
disposing of the same, and for the payment of all taxes and 


dues accrniiin^ to the United Stiites eoiinected tlierewith. And 
ill making siiid lease the Secretary of the Treasury shall have 
due regard to the preservation oi' the seal-fur trade of said 
islands, and the comfort, maintenance, and education of the 
natives thereof. The said lessees shall fnrnisli to the several 
masters of vessels emi)h)yed hy tiiem certified copies of the 
lease held by them, respectively, which shall be presented to 
the Government revenue-ollicer lor the time being who may be 
in charge at the said islands, as the authority of the party for 
landing and taking skins. 

Sec. 5. And he it further enacted^ That at the expiration of 
said term of twenty years, or on surrender or forfeiture of any 
lease, other leases may be made in manner as aforesaid for 
other terms of twenty years ; but no persons other than Ameri- 
can citizens shall be permitted, by lease or otherwise, to occupy 
said islands, or eithtir of them, for the purpose of taking the 
skins of fur-seals therefrom, nor shall any foreign vessel be en- 
gaged in taking such skins ; and the Secretary of the Treasury 
shall vacate and declare any lease forfeited if the same be held 
or operated for the use, benefit, or advantage, directly or indi- 
rectly, of any person or persons other than American citizens. 
Every lease shall contain a covenant on the part, of the lessee 
that he will not keep, sell, furnish, give, or dispose of any dis- 
tilled spirits or spirituous liquors on either of said islands to 
any of the natives thereof, such person not being a physician 
and furnishing the same for use as medicine ; and any person 
who shall kill any fur-seal on either of said islands, or in the 
waters adjacent thereto, (excepting natives as provided by this 
act,) without authority of the lessees thereof, and any person 
Tvho" shall molest, disturb, or interfere with said lessees, or 
either of them, or their agents or employes in the lawful prose- 
cution of their business, under the provisions of this act, shall 
be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall for each offense, 
on conviction thereof, be punished in the same way and by like 
penalties as prescribed in the second section of this act 5 and all 
vessels, their tackle, apparel, appurtenances, and cargo, whose 
crews shall be found engaged in any violation of either of the 
provisions of this section, shall be forfeited to the United 
States ; and if any person or company, under any lease herein 
authorized, shall knowingly kill, or permit to be killed, any 
number of seals exceeding the number for each island in this 
act prescribed, such person or company shall, in addition to 
the penalties and forfeitures aforesaid, also forfeit the whole 

270 ALASKA. 

number of the skins of seals killed in that year, or, in case 
the same have been disposed of, then said person or company 
shall forfeit the value of the same. And it shall be the 
duty of any revenue-officer, ofiicially acting as such on either of 
said islands, to seize and destroy any distilled spirits or spiritu- 
ous liquors found thereon: Provided, That such officer shall 
make detailed report of his doings to the collector of the port. 
Sec. 6. Aiid he it further enacted, That the annual rental to 
be reserved by said lease shall be not less than 830,000 per 
aunum, to be secured by deposit of United States bonds to that 
amount, and in addition hereto a revenue tax or duty of two 
dollars is hereby laid upon each fur-seal skin taken and shipped 
from said islands during the continuance of such lease, to bo 
paid into the Treasury of the United States ; and the Secretary 
of the Treasury is hereby empowered and authorized to make 
all needful rules and regulations for the collection and payment 
of the same, for the comfort, maintenance, education, and pro- 
tection of the natives of said islands, and also for carrying into 
full effect all the provisions of this act : Provided further, That 
the Secretary of the Treasury may terminate any lease given to 
any person, company, or corporation, on full and satisfactory 
proof of the violation of any of the provisions of this act or the 
rules and regulations established by him : Provided further, 
That the Secretary of the Treasury is hereby authorized to 
deliver to the owners the fur-seal skins now stored on the 
islands, on the payment of one dollar for each of said sking 
taken and shipped away by said owners. 

