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72, 05 

'^ ,^ DIANA 

Published by Field Museum of Natural History 



Edited with an introduction by 

Translated by 

NOVEMBER 23, 1973 


A Continuation of the 








Published by Field Museum of Natural History 



Edited with an introduction by 

Curator, North American Archaeology and Ethnology 
Chairman, Department of Anthropology 
Field Museum of Natural History 

Translated by 

Slavic and East European Division 
The Library of Congress 

NOVEMBER 23, 1973 


Patricia M. Williams 

Managing Editor, Scientific Publications 

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 73-86815 
US ISSN 0071-4739 




List of Illustrations v 

Preface 1 

Introduction 4 

Notes for the Introduction 35 

References for the Introduction 37 

Preface to the Translation 40 

Excerpts from the Journal of V.S. Khromchenko on his Voyage of 1822 . . 42 

Notes for the Translation 86 

References for the Translation 94 


Text Figures 


1. Map of the north Pacific Ocean 5 

2. Map of southwestern Alaska 9 

3. Map of the Norton Sound and Seward Peninsula region 17 

4. Glazunov's map of southwestern Alaska 27 

5. Map of Nunivak Island 59 


Few areas of North America have received more literary at- 
tention from travellers and tourists than has Alaska. During the 
late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when a trip north was 
an exciting adventure, it seemed that virtually everyone making 
an excursion through the Inside Passage or heading toward the gold 
fields of the interior wrote a book about his experiences. In addition 
to sharing their experiences with armchair travellers, many of these 
authors also attempted to give historical perspective to their writ- 
ings by including brief but invariably superficial accounts of Russian 
exploration in the North Pacific in the years preceding the purchase 
of Alaska by the United States in 1867. Most of these accounts are 
little more than rewritings of the data in H. H. Bancroft's History 
of Alaska, published in 1886 as one part of the author's multi-vol- 
umed history of the American West. Bancroft's uneven work, the 
first attempt to describe Alaska's eventful past in detail, is still the 
most comprehensive history of what is now the forty-ninth state. 

Although in recent years highly competent professional histor- 
ians have centered their research on various aspects of the history 
of Alaskan exploration, relatively little attention has been focused 
on Russian contributions. There is still no thorough, well-docu- 
mented history in English of Russia's penetration into the Pacific 
northwest. Belatedly, however, historians and social scientists 
realize the significance of this era in the expansion of the North Am- 
erican frontier. It is clear that although the scientific contributions 
of Russian explorers may have been less notable than those of their 
British and American counterparts, important and significant ob- 
servations were made on the geography, native peoples, and resources 
of the country. 

One of the factors inhibiting the study of Russian exploration 
has, of course, been the Russian language in which, until recently, 
few American northern specialists in any field have been competent. 
It is not, however, a matter of language alone. Information on many 
of the most important voyages and travels exists only in archival 
sources or in esoteric Russian publications of the late eighteenth and 


early nineteenth centuries which are available in only a handful of 
libraries in this country. Even the published accounts often exist 
only in brief and highly condensed form. Thus while it has been 
relatively easy to become informed concerning the broad outlines of 
Russian exploration, the details have frequently been very elusive 

This study is concerned with Russia's penetration into south- 
western Alaska, an area peripheral to the Aleutian Islands and pan- 
handle archipelago where most of her exploration and economic ex- 
ploitation took place. The explorations of Vasiliy Stepanovich 
Khromchenko, although not among the more spectacular in the 
history of northern voyages of discovery, were instrumental in open- 
ing this new area to the fur trade and they have never been the sub- 
ject of detailed treatment in any language. The journals which he 
and his second-in-command, Adolph Karlovich Etolin, kept during 
their first voyage in 1821 have never been published and are known 
primarily through the writings of contemporary historians. Khrom- 
chenko's journal of 1822, which is the subject of this study, was 
published only as excerpts in consecutive issues of the Russian pe- 
riodical, Severnyy Arkhiv. 

The explorations of Khromchenko and Etolin in 1821 are de- 
scribed in the introduction as is the related voyage of Mikhail 
Nikolaevich Vasilev and Gleb Semenovich Shishmarev which took 
place at approximately the same time. Detailed consideration is 
given to the activities of Vasilev and Shishmarev because they cov- 
ered some of the same areas explored by Khromchenko and Etolin, 
and their journals were never published. The accomplishments of 
all four explorers deserve to be known to a wider audience. 

My purpose in this study is not only to reproduce Khromchenko's 
1822 journal in the only version that is available, but to place his 
achievements, and the related achievements of others, in the frame- 
work of the development of the fur trade and the expansion of Rus- 
sian influence in Alaska. In this manner, I hope to call attention to 
important and generally neglected events in the history of Russian 

Russian proper names and other words in the introduction and 
in Khromchenko's journal have been transliterated according to a 
modified form of the Library of Congress system. The reader should 
remember that all dates are according to the Georgian calendar 
which was 12 days behind the Julian calendar in the nineteenth 


For critical comments and helpful suggestions during the prepa- 
ration of this study, I am grateful to Dorothy Jean Ray. Her thor- 
ough knowledge of historical developments in the Norton Sound 
region has helped me to avoid a number of embarrassing errors. I 
also wish to express my thanks to Dr. Michael Krauss of the Uni- 
versity of Alaska who helped me to formulate my interpretive com- 
ments concerning the Eskimo vocabularies collected by Khrom- 

The translation of Khromchenko's journal was undertaken with 
financial support from the James R. Getz Fund of Field Museum of 
Natural History, David H. Kraus of the Library of Congress, trans- 
lator of the journal and some of the material used in the introduction, 
also performed many editorial services. His interest and enthusiasm 
are much appreciated. Dr. Henry N. Michael of Temple University 
helped to resolve certain problems of terminology which had puzzled 
both the translator and the editor. Valuable assistance in obtaining 
biographical information on Khromchenko and Etolin was provided 
by Dr. Erna V. Siebert of the Institute of Ethnography in Leningrad 
and Dr. Svetlana G. Fedorova of the same institution in Moscow. 

Finally, a very special debt of gratitude is due my wife, Dr. Mary 
Helms VanStone, who read the manuscript critically and offered her 
support and encouragement at every stage of its preparation. 


Before the end of the sixteenth century, Russian fur traders had 
crossed the Urals, gradually extended their operations eastward 
across northern Asia, and established themselves on the shores of 
the Bering Sea. After reaching salt water, it was only natural that 
these Cossack adventurers would extend their explorations along the 
coast. By the early eighteenth century, rumors began to circulate 
among these intrepid travellers and traders concerning a continent 
said to lie to the east. 

In the course of time, these rumors reached St. Petersburg where 
Tsar Peter the Great was quick to realize their importance. He or- 
dered the organization of an expedition which was directed to extend 
the explorations of the Cossack navigators and to provide proof of 
the separation of Asia and America. The command of this expedi- 
tion was given to Vitus Bering, a Dane and fleet captain in the Rus- 
sian navy. After crossing Siberia, Bering built two small vessels at 
Okhotsk and, in July of 1728, sailed northward along the coast of 
Siberia as far as East Cape. Having passed through the strait which 
today bears his name, Bering returned to Okhotsk without having 
sighted the American continent. He did, however, report the exist- 
ence of St. Lawrence Island. 

Although Bering believed that he had definitely established the 
separation of Asia and North America, his evidence was so meager 
that most geographers refused to accept it. In fact, it was not until 
the third voyage of Captain James Cook a half century later that 
convincing proof of separation was obtained. 

The interest aroused by Bering's first voyage led to the organiza- 
tion of a second expedition which, because of its size and the diffi- 
culties of travel, was six years in crossing Siberia. Finally, in June 
of 1741, this expedition sailed from Kamchatka in two vessels com- 
manded by Bering and Aleksey Chirikov. The ships soon separated 
and on July 18 Bering sighted the American coast in the vicinity 
of Mt. St. Elias; a few days later a landing was made on Kayak Is- 
land. Sailing southwest, the party sighted the Shumagin Islands 



and continued westward along the Aleutian chain. Scurvy broke 
out and the ship was eventually wrecked on Bering Island in the 
Commander group off the coast of Kamchatka. Many died during 
the winter, including Bering. The next summer the survivors built 
a small vessel from the wreckage and returned to Kamchatka. 

After becoming separated from Bering, Chirikov sailed eastward 
and on July 15 sighted the continent near Cross Sound. An attempt 
to land resulted in the loss of two boats and the death of nearly a 
third of his crew at the hands of the Tlingit Indians. Chirikov hast- 
ily returned to Kamchatka, sighting a few of the Aleutian Islands 
during his voyage.^ 

Following Bering's explorations and discoveries, Russian fur 
hunters began to exploit those areas of the north Pacific where fabu- 
lous riches in furs had been reported. These hardy Siberians reached 
the Commander Islands within two years after the return of Bering's 
party. Subsequently, in crude, ill-equipped, and poorly provisioned 
ships manned by crews who knew little of seamanship, these roving 
hunters and traders succeeded in pushing their way eastward along 
the Aleutian chain to the mainland of Alaska.- 

Some of these fur hunters reached Kodiak Island as early as 1762 
and by that time it was already apparent that foxes, sea otters, and 
other furbearers were becoming scarce in the Aleutians. Because 
the hunting and trading voyages were growing less profitable, it was 
necessary to look for new areas to exploit toward the northeast. Up 
to this time, fur gathering had been in the hands of individual en- 
trepreneurs or a few small companies. However, in 1781, a well- 
organized company of eastern Siberian merchants was formed to 
exploit the American fur trade. The leader of this new organization 
was Grigoriy Ivanovich Shelikov, an Irkutsk merchant who, in 1783, 
supervised the establishment of a small colony at Three Saints Bay 
near the southwestern end of Kodiak Island. From there the Sheli- 
kov Company extended its trapping and trading operations to the 
neighboring islands and mainland. 

In 1792 Aleksandr Andreevich Baranov was appointed chief 
director of the company's American interests, a post which he held 
for 25 years. Virtually alone he developed the company to the point 
where it was able to overcome its rivals for control of the fur trade 
and become established, under the name of the Russian-American 
Company, as a state monopoly by imperial decree in 1799.^ 


By the time Baranov was relieved of his duties in 1818, Russia's 
North American domain extended from the Aleutian Islands down 
the coast of southeastern Alaska to Sitka. He moved his headquart- 
ers from Kodiak Island to Sitka in 1800 and this small settlement 
became the capital of Russian Alaska. Although the Russians were 
familiar with the coastal areas in this picturesque region of numerous 
islands and deep bays, virtually nothing was known of coastal or 
interior regions to the north. Baranov was anxious to obtain more 
information concerning his extensive domain, but continual preoc- 
cupation with organizational problems, British and American compe- 
tition, and difficulties with the Indians and Aleuts left little time for 
exploration. Nevertheless, early in the nineteenth century, as the 
number of fur-bearing animals continued to decline in the tradition- 
ally exploited areas, the Russian- American Company was forced to 
turn its attention to the vast area of southwestern Alaska north of 
the Alaska Peninsula. This was an unknown region in which it was 
hoped that new profits could be reaped through trade with the Es- 
kimo inhabitants for beaver pelts. It was undoubtedly also true that 
in response to pressures exerted by other nations conducting ex- 
plorations in northern waters, the Russians felt compelled to extend 
their influence into areas of the country with which they had not 
been traditionally associated. 

In 1818, an expedition was dispatched to explore the region to 
the north of Bristol Bay. This party, under the direction of Petr 
Korsakovskiy, consisted of Fedor Kolmakov, Petr Gorokhov, Gav- 
ril Patyukov, Andrey Klimovskiy, and 20 Aleuts. The expedition 
was intended to open new areas to the fur trade, but also hoped to 
investigate rumors that white men, presumably descendants of 
earlier Russian explorers, were living on the "Kheuveren" River, 
believed to be located somewhere on Seward Peninsula.^ 

Korsakovskiy proceeded from Kodiak Island across Shelikof 
Strait and the Alaska Peninsula to Bristol Bay in the spring of 1818. 
From there Kolmakov led a detachment west to Cape Newenham by 
way of Kvichak and Nushagak bays, the lower reaches of the To- 
giak River, and Hagemeister Island. This trip required 41 days, 
the return journey to the Eskimo village of Ekuk at the mouth of 
the Nushagak River being made in mid-July. Kolmakov's party 
were almost certainly the first Russians to travel in this area. 

Early in August, Korsakovskiy, leaving Kolmakov and a few 
others at the mouth of the Nushagak, led a detachment which as- 
cended the Kvichak River to Iliamna Lake, Lake Clark, and the 


upper reaches of the Mulchatna River, a Nushagak tributary. On 
Iliamna Lake he met Eremy Rodionov, a local trader, who offered 
to lead a small group north to find the vaguely located "Kheuveren" 
River. The route followed by Rodionov and his party is uncertain, 
but they apparently reached the Kuskokwim River near the mouth 
of the Holitna and proceeded downstream to the vicinity of the 
present day village of Kalskag. By early September, the party had 
returned to the upper Mulchatna and from there Korsakovskiy and 
his men returned to Kodiak Island by way of Iliamna Lake and lower 
Cook Inlet. 

Korsakovskiy's explorations of Iliamna Lake and Lake Clark 
were not the first European penetration of the interior west of Cook 
Inlet, Russian traders having operated in this area since the days 
when the Shelikov Company was competing with other trading com- 
panies for control of the fur trade in the Inlet. The Tanaina Indians, 
occupants of this region, were thoroughly familiar with Russian 
trade goods long before the arrival of the Korsakovskiy party. 

In the summer of 1819, Korsakovskiy led another exploring party 
to Bristol Bay, this time by way of Iliamna Lake and the Kvichak 
River. From there the expedition proceeded to the mouth of the 
Togiak River and Hagemeister Island where the Russian-American 
Company cutter Constantine was waiting with supplies brought by 
sea from Kodiak. An exploration of the Kuskokwim River was 
planned and the supplies were for that purpose. 

It was late in the summer when Korsakovskiy approached the 
Kuskokwim and, perhaps awed by the size of Kuskokwim Bay into 
which drains the second longest river in Alaska, he proceeded no 
further than Goodnews Bay. The Eskimos he met advised against 
an attempt to ascend the river, maintaining that many hardships 
would be encountered and that the Russians would have difficulty 
in obtaining food. So the expedition turned back, but not before 
learning from the Eskimos of the existence of a large island to the 
north and west between the mouths of the Kuskokwim and Yukon 
rivers. This was Nunivak Island and it figures prominently in the 
later explorations of Khromchenko. Korsakovskiy may even have 
heard of the mighty Yukon River, not to be seen by Russians until 

During Korsakovskiy's explorations in 1818, a detachment under 
Fedor Kolmakov had remained at the mouth of the Nushagak River 
while the rest of the expedition proceeded inland to Lake Clark and 


the Mulchatna. Kolmakov was to examine the area at the Nush- 
agak's mouth as a possible location for a redoubt, and in the sum- 
mer of 1819 a post was constructed. Chosen as the site for the first 
Russian-American Company establishment north of the Alaska 
Peninsula was a high bluff on the east bank of Nushagak Bay about 
8 miles below the actual mouth of the river. The new redoubt was 
named Aleksandrovskiy, perhaps in honor of Tsar Aleksandr I, and 
Kolmakov, an energetic trader, rapidly established trade relations 
with the Aglegmiut Eskimos living in the vicinity of the post. Being 
frequently at war with their neighbors, the Kiatagmiut Eskimos of 
the Nushagak River, they were glad to place themselves under the 
protection of the Russians. Since the Aglegmiut were already 
somewhat familiar with Russian trade goods, it delighted them to 
be so close to an impressive new source of supply. 

So ended the first Russian explorations in southwestern Alaska. 
As a result, the company learned something about the interior re- 
gions. Beaver were plentiful, the Eskimos friendly, and, most im- 
portant of all, the region was apparently drained by a number of 
navigable rivers which would make penetration of the interior rela- 
tively easy. At the same time, residents of the interior had easy 
access to the coast. Aleksandrovskiy Redoubt seemed ideally situ- 
ated to attract Eskimos with furs and to serve as a point of departure 
for explorations into the interior. This was indeed the case. Within 
ten years, such explorations were to take place virtually every sum- 
mer, and within 25 years, all of southwestern Alaska would be opened 
to the fur trade. 

The Russian-American Company was, of course, primarily in- 
terested in the fur trade and all its explorations were designed to 
find ways in which to increase that trade. But the company was 
also a state monopoly and could, at times, serve as an arm of Rus- 
sian imperialism. Reacting to pressures from two other imperialist 
powers of the time, Great Britain and the United States, Russia felt 
insecure in its knowledge of and hold on the huge section of the 
North American continent which it claimed. 

The Imperial Government watched with interest as the Russian- 
American Company expanded its activities into southwestern Alaska. 
A decision was made to sponsor some coastal explorations which 
would not only be of assistance to the company, but would, hope- 
fully, rival those of Cook and Vancouver in their contributions to 
geographical knowledge. At the same time, the rest of the world 


would see that Russia was interested in and actively investigating 
all of Alaska, not just the Aleutian chain and the panhandle archi- 
pelago. Therefore, in 1819, by order of Tsar Aleksandr I, an expe- 
dition under the command of Captain-Lieutenant M. N. Vasilev 
was dispatched to describe and survey the northern coasts of Alaska 
and at the same time to look for the fabled Northwest Passage. The 
journals presumably kept by Vasilev and other members of the ex- 
pedition were never published in full, although brief excerpts ap- 
peared in Russian and German periodicals. The contemporary 
historian, Vasiliy N. Berkh (1823a) also discussed Vasilev's explora- 
tions in the second volume of his history of northern discoveries. 

On June 4, 1819, Captain Vasilev set sail from Kronstadt on the 
Gulf of Finland in two naval sloops, the Otkrytie (Discovery) and 
the Blagonamerennyy (Good Intent). The leader of the expedition 
was aboard the former while the latter was under the command of 
Captain-Lieutenant G. S. Shishmarev. Vasilev sailed directly to 
Kamchatka while Shishmarev went to Unalaska in the hopes of being 
able to procure an interpreter who would be useful when the expe- 
dition met northern coastal Eskimos. From there he sailed to St. 
Lawrence Island and then to Kotzebue Sound where Vasilev joined 
him on July 16, 1820. 

Both vessels departed from Kotzebue Sound two days later and 
sailed northward along the Alaskan coast with the intention of sur- 
veying it in detail. Fog and ice hampered their surveys, however, 
and the two vessels were able to proceed only as far as 71°06' north 
latitude, 35 miles north of Icy Cape. This was a very respectable 
achievement nonetheless, as it represents approximately the same 
latitude reached by Captain Cook in 1778 and was the most northern 
penetration of Alaskan coastal waters by the Russians up to that 
time. Vasilev gives no indication that he had any direct contact 
with the Eskimo inhabitants of these northern regions. The ships 
do not seem to have landed at any point between Kotzebue Sound 
and their farthest north and, because of fog and bad weather, may 
have been out of sight of land at least part of the time. 

Proceeding south from the vicinity of Icy Cape, the two ships fol- 
lowed the coast to Cape Prince of Wales and then crossed the Bering 
Strait to East Cape and the Gulf of Anadyr on the Siberian coast. 
From there the expedition sailed toward St. Lawrence Island where 
Vasilev left Captain Shishmarev to make surveys while he headed for 
Unalaska by way of the Pribilof Islands. 


Like Captain Cook before them, the Russian navigators encount- 
ered difficulties with the moving pack ice as they attempted to sur- 
vey close to shore along the arctic coast. Vasilev realized that the 
type of vessel needed for such surveys was a small boat of light sail 
that could hold close to the coast and take advantage of the open 
water between the shore and the pack ice. In fact, it was in just 
such a vessel that members of William Beechey's expedition reached 
Point Barrow, the first Europeans to do so, in 1826 (Beechey, 1831, 
chs. XI-XII). Since the Russian expedition carried with it the com- 
ponents for making a small boat, Vasilev decided to sail from Un- 
alaska to Sitka where it could conveniently be assembled. Having 
left a member of his crew to carry out this task, he sailed from Sitka 
on October 25 to spend the winter in southern latitudes. 

Shishmarev and Vasilev spent the winter in northern California 
and in the Hawaiian Islands. By early June, 1821, however, both 
the Otkrytie and the Blagonamerennyy were at Unalaska ready for 
the second season of surveys. Vasilev had stopped at Sitka in mid- 
May to secure supplies, obtain interpreters, and take on board the 
newly constructed small boat. 