Sec. 7. And he it further enacted, That the provisions of the 
seventh and eighth sections of an act entitled ''An act to ex- 
tend the laws of the United States reliit-ing to customs, com- 
merce, and navigation over the territory ceded to the United 
States by Russia, to establish a collection district therein, and 
for other purposes," approved July 27, 1808, shall be deemed 
to apply to this act; and all prosecutions for offenses com- 
mitted against the provisions of this act, and all other pro- 
ceedings liad because of the violations of the provisions of 
this act, and which are authorized by said act above men- 
tioned, shall be in accordance with the provisions thereof; and 
all acts and ivarts of acts inconsistent with the provisions of 
this act are hereby repealed. 

Sec. 8. And he it further enacted. That the Congress may 
at any time hereafter alter, amend, or repeal this act. 

A})proved, July 1, 1870. 




I. The corporate name of this company is the Alaska Com- 
mercial Company, and its aflairs are under the control of live 
trustees, who shall hereafter hv chosen by the stocivlioidcrts 
of the company on the second Wednesday of June in each year, 
and who shall hold oflice until their successors are elected. 
The annual meetings of the stockholders shall be hchl at the 
otiice of the company. At all elections of trustees l)y tiie stocl;- 
holders each stockholder shall be entitled to one vote for every 
share of stock held by him on the books of the company. 
Stockholders may vote by proxy. All proxies shall be signed 
by the party owning the stock represented. 

II. The principal place of business of the com[)aiiy is S;ni 
Francisco, California. 

III. The regular meetings of the board of trustees will be 
held at the oflice of the company on the first Wednesday in 
each month, at 12 o'clock m., and no notice of such meeting to 
any of the trustees shall be requisite. Other meeftiugs of the 
board of trustees may be held upon the call of the president, 
by notice, signed by him, of the time and place of meeting, 
personally served on each trustee residing within this State, or 
published in a newspaper of general circulation in San Fran- 
cisco for ten days successively next preceding tlie day of such 
meeting. Special meetings may be held upon notice, signed 
by three trustees, stating the time and place of meeting, and 
the purpose for which the meeting is called, having been duly 
served on each trustee, or published in a newspaper of general 
circulation in San Francisco for ten days successively next pre- 
ceding the day of meeting, and no business other than that 
specified in the notice shall be transacted at such special meet- 
ing. At all meetings of the board any three of the trustees 
being present shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of 
the business of the company. Adjourned meetings may be 
held in pursuance of a resolution of the board adoi)ted at any 
regular or general meeting of the board. Any three trustees 
elected at any annual meeting of the stockholders of the com- 
l)any, and being present at the close of such stockholders' meet- 
ing, may, on the same day, without notice to any of the trustees, 
meet and organize the board bv the election of ofticers, and 

272 ALASKA. 

may transact such other busiuessas may come before the board 
at such meetiug. 

TV. The officers of tbe company shall consist of a president, 
a vice-president, and a secretary, who shall be chosen by the 
board of trustees at their first meeting after the annual elec- 
tion of trustees ; such-otTicers to hold office one year, or until 
their successors are elected. 

V. The president, or in his absence the yice-president, shall 
preside at the meetings of the board. In case neither are pres- 
ent, the board may appoint a i)resident j>ro tempore. 

VI. xVll vacancies in the board may be filled by the board at 
the next meeting after the existence of such vacancy, and it 
shall require the affirmative vote of three trustees to elect. In 
case of any vacancy occurring among the officers or agents of 
the company, the same may be filled at any meeting of the 

YII. All certificates of the capital stock of the company 
shall be signed by the president and secretary, attested by 
the corporate seal of the comj^any, and can be issued to the 
parties entitled thereto or their authorized agent. All trans- 
fers of stock shall be made on the books of the company by 
the secretary, upon surrender of the original certificate or cer- 
tificates, properly indorsed by the party in whose favor the 
same was issued. No stock shall be transferred to any person 
not a stockholder of the company at the time of such transfer, 
unless the same shall have been offered for sale to the com- 
pany, or stockholders of the company, and the purchase at the 
fair cash or market value refused, except by authority of a 
resolution of the board of trustees permitting such transfer. 