Leaving Vasilev and Shishmarev for the moment as they prepare 
for their second season along the Alaska coast, we must turn our 
attention once again to the activities of the Russian- American Com- 
pany. By this time the general manager, Matvey Ivanovich Mur- 
avev, had examined the journals and reports of Korsakovskiy's 
expeditions. What he learned impressed him and he decided that 
the company should support further explorations in the same area. 
The brig Golovnin and the cutter Baranov were to be employed for 
this purpose with the former commanded by the leader of the ex- 
pedition, V. S. Khromchenko, and the latter by A. K. Etolin. 
Khromchenko's explorations were conceived on a much smaller scale 
than those of Vasilev. Not only was the area to be covered much 
more limited, but the advancing of geographical knowledge was dis- 
tinctly subordinate to the necessity of obtaining information about 
the Eskimo inhabitants that would be useful to the company in 
planning the expansion of the fur trade. It can be assumed also that 
few political implications were attached to this expedition since at 
least part of the area had already been explored by the Russians. 
However, since Korsakovskiy had not proceeded beyond Goodnews 
Bay, but had brought back interesting information concerning the 
country to the north, Muravev was anxious for Khromchenko and 


Etolin to extend the explorations of the earlier party, thereby laying 
the groundwork for future trade in the new areas. 

Since V. S. Khromchenko is the major figure in the explorations 
that most concern us in this study, it is worthwhile taking a brief 
look at his professional career. Little is known concerning the navi- 
gator's early life, but his name suggests that he was of Ukrainian ex- 
traction. In 1806 he entered navigator's school and was promoted 
to navigator's assistant, a non-commissioned rank, on July 21, 1815. 
His first assignment was on the brig Rurik under the command of 
Lieutenant Otto von Kotzebue, an early Russian round-the-world 
voyager who made important discoveries in the Bering Sea region 
(Kotzebue, 1821). While a member of this expedition, on July 1, 
1817, Khromchenko was promoted to navigator 14th class, and on 
the expedition's return to Kronstadt two years later, to warrant 

Like other naval officers of the time, Khromchenko saw an op- 
portunity for more interesting duty and rapid promotion through 
service with the Russian- American Company, to which he trans- 
ferred in 1820. This transfer enabled him to receive his first com- 
mand and, in 1821 and 1822, in the brig Golovnin, he carried out the 
explorations which are the subject of this study. Following these 
expeditions, Khromchenko commanded company ships until at least 
1833, during which time he took part in two round-the-world voy- 
ages and was rewarded and promoted to captain-lieutenant for pro- 
viding the Imperial Botanical Gardens with more than 1,000 rare 
plants from Brazil. Beginning in 1834, Khromchenko appears to 
have returned to service with the Imperial Navy and was stationed 
in the Baltic Sea between 1835 and 1840. On January 13, 1843 he 
retired from the service with the rank of second captain and died in 

A. K, Etolin, although subordinate to Khromchenko on the voy- 
ages in 1821 and 1822, ultimately played a much larger role in the 
history of Russian America than did his superior officer. Of Finnish 
nationality, he first came to Alaska as a volunteer seaman on the 
sloop Kamchatka which was on a round-the-world voyage under the 
command of one of the greatest Russian navigators, Vasiliy Mikhail- 
ovich Golovnin. At Sitka Etolin entered the service of the Russian- 
American Company. Between 1819 and 1824^he commanded com- 
pany ships which, in addition to the explorations with Khromchenko, 
made voyages to California and the Hawaiian Islands. Additional 
commands followed, during which Etolin voyaged throughout the 


Pacific Ocean as far north as St. Lawrence Island and south to the 
port of Valparaiso, Chile. For a while, in 1828, he was based in a 
settlement of traders on an island in the Kuriles. 

During his career, Etolin was out of the company's service at 
least twice, once in 1825 when he returned to Kronstadt, and again 
in 1837 when he was promoted to captain-lieutenant and lived in St. 
Petersburg. It was there that his fortunes began to rise. He had 
remained a naval officer and from 1841 to 1845, as a first captain, he 
served as general manager of the Russian- American Company, the 
third in a line of naval officers to hold the company's highest posi- 
tion in Alaska. In 1847 Etolin retired from the navy with the rank 
of rear-admiral. He died in 1876. 

The company's first sea explorations in southwestern Alaska be- 
gan on May 3, 1821 when Etolin sailed from Sitka. ^ He reached 
Hagemeister Island on the 30th and three days later dropped an- 
chor at the mouth of the Nushagak River. After completing various 
assignments in that area, he put to sea on June 29 for Goodnews Bay 
where he met Khromchenko in the Golovnin, the latter having left 
Sitka on May 27. One of the assignments given to the expedition 
related to a rumor that Russians were living somewhere on Seward 
Peninsula. The Korsakovskiy expedition in 1818 was supposed to 
have investigated this rumor, as previously noted, but apparently 
they were not successful in obtaining the kind of information that 
satisfied the company. At the time there was considerable specula- 
tion about the identity of these Russians, if in fact they did exist. 
Some believed they would turn out to be descendants of survivors of 
the Deshnev expedition which may have passed through Bering 
Strait in 1648 and was, in the 1820's, little known (Berkh, 1823b). « 
Khromchenko and Etolin hoped to meet the Eskimos who had 
described such people to Korsakovskiy, and after talking with some 
residents of the Goodnews Bay area for several hours, were convinced 
that the earlier explorer had misunderstood his informants. 

Having obtained this information and completed their surveys 
in the Goodnews Bay vicinity, both vessels put to sea on July 12 
but became separated the following day during a heavy fog. They 
did not meet again until the end of the expedition. 

While Etolin was in Bristol Bay and Khromchenko was making 
his way toward Goodnews Bay, Vasilev and Shishmarev were at Una- 
laska in early June making plans for their second season of explora- 
tion in northern waters. Shishmarev was directed to carry out sur- 


veys along the northeast coast of Asia, while Vasilev, with the help 
of the newly-constructed ship's boat, described the Alaskan coast be- 
tween Bristol Bay and Norton Sound. Vasilev also planned to 
proceed northward in the Otkrytie in a second attempt to find the 
Northwest Passage. On June 27 the Blagonamerennyy set its course 
for the shores of Asia, while Vasilev sailed to the Pribilofs and, hav- 
ing verified the geographic position of these islands, proceeded to 
Cape Newenham. 

At Cape Newenham, Vasilev appointed a member of his crew, 
Lieutenant A.P. Avinov, commander of the ship's boat and in- 
structed him to describe the Alaskan coast between capes Newenham 
and Darby and then rejoin the Otkrytie at Stuart Island on July 20. 
If his surveys had not been completed by this date, Avinov was to 
continue until August 15 at which time, if he did not meet his com- 
mander in Norton Sound, he was to winter either at Unalaska or in 
Petropavlovsk harbour on the coast of Kamchatka. 

The ship's boat and the Otkrytie separated on July 6 and Vasilev 
headed for Cape Stephens. On the 11th he sighted an island which 
was not marked on his maps. On going ashore, probably at some 
point along the northwest coast, he learned that the island was called 
Nunivak and was not far from the Alaska mainland. The Eskimos 
he met indicated that they had not previously been in direct contact 
with Europeans. Vasilev, after naming the island Otkrytie, appar- 
ently made no attempt to survey it and departed the following day 
for Norton Sound. His failure to do any surveying is somewhat sur- 
prising since he must have realized the importance of his discovery. 
He may also have been aware that an island had been reported in 
this general area by the Korsakovskiy expedition in 1819. Vasilev's 
route from Nunivak to Norton Sound would presumably have taken 
him around the western tip of the island and provided the oppor- 
tunity for surveying many miles of coastline. Perhaps he believed 
that Avinov in the ship's boat could be counted on to perform this 
work. In any event, Vasilev arrived at Cape Darby on the 19th and 
when the ship's boat failed to appear on the 20th, he sailed south- 

While Vasilev was sailing toward Norton Sound, Etolin in the 
Baranov was enroute to the mouth of the Kuskokwim River which 
he reached on July 17. There the party met a large number of Eski- 
mos who claimed they had no previous contact with Europeans. It 
seems virtually certain, however, that these people had at least some 
previous knowledge concerning the Russians, if only because of the 


explorations of the Korsakovskiy party in the general area two years 

Etolin spent about six days in Kuskokwim Bay making observa- 
tions and describing the coastline. While gathering information 
from the local Eskimos, he learned of the existence of Nunivak Is- 
land which was previously unknown to him. Leaving Kuskokwim 
Bay on July 23, the Baranov sailed to the northwest and on the 28th, 
Etolin sighted what he presumed to be the island. He anchored off 
shore, apparently in the vicinity of Cape Mendenhall, and some Es- 
kimos came on board. From them he learned that he was, indeed, 
off the coast of Nunivak. The following day the coast of the Alaska 
mainland was visible at a distance of 25 miles. 

Etolin intended to sail through the strait which today bears his 
name, but was prevented from doing so by an unfavorable wind. He 
named the strait after Captain James Cook and then bore away to 
the northeast with the intention of circumnavigating the island. 
Again unfavorable winds intervened and he was prevented from ac- 
complishing this goal. Nevertheless, he was successful in describing 
some of the island and in determining its extent from east to west. 
The Baranov then headed north to Norton Bay where Etolin hoped 
to meet Khromchenko in the Golovnin. 

Khromchenko, meanwhile, after becoming separated from the 
Baranov on July 13, proceeded north and sighted the coast of Nuni- 
vak Island on July 16 and 17. However, since the weather was 
foggy, he decided to postpone further explorations in that area and 
head straight for Norton Sound. 

On the 22nd he entered Norton Bay and became the first Euro- 
pean to visit Golovnin Bay. According to contemporary historian 
V. N. Berkh (1823a, p. 55), Khromchenko originally named it Mur- 
avev Bay after the general manager of the Russian-American Com- 
pany. The latter persuaded him to change the name to Golovnin 
after the famous circumnavigator with whom the general manager 
had served on a round-the-world voyage. Khromchenko stayed in 
this newly discovered bay only briefly and then surveyed the coast- 
line of Norton Sound to Cape Stephens after which he returned to 
Golovnin Bay on the 27th to secure water and firewood. During 
this second visit, the weather was much improved and he was able 
to survey a large part of the bay's shoreline including the mouth of 
the Fish River. 

"While riding at anchor in Golovnin Bay and during his extensive 
surveys of its coastline, Khromchenko had considerable contact 



with the Eskimo population of the area. They provided him with 
information concerning the geography of the region, but he erron- 
eously concluded that in some manner the bay connected with Shish- 
maref Inlet. The information he obtained increased his interest in 
the interior of Seward Peninsula and he was to pay particular at- 
tention to this area on his second voyage the following year. 

Khromchenko left Norton Sound on August 10 and although 
Etolin in the Baranov arrived at Stuart Island on the 6th, the men 
he sent ashore to seek information concerning the whereabouts of 
the Golovnin could learn nothing. The Barayiov then headed south, 
and on the 11th Etolin sighted an extensive headland. Believing 
himself to have been the first European to see this coast, he named it 
Cape Rumyantsev after Count Nikolay Petrovich Rumyantsev, a 
distinguished patron of Russian exploration. Rumyantsev had, 
from his personal resources, given financial support to Kotzebue's 
explorations aboard the Rurik in 1815-1819. The name of this cape 
appears on modern maps as Romanzof. 

Unknown to him, Etolin was not the first European to visit this 
coast and describe the prominent cape. On July 4, 23 days before 
Etolin, Shishmarev in the sloop Blagoyiamerennyy had also sighted 
this headland. He had sailed from Unalaska on June 27 and hoped 
to explore further in this region but was prevented from doing so by 
the shallow water that is characteristic of much of the shoreline. He 
then proceeded to St. Lawrence Island, described its northern coast, 
and collected information on the Eskimo inhabitants. From there 
he sailed to the Gulf of Anadyr and, following his instructions from 
Vasilev, surveyed the coast and compiled ethnographic information 
on the Chukchis. 

Shishmarev continued his surveys of the Asiatic coast until July 
22, but his work was hampered considerably by ice and bad weather. 
He then sailed north and reached 70° 12' N latitude on August 1 
when he sighted Cape Serdtse Kamen. A combination of ice, con- 
trary winds, and bad weather caused him to abandon his northern 
explorations and to sail into Mechigmen Gulf for provisions. On 
August 15 Shishmarev headed once again for St. Lawrence Island. 
Here he surveyed the northern coast of the island before proceeding 
to St. Matthew Island and then Petropavlovsk which was reached 
on September 21. 

Following his sighting of Cape Romanzof on August 1, Etolin 
in the Baranov continued southward, passed Cape Vancouver, and 


two hours later sighted the northern coast of Nunivak Island to- 
gether with the strait which separates it from the mainland. He 
wished to stay close to the coast in order to conduct surveys, but 
heavy winds kept forcing him away from it. On the 12th he an- 
chored off the western tip of the island and a shore party was able 
to obtain some information from the inhabitants. 

Being unable to describe the whole of Nunivak Island, Etolin 
set sail for Unalaska and, plagued again by bad weather, was not 
able to enter the harbor until September 26. Two days later, after 
taking on wood and water, he departed for Sitka and reached that 
port on October 13, thus completing his part of the voyage. 

We have already noted that Khromchenko left Norton Bay on 
August 10. He too sighted Cape Romanzof, but bad weather pre- 
vented him from making extensive surveys of the coast in this re- 
gion. He then sailed for Nunivak Island, apparently with the in- 
tention of carrying out some of the surveys that he had not attempted 
earlier. Again the weather was bad, however, and Khromchenko 
may have wished that he had taken advantage of the earlier op- 
portunity. No landing was made, but settlements were noted and 
people seen gathered in groups on the beach preparing to come out 
to meet the ship. But continuing contrary winds prevented them 
from doing so. The Golovnin then proceeded to St. George Island, 
arriving on the 17th, and to Unalaska on the following day. He 
left Unalaska on the 24th and reached Sitka on September 7, ap- 
proximately five weeks before Etolin. 

We must now discuss the activities of Captain Vasilev in the 
Otkrytie as he worked his way into northern latitudes in hopes of 
locating the Northwest Passage. Having departed from Norton Bay 
on July 20, he proceeded north and approached Cape Lisburne on 
the 31st. Shortly thereafter, the ship encountered fog and ice which 
prevented a close approach to the shore. Progress northward was 
still possible, however, and on August 3, latitude 70°40' N was 
reached. The following day Vasilev sighted Icy Cape but extensive 
surveys were impossible because of the many ice floes which did some 
minor damage to the ship. Cape Lisburne was sighted on the 9th 
and on that day Vasilev abandoned his second attempt to conduct 
surveys in the Arctic Ocean and proceeded south, arriving at Cape 
Darby on the 13th. Like Captain Cook and others before and after 
him, the Russian navigator learned that progress northward in a 
large sailing vessel was virtually impossible much beyond latitude 70°. 


At Cape Darby Vasilev attempted unsuccessfully to learn the 
whereabouts of Lieutenant Avinov and the ship's boat. The Otkrytie 
then went on to Stuart Island where the inhabitants reported that 
they had never before seen Europeans although Etolin had visited 
the island earlier in the same month. It is interesting to note that 
while on the island, members of Vasilev's party learned of the exist- 
ence of the Yukon River which was not seen by the Russians until 
Andrey Glazunov's explorations in 1833-34 (VanStone, 1959). Still 
lacking information concerning the whereabouts of Lieutenant Avi- 
nov, Vasilev sailed to Petropavlovsk, arriving on September 8 to 
find that the lieutenant had been there since August 19. 

Lieutenant Avinov had left Bristol Bay on July 6 and sailed in 
the direction of Cape Newenham. Heavy seas forced him into Hag- 
emeister Strait on the 9th and during the next two days, he described 
the coast between Cape Newenham and Goodnews Bay. On July 
13, the lieutenant left Goodnews Bay with the intention of contin- 
uing his surveys to the north. He kept encountering extensive tidal 
flats, however, and obviously possessed none of the skills necessary 
to navigate in such waters. The small ship's boat had a draft of 4 
ft. and the lieutenant frequently ran aground or was stranded at low 
tide. He also experienced difficulty in keeping the boat headed into 
the wind. In addition, the weather was continually stormy and the 
crew began to show signs of scurvy. So the plans for coastal explora- 
tions to the north, for which the ship's boat had been constructed 
and for which it was probably well-suited, were abandoned. Avinov 
decided to sail to Petropavlovsk where he arrived on August 19.'^ 

Thus ended the voyage of Vasilev and Shishmarev, and the first 
attempt by the Russians to explore the northern coastal waters of 
their North American domain. Just 17 years later, in 1838, a party 
led by their countryman, Aleksandr Filippovich Kashevarov, travel- 
ing in Eskimo skin boats, reached a point 30 miles east of Point Bar- 
row (Kashevarov, 1845). If Vasilev had managed to use his ship's 
boat rather than the Otkrytie in northern waters, this remarkable 
achievement might have been his. Be that as it may, in mid-October 
both the Otkrytie and the Blagonamerennyy set out on the return 
voyage and in nine months arrived safely at Kronstadt. 

In evaluating the results achieved by these two expeditions, it 
is well to keep in mind that the explorations of Vasilev and Shish- 
marev were sponsored by the Imperial Navy, while those of Khrom- 
chenko and Etolin were the undertakings of a commercial enterprise, 
the Russian-American Company. Under these circumstances, it 


might be expected that more significant contributions to geographical 
knowledge would come from the former, while the work of the latter 
would be oriented toward establishing and improving the fur trade. 
It is doubtless true that the instructions given to Khromchenko and 
Etolin stressed the necessity of laying a foundation for successful 
trade relations. But it is also true that most of North America was 
explored by individuals or groups whose primary interests were 
economic. So it should come as no surprise to learn that this expe- 
dition also provided much useful geographical data on places until 
then practically unknown. 

From the standpoint of geographical discovery, in fact, the ex- 
plorations of Khromchenko and Etolin in 1821 stand out as a far 
more successful undertaking than the longer, more ambitious expe- 
dition sent out by the Imperial Navy. Although many factors were 
doubtless involved, it is tempting to attribute this fact primarily to 
superior and more imaginative seamanship on the part of the Rus- 
sian-American Company employees. 

Vasilev and Shishmarev must be credited with being only the 
second Russian expedition to seek the Northwest Passage in north- 
ern latitudes and to have reached further north in the Arctic Ocean 
than any Russian party up to that time; in fact 22' further than 
Captain Cook. However, in spite of reaching the vicinity of lati- 
tude 71° N during the summers of 1821 and 1822, no surveys were 
attempted and virtually nothing was added to the information 
obtained by Cook more than 40 years earlier. Neither Vasilev nor 
Shishmarev had any contact with Eskimos north of Kotzebue 
Sound even though they were traveling along a heavily populated 
coast where Captain William Beechey visited several large vil- 
lages just five years later. Certainly the achievements of the ex- 
pedition in this area are very modest indeed when compared with 
that of Beechey or the journey of Kashevarov previously mentioned. 
It could be argued, perhaps, that Vasilev was considerably handi- 
capped by his inability to use the ship's boat in northern waters. 
Certainly many of the problems with bad weather and moving ice 
which he encountered could have been avoided in a small vessel of 
shallow draft that could keep close to shore in these virtually tideless 
waters. But it must be remembered that Beechey, as well as many 
of the Franklin search vessels^ and the whaling vessels of later dec- 
ades, were able to make detailed inshore surveys and frequent land- 
ings while operating from large boats. 


The failure of Lieutenant Avinov and the ship's boat to carry 
out any of the tasks assigned to him would seem to be a decisive 
factor in assessing the success or failure of Vasilev's expedition. Al- 
though it is to be regretted that the boat was never able to operate 
along the northern coast, it is equally unfortunate that Avinov made 
no attempt to carry out his assigned task of surveying the coast be- 
tween capes Newenham and Darby. 

And so, apart from Shishmarev's explorations along the Asiatic 
coast which do not concern us here, the only real achievements of 
the expedition were the placing of Nunivak Island and Cape Ro- 
manzof on maps for the first time, and the completion of surveys of 
St. Lawrence Island begun by Kotzebue in 1816. The discovery of 
Nunivak Island is clouded somewhat by a dispute between Vasilev 
and Etolin, both of whom claimed to be the first to have seen and 
described the island. Actually, as we have noted, the existence of 
the island was known to the Russians as it had been reported in the 
journals of Korsakovskiy's expeditions. But Vasilev did, in fact, 
sight the island 17 days before Etolin in July, 1821. However, the 
information which he provided concerning it was not only furnished 
after Khromchenko and Etolin had surveyed much of the shoreline, 
but was much less extensive and complete. Vasilev really did little 
more than sight the island, while Etolin carried out important and 
extensive surveys and had numerous contacts with the native 

If the naval expedition of Vasilev and Shishmarev must be con- 
sidered of relatively little importance in terms of geographical dis- 
covery and scientific achievement, that of Khromchenko and Etolin, 
with reference to the same criteria, can be considered a virtually 
complete success. Extensive surveys of the coast north of Cape 
Newenham were successfully carried out and much new information 
was obtained concerning the mouth of the Kuskokwim River. Al- 
though Etolin was unable to accomplish his goal of describing the 
entire coastline of Nunivak Island, the true position of the island 
was determined and a reasonable idea concerning its size and the 
nature of its coastal topography was obtained. Of equal importance 
was Etolin's success in surveying part of the strait separating Nuni- 
vak from the mainland. More complete surveys of the island and 
its vicinity were not carried out until United States Coast Guard 
vessels operated in the area at the turn of the century. 

Khromchenko's surveys in Norton Bay were also of considerable 
significance and resulted in the placing of Golovnin Bay on maps for 


the first time. The navigator's contacts with Eskimos in this region 
were important not only from the standpoint of the fur trade, but 
because they provided sufficient information concerning the geo- 
graphy of interior Seward Peninsula to encourage Khromchenko to 
make further explorations in the Norton Bay area during his second 
expedition the following year. 

Finally, it is worth noting that the expedition's contacts with Es- 
kimos all along the coast provided a foundation for trade relations 
which later proved extremely profitable to the Russian-American 
Company. In fact, it is no exaggeration to state that the explora- 
tions of Korsakovskiy and the two voyages of Khromchenko and 
Etolin laid the groundwork for the opening up of all southwestern 
Alaska to the fur trade. They were followed between 1829 and 1832 
by the interior explorations of Ivan Yakovlevich Vasilev^ and Fedor 
Kolmakov which brought the Eskimos of the Nushagak and Kus- 
kokwim rivers within the sphere of influence of Aleksandrovskiy 
Redoubt. In the latter year Kolmakov established the redoubt on 
the middle Kuskokwim that was later to bear his name. In 1833 
Mikhailovskiy Redoubt was constructed opposite Stuart Island and 
the way was open for Russian penetration of the Yukon. ^" It is 
little wonder, therefore, that general manager Muravev was pleased 
with the results of Khromchenko's 1821 expedition and reported to 
the Board of Directors in St. Petersburg that the company had been 
repaid twofold for the expense of providing and maintaining the 
Golovnin and Baranov together with their crews. 

The success of the 1821 expedition was such that the Russian- 
American Company determined to send out a second one the fol- 
lowing year, also under the command of Khromchenko. It is ex- 
tended excerpts from his journal of this second voyage, the only 
published first-hand account of either voyage, that are translated 
and edited in this volume. The main purpose of this second expedi- 
tion, as outlined in orders from general manager Muravev, was, 
quite simply, to enlarge upon the explorations of the previous year. 
However, the general manager was particularly interested in ob- 
taining descriptions of the Alaska coast from Cape Vancouver, the 
western tip of Nelson Island named by Etolin the previous year, to 
Stuart Island. It was this stretch of coast that both Vasilev and 
Shishmarev and the first Khromchenko expedition had failed to de- 
fine except for locating the highly visible landmark. Cape Romanzof . 
Further, the expedition was directed to survey the coast from Stuart 
Island to a point parallel with the Diomede Islands and farther if 


possible. Also, of course, it was to gain as much information as 
possible concerning the inhabitants of this region. It is clear that 
the company was anxious to establish its influence along as much 
of coastal Alaska as possible in order to secure footholds from which 
the fur trade could spread inland. The fact that the Imperial Navy's 
expedition under Vasilev and Shishmarev had failed to provide de- 
tailed information on this area may also have influenced Muravev's 
decision to include more northern regions in the area to be explored 
by Khromchenko and Etolin in the summer of 1822. 

Readers of the translation and editorial comments which fol- 
low will, hopefully, be in a position to make their own assessment of 
the accomplishments of this voyage. But perhaps some guidance 
can be offered by considering these accomplishments in the light of 
three major considerations: 1) the significance of the expedition from 
the standpoint of exploration; 2) the information provided con- 
cerning the fur trade and company operations; and 3) ethnographic 
information obtained by Khromchenko concerning the Eskimo in- 
habitants of the areas covered by the expedition. 

In assessing the significance of the geographical information ob- 
tained by Khromchenko and Etolin in 1822, it must be admitted 
that real accomplishments were few when compared with the results 
of exploration the preceding year. This was, of course, to be expected 
since the second expedition was designed, at least as far as south- 
western Alaska was concerned, more to consolidate the discoveries 
of 1821 than to extend them into hitherto unvisited areas. Never- 
theless, there were a number of significant geographical discoveries 
in 1822. The expedition was successful in determining beyond any 
possible doubt that there were no islands in the Pribilof group other 
than those already known. Also, additional information concerning 
the Walrus Islands was obtained and detailed surveys were con- 
ducted in the vicinity of Cape Mendenhall on Nunivak Island, along 
the island's east shore and in Etolin Strait. Other positive contribu- 
tions include information obtained by Khromchenko from Eskimos 
living around the shores of Golovnin Bay concerning the drainage 
system of the southwestern region of Seward Peninsula. It would be 
almost the end of the nineteenth century before more detailed in- 
formation concerning the geography of this area became known. 
Khromchenko also learned something of the coast of Seward Penin- 
sula north of Golovnin Bay from Tungan, a well-traveled Eskimo 
who had journeyed to St. Lawrence Island and the coast of Siberia. 


One of the main purposes of the expedition, however, was to 
survey the Alaskan coast between Cape Vancouver and Stuart Is- 
land and to learn something of the inhabitants of this vast area. In 
this undertaking they were almost totally unsuccessful. Because 
of bad weather and shallow water, it was impossible to make care- 
ful surveys of the many bays and indentations which characterize 
the Bering Sea coast in the vicinity of the Yukon Delta. Similarly, 
surveys in the vicinity of Stuart Island were also hampered by bad 
weather and contrary winds. No landing was made between Nuni- 
vak Island and Stuart Island. As a result, no information was ob- 
tained concerning the people who inhabit the Yukon Delta, the most 
heavily populated Eskimo area in all Alaska. Thus Khromchenko 
failed to carry out a vital part of his orders. He failed in 1822 just 
as completely as Lieutenant Avinov of the Vasilev-Shishmarev ex- 
pedition had failed the previous year. 

It is probable that this failure to investigate the Yukon Delta 
and contact its inhabitants had some adverse effects on the fur trade 
after the establishment of Mikhailovskiy Redoubt in 1833, although 
the people of this region doubtless knew of the existence of the Rus- 
sians and perhaps had obtained some trade goods indirectly as a 
result of Kolmakov's trading efforts in Bristol Bay. More impor- 
tant from the standpoint of geographical discovery and information, 
the expedition's failure to make landings and accurate surveys of 
the coastline in the Yukon Delta area probably postponed the dis- 
covery of the Yukon by Europeans until Audrey Glazunov reached 
this great river by an overland route from Mikhailovskiy in 1834. 

It is significant that European discovery of the Yukon came about 
as a result of interior explorations rather than an inland penetration 
from the coast. This fact emphasizes the barren, inhospitable na- 
ture of the coast in this area with the complex Yukon mouth and the 
bewildering number of sloughs that appear to lead nowhere. Per- 
haps Khromchenko cannot be blamed for his failure to penetrate this 
fiat wasteland where significant tidal variations and mud fiats add to 
the dangers created by many shoals and shallow water. And yet the 
expedition would appear to have possessed the means to make such 
surveys had Khromchenko been willing to take the time to do so. 
Etolin was on board the Golovnin for the specific purpose of directing 
the activities of the small, skin-covered Eskimo kayaks which had 
been ordered by the Russian- American Company, along with suffi- 
cient oarsmen, for the greater convenience of making coastal sur- 
veys. As far as can be determined from the published journal ex- 


tracts, these boats were used only once for this purpose and that was 
when Etohn was sent from Stuart Island to survey the strait which 
separates it from the mainland. At other times, the boats appear to 
have been used only to go ashore to visit Eskimo villages, to hunt, 
or to obtain fresh water. 

The maps made by Khromchenko and Etolin in 1821 and 1822 
have never been published. However, some information concerning 
geographical knowledge of southwestern Alaska following their ex- 
plorations can be obtained by examining a map published in 1841 
in connection with the interior explorations of Audrey Glazunov and 
based on a slightly earlier version published in 1839 (see fig. 4).^^ 
This map clearly shows how little was known of the coastline between 
Cape Newenham and Stuart Island. The greater geographical detail 
observable between the mouth of the Nushagak River and Kusko- 
kwim Bay is, of course, due primarily to the explorations of Kor- 
sakovskiy and Khromchenko, and similar detail in the Norton 
Sound region is partly the result of the latter's surveys. But the 
coastline in the Yukon Delta region is vaguely indicated and only 
the accurate positioning of Nunivak Island and Cape Vancouver can 
be attributed to data provided by Khromchenko and Etolin. It 
should be remembered that the interior geographical details shown 
on this map are the result of later explorations by I. Ya. Vasilev, 
Kolmakov, and Glazunov. 

The published portions of Khromchenko's journal of 1822 end 
with the Golovnin at Stuart Island, and it is impossible to determine 
from available sources whether the expedition 'actually reached the 
parallel of the Diomede Islands in accordance with the instructions 
from general manager Muravev. At the end of the final installment 
of the journal in Severnyy Arkhiv is the notation "to be continued." 
A similar notation occurs after other sections previously published. 
It is certain, however, that no further extracts appeared in the jour- 
nal. In an article about Khromchenko's career published by the 
Soviet historian, A. K. Burykin (1957, pp. 77-80), the author as- 
sumes that the second expedition ended at Stuart Island. However, 
no additional evidence is offered in support of this supposition, and it 
is probable that Burykin simply accepts the final installment in 
Severnyy Arkhiv as dealing with the expedition's most northern 
activities. Khromchenko notes several times in his journal that he 
is anxious to get on with the explorations and he attempts to avoid 
delay whenever possible. Therefore, it is difficult to believe that he 
did not proceed northward beyond Stuart Island in accordance with 



his instructions, particularly since the season was not advanced 
when he arrived in Norton Sound. It is unfortunate that the record 
of later stages of the voyage, if they actually occurred, have not been 

Since opening new areas to the fur trade, rather than geographi- 
cal discovery, was presumably of primary importance to Khrom- 
chenko, this may explain why he was unwilling, at times, to wait for 
better weather that might have allowed him to operate close to shore 
and make detailed coastal surveys. However, coastal surveys would 
also have enabled him to land at various locations and advance the 
fur trade through direct contacts with the Eskimos. 

Be that as it may, Khromchenko did deal with matters concern- 
ing the fur trade almost as soon as he began his explorations in 
southwestern Alaska. Fedor Kolmakov, manager of Aleksandrov- 
skiy Redoubt, was trading at the mouth of the Togiak River when 
the Golovnin arrived at Hagemeister Island on May 16. A small post 
had been established on the island the preceding year as an experi- 
ment and the company was giving some consideration to closing the 
establishment at the mouth of the Nushagak because of certain 
physical drawbacks, particularly the shallowness of the water and 
the treacherous shoals and tidal flats in front of the redoubt. There 
were rumors of large numbers of fur seals and sea otters in the vi- 
cinity of Hagemeister Island and it was also expected that a post at 
this location might be more convenient for the Eskimos living along 
the banks of the Kuskokwim River whom the company wished to 
draw into the fur trade as quickly as possible (VanStone, 1967, p. 7). 

The Hagemeister experiment had proved to be less successful 
than anticipated and Khromchenko was directed by his superiors to 
assess the situation at the new post with a view to closing it and 
removing the residents to Aleksandrovskiy. This was done after 
consultations with Kolmakov. Certainly, there was never any 
doubt in Khromchenko's mind that the mouth of the Nushagak was 
the strategic location for a trading establishment. Hagemeister Is- 
land, on the other hand, was not particularly convenient for resi- 
dents of the Kuskokwim River and had no other advantages with 
respect to the fur trade. 

It is necessary to stress the importance of Khromchenko's eval- 
uation of prospects for the fur trade in southwestern Alaska because 
there is every reason to believe that the company took them seriously 
and made important decisions on the basis of information obtained 
from the expedition. Khromchenko believed the Nushagak area to 


be heavily populated and he was right. At the time of his visit, 
there were approximately 500 people living in villages along the 
shores of Nushagak Bay and perhaps another 700 in settlements on 
the river, its major tributaries, and in the lakes area to the west. 
These numbers were decreased somewhat after a severe smallpox 
epidemic in 1837-1838, but the population again increased toward 
the middle of the century with an influx of people from areas to the 
north and south (VanStone, 1971, pp. 133-142). 

Khromchenko's geographical knowledge of the upper Nushagak 
River region was, of necessity, based on rumors and guesses. Rus- 
sian exploration of these areas was not to take place for another seven 
years. Nevertheless, he correctly surmised that the Nushagak 
would provide access to the interior and to the drainages of other 
important rivers flowing into the Bering Sea. The Eskimos reported 
abundant supplies of beaver throughout this area and Khromchenko 
noted that these people, increasingly acquainted with and dependent 
upon trade goods, were eager to barter fur. 

The navigator's positive assessment of the future of the fur trade 
in southwestern Alaska helped resolve the company in its intention 
to retain the post at the mouth of the Nushagak. It must also have 
been instrumental in the decision to initiate the series of inland 
explorations by I. Ya. Vasilev, Fedor Kolmakov, and others which, 
within a period of less than 25 years, resulted in extensive explora- 
tions of the Nushagak, Kuskokwim, and Yukon drainages, and the 
establishment of Kolmakovskiy Redoubt on the Kuskokwim and 
Mikhailovskiy Redoubt northeast of the mouth of the Yukon. As 
on other occasions in the history of the fur trade in North America, 
it was possible to open a large area to trading activities in a relatively 
short time because the residents were already familiar with trade 
goods and ardently desired them. Some of these goods, particularly 
those in use among the more northern people contacted by the 
Golovnin had been obtained by way of Siberian trade routes through 
such middlemen as the inhabitants of Sledge Island off the coast of 
Seward Peninsula. Some items of European manufacture, however, 
could be traced either to the Vasilev-Shishmarev expedition of the 
preceding year or directly to Kolmakov's activities at the mouth of 
the Nushagak River, on Hagemeister Island, and at the mouth of 
the Togiak River. 

At several places in his journal Khromchenko lists trade goods in 
the possession of and desired by Eskimos with whom he came in 
contact. The reader will note that each time the ship meets a group 


of Eskimos, these people come out in their skin boats, or members of 
the ship's company go ashore and active trading takes place. It was 
doubtless one of the duties of the expedition to engage in the fur 
trade whenever possible in order to obtain revenue for the company 
and help to offset the cost of outfitting the ship for the voyage. 
More important than this, however, may have been Khromchenko's 
desire to establish the Russians immediately in the role of providers 
of valuable items and indicate to the Eskimos the kinds of goods they 
were likely to receive in the future if they brought their furs to the 
Russian traders who were to follow. This was, of course, a long- 
established procedure of North American explorations associated 
with the fur trade. 

Although the Golovnin remained anchored off the village of Ekuk 
at the mouth of the Nushagak River for 12 days, it is not clear 
whether Khromchenko or Etolin actually visited the new trading 
post and settlement of Aleksandrovskiy Redoubt which was located 
about 5 miles above Ekuk. Unwilling to risk his ship in the treach- 
erous tidal waters of Nushagak Bay, Khromchenko anchored off 
the Eskimo village and transported supplies and the personnel taken 
from Hagemeister Island to the post in a small boat. Later, Rus- 
sian-American Company ships would frequently take on Eskimo 
guides at Ekuk before attempting the passage to the post (Van 
Stone, 1971, p. 88). 

It is hardly possible that Khromchenko did not make at least 
one trip to the post with the boat and yet there is not a word about 
the settlement in his journal. Of course, Kolmakov was with him 
on the Golovnin and, therefore, it would not have been necessary to 
go to the post to discuss company business with the manager. In 
any event, it is unfortunate that Khromchenko tells us nothing 
about Aleksandrovskiy as there is no published description of the 
redoubt until the early 1870's, more than 50 years after its founding 
(Elliott, 1886, pp. 374-376). There is no plan or detailed description 
of the post in any of the known archival repositories and, as a result, 
virtually nothing is known concerning the appearance of Aleksan- 
drovskiy during the Russian period. Khromchenko had an excellent 
opportunity to describe the small settlement in its earliest years and 
the various activities that went on there. That he failed to do so 
would seem to suggest that he was preoccupied with his orders from 
the company, the safety of his ship in unknown waters, and the neces- 
sity of heading north as soon as possible. 


Although the ethnographic data in Khromchenko's journal is 
neither extensive nor detailed, it is virtually the earliest information 
that exists concerning the Eskimo population of southwestern Alas- 
ka, and therefore important. Early in the journal there are brief 
descriptions of the clothing and boats of Eskimos from the Togiak 
River who had come to Hagemeister Island to trade with Kolmakov's 
small settlement. These Eskimos, like all others met by the expe- 
dition, desired tobacco and appeared to be dependent on it almost 
to the point of addiction. This trade item was known to Alaskan 
Eskimos before the Russians arrived in North America. There are 
indications that it was traded across Bering Strait from Russian posts 
on the Anadyr River as early as the middle of the eighteenth century 
and reached the people of southwestern Alaska through middlemen 
in the Seward Peninsula area (Zagoskin, 1967, pp. 100-103) . When 
Captain Cook visited Norton Sound in 1778 he noted that the Es- 
kimos there were familiar with tobacco, although it was not used by 
the inhabitants of Bristol Bay at that time (Cook and King, 1785, 
vol. 2, pp. 436, 478). There is archaeological evidence for the use of 
tobacco in the Yukon Delta around 1800 and it must have reached 
Bristol Bay shortly thereafter, not long before the Russians brought 
it directly (Oswalt, 1952, p. 69). Kolmakov and other early nine- 
teenth century traders thus found a ready market already existing 
for one of their most important trade items. 

Khromchenko's journal provides useful information concerning 
population movements in the Nushagak River region. The earliest 
historic sources, of which Khromchenko is one, mention relations 
between the peoples of this area and those from other parts of 
southwestern Alaska, particularly the Kuskokwim River. It seems 
certain that the mixture of population in the Nushagak area began 
in the prehistoric period, but the newly established Aleksandrovskiy 
Redoubt served as an additional attraction for peoples from the 
north and south. Khromchenko was apparently the first to make a 
distinction between the coastal dwelling Aglegmiut and the Kiatag- 
miut who, at the time of contact, inhabited the banks of the Nush- 
agak and Wood rivers and the area to the west possibly as far as and 
including the Wood River Lakes and Tikchik Lakes. The Kiatag- 
miut also occupied the upper Kvichak River and probably the lower 
end of Iliamna Lake. Members of Korsakovskiy's expeditions re- 
ferred to the inhabitants of Nushagak Bay as the Glakmiut and these 
peoples have generally been equated with the Aglegmiut of Khrom- 
chenko (VanStone, 1967, ch. VII). 


There were already Kuskokwim Eskimos living in the vicinity 
of Aleksandrovskiy Redoubt at the time of Khromchenko's visit, 
and it seems likely that they frequented the area, at least seasonally, 
long before the coming of the Russians. Khromchenko mentions 
the Aglegmiut as having moved about a great deal and notes that 
they were apparently fairly recent immigrants to the Nushagak 
River region and on poor terms with the Kiatagmiut at the time the 
redoubt was established. The existence of the trading post, plus the 
active efforts of Kolmakov, was instrumental in stabilizing relations 
between the two groups. Khromchenko provides some basic ethno- 
graphic data on these coastal peoples as well as a vocabulary of 135 

Of even greater importance, perhaps, is the information Khrom- 
chenko's journal provides concerning the inhabitants of Nunivak 
Island. It is virtually certain that these people had not seen Euro- 
peans prior to the expedition's visits and his descriptions of them are 
the first in the published or unpublished literature. It is significant, 
however, that the islanders were familiar with European trade goods, 
had well-established trade contacts with coastal peoples at the mouth 
of the Kuskokwim River, and carried on a brisk trade with the crew 
of the Golovnin. 