YIII. The corporate seal of the company consists of a die of 
the following words : "Alaska Commercial Company, San 
Francisco, California." 

IX. The corporate seal, and all i^roperty, securities, inter- 
ests, and business of the company, shall be under the control 
and general management of the president, subject td the di- 
rection of the board of trustees. The funds of the comj)any 
shall be deposited (from time to time, as they are received) to 
the credit of the company, with a bank doing business in San 
Francisco, to be designated by the president, and the said funds 
can be drawn from such bank only by proper checks or drafts, 
signed by the president or vice-president of the company. The 
books of the company shall be kept by the secretary, who shall 

ALASKA. 273 

also keep a correct record of all Uw, i)roceedingsof the board 
cf trustees liad at their ineetin^s, and perlonn siieli other 
duties as the board of trustees may require. 

X. The pay and sahiries of all ofiQcers of the company shall 
be determined, from time to time, by the board of trustees. 

Xr. The president of the company shall have power to ap- 
point and employ such general business agents, factors, attor- 
neys, clerks, and other wnploy(:js as he may deem proper and 
requisite for conducting the business and allairs of the com- 
pany ; and he shall fix the pay, commissions, or salaries of all 
such agents, factors, attorneys, cleiks, and other employes, 
from time to time, as circumstances shall require. 

XII. All transfers of the capital stock of this company made 
to persons not citizens of the United States, or made for the 
use or benefit of any citizen or citizens of any foreign govern- 
ment, are absolutely void. 

XIII. Dividends from the net profits of the company may 
be declared and paid by order of the board of trustees, in ac- 
cordance with law. 

XIV. These by-laws may be altered or amended by the 
board of trustees in the manner prescribed by law. 

18 AL 

274 ALASKA. 


Office Alaska Commercial Company, 

San Francisco, January, 1872 
The followiiio' regulations are prescribed for the guidance of 
all concerned : 

1. The general management of the company's affairs on the 
islands of Saint Paul's and Saint George's is intrusted to one 
general agent, whose lawful orders and directions must be im- 
plicitly obeyed by all subordinate agents and employes. 

2. Seals can only be taken on the islands during the months 
of June, July, September, and October in each year, except 
those killed by the native inhabitants, for food and clothing, 
under regulations prescribed by the Secretary of the Treasury. 

Female seals and seals less than one year old will not be 
killed at any time, and the killing of seals in the waters sur- 
rounding the islands, or on or about the rookeries, beaches, 
clift's, or rocks, where they haul up from the sea to remain, or 
by the use of firearms, or any other means tending to drive 
the seals away from the islands, is expressly forbidden. 

3. The use of fire-arms on the islands, during the period from 
the first arrival of seals in the spring-season until they dis- 
appear from the islands ir\ autumn, is prohibited. 

4. No dogs will be permitted on the islands. 

5. No person will be permitted to kill seals for their skins 
on the islands, except under the supervision and authority of 
the agents of the company. 

G. No vessels other than those employed by the company, or 
vessels of the United States, will be permitted to touch at the 
islands, or to land any persons or merchandise thereon, except 
in cases of shipwreck or vessels in distress. 

7. The number of seals which may be annually killed for 
their skins on Saint Paul's Island i..s limited to seventy-five 
thousand, and the number which may be so killed on Saint 
George's Island is limited to twenty-fiv^e thousand. 

8. No persons other than American citizens, or the Aleutian 
inhabitants of said islands, will be employed by the company 
on the islands in any capacity. 

ALASKA. 275 

!). Tlio Aleuliaii 1)(M)1)I(' living- on the islands will he ciii- 
ployed by the' (;()in|)aiiy in taUin;i^ seals loi- tlicir skins, and 
they will bo i)aid for tlu^ labor of taking each skin and deliver- 
in*? tli(^ same at the salt-house forty cents, coin, until otherwise 
ordered by the Secretary of the Treasury. For other labor per- 
Ibrnied for the conii)any, proper and remunerative wages will be 
l)aid, tho amount to be agreed upon between the agents of the 
company and the persons employed. The working-parties will 
be under the immediate coutrol of their own chiefs, and. no 
comi)ulsory means will ever be used to induce the people to 
labor. All shall be free to labor or not, as they may choose. 
The agents of the company will make selection of the seals to 
be killed, and are authorized to use all proper means to pre- 
vent the cutting of skins. 