Khromchenko's failure to survey the coastline between Cape 
Vancouver and Stuart Island prevented him from meeting inhabi- 
tants of the tundra villages in the Yukon Delta region. Some of the 
coastal villages in this area, such as Hooper Bay, Scammon Bay, and 
Alakanuk, are large and of considerable antiquity. As previously 
suggested, the people living in these and other delta communities 
probably had no direct contact with Europeans until after Mikhail- 
ovskiy Redoubt was established in 1833. It is somewhat paradoxi- 
cal that although the Russians were successful in opening the interior 
of southwestern Alaska to the fur trade in a relatively short time, 
some of the coastal regions within their presumed sphere of influence 
remained virtually unknown and unvisited by outsiders until well 
into the American period. When Edward William Nelson, an Am- 
erican naturalist and collector of ethnographic materials for the 
Smithsonian Institution, visited Hooper Bay in December, 1878, he 
noted that the people appeared to have seen few if any white men in 
the past (Nelson, 1899, pp. 249-250). In fact. Nelson published the 
first detailed map of the coastal region between Hooper Bay and the 
Kuskokwim River and wrote the first description of the area from 
personal observation (1882). 


Compared to the interior, the delta area is rich neither in furs nor 
in mineral resources and, as Khromchenko quickly learned, the 
coastal waters are shallow and treacherous. This combination of 
inaccessibility with little in the way of attractive resources was suf- 
ficient to keep white trappers, traders, prospectors, and even mis- 
sionaries out of the delta country until virtually the end of the nine- 
teenth century. And yet in terms of subsistence resources, the area 
is a rich one where heavy and predictable annual runs of salmon en- 
able people to live in larger settlements than anywhere else through- 
out the vast regions occupied by Eskimos. 

When Khromchenko reached Stuart Island, he met large num- 
bers of Eskimos from the nearby mainland, and members of the 
expedition visited a village near the present site of Stebbins. Here 
a limited amount of ethnographic information was obtained together 
with a vocabulary of 124 words. These are listed by Khromchenko 
with their counterparts obtained from the residents of Nunivak Is- 
land. The expedition also learned something about contacts be- 
tween the people of Norton Sound and those of Sledge Island, who, 
as we have noted previously, acted as middlemen in the Siberian 

The expedition proceeded directly from Stuart Island to Cape 
Darby and Golovnin Bay, the scene of some of Khromchenko's most 
notable surveys in 1821. There the party met a number of Eskimo 
acquaintances from the previous year along with a man who had 
traveled to St. Lawrence Island and the Siberian coast. Khrom- 
chenko obtained a vocabulary of 106 St. Lawrence Island words from 
this individual as well as some interesting information concerning 
movements of people in the Golovnin Bay-southern Seward Penin- 
sula region. The published excerpts of the journal conclude with an 
account of a dance which the crew of the Golovnin witnessed, and 
some brief comments concerning marriage practices and trade among 
the Eskimos of Golovnin Bay. 

In making a general assessment of the information in published 
portions of Khromchenko's 1822 journal, it is necessary to remind 
ourselves once again that his explorations were not a voyage of dis- 
covery in the accepted sense, nor was he an ethnographer with intel- 
lectual interests in the culture of the people with whom he came in 
contact. As simply an advance agent for a fur trading company, 
his duties were to provide basic information that would assist his 
employers to make their plans for expanding the fur trade. There- 


fore, his geographical discoveries, while important, do not compare 
with those of some other navigators in northern waters. In fact, 
Khromchenko, although an experienced navigator, appears at time 
to have been quite hesitant and timid when compared to major fig- 
ures like Cook, Vancouver, and Beechey. For obvious reasons, the 
Russian-American Company always pursued inland explorations 
with a good deal more vigor than those along the coasts. 

The ethnographic information in Khromchenko's journal is ad- 
mittedly sketchy. His interest in the Eskimos seldom went beyond 
recognition of the fact that they were customers for the company 
and the only persons who could provide furs for the trade. Since the 
people he met were already acquainted with European trade goods 
and anxious to take part in the fur trade, he may have believed it 
unnecessary to attempt to learn more about them and their way of 
life. But regardless of the sketchiness of his data, Khromchenko's 
comments on the Eskimos of southwestern Alaska are inevitably 
significant because they are the earliest that exist for this area. The 
same is true of the vocabularies. Because of their early date, they 
are extremely valuable for studies of Eskimo dialectology. Linguists 
can use these word lists as baselines against which to measure dialect 
changes that have taken place since 1822. 

Commercially and geographically, therefore, Khromchenko's 
voyage in 1822 represents a cautious probing by the Russian-Ameri- 
can Company into an area outside the one in which they had tra- 
ditionally operated. Nonetheless, the results of Khromchenko's 
explorations laid the groundwork for a profitable extension of the 
fur trade that served the company well during the last 40 years of 
its existence. General Manager Muravev may have foreseen this 
result of the expedition's achievements when, two years after its 
return, he requested the Admiralty Department to examine the 
journal of the brig Golovnin, together with two maps which ac- 
companied it. The department noted the merit of Khromchenko's 
and Etolin's accomplishments and requested the naval chief of staff 
to reward and promote the two navigators (Burykin, 1957, p. 80). 


1. For translations and interpretations of significant journals 
and logs of both Bering voyages, see Golder (1922). An excellent 
short summary of the explorations will be found in Tompkins (1945, 
chap. II). 

2. Primary sources dealing with explorations immediately fol- 
lowing those of Bering are translated and interpreted in Masterson 
and Brower (1948). 

3. The standard history of the Russian-American Company is 
Tikhmenev (1861-1863). 

4. In a previous publication (VanStone, 1967), I used Berkh 
(1823b) as a source for the explorations of Korsakovskiy. Recently, 
however, much more detailed and accurate information concerning 
these explorations, based on diaries in Soviet archives, has been 
published by Fedorova (1971, pp. 66-73) and this account is based 
on her work. 

5. This account of the first Khromchenko-Etolin expedition is 
taken from Berkh (1823a, pp. 45-49). 

6. For a concise description and evaluation of Deshnev's accom- 
plishments, see Semyonov (1963, pp. 86-91). 

7. For additional information concerning the explorations of 
Avinov, see Fedorova (1971, pp. 75-77). 

8. Between 1848 and 1854 a number of English vessels explored 
the northwest coast of Alaska during the search for Franklin's third 

9. Two naval officers named Ivan Vasilev served the Russian- 
American Company in the early nineteenth century. Ivan Filip- 
povich Vasilev, a noted cartographer who arrived in Sitka in 1807, 
later commanded company ships and was drowned in an accident 
at Okhotsk, Siberia in 1812. Ivan Yakovlevich Vasilev entered the 
service of the Russian-American Company in 1821 and, in 1829- 
1830, carried out extensive explorations in southwestern Alaska. In 
previous publications (VanStone, 1967, pp. 9-10; 1968, pp. 223-224; 



1970, p. 13; 1971, p. 21) I have confused the names of these two in- 
dividuals. For a detailed discussion of the explorations of I. Ya. 
Vasilev, see Fedorova (1971, pp. 229-232). 

10. For a detailed discussion of these explorations, see VanStone 
(1967, chap. I). 

11. This map, reproduced in VanStone (1959), appeared origin- 
ally in von Baer (1839, chap. 5), and was redrawn in Ternaux-Com- 
pans (1841). 


Bancroft, H. H. 

1886. Alaska 1730-1885. San Francisco. 

Beechey, F. W. 

1831. Narrative of a voyage to the Pacific and Beering's Strait, ... 2 vols. 

Berkh, V. N. (compiler) 

1823a. Kronologicheskaya Istoriya vesekh puteshestviy v Severnyya poly- 

arnyya strany, Pt. II. St. Petersburg. 
1823b. Puteshestvie uchenika morekhodstva Andreya Ustyugova, i sluzhiteley 

Rossiiskoy Amerikanskoy Kompanii Fedora Kolmakova i Petra Korsanov- 

skago v 1819 godu. Severnyy Arkhiv, pt. 4. 


1957. Chetyre plavaniya kapitana Khromchenko. Priroda, no. 3, pp. 77-80. 

Cook, J. and J. King 

1785. A voyage to the Pacific Ocean. Undertaken, by the command of His 
Majesty, for making discoveries in the northern hemisphere. 2nd ed., 3 vols, 
and atlas. London. 

Elliott, H. W. 

1886. Our arctic province. Alaska and the Seal Islands. Charles Scribner's 
Sons. New York. 

Fedorova, S. G. 

1971. Russkoe nacelenie Alyaski i Kalifornii, konets XVIII veka-1867 g. 

Colder, F. A. 

1922. Bering's voyages. American Geographical Society, 2 vols. New York. 

Kashevarov, a. p. 

1845. Otryvki iz dnevnika korpusa flotskikh shturmanov poruchika A. F. 
Kashevarova, vedennogo im pri obozrenii polyarnogo berega Rossiyskoy 
Ameriki, po porucheniyu Rossiysko- Amerikanskoy kompanii v 1838 g. Sankt- 
Peterburgskiya vedomosti, nos. 190, 192, 195. 


1821. A voyage of discovery, into the South Sea and Beering's Straits, ... 3 
vols. London. 



Masterson, J. R. and H. Brower 

1948. Bering's successors, 1745-1780. Univ. Wash. Press. 

Nelson, E. W. 

1882. A sledge journey in the delta of the Yukon, northern Alaska. Roy. 
Geograph. Soc. Proc, 4, no. 11, pp. 660-667, map facing p. 712. 

1899. The Eskimo about Bering Strait. Eighteenth ann. rept.. Bur. Amer. 
Ethnol., pt. I. Washington. 

Oswalt, W. H. 

1952. The archaeology of Hooper Bay Village, Alaska. Anthropol. Papers 
Univ. Alaska, 1, no. 1, pp. 47-91. 

Sbmyonov, Y. 

1963. Siberia, its conquest and development. International Publishers' Repre- 
sentatives. Montreal. 

Ternaux-Compans, H. 

1841. Extrait due Journal d'Andre Glasunow, contre-maitre de la Marine Im- 
periale Russe, pendant son Voyage dans les Nordouest de I'Amerique. Nou- 
velles de Voyages et des Sciences Geographiques, 4eme serie, lOeme annee 
(tome 89 de la collection), pp. 5-27. 

Tikhmenev, p. a. 

1861-63. Istoricheskoe obozrenie obrazovaniya Rossiysko-Amerikanskoy kom- 
panii ... 2 vols. St. Petersburg. 

Tompkins, S. R. 

1945. Alaska, promyshlennik and sourdough. Univ. Oklahoma Press. 

VanStone, J. W. 

1959. Russian exploration in interior Alaska. An extract from the journal of 
Andrei Glazunov. Pacific Northwest Quart., 50, no. 2, pp. 37-47. 

1967. Eskimos of the Nushagak River: An ethnographic history. Univ. Wash. 

1968. Tikchik village: A nineteenth century riverine community in south- 
western Alaska. Fieldiana: Anthropol., 46, no. 3. 

1970. Akulivikchuk: A nineteenth century Eskimo village on the Nushagak 
River, Alaska. Fieldiana: Anthropol., 60. 

1971. Historic settlement patterns in the Nushagak River region, Alaska. 
Fieldiana: Anthropol., 61. 

VON Baer, K. E. 

1839. Statistische und ethnographische Nachrichten uber die Russischen Be- 
sitzungen an der Nordwestkuste von Amerika: Gesammelt von dem ehemali- 
gen Oberverwalter dieser Besitzungen, Contre-Admiral v. Wrangell. St. 


Zagoskin, L. a. 

1967. Lieutenant Zagoskin's travels in Russian America, 1842-1844. The first 
ethnographic and geographic investigations in the Yukon and Kuskokwim 
valleys of Alaska. Edited by Henry M, Michael. Arctic Institute of North 
America, anthropology of the north, translations from Russian sources, no. 7. 


Excerpts from Vasiliy Stepanovich Khromchenko's journal of his 
voyage in 1822 were published in the periodical Severnyy Arkhiv dur- 
ing the summer and fall of 1824 in seven installments (no. 11, June, 
pp. 263-276; no. 12, June, pp. 303-314; no. 13/14, July, pp. 38-64; 
no. 15, August, pp. 119-131; no. 16, August, pp. 177 186; no. 17, 
September, pp. 235-248; no. 18, September, pp. 297-312). In the 
interests of continuity, two of these installments have been com- 
bined so that there are five sections, or chapters, in the translation 
which follows. The publication of these excerpts was preceded by 
an editor's preface (no. 11, June, pp. 254-263), consisting primarily 
of background information on earlier Russian explorations in the 
north, trips from Russian ports to Alaska, and round-the-world voy- 
ages, which has not been translated. Some information contained in 
it, however, is incorporated into this preface. 

Khromchenko's journal was turned over to Severnyy Arkhiv by 
the directors of the Russian-American Company. The editors main- 
tained that in publishing excerpts, they omitted only weather ob- 
servations and changes of the ship's course. It will be obvious to 
the reader that not all of these were removed. The remainder of the 
journal is said to have been published in its original form. 

In the translation, words appearing in brackets are those of the 
editor, while words or sentences in parentheses are part of the orig- 
inal text. Where necessary and when known, the present-day spel- 
ling of place names and proper names are indicated in brackets next 
to the original transliteration. Place names which closely approxi- 
mate modern usage (Pribilov, Nunivok) have been changed to con- 
form with such usage. The names of tribal groupings are spelled as 
they are in current anthropological literature. All editorial footnotes 
are numbered and placed at the end of the translation. Footnotes 
in the original text are indicated by an asterisk and are placed at the 
bottom of the page where they occur. The first such footnote, fol- 
lowing the first paragraph of the journal, contained Muravev's or- 
ders to the expedition. It has been omitted and the information 



incorporated into the introduction. Bibliographical references in the 
editorial footnotes are listed at the end of the translation. 

According to an article by B. N. Vishneveskii (Izvestiia akademii 
nauk SSSR, Seriia geograficheskaia no. 5, September-October, 1953) 
the original journal of Khromchenko's 1822 explorations was dis- 
covered in 1953 among the papers of Kirill T. Khlebnikov (1780- 
1838) at Kunger, a central Siberian city northwest of Sverdlovsk. 
Khlebnikov, a native of Kunger and prominent historian, was asso- 
ciated with the Russian- American Company throughout much of his 
life. Vishneveskii notes that the manuscript, dated April 23, 1822, 
consists of 121 pages each 21 by 24 cm. in size. The discovery was 
made when archival material from Kunger, including the Khleb- 
nikov papers, were transferred to the Molotov Regional State Ar- 

Excerpts From the 

Journal of Vasiliy Stepanovich Khromchenko 

On His Voyage of 1822 

Departure from Fort New Archangel [Sitka]. Voyage to Unimak Pass." 
First trip to the Pribilof Islands. A search. Our conclusion that the lands 
which the promyshlenniki^ allegedly see from the Pribilof Islands do not in 
fact exist. Arrival at Hagemeister Island. 

In undertaking a description of my second expedition aboard the 
brig Golovnin/ on which last year (1821) I extended my voyage to 
survey the coasts of northwestern America between Cape Ne wen- 
ham and Norton Bay^ and to gain knowledge of the peoples inhabit- 
ing that area, I do not deem it necessary to enlarge much on the 
enterprise facing me, for it is spelled out sufficiently in the instruc- 
tions given me by Mr. Muravev. 

The ship's equipment and provisions were similar to last year's. 
I chose my crew personally and to a man they know their business. 
We laid in five month's supply of the best victuals and we had good 
astronomical instruments, although unfortunately we did not have 
the excellent Barodov chronometer I had last year. Further, for 
greater convenience in making the coastal surveys, the governor of 
the Russian- American Company ordered the New Archangel office 
to furnish me five baydarkas^ with oarsmen. 

Mr. Etolin, who last year commanded the cutter Baranov, now 
came aboard the Golovnin to take charge of the baydarkas, with 
which he was to survey the coastal areas that could not be ap- 
proached by so large a ship as the brig, but which could be ap- 
proached without danger by baydarka. He collaborated with me in 
everything during the entire voyage. 

By April 25, 1822, we were ready to put to sea, but calms and 
headwinds kept delaying us. At 5:30 pm on the 26 th, following a 
calm, a light breeze blew up from the N and we immediately weighed 
anchor. The fortresses gave us seven ten gun salutes and, parting 
from our friends and acquaintances, we set our course under full sail. 



As we stood off shore, the wind freshened and our vessel, cutting the 
smooth sea surface, moved swiftly out of the harbor. 

By 8:30 pm we had passed St. Lazarius [Cape Edgecumbe] and 
Biorka Island, which lies opposite the entrance to Norfolk Sound 
[Sitka Sound] and, having taken the bearing of the point we had 
passed (Lat. 56°55'N, Long. 135°38'W), we began to steer SW. On 
reaching the open sea, I lay SW by S to stand off the coast as quickly 
as possible. The weather continued fair the entire time. The wind, 
which had shifted from NW to W by N, became gusty and in fear of 
these gusts we carried little sail. 

On May 2, the wind kept shifting, always being light from the 
NW and steady from ENE; the weather continued excellent till 
May 6, and we made lunar observations daily. At noon our latitude 
was 52^52'7"N, our longitude 162°38'W. For several days running 
we saw sea parrots or tufted puffins, kittiwakes, horned puffins, 
least auklets, and ancient auklets. In the afternoon we were be- 
calmed for several hours, then we had a light breeze from the NNE. 
From the forecastle and the crosstrees our sailors kept a steady 
watch for the shoreline which should have appeared but which was 
obscured by a cloudy sky in that part of the horizon. 

At 8:30 PM, through clouds, we caught sight of the northern vol- 
cano of Unimak [Island], which was 85 miles* distant. The wind 
continued steady at NNE and NE, therefore I kept to NNW. By 
6:00 AM of the 7th, we were already in Unimak Pass. 

As we approached the coast, the wind lulled; the weather con- 
tinued to be clear and quite warm, although the coasts were com- 
pletely covered with snow; the mercury at midday rose to 8° above 
the freezing point on the Reaumur thermometer [50°F]. For several 
hours we were without our favorable wind, which had blown al- 
ternately from the NNE and NE, for we had come into the lee of an 
active volcano. Soon we were enveloped by a dense fog and by 7:00 
PM we could no longer see the coast, which lay 80° to the NE of us 
at a distance of 42 or 45 miles. 

The next day, as the sun rose, we encountered large flocks of 
murres and, at times, tufted puffins, horned puffins, and kittiwakes. 

At 1 :00 PM we sighted St. George Island to W by S half W, some 
20 or 22 miles away; I immediately made straight for it and by 6:30 
PM I was four miles from its NE extremity. Next, after baydarkas 

*I have used Italian miles throughout; there are 60 of these miles to a degree of 
latitude {Author). 


had been lowered into the water, I set out for shore, bidding Mr. 
Etolin hold the brig quite close to shore. 

We had not yet reached the shore when a dense fog suddenly set 
in and concealed the brig; this troubled me greatly, for I recalled 
that in these waters fog often lasts several weeks, and I pondered 
how much time I should sacrifice here. I was met near shore by the 
leader of the island, Mr. Netsvetov;* finally, we put ashore in a 
small bay opposite the settlement and, thus, against my wishes, I 
had to wait on shore till morning on the 9th when the fog lifted. 
There was no wind all night and the fog was so thick I could not see 
50 sazhens^ before me. Finally the fog cleared away as the sun rose 
and I impatiently awaited the brig, which soon appeared from be- 
hind the eastern cape. 

Baydarka leader Netsvetov assembled everything I needed and 
loaded it into a large baydara^ which was ready to launch as soon as 
the brig appeared. Thus equipped, we set out for the ship. On go- 
ing aboard the brig, I learned that during the night the tide had car- 
ried the ship to SE, thus somewhat delaying its arrival. 

As we approached the settlement in our brig, we spotted a bay- 
dara putting out from shore; I made straight for it and soon we met. 
At my request, the baydara had brought several barrels of salted 
fur seal meat and blubber and 15 barrels of fresh sea lion meat. I 
immediately ordered that everything be unloaded on deck and, tak- 
ing leave of Netsvetov, I quickly stood off from the island, which 
was then 25° SE of us at a distance of 3 or 4 miles. 

When we were about 9 miles from St. George Island the wind rose 
and we had to take in two reefs on each of the topsails. The ocean 
depth gradually increased and by noon we were in 45 sazhens of 
water over a bottom of fine gray sand. 

The next day, the 10th, we had intense squalls between NE and 
E, with rain and fog. We were in the middle of the strait, but could 
not see either island. After the prolonged good weather we had been 
having, it seemed very cold to us, although the mercury stood be- 
tween two and three degrees above freezing [37-39°F]. 

At 7:00 AM the fog cleared somewhat and we sighted St. George 
Island, which was 20 or 25 miles to the south of us. We were in 38 
sazhens of water, with a bottom of fine gray sand and shells. In the 
forenoon we saw bottlenose whales and sea birds: murres, tufted 

*The Russian promyshleriniki and the Aleuts'' call these leaders baydarshchikiJ 


puffins, horned puffins, Bering's cormorants, and a species of small 
marsh sandpiper. 

At noon our latitude was 57°8'N, our longitude 169"3'W; the 
weather continued absolutely unbearable with rain and wet snow; 
the ocean depth decreased and when it reached 22 sazhens, I im- 
mediately took a different tack. The wind continued to blow in 
fierce gusts from NNE and NE, which caused high seas and the ship 
to pitch and roll so much that we could not do a thing, which dis- 
turbed us greatly. Finally, at 6:00 pm the fog lifted somewhat and 
we caught sight of St. Paul Island to the west of us, at a distance of 
3 or 4 miles; the ocean depth here was 23 sazhens over a bottom of 
fine sand. 

The storm continued with brief pauses until 4:00 AM of the 11th. 
As soon as the weather cleared, we could see St. George to SE by E 
and St. Paul to N by W; St. George was about 33 miles distant, St. 
Paul, 17 miles. The lead showed 42 sazhens of water and a bottom 
of fine gray sand with shells. 

At first I intended to proceed toward St. Paul to ask the inhabi- 
tants for more details about where they sometimes sighted land, but 
a headwind prevented me from doing so. 

Hastening to take advantage of the good weather on the 11th, 
I lay to SW under full sail and made 7 to 8 miles an hour. When we 
were 30 miles SW of St. Paul, I set my course so as to pass directly 
through the place where the promyshlenniki of the Pribilof Islands 
sometimes sighted land on a clear day. The wind blew quite fresh 
from NNW and N and the weather was alternately clear and cloudy. 

Finally, the farther we sailed from the islands of St. Paul and 
St. George, the more we hoped that we would encounter land soon, 
but our hope faded for we traveled 60 miles from the Pribilof Islands 
without encountering any sign of land; we cast our lead without 
finding bottom at 90 sazhens. 

At 10 :00 PM it became overcast and I now considered it pointless 
to sail farther to the SW, for I was firmly convinced that no land 
could be seen from the Pribilof Islands in that direction; therefore 
I lay to the ENE. 

On May 12 at 6:00 PM the lead showed 38 sazhens over a bottom 
of fine gray sand. I figured that we had already passed through the 
strait between St. Paul and St. George, but before returning to Hage- 
meister Island,'" I had to verify the existence of the land which the 
inhabitants of St. Paul Island unanimously agreed they could see in 


clear weather from the island's elevation. This land, they claimed, 
lay in the sea and always in the same direction, to the east. To 
confirm these stories, I headed for the indicated place. The ocean 
depth increased from time to time and at midnight was 50 or 51 

During the day of May 13, we took various tacks and at night 
we heaved to (continuing thus until the 15th), always keeping near 
the place and in the direction in which land was allegedly sighted 
from the Pribilof Islands. The weather was cloudy the whole time, 
but the horizon was so clear we could see for 20 miles in all directions. 

Finally, on May 14, having sailed 150 miles to the E of St. Paul 
Island without encountering any sign of land, I became firmly con- 
vinced that no such land exists and that the promyshlenniki of the 
Pribilofs had seen nothing more than fog, which in these parts fools 
even the most experienced navigator. At midnight our lead showed 
27 sazhens and a bottom of fine gray sand. 

On the next day, the 15th, at 3:00 am, I began to steer N by E 
and the depth eventually decreased. Numerous flocks of sea birds 
of various kinds kept flying about our ship. We saw one loon among 
them. At last, at 4:30 am we sighted a high shoreline to the E of 
Cape Newenham, at a distance of 25 or 27 miles. We cast our lead 
and found 23 sazhens over a bottom of fine gray sand. 

Soon a dense fog arose and concealed the shore from us. At 
noon our latitude was 58°54'+N and our longitude was 162°8'+W, 
the depth was 25 sazhens with a bottom of coarse sand and stone. 

The wet fog continued until 6:00 PM. We surveyed the coastline 
and made straight for Hagemeister Strait. The wind at the entrance 
to the strait was completely contrary at N by W; therefore at first 
we were not able to round the low spit that extends from Hagemeister 
Island. After rounding this spit, I sailed N half E and N by E half 
E along the strait until 1:30 am of the 16th, always keeping to the 
north shore. The depth decreased to 12 sazhens. When we came op- 
posite Aleksandrovskiy Redoubt^^ I made directly for it; the depth 
decreased from 5 sazhens to 10 ft. 

I knew this shoal from last year (1821), at which time I crossed 
it with the brig, but this time we had low water and the ship's keel 
scraped bottom lightly several times, however without damage, and 
by 2:00 am we were in eight sazhens of water. Finally, at 5:00 am 
we dropped anchor a mile off shore in 5 sazhens of water over a bot- 
tom of fine gray sand. 


In the forenoon, a three-hatch baydarka approached us from the 
shore. In it were two Aleuts and a Russian promyshlennik who, on 
coming aboard, informed me that all was well at Aleksandrovskiy 
Redoubt. However, he said that the leader had left several days 
earlier to bring in a cargo of pelts from his former post. 

The news of the departure of the leader, Kolmakov, disturbed me 
greatly, as this would cost us much valuable time, but there was no 
help for it now. 


Our sojourn at Hagemeister Island. Our activities. The Americans''' 
bring us Russian promyshlenniki from their dwellings. Calms and head- 
winds keep us at the island a long time. Destruction of the settlement and 
its transport to its former site. Journey northeastward along the strait. 
A headwind again forces us to ride anchor off the northeast extremity of 
Hagemeister Island. Our second meeting with Americans and our arrival 
at the Nushagak River. i^ 

To keep from wasting the best time of the year at [Hagemeister] 
Island, on the second day of our sojourn there I sent out a two- 
hatch baydarka with instructions for Kolmakov that if the baydarka 
should meet him near the island, he was to come directly to the brig 
with his full cargo. If the baydarka met him halfway between the 
Nushagak River and Hagemeister Island, he was to send the cargo 
back to the Nushagak and report to me posthaste. 

Bad weather and rain continued until the 20th. At long last 
beautiful weather followed. Taking advantage of it, I ordered that 
all the empty barrels be filled with water, so that we would not have 
to put in at the Nushagak River for it. Mr. Etolin and I often went 
ashore to hunt, but although we would spend the entire day at it, we 
always returned empty handed. 

The island was still covered with snow in many places and there 
was no sign that the grass ever turned green, but the promyshlen- 
niki told me that the winter was not very cold on the island and that 
there was not very much snow. Our promyshlenniki spent their time 
snaring partridges, which are very abundant here in winter, and 
hunting bears. They ate the bear meat as well as the partridge meat. 
The bears of which the promyshlenniki spoke are terribly timid. All 
the bears here are red and very large. I saw several skins about 8 
ft. long. 


In the forenoon of the 22nd we sighted eight one-hatch baydarkas 
which made directly for our settlement; I assumed they were bring- 
ing Kolmakov, whom I anticipated daily, but I learned that they 
were Americans who, at Kolmakov's request, had taken in four Rus- 
sian men and two Russian women for the winter, since the Russians 
were short of food. Shortly after dropping the Russians off at the 
settlement, the Americans came to me on the brig. There were six 
of them, all of medium height; both sides of their mouths and their 
noses were pierced;^'' the hair of their head and beards was black and 
coarse. Their clothing consisted of parkas made of ground squirrel 
skins. Each of the Americans wore soft, caribou skin boots. They 
told me they had come from the Tuyugyak [Togiak] River. ^^ Their 
chief was not with them; they said he was too old to make the trip. 

These Americans, we found later, prefer snuff above all else and 
use a prodigious amount of it. They had as many as 400 beaver 
pelts with them, but left all their goods on shore, awaiting the arrival 
of Kolmakov. 

The Americans would have stayed aboard our ship longer had 
they not sighted Kolmakov, who was making directly for the settle- 
ment with three baydarkas. The Americans took leave of us and 
headed for shore. 

The language and the baydarkas of the Americans are identical 
with those of the Kuskokwims and, it would seem, they and the 
Kuskokwims are of the same race.^'^ 

Kolmakov came aboard our ship after noon and with him came 
the same Americans who had been there previously. On stepping 
aboard, Kolmakov handed me a letter which Mr. Etolin had sent 
with an Indian [Eskimo] from Goodnews Bay'^ the previous year 
(1821), but the messenger had not found me at the island and there- 
fore the letter remained with Kolmakov. 

I learned that the Russians whom the Americans had brought 
with them had spent the winter with a distinguished chief called 
Panikhpa. This kind old man had come to see Kolmakov the pre- 
vious autumn solely to learn whether Kolmakov would return soon 
to the Nushagak River. Kolmakov, trying to avoid a food shortage 
that winter, had asked chief Panikhpa to take several Russians with 
him. Panikhpa did not refuse him, but fed and clothed the Russians 
all winter as he would his own. Furthermore, on their return he 
gave each of the Russians the finest of gifts, according to his custom, 
and did not demand any recompense for them. Such a deed is rarely 


encountered among enlightened people, much less among savages 
who can have very little feeling for and understanding of the wants 
of their neighbor. This example, however, is not common to all 
savage peoples of barbarian races, who, instead of helping in need, 
often turn a deaf ear on the pleas of Europeans even when those 
Europeans are facing famine. 

Panikhpa told Kolmakov that the Kiatagmiut would abandon 
all trading in furs unless he returned to the earlier settlement. 

The settlement on Hagemeister Island had been founded the 
year before, but only as an experiment and our settlement on the 
Nushagak River had not been destroyed. The governor, having 
discovered in my journal and that of Mr. Etolin what trade might be 
expected from the inhabitants of the Kuskokwim River^* and Nuni- 
vak Island, 1^ proposed that the Hagemeister Island settlement should 
be reunited with Aleksandrovskiy Redoubt on the Nushagak River, 
and commanded me to investigate the advantages and disadvantages 
of the new settlement and then to effect the transport. 

We already knew that the banks of the Nushagak River are very 
well populated. The upper reaches communicate easily with the 
headwaters of all the large rivers that empty into the Eastern Ocean 
[Bering Sea] northward to Norton Sound, and these headwaters 
abound in beaver.-" The neighboring peoples are becoming more 
and more acquainted with luxuries, and through them the inhabi- 
tants of remote places are becoming addicted to trade, but the great- 
est advantage of the Nushagak River is its proximity to our other 

Hagemeister Island is far from all rivers and has no advantages 
with respect to trade or supplies, therefore, in the light of the gov- 
ernor's instruction and on the advice of Messers Etolin and Kol- 
makov, I had no hesitation in moving the settlement back to the 

May 23. The weather continued mostly clear until sunset; then 
the wind veered to the WSW, slackened, and soon we had a dense 
fog. Mr. Etolin and I were on shore at the time and scarcely made 
it back to the brig, for the fog was so thick that we could not see 
more than 20 sazhens in front of us. 

May 25. As soon as it became calm in the strait, I ordered Kol- 
makov to bring his whole crew aboard the brig, which he did quickly, 
but a headwind, which blew steadily from the E, held us up. 


We had a steady, fresh wind from ENE, followed by a calm that 
lasted till 7:00 am on the 26th, then a light breeze blew up from S 
and E. We immediately hoisted the anchor and got under way, set- 
ting our course NE. I kept close to Hagemeister Island; the wind 
freshened and we made 5 or 6 miles an hour. 

As we moved away from our anchorage and the gully in which 
our settlement had been, we noted that the height of the island de- 
creased almost imperceptibly and, toward the NE, it ended in a 
completely flat area at water level. The mountains, which were 
still snow-covered here and there, were in the SW part of the island. 
These mountains were all of medium height and not steep. The 
depth was 7 to 10 sazhens all along this route, 3 or 4 miles off the 
island, and became deeper farther along the strait. 

May 26. On reaching the northeastern tip of the island, we en- 
countered a completely contrary wind and cast anchor in 6 sazhens 
of water, a mile off shore. We had scarcely begun to ride at anchor 
when Americans approached us in seven one-hatch baydarkas, some 
containing one man, some two. These baydarkas were exactly like 
those we had seen previously. The Americans had set out on a wal- 
rus hunt, but on seeing our ship approached us. One of them, named 
Fedor, who turned out to be Kolmakov's godson, immediately came 
aboard the brig, and the others followed him. Our ship apparently 
was the source of much amazement to them; they examined it with 
great curiosity, some measured its length and breadth in sazhens. 
Finally, Kolmakov's godson presented me with half a fresh, recently 
killed caribou and gave his godfather several caribou tongues; then 
they all departed for the nearby shore. 

You cannot imagine how much and with what passion the Ameri- 
cans aboard our ship sniffed ground tobacco. They preferred it even 
to the necessities of life. 

After dinner, Etolin and I went ashore to hunt, but unfortunately 
we saw nothing but sea gulls and Bering's cormorants. The Aleuts 
who accompanied us went to the other side of the island where they 
found dead walruses that had been cast up by the sea and they col- 
lected ten large tusks. From one of the walruses, which was a bit 
fresher than the rest, they cut off the front flippers which they value 
greatly. The tusks were very large, each weighing 8 to 10 lbs. 

All night long we had a steady wind between S and E, with over- 
cast and rain. The next day (May 27) at sunrise, with a light wind 
from E by S,-^ we set sail and, aided by a favorable current, made 
visible headway; the ocean depth decreased gradually. 


At high noon, the current became contrary and the wind scarcely 
swelled our sail. Accordingly, to keep the tide from carrying us back 
whence we had come, we did not shorten our sails but rode on kedge 
anchor in 6 sazhens of water over a good sandy bottom. 

At 3:00 PM a light air blew from the S and, hoisting our kedge 
anchor, we headed E. Thereafter we proceeded along the strait 
which lay E by N between the mainland coast and the Walrus Is- 
lands,* always holding to the latter. The depth was 10 to 14 sazhens 
and the bottom was fine gray sand. 

We were opposite the second islet, which from a distance appears 
to be two islands, because of its low-lying isthmus. Captain Cook, 
who did not see the isthmus, took the island to be two islands sepa- 
rated by a narrow strait. Here we saw 11 baydarkas, which were 
making their way close to the shore of this island. At 8:30 PM we 
passed Round Island, which was 22° to the SW of us at a distance of 
23^2 miles." Now we were close to the mouth of Nushagak River, 
but a thick fog prevented us from seeing the coast and therefore we 
had to heave to until 7:00 am of the 28th. As soon as the fog lifted, 
I steered E. The depth kept increasing, at first we had 16 sazhens 
then by noon 17 or 18 sazhens. The bottom consisted of fine gray 

May 28. Shortly after noon, from the crosstrees we sighted the 
left bank of the Nushagak near its mouth and I began to steer N by 
W. This bank of the Nushagak was 13 or 14 miles away and our 
lead showed a depth of more than 17 sazhens. 

At about 4:00 PM we passed the low-lying Cape Constantine,'^^* 
which was 10 or 11 miles SW by W of us; we had a steady wind from 
the SW with alternating clear and cloudy weather. We sailed NW 
by N down the very middle of the fairway. We approached the 
cape situated on the right side of the mouth of the Nushagak (this 
cape can be distinguished from the others by the Aglegmiut settle- 
ment on it). 2'* The depth proved to be 33^ sazhens, so I began to 
steer NW. 

When we came opposite Cape Ekuk [Ekuk Spit], I cast anchor a 
mile from shore in six sazhens of water, on a silty bottom, for I con- 
sidered it unwise to sail upstream in the brig, considering the nar- 
rowness of the passage. 

*These islands are so named for the multitudes of walruses on them. The 
islands lie almost in a line from Hagemeister Island. There are three of them, not 
four as Captain Cook stated. 



Meeting with the Aglegmiut and the Kuskowagamiut. Something about 
these latter. Description of the Aglegmiut in their present state. Their 
way of life. Their manners and customs. Their clothing and food. Their 
dwellings, domestic implements, weapons, baydarkas, domestic quad- 
rupeds. Language of the Aglegmiut. A selected glossary of words in 
their language. 

Wishing to leave the Nushagak as soon as possible, on the second 
day of our stay, early in the morning, we lowered all our rowboats 
and the large baydarka obtained at Hagemeister Island and im- 
mediately loaded aboard them the men and supplies to be trans- 
ported to Aleksandrovskiy Redoubt. 

The weather was splendid the whole time and we had a steady 
breeze all day from the SW. Although we were some distance from 
Aleksandrovskiy Redoubt, by sunset we had put everything ashore 
that was to go ashore with Kolmakov, including the pelts we had 
aboard for delivery to the New Archangel office. Only some insig- 
nificant things belonging to the promyshlenniki who had come with 
us from Hagemeister Island remained on the brig. 

Around midnight the wind fell, which was followed by a calm for 
several hours, but at sunrise a gentle breeze arose between S and E 
under completely clear skies. 

Before noon Aglegmiut and Kuskowagamiut from the settlement 
visited us in seven one-hatch baydarkas.'^ The clothing of the 
Aglegmiut consisted of caribou skin parkas, with the fur side out, 
while the clothing [parkas] of the Kuskowagamiut was made of 
ground squirrel skins. They all wore soft boots generally made of 
caribou skins with the fur side out. 

A Kuskowagamiut of rather advanced years, called Kusk, told 
me that he had just come from the Kuskokwim River where many of 
his countrymen had told him of the break-up of a small ship above 
that river. He said that ship's lines and an axe-hewn mast had 
been found in the fall of 1821 somewhat to the north of the Kusk- 
okwim River. 

The Aglegmiut appeared to be very happy that Kolmakov had 
returned to the Nushagak, saying that now they could start hunting 
caribou without fear of the Kiatagmiut, who last year had wished 
to exterminate them all. 

The Aglegmiut tribe has a reputation for bravery and fierce bar- 
barity among the peoples who inhabit the northwestern coast of 
America from Bristol Bay to Norton Sound. 


The constant migi^ation, still remembered by the old people, and 
constant war with other peoples had made them brave and experi- 
enced warriors, but had gi'eatly reduced their numbers. Whereas 
once they had been dreadful, now they were persecuted and found 
refuge with Kolmakov. It would be difficult to determine their 
original homeland. 

The Kiatagmiut, out of obedience to Kolmakov, now do no in- 
jury to the Aglegmiut, but they cannot forget the barbarity with 
which the Aglegmiut had formerly treated them. An Aglegmiut 
named Alinakh told me that the Kiatagmiut have no desire to be 
reconciled with the Aglegmiut, for they never visit Aglegmiut homes 
and never seek wives among them. 

Kusk and Alinakh presented me with half of a recently killed 
caribou and several caribou tongues. 

The Aglegmiut whom we saw were of medium height, quite 
stately, with a manly gait, regular facial features, and with coarse 
black hair and beards; they, like all the inhabitants of northwestern 
America, pierce their nose and both sides of their mouth and put 
bones, stones, or sky-blue glass beads in the openings. 

The men and women wear caribou skin parkas with the fur side 
out. The women wear a kind of trousers together with otter skin 
or caribou skin boots. 

The Aglegmiut lead exactly the same kind of life as do all the 
peoples inhabiting Kenai Gulf [Cook Inlet], Kodiak Island, and the 
lands to the north of them. It is difficult to determine the temper 
of the oppressed Aglegmiut. They now seem quite peaceful, but this 
may be involuntary. Other peoples tell many stories of their ob- 
stinancy and barbarity. 

They are of the shaman faith, for they believe in sorcerers or 
shamans. They fear devils, to whom they always take offerings at 
their performances or assemblies.-*^ They do not grasp the concept 
of One Supreme Being and do not even have a name for him; rather 
they call their various gods and idols by different names. 

Their food for the most part consists of products of the sea; how- 
ever, in spring and fall they hunt caribou and dry the meat in the 
sun, as they do fish, and they use the skin for clothing and footwear. 
They take many belugas [white whales] and seals and trade the skins 
and blubber to the neighboring Indians [Eskimos] for beaver and 
otter skins.-^ 



Their dwellings are similar in all respects to the Aleutian mud 
huts and from a distance look like hillocks; they have a hole in the 
roof for the escape of smoke.'-*' 

The domestic implements consist of wooden boxes, buckets, cups, 
and platters and pans of different sizes. All these are made artfully 
and skillfully. They make their pots exclusively of clay and in them 
cook mostly fatty foods, with the result that they are greasy and 
generally not very clean. 