10. All provisions and merchandise required by the inhabit- 
ants for legitimate use will be furnished them from the com- 
pany's stores, at prices not higher than ordinary retail prices 
at San Francisco, and in no case at prices above 25 per cent, 
advance on wholesale or invoice prices in San Francisco. 

11. The necessary supplies of fuel, oil, and salmon will be 
furnished the people gratis. 

12. All widows and orphan children on the islands will be 
supported by the company. 

13. The landing or manufacture on the islands of spirituous 
or intoxicating liquors or wines will under no circumstances be 
permitted by the company, and the preparation and use of fer- 
mented liquors by the inhabitants must be discouraged in every 
legitimate manner. 

14. Free transportation and subsistence on the company's 
vessels will be furnished all people, who at any time desire to 
remove from the islands to any place in the Aleutian group of 

15. Free schools will be maintained by the company eight 
months in each year, four hours per day, Sundays and holidays 
excepted, and agents and teachers will endeavor to secure the 
at-tendance of all. The company will furnish the necessary 
books, stationery, and other appliances for the use of the schools 
without cost to the people. 

IG. The physicians of the companj^ are required to faithfully 
attend upon the sick, and both medical attendance and medi- 
cines shall be free to all persons on the islands ; and the ac- 

276 ALASKA. 

ceptance of gratuities from the people for such services is for- 

17. The dwelling-houses now being erected by the company, 
w^ill be occupied by the Aleutian families, free of rent or other 

18. No interference on the part of agents or employes of the 
company, in the local government of the people on the islands, 
or in their social or domestic relations, or in their religious rites 
or ceremonies, will be countenanced or tolerated. 

19. It is strictly" enjoined upon all agents and emi)loy^s of 
the company to at all times treat the inhabitants of the islands 
with the utmost kindness, and endeavor to preserve amicable 
relations with them. Force is never to be used against them, 
except in defense of life, or to prevent the wanton destruction 
of valuable property. The agents and employes of the com- 
pany are expected to instruct the native people in household 
economy, and, by precept and example, illustrate to them the 
principles and benefits of a higher civilization. 

20. Faithful and strict compliance with all the provisions and 
obligations contained in the act of Congress entitled "An act 
to prevent the extermination of fur-bearing animals in Alaska,'^ 
approved July 1, 1870, and the obligations contained in the 
lease to the company executed in pursuance of said act, and 
the regulations of the Secretary of the Treasury, prescribed 
under authority of said act, is especially enjoined upon all 
agents and employes of the company. The authority of the 
special agents of the Treasury appointed to reside upon the 
islands must be respected, whenever lawfully exercised. The 
interest of the company in the management of the seal-fisher- 
ies being identical in character with that of the United States, 
there can be no conflict between the agents of the company 
and the agents of the Government, if all concerned faithfully 
perform their several duties and comply with the laws and reg- 

21. The general agent of the company will cause to be kept 
books of record on each island, in which shall be recorded the 
names and ages of all the inhabitants of the islands, and, from 
time to time, all births, marriages, and deaths which may occur 
on the islands, stating, in cases of death, the causes of the 
same. A full transcript of these records will be annually for- 
warded to the home office at San Francisco. 

22. Copies of these regulations will be kept constantly posted 

ALASKA. 277 

ill conspicuous places on botli islands, and any willtul violation 
of the same by the aj^ents or eniph)y6s of tlie company will be 
followed by the summary removal of tiie olfending party. 

President Alaska Commercial Company. 

Note. — Sections 2 and 7 of the above lej^ulatiou.s wcro based upon tlio 
law of July 1, 1870; but since then Con<^ress has given the Secretary of the 
Treasury the power to fix the ratio for each island upon a more intelligent 
understanding of the subject — and also to extend the time for taking from 
the Ist of June up to the 15th of August.— II. W. E.