The Aglegmiut have many spears and bows and arrows, which 
they apparently use for sea and land hunting. Their baydaras and 
baydarkas are identical to those of all the peoples of northwestern 
America. The Aglegmiut, in general, honor their best huntsmen, but 
their present situation even affects their hunting, for they have be- 
gun to neglect it owing to their constant peril. 

The Aglegmiut have dogs, which they use as a means of trans- 
portation in winter. For this purpose they have large and small 
sleds, exactly like the Kamchatka sleds. 

The language of the Aglegmiut resembles the Konyag language 
in all respects, as can be seen from a comparison of the words I have 






Chy sly amok 
























M agamy k 


































Earth [Land] 




























Old Man 



Old Woman 






























































Tongue [Language] 












Trade bead 



Yurt [Tent or house] 


























Thick [fat] 



Much, many- 



Few, little 



Fine, good! 



Badly, It is bad 



Sea water 



River water 


















Right hand 



Left hand 






Oar [Paddle] 






Beaver stream 









Clear weather 



Poor weather 




























































Red Fox 



Black Fox 



White Fox 









Sweetly, It is sweet 



Far, It is far 



Near, It is near 





















Come here! 



Go away 



To sleep 
































Svinak malguk 

Chuinak manyayuk 













I had intended to leave the Nushagak River as soon as the un- 
loading and ship's work were done, but headwinds and a dense fog 
detained me until June 9. Meanwhile, Mr. Etolin and I often went 
hunting and since there was much game here, we not only had fresh 


meat every day for the table, but we had meat for several weeks at 
sea. Kolmakov often furnished us with fresh gull eggs and caribou 
meat. However, the only fish in the Nushagak River was the 
loach. ^1 


We continue to sail westward. Renewed search. Our conclusion that no 
land exists to the east of the Pribilof Islands. We sail northward. Arrival 
at Nunivak Island. We ride at anchor on the south side of that island. 
Encounter with the inhabitants of Nunivak Island. We round the island 
from the SE. Description of the strait and the surrounding coasts. This is 
called Cook Strait [Etolin Strait]. Survey of the coasts lying north of Cape 
Vancouver. We sail in shallow water along the northwest coast of America 
and drop anchor oflf the northeastern part of Stuart or Kikhtakhpak Island. 

On June 9, at 3 :30 am, with a steady wind from the NE, we de- 
parted the Nushagak River. During our stay there, we made many 
observations of the latitude of our anchorage and found it to be, on 
an average, 57°40'53"N, and we determined the mean longitude, 
according to the two lunar observations I made before and after 
noon, as 158°34'31"W. 

The wind veered through E to E by S ; in the forenoon the wind 
blew quite fresh with overcast, but then the wind fell and soon we 
had clear weather. 

At 9:00 PM, being 50°30' to the SE and 18 to 19 miles from the SW 
end of Hagemeister Island, I again began to head SW, straight to- 
ward the place where I had conducted my search the month before. 
The ocean depth increased from time to time as we moved out to sea. 

On the 10th, at 2:00 AM, we sighted Cape Newenham 30° to the 
NW at a distance of 36 miles; we cast our lead and found 26 sazhens 
over a bottom of fine gray sand. 

Calm and near calm continued till 11:00 AM of the 12th, after 
which we had a steady breeze from SSE. Every day we caught cod 
by hook and line; in fact we encountered cod quite often here. Some 
of them were quite large and none was smaller than 25 to 30 pounds. 

At 9:00 PM it became overcast and soon we had rain. At 9:30 
PM we were at latitude 57°16'N and longitude 167°53'W, more than 
two degrees of longitude to the east of St. Paul Island. On visiting 
this area a second time, I became firmly convinced that there is no 
land to the NE and E of the Pribilof Islands (land allegedly visible 
from the islands of St. Paul and St. George). 


With each passing hour the wind became fresher, while alter- 
nating overcast and fog obscured the horizon. Therefore, to keep 
from wasting time, I decided to make straight for Nunivak Island 
and from there, as soon as the weather permitted, to complete my 
description of the northwest coast of America from Cape Vancouver 
to Stuart Island. We were in 45 sazhens of water over a bottom of 
the finest sand. We tacked and steered N half W. 

All night long the wind was quite fresh at SSE with alternating 
foggy, wet, and overcast weather. Under sails and foresail we made 
8 or 9 miles an hour. The depth gradually decreased and at 9 :00 am 
was 26 or 25 sazhens. 

Around noon the wind lulled, but the thick fog continued un- 
abated and since we reckoned we were quite close to Nunivak, we 
proceeded under light sail on various tacks, in depths of 23 to 18 
sazhens, often heaving to. The crew spent the whole day catching 
cod, which appeared here very often, and we caught so many that I 
ordered the surplus to be salted in a special barrel. 

Dense fog, alternating with overcast, continued till 6:00 am of 
the 17th, then a light breeze came up from the NW, the fog im- 
mediately lifted, and we sighted Nunivak Island, which was be- 
tween N by W and NE at a distance of 12 or 15 miles. We cast the 
lead and found 11 1 2 sazhens of water and a sandy bottom. 

I made straight for the cape which projects farthest south^- and 
having reached it, I intended to sail along the island toward the 
strait. ^^ A light air blew from NW by N and NW by W with al- 
ternating clear and cloudy weather. Taking advantage of it, by 
9:00 PM we were at 59°47'N and 166°25'+W, with a variation of 
the needle of 22°35'E; we were 45° SW of the aforementioned cape, 
at an estimated distance of about 7 miles. The lead showed 16 
sazhens over a bottom of fine gray sand. The wind quickly died 
died down and by 11:00 pm we were completely becalmed. 

The calm, sometimes with slight breezes between N and W, con- 
tinued until the morning of the 18th; as soon as a light breeze sprang 
up from N by E, I began to head for the southern tip of Nunivak 

Soon inhabitants of Nunivak Island approached us in about 25 
baydarkas.*^ The baydarkas were all of the one-hatch type, some 
containing one, some two islanders; on approaching us, each of them 
shouted very loudly and probably gave some greeting, as do all 
Americans on their first encounter with Europeans: The words ay-ay 
and yu-yu-yu were always heard at the end of each melodic greeting. 



Among the islanders was the chief Ayagakak, to whom Etolin 
had given a silver medal the year before. He came aboard in full 
regalia and turning to Mr. Etolin said that he had strictly observed 
all the instructions given him in consideration of the medal. One 
could see that everything that Etolin had given him had been care- 
fully preserved; not even the sheet of paper with the notation of the 
year, month, and day that the cutter Baranov had visited the island 
had been damaged in the slightest. 

Ayagakak, judging by his hair, which was completely white, 
must have been very, very old, but despite this he was agile, hale, 
and hearty. I invited him into my cabin and he followed me with- 
out the slightest objection and was quite amazed by whatever caught 
his eye; the only thing that seemed strange to us was that the old 
man would eat nothing we offered him, probably because of some 
prejudice of his, or perhaps our food did not look very tasty to him. 

The Nunivak Islanders on our ship were generally of medium 
height, slight, with regular facial features, and black coarse hair. 
They were quite stately and had a proud walk. Each had his nose 
pierced and his lower lip pierced in three places, and in these spaces 
he placed either stones, nicely worked bones, or a glass bead. Ac- 
cording to their stories, they obtained these beads through trade 
with the Kuskowagamiut.^^ 

The Nunivak Islanders also cut their ears through and placed 
nicely worked bone earrings in the slits. 

Their clothing consisted of fox and muskrat parkas, which were 
generally sewn with the fur side out, and over this they wore water- 
proof coats made from the intestines of sea animals; these coats pro- 
tect them from the damp weather. 

The Nunivak Islanders offered us white fox, red fox, caribou, and 
muskrat skins for hoop iron, Aleut hatchets, sky-blue bangles, and 
trade beads. 

We sailed as soon as a light breeze came up from the N, and I lay 
along the coast to the ENE. Chief Ayagakak and some of the 
islanders went straight to the nearest shore, while the others fol- 
lowed us. 

About 4:00 pm we approached the settlement of Chungalik^" 
which lies on the eastern side of the southern end of the island and 
we dropped anchor in 15 sazhens of water over a bottom of coarse 
sand. The settlement Chungalik was 65° NW of us at a distance 


of 13-2 miles; the southern end of Nunivak Island was 76° SW of us 
at a distance of 4 miles. 

The Nunivak Islanders who followed our ship fell behind be- 
cause of our great speed, but soon after we had cast anchor others, 
whom we did not know, approached us from the settlement. Seeing 
that they approached our ship cautiously, I ordered my interpreter 
to invite them aboard, and to impress upon them our friendly in- 
tention. However, they kept their distance from us. Shortly there- 
after, an islander arrived from shore who, we were to learn, was 
called Tammlokh. On his neck he wore a bronze medal with a replica 
of the portrait of His Majesty the Emperor Aleksandr on one side 
and on the other side the inscription: The sloops Otkrytie and Bla- 
gonamerennyy and the notation 1819. 

I learned subsequently that Tammlokh had been hunting on the 
western end of the island when he received the medal from a large 
ship. Tommlokh also told us that several men from the ship had 
disembarked on the island, but stayed only briefly and returned to 
the ship. Tammlokh did not know where the ship went, for he did 
not see it the next day. 

Knowing that Captain Vasilev had been at the western end of 
Nunivak Island last year (1821), we knew whence Tammlokh had 
got his medal." 

For a long while the islanders would not come aboard, but having 
witnessed our treatment of Tammlokh, they finally came alongside 
the brig and then on deck. They were exactly like the people we 
had seen earlier on the western side of the southern end of the island. 
Many of them had some European artifacts, among which I saw a 
printed linen kerchief, which one must assume came from the cutter 

Soon trading began and the islanders traded us red fox skins, of 
which they seemed to have very few and those of the lowest quality, 
and bows and arrows for iron nails, hoop iron, and trade beads. 

The Nunivak baydarkas are exactly like those of the Aleuts and 
are armed with walrus teeth fivory] lances and arrows that are well 
and skillfully made.^* 

The bartering continued till sunset, then one by one the Nunivak 
Islanders departed. The sound of the long reception speech con- 
tinued to the settlement itself. On disembarking, the islanders lit 
campfires at various points and conversed loudly. 


The weather continued to be clear all through the night and since 
the NW wind was very light, I decided to stay until morning. The 
next day, many of the islanders, in baydarkas, surrounded our brig, 
including Chief Ayagakak, who came aboard and presented me with 
two red foxes. On my part, I presented him various baubles and 
several leaves of tobacco, but Ayagakak would not accept them, 
probably because he did not know their purpose. The islanders 
again exchanged bows, arrows, wooden vessels, and various walrus 
teeth livory] artifacts for hoop iron and some wretched rusty nails. 
There was not a single woman among them. As I mentioned earlier, 
the baydarkas contained either one or two men. 

The aforementioned chief, although revered, does not seem to 
have any authority, for he wears the same kind of clothing and orna- 
ments as the lowliest of his subjects and his subjects do not respect 
his commands. For the most part it would appear that they follow 
only [his] advice and often laugh at him; from this one may conclude 
that if their chiefs do govern them it is not by sovereign power but by 
experience and intelligence.^^ 

Wishing to reach the strait between the mainland and Nunivak 
Island as soon as possible, we set sail under a light west wind. Ap- 
parently the islanders greatly regretted our early departure and each 
of them assured us that we would find nothing in the strait and that it 
would be worse for the ship there than at Chungalik. The weather 
continued alternately cloudy with overcast, the wind blew along the 
island and I kept the brig as close to the island as I could, the better 
to see the windings of the coastline and to determine the ocean depths 
along the island. 

We dropped anchor 3 miles off shore at 4:00 pm, after having 
rounded the SE cape of the island. The Nunivak Islanders put out 
from shore in 29 baydarkas and made for our brig posthaste; however, 
without waiting for them, Mr. Etolin and I set out for the settlement 
of Chinik.'*° The islanders, noting this, immediately turned and ac- 
companied us to the settlement. We landed directly opposite the 
village itself in a small sandy inlet, the north side of which was cov- 
ered with a number of boulders almost reaching shore, while on the 
south side of the bay there was a stone bar placed in such a way that 
there were no breakers whatsoever at the place we landed. 

All the islanders were set in motion by our arrival at the settle- 
ment; each of them hurried into his hut and quickly returned with 
various products of his skill. Bows, arrows, wooden vessels, and the 


like served to start the trading, which then followed the established 

While the barter was in progress, I walked some distance from 
the settlement toward the interior of the island, but I had to return 
for I encountered a wet tundra area. En route I saw a fresh grave, 
around which stood various objects and some baydarka frames. The 
weapons of war, however, lay above the grave itself and were not 
yet damaged in the least.^^ Later I visited several of the huts, which 
are exactly like those of the Aglegmiut. In one such dwelling I 
found an iron adze with a short wooden halve which still had a brand 
on it, but it was difficult to determine the origin of the adze from this 
marking. I bought the adze from the islander to whom it had be- 
longed, Chanikhak, who said that he had obtained it from the Kus- 
kowagamiut. In turn, they probably got it from Kolmakov, for we 
saw here several cloth objects of Russian make, hastily and poorly 
done, which the Nunivak Islanders had obtained from the Kus- 
kowagamiut, and they, undoubtedly, from Kolmakov. 

The inhabitants of Nunivak Island generally are of medium 
height and are very well built ; they have quite regular features which 
reveal their good nature that is also evidenced by their kind treat- 
ment of foreigners. However, their stupidity and careless indiffer- 
ence appears everywhere and in everything. The color of their skin, 
despite their lack of cleanliness and the soot, differs little from a 
European's. We saw no freaks among them; their bodies are spare 
but well made. 

In general, the women are not very pretty. Their faces are flat, 
their eyes small, narrow, and black, their hair is straight, long, and 
coarse. They plait their hair into two or four braids over their 
temples and interweave blue beads or strands of caribou fur in them, 
but these ornaments are tasteless and poor. Their skin is white and 
they are very fat, short, and, in general, clumsy. They have a heavy 
gait, and even the young ones do not walk with a free step, but wad- 
dle, as it were. Their sooty and greasy caribou skin coats cover their 
charms and deficiencies. They appear to be more modest than the 
women of the Pacific islands, for they are humble, shy, and taciturn, 
and they adorn only their arms, not including the hands, with pat- 
terns. The iron and copper rings which they wear on their wrists 
are their principal ornament. Their handwork is crude, displaying 
neither the painstaking work or the taste of the Aleut women. 

We found the way of life and the customs of the Nunivak Is- 
landers to be completely like those of the Aglegmiut and even those 


of other peoples northward to Norton Sound and beyond. The 
steam baths here are constructed exactly the same way as those of 
the Aglegmiut and the Aleuts and apparently serve the same pur- 

I can say nothing more about this gentle people, for our stay on 
the island was short. 

In addition to the islanders, we saw four men and four women 
who had recently come from the mainland coast. The Nunivak Is- 
landers called them Nunipaegmiut.^* An old man, through his 
stories and a drawing, acquainted me with the coasts that I would 
soon be describing. Probably this American had often passed along 
the coast lying between the Kuskokwim River and Norton Sound 
and, therefore, was thoroughly acquainted with its situation, for 
when he would draw a coastline in the sand, not one of his compan- 
ions would contradict him in the slightest. 

At 10:00 PM we returned to the ship, a fresh wind blew from the 
SW and WSW and the weather was cloudy and rainy. 

I proposed that we fill the empty barrels with water here, but 
since we stood at anchor some distance off shore, we had to move in 
closer. The wind at SW and W was quite fresh and the weather was 
rainy and overcast. At 11:00 am of the 21st we got under sail. We 
had to work hard to retrieve the anchor, for it was so caught up on a 
rock that we could scarcely lift it. When we finally did retrieve it, 
we saw that it was bent and did not use it subsequently. 

By 9:00 pm, after taking several tacks, we moved into 8 sazhens 
of water. Shortly after casting anchor, I had all our rowboats low- 
ered and the empty barrels loaded into them; then I accompanied 
them to the river in a three-hatch baydarka. We did not reach the 
river until midnight, at which time the water level was so low that 
it was very difficult for the rowboats to enter the river. 

As the workers filled the barrels, I took the baydarka to the left 
side of the river, right up to a dwelling which proved to be deserted. 
However, we did see some fishing implements and caribou antlers 
scattered about the ground. There were also some broken pots and 
wooden bowls, many fresh shavings, and a fire which had just gone 
out. All this clearly indicated that people had recently used this 

As the water increased in the river, I strolled about the island and 
saw longspurs, partridges, hazel grouse, and a kind of small snipe 
called the redcrop. I also heard the cry of geese and cranes. The 


Aleuts, who went farther inland, said they saw caribou and, on re- 
turning downstream, they found a dead, but still fresh, fish of the 
salmon family. As soon as the water had risen, I sent the boats back 
to the brig, while I directed the baydarka toward the bare islets 
situated on the left side of the river mouth. 

The river from which we took our water is not terribly wide. It 
is not more than 100 sazhens wide at the mouth and the depth at 
the entrance is no more than a sazhen. The left bank is craggy and, 
in general, consists of burnt [volcanic] rock, while the right bank is 
gently sloping and sandy for the most part. The river runs SSW from 
its mouth; the bottom is stony and the water is pure. The river con- 
sists first of two streamlets which join before entering the sea; at 
high water this junction can be approached by rowboat.^* 

On reaching the islets, I stepped out on them; my oarsmen col- 
lected several seagull eggs and then we returned to the brig. The 
islets, three in number, lie along the strait and are no more than 1 Yi 
miles from Nunivak Island. These islets, like the coast of Nunivak 
itself, consists of burnt rock.* A glance at the coast of Nunivak 
Island and its crumbling mountain will convince the viewer that this 
country once experienced an earthquake resulting from a subter- 
ranean fire.^^ 

When I boarded the ship at 6 :00 am on the 22nd, the water was 
already stored in the hold and all the rowboats had been raised, so 
that we set sail immediately. A steady wind blew from the S and 
the weather was variable. I first steered ENE directly toward Cape 
Avinof.'**' The depth increased from 8 to 15 sazhens, but the bottom 
alternated very frequently between burnt rock and fine sand. 

At noon, observation showed our latitude to be 60°2'10"N and 
our longitude to be 164°48'W.** Shortly after noon, we sighted the 
shoreline to the right and, in order to approach it, I steered slightly 
into the wind. By 1:00 pm, we were in 3 sazhens of turbid water. 

The American coast here is very low. We were almost upon it, 
but could not see it and what I have called Cape Avinof is not really 
a cape, but an elevation or a small isolated mountain fairly far from 
the sea. 

At 3:00 PM we made straight for Cape Vancouver.'*^ The depth 
did not exceed 9 or 10 sazhens and we had a steady wind between S 

*Some travelers have called them lava or volcanic rock, but I call them burnt 
rocks, because they look very much like the cinders one finds in blacksmith forges. 

* *Subsequently we derived this latitude by calculation between the Nushagak 
River and Cape Count Rumyantsov [Cape RomanzofJ. 


and E under a cloudy sky and overcast. Finally, around 4:00 pm, 
the depth again decreased to 5 sazhens and soon we sighted breakers 
to the ESE at a distance of about 13^2 half miles. I immediately 
brought the ship around to the WNW and sailed thus until 6:00 pm. 

We passed WSW of Cape Vancouver at a distance of about 2 
miles in 9 sazhens of water over a bottom of pure sand. The wind 
shifted from SE through E to ENE and gusted and we had overcast 
and rain. I made a port tack close to the wind and tried to keep the 
shoreline in sight; the ocean depth decreased from time to time. On 
the north side of Cape Vancouver we saw many bays which ran some 
distance into the land. I wanted very much to explore them, but 
could not because of the shallow water. 

As we m.ade our way through the strait between Nunivak Island 
and the mainland, we had clear skies and were able to get a very good 
look at the island's coastline. The northeast cape of the island termi- 
nates in low-lying land and the coast there turns W, then continues 
WSW. We could see snow-covered mountains in the island's interior; 
the mountains were all of medium height and not very steep. 

Cape Vancouver is craggy and a chain of mountains stretches in- 
land from it. To the south, the cape ends in a cliff, while to the east 
the coast gradually descends until it is not even a foot above sea 
level. Therefore, one can get close to it without seeing it. Farther 
on, only the elevation of Cape Avinof is visible. 

The strait which separates Nunivak Island from the mainland is 
37 miles long and 17 miles wide and runs NNW-SSE. In the very 
middle, the strait is 10, 13, and 15 sazhens deep; close to the island 
the bottom is stony with sand, while in the middle of the strait it is 
pure sand and in case of need one may ride at anchor here. This is 
called Cook Strait [Etolin Strait] in honor of the famous Captain 
Cook, who came very close to these parts in 1778, but shallow water 
and fog prevented him from sighting this coast and thus discovering 
Nunivak Island. 

At 6:00 AM of the 23rd, the wind shifted to the NNE^s and lulled 
and shortly thereafter the weather cleared a little. We sighted the 
northeastern tip of Nunivak Island,^^ which is all the more evident for 
the two low mounds on it. 

Fog set in again in the afternoon and was so thick that we could 
not see more than 50 sazhens before us. Thus I lost my chance to 
survey the north side of Nunivak Island, but I did not feel justified in 
waiting until the fog cleared and the wind allowed us to approach 
that coast. 


A gentle breeze blew up from the W under cloudy skies. A near 
calm soon ensued, followed by a total calm that lasted until 8:00 pm 
of the 25th. Then a light air rose at SW and we lay to the ENE. 
Cape Romanzof was 50° NE of us at a distance of 25 miles. We were 
in 15 sazhens of water. When we began to have overcast, I tacked 
and stood out from shore. We did not wish to lose sight of land 
again, so to keep close to it I shortened the sails and kept to W and 
WSW all night long. 

At 6:00 PM we sighted the low coast to the south of Cape Roman- 
zof which stretches NNW-ENE for about 12 miles. We were no 
more than 7 miles from it and our lead showed the depth to be 4^4 
sazhens. I sailed ESE along the coast even though we were moving 
into ever shallower water. At 8 :00 pm, when we were in just 4 sazhens 
of water, we saw a chain of fairly high, snow-covered mountains 
which were 64° SE of us at a distance of about 30 miles. The low- 
lying coast, which we always kept in sight, was scarcely visible and 
trended directly toward the snowy mountain chain. 

From 9:00 to 11:00 pm we ran along the coast SE by E and SE. 
Finally, having convinced myself that this mountain ridge adjoins 
Cape Vancouver and that the low-lying coast extending from Cape 
Romanzof is a continuation of Cape Vancouver, I hastened to with- 
draw from the coastline for I feared that we were in for a gale.-^" 

My instructions were to describe the coastline between Cape 
Romanzof and Stuart Island and, having surveyed this expanse, to 
sail along the northwest coast of America to Cape Prince of Wales 
and then into Bering Strait, as time allowed. Therefore, I tried to get 
as close as possible to Cape Romanzof to begin my description there, 
but the very light breeze we had between S and E afforded us little 
cooperation in this endeavor. 

At 9:00 pm our latitude was 61°51'N and our longitude was 
166°34'+W, the variation of the needle was 23°3'E. During the 
night of the 29th the wind lulled and we had a near calm and calm 
until 10:00 pm. 

Having rounded Cape Romanzof, I proceeded N by E^' and NNE 
along the coast. At 10:00 am on the 30th, we passed abreast of the 
low spit which stretches northward from Cape Romanzof.^- We were 
six miles from the spit at the time, in more than 5 sazhens of water 
over a bottom of fine gray sand. A steady wind blew from W by S 
under alternate cloudy skies and overcast. The ocean depth de- 


creased and I sent ahead a baydarka with a lead to determine when 
we approached a shoal. Having taken this precaution, we sailed on 
till noon and as soon as the baydarka signaled us that it was in 2 
sazhens of water, we made a port tack. The coast we saw remained 
NE by E half E of us at a distance of 6 or 7 miles. This was the last 
we saw of land until we arrived at Stuart Island. 

In sailing northward, I always tried to keep close to the coast, but 
the shallow water which I kept encountering prevented me from do- 
ing so. 

All day long we had overcast and a steady wind at WNW and W. 
The clouds threatened the rapid approach of a storm, so I feared be- 
ing close to shallow water and kept to depths of 7 or 8 sazhens or 

At 2 :00 AM on the 2nd we sighted Stuart Island, ^^ at which time we 
were 15 miles W by S of it; a fairly brisk wind blew incessantly from 
S by W and we had alternating overcast and rain. I did not want to 
ride at anchor in a gale, so I turned seaward and moved under light 
sail until the wind abated somewhat. As soon as the weather cleared, 
we turned about and made straight for Stuart Island, which lay 10 or 
11 miles ESE of us. By noon the weather had cleared enough to al- 
low us to take the mid-day reading of the sun's altitude, which 
showed our latitude to be 63°47'27"N and our longitude to be 
163°30 ' + W. Stuart Island was 84° SE of us at a distance of 15 or 20 

The clear weather would have allowed us to undertake our de- 
scription [of the coastline], but the wind at S and SSW was com- 
pletely contrary. This considered and to give the crew a rest, I 
decided to go to Stuart Island, choose the best anchorage and await a 
favorable wind that would take me south of the island. 

The weather continued good and having a light air at SSW, I 
held as close as possible to the island, which was not more than 13^ 
miles away. 

Although the central part of Stuart Island is hilly, its coastline is 
low-lying. In general, the northern part of the island is higher than 
the southern part; to the west of the island and apart from it are 
many isolated rocks with a great abundance of driftwood on them. 
We saw many huts on this part of the island, but not a single person. 
After rounding the northeastern cape of the island, we cast anchor in 
5 sazhens of water over a slurry bottom. 


Our sojourn to Stuart Island. A meeting with its inhabitants. A descrip- 
tion of them: their way of life, the appearance of the men and women. A 
remark on the disease afflicting them. Their clothing. Other adornments. 
They slit their lower lip. A remark on their large and small baydarkas. 
Their food. Their quadrupeds. Birds. Fish. Whence the mainlanders 
and islanders get their iron and pewter goods and their glass labrets. The 
language of the islanders and the mainlanders. A selected glossary of 

As soon as we dropped anchor, Mr. Etolin and I set out for shore 
in baydarkas. Having reached it, we disembarked at a settlement 
near a small stream. We did not find anyone in the settlement, but 
shortly after our landing at the settlement, some one-hatch baydarkas 
appeared from around the east side of the island. At first they ap- 
proached us very slowly and gave every indication of being afraid, 
but our friendly greeting soon emboldened them. Having put in at 
the same place where our baydarkas were, they stood silent for a long 
while and would not answer our questions. After they had taken a 
good look around, so to speak, one of them asked us whence and why 
we came. Our answer reassured them. Our questioner subsequently 
proved bolder and friendlier than the rest. His companions im- 
mediately set about bartering. They offered beaver, otter, and cari- 
bou skins but asked a great deal in exchange. 

An islander of advanced years told us of the island they inhabited 
and called it Kikh-takh-pak,^^ then in the sand he sketched the 
mainland coast of America from that island to the Kuikhpak^^ 
[Yukon] River and somewhat to the south of it. His testimony and 
my recollections of the Kuikhpak River and the coast on either side 
of it were in complete agreement. The islander told me that last 
year a three-masted ship had come to them and, apparently, had 
asked if they had seen a single-masted ship. From the question I 
concluded that the ship was the sloop Otkrytie. The islander showed 
me a kitchen knife he had obtained from the ship. 

When the trading ended, we returned to the brig. Soon about 35 
baydarkas gathered around our ship. The Americans sat in them 
one or two to the baydarka. Their joy was unspeakable. One of 
them delivered a long speech in sing-song, often mentioning our 
ship and the word kashat; others, without leaving their baydarkas, 
ran their hands over their head, face, and chest then turned their 
hands palm up and extended them toward us, showing thereby that 
they were as peaceful as we. 


The islanders we knew, those whom we had seen previously on 
the island, said that the Americans who were with them lived on 
the mainland cape opposite the strait in a settlement called Tauk,^'' 
which, they indicated, lay to the SE of our brig. 

These savages were all of medium height. They wore one or two 
whale skin kamleikas [raincoats] over their parkas of ground squirrel 
skins. On long journeys, they lash these whale skin raincoats to 
their baydarka hatches as a covering.^^ 

Soon bartering began : the islanders and the Americans traded us 
beaver, fox, and otter skins for iron knives, kettles, pewter pipes, 
and Cherkass tobacco. They often complained that we paid them 
less for their furs than did the Aziagmiut.^* The bartering ceased 
about midnight and the Kikh-takh-pags set out directly for the set- 
tlement we had visited during the day, but the Americans paddled 
into the strait. The Americans said they would return at daybreak. 
As soon as the islanders had assembled in their settlement, they 
lighted fires at many points along the shore. We concluded that they 
were fishing, which would explain the fires at the water's edge. 

We had a steady wind from the SW through the night until mor- 
ning with alternating cloudy weather and overcast. 

The next day, the 3rd, at about 5:00 am we were again sur- 
rounded by a few Americans. They did not offer anything for 
trade, but invited us ashore. In answer, I dispatched several bay- 
darkas in charge of Mr. Karsanovskiy, our clerk, and I ordered 
Karsanovskiy to await me on shore. Meanwhile, I sent all the 
rowboats for wood and water and I ordered them to put ashore at 
the place where our baydarkas had put in and after dinner I myself 
went to the settlement. 

The wind continued steady between S and W with cloudy and 
rainy weather. My American acquaintances met me as I landed, but 
the others sat about in groups undoing and laying out their bar- 
tered goods, apparently not paying the slightest attention to us. 

Having taken a few steps from the landing place, I was detained 
by the Americans who showed me their pipes and demonstrated 
their poverty by various gestures, saying that they could not get 
tobacco during the trading. To get rid of them quicker, I gave each 
of them a couple of leaves [of tobacco] and they sat right down on the 
spot and began to light their pipes. I then noticed that each of the 
women had a tinder, flint, and steel, which I learned later they 
obtained from the Aziagmiut. 


One cannot tell a Stuart Islander from an inhabitant of the 
opposite mainland, for they wear the same kind of clothing, look 
alike, and speak the same language. At that time there were about 
100 men in the village and nearly as many women. They were all 
of medium height and did not differ in the slightest from the Agleg- 
miut and the Nunivak Islanders; the similarity of their customs and 
language leads one to conclude that all these people formerly com- 
prised a single tribe and that various upheavals had scattered them 
along the entire coast of northwestern America, from KenaiGulf 
[Cook Inlet] to Kotzebue Sound. ^'^ 

In general, the men and the women have a weak constitution 
and are spare; I do not know whether to ascribe this to a lack of 
food (a frequent occurrence) or to the immoderate use of tobacco. 
The Americans did not have a chief, but often during barter they 
would consult their shaman and they showed some respect for him 
in our presence. 

For the first time in all my years on the northwest coast of 
America, I observed a pernicious venereal disease among the people, 
a disease which had spread to such a degree that many of those 
suffering from it were greatly disfigured. The face and body of such 
persons were covered with deep sores. I saw the particular disease 
called malignant abscesses.*^" The shaman treats all such maladies, 
he often contrives some sort of medicines, casts a spell on the wound, 
etc., but none of this arrests the spread of the pernicious disease in 
the slightest and it ravages this unfortunate tribe without let or 

I observed that the females are more infected than the males, 
which is supported by the fact that we saw more women without 
noses than men. The men generally are clothed in parkas made of 
gi'ound squirrel skins, with the fur side out. The under garment 
of the men and women is identical. Generally, it is made of seal skin 
or raven's-duck skin, the former being worn by the men and the 
latter by the women. The footwear of both sexes is identical; it 
consists for the most part of soft Chukotsk reindeer skin boots, 
which they get through trade with the Aziagmiut. The women also 
wear the parka, which they make from the hides of young caribou. 

Males up to 14 or 15 years of age wear the same ornaments as 
the women: they adorn their neck with beads of various colors and 
with sky-blue bangles; in addition, the women wear an arm ornament 
of several iron and copper rings. 


Both sexes have black, coarse hair; the men wear their hair 
close-cropped, while the women plait their hair in two braids, which 
they wear over the temples and which they smear generously with 

The men slit their lower lip through on both sides of the mouth 
and place a [sky-blue] glass bead or a worked stone in the opening. 
Both the men and the women slit their ears from the top downward, 
but in place of earrings the men use well-polished bones and the 
women wear a blue glass bead and small thongs. 

Their large baydaras and their baydarkas are identical to those 
we saw among the Aglegmiut and the inhabitants of Nunivak 
Island."^ For the most part, these people depend on the bounty 
of the sea for their food. In summer they catch many fish and in 
spring and fall they hunt the caribou. They eat the meat of the 
caribou and trade its hide to the Aziagmiut. Caribou not only 
inhabit the mainland coast, but Stuart Island as well, for we saw 
many signs of them on the island. 

We saw different kinds and vast numbers of birds along the 
island's coast: for the most part they were the same as those found 
along the coast of Kamchatka. 

The fish here are exactly the same as those caught in the Nusha- 
gak River. There are very many quinnat salmon and the natives 
not only use them for food, but render their fat and store it in 
bladders; further, they make women's clothing from the skins."- 

These Americans make some attempt to hunt animals in winter, 
but only to have something to trade the Aziagmiut for pewter pipes, 
knives, some tobacco, and glass labrets. They spend the rest of the 
year in idleness, caring little for the future, and often going hungry. 

The women are absolute slaves to the men. They do the heavi- 
est work and prepare the winter provisions. During nomadic wan- 
derings, they carry the loads or paddle the baydarkas. They build 
the dwellings, etc. ; in a word, they do all the domestic work. 

The Stuart Islanders and the Americans speak the same lan- 
guage, which is similar in many ways to the language of the Agleg- 
miut and the Nunivak Islanders, as may be seen from the words 
that follow.*"'^ 

Stuart Islanders Nunivak Islanders 

Man Nugalpyak Nugaspyak 

Woman Agnak Agnak 

Old Man Aguk Anusmogak 



Stuart Islanders 

Nunivak Islanders 

Old Woman 











































































Yurt [Tent or 

house] lerna 





























Thick [Fat] 



Much, many 



Little, few 


Ikkhadok, piyakhtut 

Sea water 



River water 





















Right hand 



Left hand 






Oar [Paddle] 





























Stuart Islanders 

Nunivak Islanders 





























Ugash lUgat?] 














Distant, far 























To sleep 



To arise, get up 









Deep, it is deep 



Shallow, it is shallo 

w Itkhaduk 


Hot, it is hot 



I love 









To trade, barter 






Early, it is early 



Large river 


Kupkh gannitok 

Late, it is late 



















































Stuart Islanders 

Nunivak Islanders 

Difficult, it is 




Easy, it is easy 












To dance 













Survey of the strait by baydarka. Departure from Stuart Island. Journey 
to Cape Darby. Arrival at Golovnin Bay. A meeting with Americans. 
Realization that Golovnin Bay communicates with the Kaviyak or 
Kheuveren [Kuzitrin] River. An American named Tungan informs us of 
some Russian names and tells us of St. Lawrence Island. 

As soon as the weather improved, I sent Mr. Etolin and several 
baydarkas to investigate the strait and to survey, in as far as pos- 
sible, the part of the mainland coast that extends southward from 
the strait. I sent my clerk Karsanovskiy with two baydarkas to 
the settlement of Tauk to determine how populous that village was. 

The Americans left Stuart Island and we did not see them there 
after four o'clock. Apparently there are no permanent American 
dwellings on the island and the settlement is used only as a shelter 
during the trading season. 

Mr. Etolin returned to the brig late in the evening. First he had 
gone to the east cape of Stuart Island, where he landed his baydarkas 
and scanned the whole coast from that elevation. It ends in high 
ground. Mr. Etolin encountered a sand bar toward the SE and had 
to return to Tauk. 

The strait which lies between the mainland and Stuart Island 
is not more than ly? miles wide, according to Mr. Etolin's descrip- 
tion. The strait is 4 and 3 sazhens deep near the middle, while 
nearer the island it is 4 or 5 sazhens deep, but only in places. Every- 
where the bottom consists of tough silt. 

Karsanovskiy reported that the Americans in the settlement had 
treated him very kindly. He counted about 40 houses*^^ of various 
sizes and said there were about 200 Americans of both sexes in the 
settlement. They offered him only fresh and dried fish in trade. He 
also said that he had seen dogs on the shore and near the huts many 


sleds, which, he said, were identical to those we had seen among the 
inhabitants of Nunivak Island. 

A steady south wind prevented me from fulfilling my mission. 
To keep from delaying our visit to the other places cited in my In- 
structions, I immediately weighed anchor and headed northward. 

On the 5th, at 8:30 am, we began to steer NW directly toward 
Cape Darby.*^^ At first we had a fairly brisk wind from the S, with 
alternating clear and cloudy weather, but it fell completely calm 
before noon. Our observations showed that at noon our latitude 
was 63°49'N and our longitude 162°29'+W. The northern end of 
Stuart Island was 32° and 10 miles to the SE of us and Bezborug 
[Besboro] Island'^*' was 35° and 31 miles to the NE. The lead showed 
a depth of 10 sazhens. The calm continued until 12:30 pm, when a 
steady breeze rose between S and E. We proceeded NNW half W 
and the weather continued to be quite good, but overcast concealed 
the northern coast of Norton Bay from us. When the overcast 
dissipated a little, we sighted Cape Darby to the NW. When we 
were 6 or 7 miles from the cape, the sailors began to shout that they 
saw a ship under sail, but on looking more closely they discovered 
that what they had seen were two vertical rocks which looked a great 
deal like a ship under sail. 

At 6:00 PM, after rounding Cape Darby, which was then 50° to 
the NE of us at a distance of about 13^ miles, we began to steer NW 
13^2 W,*^' directly into Golovnin Bay. We had a fairly steady wind 
from the SSE, with overcast and rainy weather. The ocean depth 
decreased from time to time. 

At 8:30 PM we dropped anchor in 4 sazhens of water about a 
mile off shore. Cape Darby was 57° and about 113^^ miles to the 
SE of us, Rocky Point^^ was 10° and 732 miles to the SW of us, 
Gribanov Island*'^ was 86° and 4'^ ■? miles to the NE of us, and the 
settlement Chinik"" was 40° and 6 miles to the NW of us. 

We had a fresh S wind all night long with rain and overcast. 
The next day at about 2:00 PM the wind lulled a bit after shifting 
from S to SSW. 

At 6:00 PM two one-hatch baydarkas carrying the Americans 
Chikun and Taypa arrived from the settlement Uzhigalit.^^ They 
recognized me immediately and approached our brig without appre- 
hension. Once aboard, our guests were very happy to learn that we 
had brought much tobacco and many pewter pipes; in fact they 
danced up and down with joy and, going up to every sailor, said 
"kuyanna-kuyanna" (that is, "Our friends! Our friends!')." 


Soon Chavysmyak, the chief, whom I had given a silver medal 
the year before, arrived. He had seven men and two women with 
him in his baydara. The Americans who were with us told their 
countr5rmen everything we had told them and, embracing each other 
for joy, every other minute they shouted "kuyanna!!" 

Chief Chavysmyak did not have the medal I had given him, he 
said that he had given it to his son and then he showed me a bronze 
medal that he probably received from Captain Vasilev, for it was 
identical with the one I had seen on Nunivak Island. Chavysmyak 
told me that four days after my departure from the bay last year, 
a three-masted ship had approached Cape Darby. He had gone 
aboard that ship and received the medal from its commander. He 
said, however, that the ship did not cast anchor and that he had not 
seen it subsequently and thus did not know where it had gone. 

My friends stayed aboard the brig until sunset, then they took 
their leave and set out for shore. Some of them made directly for 
Chinik, probably to inform their countrymen of our arrival. 

The next morning at sunrise, the Americans again surrounded 
our ship in two large baydaras and 12 small, one-hatch baydarkas. 
In all there were 32 men and women. Our acquaintances came 
aboard, and by virtue of this acquaintanceship represented their 
countrymen in barter. The others did not leave their baydaras and 
baydarkas but stayed near the brig. As soon as the trading began, 
I set out for Uzhigalit, thinking that I could buy some fresh fish 
for my crew there. 

Some of the Americans accompanied me right up to the shore- 
line and then returned to the brig. I put in directly opposite the 
place where we had cut wood the year before. This spot is about 
50 sazhens south of the dwellings. There we found the remainder 
of our firewood, the Americans had not touched a single stick of it, 
probably thinking that such an action would be punished. From 
there I went to Uzhigalit where I was met by two old women who 
were not the least afraid of me, since they knew me. They ap- 
proached us and invited us into their huts where they served us 
various dishes prepared according to their taste. 

They gave us a fair amount of fresh fish and a goodly amount 
of dried fish in exchange for needles and tobacco. Having obtained 
everything I needed, I returned to the brig where the trading was 
still underway. The Americans offered us beaver and fox skins for 
iron knives, spears, and tobacco. Meanwhile, I inquired about 


Golovnin Sound. (I called it a sound, for the stories I had heard 
about it indicated that it communicated with another body of water.) 
I asked which body of water it communicated with and where one 
could go from there. Of our visitors, two Americans, Nuksyuk and 
Abysk, had recently returned by way of the aforesaid communica- 
tion. They said that the headwaters of the Kweigat Tuksmuk 
River," which empties into Tachik [Golovnin] Bay closely approach 
another river that empties into the sea and which they called the 
Kaviyayak River.'^^ They stated that it is quite difficult to get from 
one river to the other because of Mount Kinkhtyryuk, which is in 
the way, but that the mountain is not very steep and travelers always 
portage their baydarkas and baydaras over it. Accordingly, I will 
henceforth speak of Golovnin Bay, not Golovnin Sound, the more so 
because I now know that the word tachik in the American language 
means bay. 

When the trading was concluded, the Americans bade us farewell 
and went to Uzhigalit. 

All night long we had overcast alternating with rain, with a 
light air from the NW. Evidently wet weather does not deter the 
Americans in the least, for by early morning they had again begun 
to collect around our brig and by noon four large baydaras and 
eight small, one-hatch baydarkas had assembled. Naglin, an old 
man and my acquaintance, came from Cape Darby. With him was 
his eldest son, who wore a bronze medal about his neck. He stated 
that this medal, too, had been obtained from Captain Vasilev. An 
American named Tungan, whom I did not know at all, showed us 
many animal skins, but did not offer a single one for trade. Our 
guests, who had begun to bore us with their frequent visits, stayed 
until 4:00 pm and then set out for the nearby shore.^° 

As soon as the weather cleared, I went ashore. My clerk Kar- 
sanovskiy followed me to engage in barter; we put in at the rocks 
opposite Uzhigalit. One cannot imagine the joy with which the 
Americans greeted us. The words "kashat kuyannal" were repeated 
loudly numerous times by the crowd of savages. Many of them, 
crowding each other, ran to our baydarkas and very carefully re- 
moved them from the water. Finally, calming down a little, they 
dispersed and reassembled in groups in various places. The women 
were quite apart from the men; having kindled a fire, they prepared 
supper for the men and took no part whatever in their conversation. 
Karsanovskiy immediately began the bartering and I, accompanied 
by some Americans, set out for the lakes that were not far from the 


settlement. My guides followed me until I fired at a snipe, a red- 
shank. After this none of them dared to approach me and when I 
called to them, they remained silent. 

My hike to the lakes was not in vain: I shot a fair amount of 
game and by evening I returned to our landing site. The barter 
with the Americans was terminated and Karsanovskiy prepared the 
baydarkas for departure. During the bartering, the American 
Tungan had told him about some Russians, whom he called Vasilev 
and Vorobev. 

Although it was already late, I decided to stay ashore to inquire 
further about Vasilev and Vorobev. For a long while Tungan would 
not comply with my request to repeat his stories, protesting that he 
could not speak with us long because his eyes hurt terribly. Finally 
I won him over and he told us the following story. While he was 
traveling from the settlement Nykhta^'' (on Cape Prince of Wales) 
to Golovnin Bay, a storm came up suddenly and carried him out 
to sea in his one-hatch baydarka. For two nights* the storm carried 
him he knew not where and on the third night he arrived in a strange 
land. Its inhabitants immediately received him in a kindly manner 
and he remained there a long time, but he had no idea how many 
years he spent with these people. He learned that the land to which 
he had come was a long island inhabited by a poor people who live 
on whale and walrus meat. They traded the walrus skins in the 
neighboring land, which was one night's journey from the western 
end of the island. He called this land Kuslit and it was there that 
he had seen the aforementioned Russians a number of times. 

Tungan, wishing to comment on the places to which his unex- 
pected journey had taken him, found a smooth spot on the sand and 
sketched the American coast from where we were to Bering Strait; 
then he sketched the nearby island. The island closest to Golovnin 
Bay he called Aziyak [Ayac, or Sledge Island] ; the next island farther 
up the coast he called Ukivok [King Island] and said that it was 
inhabited. The people live on the steep cliffs and for the most part 
trade furs with the peoples who live in Kuslit ; next he delineated two 
large islands and to the south of them, a tiny islet, giving each of them 
its own name. Finally, he formed the American coast into a cape 
opposite those islands and from this cape continued the coast, as 
one would expect, northward; in marking out the aforementioned 
coast, he would often draw a line incorrectly, redraw it, and turning 

*In general, the Americans reckon a long journey by the number of nights it 


to his countrymen would say that at this point the coast takes such 
and such a turn. 

He sketched in the Kavsyak River" opposite Ukivok Island, 
saying that the inhabitants of that island often visit the river and 
sometimes, toward autumn, they travel to Golovnin Bay. He then 
proceeded to draw the land where he had spent such a long time, 
designating it as a long island and saying that the inhabitants call 
it Chuakak.* At the eastern end of St. Lawrence Island he drew 
three small islands, saying that the northern island has a steep 
mountain and that there is a dwelling at its foot. He called this islet 
Punuk.^^ Finally, he drew Kuslit, saying that he had seen the 
Russians Vasilev and Vorobev there, and as proof of this he spoke 
several words which he had often heard the Russians say. Tungan 
said the following: Papush tabaku [a bundle of tobacco leaves], 
truhka tabaku [a pipe of tobacco], and proshka tabaku [snuff] and, in 
addition, he pronounced some curse words used by our common 

As a conclusion to these tales, I must mention that the storm 
had carried Tungan to St. Lawrence Island, which is evident from the 
sketch and undoubtedly he could have visited the east coast of Asia 
often and have seen Russians, for, as he had already stated, the 
inhabitants of St. Lawrence Island often travel to the Asian coast to 
trade walrus skins. Taking everything into consideration, it may be 
assumed that Tungan could have gone to the Anadyr River where, 
one would think, he saw Vasilev and Vorobev who, according to his 
stories, traded with the savage peoples, a trade that may have been 
conducted by private persons. 

Tungan related that last year he had left Kuslit with some 
Ukivok Islanders and then had crossed the Kaviyayak and Kweigat 
Tuksmuk rivers and had reached his homeland. 

When our conversations had ended, I set out for the brig and 
asked my new acquaintance to visit me on the ship the next day. 
The Americans, including Tungan, arrived at 4 :00 AM and I invited 
Tungan into my cabin and repeated last evening's conversation. 
He drew on paper all those coasts which he had drawn in the sand, 
exactly as he had done before. Through Tungan I was able to learn 

*Perhaps the discrepancy in the naming of St. Lawrence Island, which Mr. 
Kotzebue called Chibono and which Tungan called Chuakak, stems from the fact 
that Tungan was a foreigner there or perhaps it is due to the imperfection or the 
characteristic of the language. Similarly, various Europeans called the late king of 
the Sandwich Islands different names and each considered himself correct. 



something of the language of the inhabitants of Chuakak or St. 
Lawrence Island. I list below the words I collected. ^^ 













Shore, coast 







Earth [Land] 






















Tongue [Language] 




Yurt [Tent or house] 








Thick, fat 


Few, little 

Good, fine 
















Nankanam Chapakhnak 

Aniyu or Kapyyukhta 

Nankinam pusklya 





Knak gak 




























Nankinam Chuno-tana 








Poorly, it is poor 


Sea water 


River water 
























Far, it is 



Near, it is near 








To sleep 


To arise. 

get up 




Deep, it i 

is deep 



it is shallow 




Hot, it is 



To trade. 



Early, it 

is early 


Large river 





it is difficult 


Easy, it is easy 










To dance 

























Kulmoga olinktok 



The Americans stayed aboard the brig until two o'clock, after 
which they set off for different points. When Tungan departed, I 
presented him with a silver medal from among those given me for 
distribution among the savage peoples. Tungan begged me for a 


trap, explaining that he would show his countrymen how to use it; 
he had told us earlier that he had often seen traps at Vasilev and 
Vorobev's place and that he knew how to set a trap and what 
safety measures to take in doing so. 

Tugan differed in no way from his countrymen with respect to 
clothing and ornament, but his native intelligence attracted our 
attention. Although he had little understanding of other lands, he 
was very curious to know whence we had come, whether there were 
many other people left there, and who commanded them. As he 
learned about foreign lands, he invariably wanted to have a sketch 
of them. He asked me for a scrap of paper and with a pencil he out- 
lined all those distant countries of which I spoke and kept asking 
"is this the way it is?" Then, turning to his countrymen, he spoke 
at length with them about it all and finally said: "Oh, how many 
peoples there are in this land [world] besides us!" 

Shortly after the departure of the Americans, Mr. Etolin and 
I set out for Rocky Point by baydarka; en route we met our Aleuts 
and the clerk Karsanovskiy, who were on their way to a dwelling 
to trade for pelts, but I ordered them to follow me. Without going 
as far as Rocky Point, we put in opposite a small settlement, where 
we were met by Chief Chavysmyak and the Americans accompany- 
ing him. They conducted us to their dwelling, which was 50 sazhens 
from the sea. On the way we saw many scaffoldings on which a large 
quantity of different kinds of fish w^ere drying. Chief Chavysmyak's 
wife and small daughter served us our meal. They offered us whale 
meat and boiled fish, but the food had such a repulsive odor that 
none of us would try it, except for the Aleuts who considered it a 
great delicacy. We had the opportunity to see an American dance, 
which Chavysmyak told us was performed only at entertainments. 
It began as follows: first the men formed a circle, then one of them 
began beating a tambourine [drum] and singing in a doleful voice, 
another went into the middle of the circle, leaned a bit forward, and 
with every gesture stamped his foot, looked in all directions as if he 
feared someone, then stealthily drew his bow and shot an arrow. 
All this was repeated in the same order, four times or more, always 
to the accompaniment of several words spoken in a frightened voice. 
Then the men, women, and gi'own children danced together until 
they grew tired. The American dance is so monotonous that it gives 
the viewer no pleasure. The women are even less adept [at the 
dance than are the men and boys]. The Americans, however, love 


the dances of other peoples, which are incomparably livelier and 
more diverse than their own. 

The American singing voice is very rough and unpleasant to 
the ear; it has little variation and is often despondent. I understand 
that the Americans have their own poetry, which consists solely of 
military songs, some heroic and some humorous. The humorous 
songs are especially popular with these savages. Special persons 
called "kashats," compose most of these songs and this earns them 
no little respect among their countrymen. Often the Americans, 
like the Aleuts or the Yakuts, take some phrase and sing it in 
chorus, for example, "Ya tahak kroshu, a ty net" [I chop tobacco, and 
you don't]. Out of boredom, the savages sometimes chant this same 
song for an hour or more. 

After the dance, we watched how the Americans sometimes cap- 
size their baydarkas and without getting out of them, right them 
again. Chavysmyak told us that they begin learning this art when 
they are very young so that by the time they reach adulthood they 
have it mastered. 

Here I happened to see a young girl who was already married, 
although she was not yet ten years old while her husband was per- 
haps 20 years old or older. When I asked why they gave such a 
young girl in marriage, her mother answered that if the girl were not 
married by that age, everyone would laugh at her and come to 
despise her. Perhaps the ambition or the advantages gained by the 
girl's father may have something to do with the giving of daughters 
in marriage at such a young age. The marriage customs of the 
Americans appear to be identical to those of the Kodiak Aleuts, for 
after marriage a son-in-law becomes almost a workman in his father- 
in-law's house. He always gives his father-in-law the best of his 
catch, the best object he gets in trade, and the greater part of all 
he gets. 

An American considers himself more fortunate to have daughters 
than sons, for sons may leave him after marriage, while a son-in-law 
is obliged to support his father-in-law. 

The Americans offered us fully equipped baydarkas in trade, 
one of which Mr. Etolin obtained for a Chukot spear and tobacco, 
but not one of the Americans wanted to part with his furs, because 
we could not give them much tobacco, for which and only which 
they will trade their fox skins. They are great masters of the art of 


barter; they drive a very hard bargain, always consult each other 
and, finally, take great pleasure in thinking they have cheated 


1. The Russian text says "Unalaska Strait," but this is pre- 
sumed to be incorrect (see p. 43). Unimak Pass is one of the prin- 
cipal ship passages through the Aleutian Islands. 

2. This term, which literally means "enterprisers," can best be 
translated in the context as "fur hunters." Actually promyshlenniki 
served as soldiers, sailors, manual laborers, and traders as well as 
fur hunters. The term seems to have been applied originally to 
those individuals who signed up with merchant associations in Si- 
beria to obtain furs in Alaska during the half century preceding the 
establishment of the Russian-American Company in 1799 (Sarafian, 
1970, p. 14). 

3. Golovin throughout the Russian text. It is not clear why the 
name of Khromchenko's ship, that of the famous circumnavigator 
V. M. Golovnin, is so consistently mispelled. 

4. Cape Newenham and Norton Sound, from which the desig- 
nation for the bay is derived, were named by the Cook expedition in 
1778. Derivations of the of geographical features will be 
noted only within the region of Khromchenko's explorations. 

5. The Eskimo kayak. 

6. This term was used for a number of different linguistic groups 
by the Russians. Most frequently they distinguished between the 
Aleut-speaking Fox Island Aleut and the Kodiak "Aleut" who are 
actually Koniag-speaking Eskimos. 

7. Literally, a baydarka leader or owner of a baydarka, this 
term also referred to the appointed leaders in Eskimo settlements. 
The Yakut term toyon was also frequently used for those individuals 
appointed by the Russians to assist in obtaining furs from their fel- 
low villagers (see VanStone, 1968, p. 226). 

8. A sazhen is equal to seven feet. 

9. The Eskimo umiak, a large, open skin boat. 

10. Khromchenko is referring to his first visit to the island the 
preceding summer. Both Hagemeister Island and the strait which 



separates it from the mainland were named, probably by the Kor- 
sakovskiy expedition in 1819, for Captain Leontiy Andrianovich 
Hagemeister, Baranov's successor as general manager of the Russian- 
American Company. 

11. Not to be confused with the Russian-American Company's 
station of the same name at the mouth of the Nushagak River. 

12. Khromchenko uses this term to refer to Eskimos from the 

13. According to Eskimos living along the river today, upriver 
people in the early historic period referred to the Nushagak as the 
Ilgayak, a place name that has no meaning. Inhabitants of the 
lower river and Nushagak Bay called the river Tahlekuk which 
means "elbow," a reference to the shape of its lower reaches. The 
name Nushagak has no meaning to local people at the present time, 
nor are they aware of its origin. 

14. A reference to the ivory labrets worn by Eskimos in this area. 

15. Khromchenko may have been the first to report the Eskimo 
name for this river. Its earliest appearance on a published map is in 
1826 (Sarychev, 1826, map 3). 

16. The inhabitants of the Togiak (Togiagamiut) and Kusko- 
kwim (Kuskowagamiut) rivers are Eskimoan speakers of the Western 
Eskimo language stock (Yupik). This linguistic grouping is sepa- 
rated into three major dialect clusters: Yuk, which includes the 
coastal and adjacent riverine peoples from St. Michael to Bristol 
Bay and Iliamna Lake; Cux, spoken only on Nunivak Island; and 
Suk, spoken on Kodiak Island and the adjacent mainland (Ham- 
merich, 1958, pp. 632-639). It will be noted, therefore, that the 
Togiagamiut and Kuskowagamiut are both Yuk speakers. The form 
and design of the kayaks of these areas are essentially the same, al- 
though the style changes in the northern part of the area occupied 
by Yupik speakers (see Nelson, 1899, pp. 218-222, pi. LXXIX). 

17. Named by the Korsakovskiy expedition in 1819. 

18. The Eskimo name for this river was first reported by the 
Korsakovskiy expedition in 1819. 

19. Although sighted first by Vasilev in July, 1821, and named 
Otkrytie after his ship, Khromchenko and Etolin were presumably 
the first to report the native name for this island (see "Introduction," 
p. 15). 

20. Although Khromchenko sounds knowledgeable concerning 
the upper Nushagak, the region was not explored until 1830 when an 


overland expedition under the leadership of Ivan Yakovlevich Vasi- 
lev ascended the river to its headwaters, crossed over to the Holitua, 
and descended that stream to the Kuskokwim (see fig. 2) . Two years 
later, Fedor Kolmakov made a similar trip and founded the first 
trading post on the Kuskokwim at its confluence with the Holitna 
(Fedorova, 1971, pp. 229-232; VanStone, 1967, pp. 10-11). Al- 
though it is something of an exaggeration to say, as Khromchenko 
does, that the upper reaches of the Nushagak "communicates easily 
with the headwaters of all the large rivers which empty into the (Be- 
ring Sea) northward to Norton Sound," it is true that the Kuskokwim 
and Yukon can be reached in this manner. Using this route, to- 
gether with the Yukon, the Russians were able to open all of south- 
western Alaska to the fur trade by 1845 (VanStone, 1967, pp. 51-52). 

21. The Russian text reads E by W, but this would appear to 
be a misprint. 

22. Captain James Cook sighted and named Round Island in 
July, 1778 (Cook and King, 1785, vol. 2, p. 431). The origin of the 
name Walrus is obscure. Sarchyev (1826, map 3) applied the name 
to an island which Tebenkov (1852, map 4) identified as the Round 
Island of Captain Cook. Tebenkov applied the name Walrus Islands 
to all those east of Hagemeister Island. Today four islands are recog- 
nized as belonging to the Walrus group (Orth, 1967, p. 1027) but 
Captain Cook did not actually hazard a guess as to the total number 
since he observed very little of the coastline in this area. 

23. Named by Korsakovskiy in 1819 for the Russian-American 
Company ship which supported his explorations. 

24. The present-day village of Ekuk. 

25. After the establishment of Aleksandrovskiy Redoubt in 
1819, Eskimos from the Kuskokwim River were attracted to the 
vicinity of the post by the opportunity to trade furs. 

26. The Russian word igra (performance) is used by northern 
explorers for ceremonies held in the Eskimo kashgee, or ceremonial 

27. For a more detailed discussion of subsistence patterns in the 
Nushagak River region, see VanStone (1967, ch. VIII). 

28. For a more detailed description of nineteenth century houses 
in southwestern Alaska, see Petroff , (1884, p. 15) ; VanStone (1968, 
pp. 233-252; 1970, pp. 20-33). 


29. See footnote 16. The Yuk dialect was understood by Cux 
speakers of Nunivak Island, but not by the Suk-speaking Koniag 
Eskimos (Hammerich, 1958, p. 639). 

30. Portions of the Koniag vocabulary were reprinted in contem- 
porary French and German publications (see Pilling, 1887, p. 51). 

31. All species of Pacific salmon make spawning runs into the 
rivers of Bristol Bay. Khromchenko probably failed to notice this 
because his visit preceded the big runs which commence in July. 

32. Cape Mendenhall. 

33. Etolin Strait. This body of water was named Cook Strait 
by the expedition in 1821 after Captain James Cook. It later re- 
ceived its present name at the suggestion of I. F. Krusenshtern, 
the Russian circumnavigator (Orth, 1967, p. 320). 

34. At the time of enumeration for the eleventh census in 1890, 
there were several settlements in the Cape Mendenhall region and 
five small villages with a combined population of 186 along the coast 
between Cape Mendenhall and Cape Corwin (Porter, 1894, pp. Ill, 
113). Presumably Khromchenko's visitors came from a village at 
the southwestern end of Cape Mendenhall. 

35. According to the eleventh federal census, the village of Koot 
on Cape Etolin was the point of communication with the mainland. 
At that time, trade was carried on mainly through the village of Tu- 
nunak on Nelson Island (Porter, 1894, p. 116). 

36. Lantis (1946, map 1, pp. 162-163) notes a large winter vil- 
lage on the east coast of Cape Mendenhall near the mouth of the 
bay, and a summer village at the very tip of the cape. Both were 
important settlements about 50 to 60 years prior to her stay on the 
island in 1940. Her name for the summer village closely approxi- 
mates that of the settlement noted by Khromchenko (see fig. 5) . 

37. See "Introduction," p. 15. 

38. Nunivak Island kayaks are similar to those which Khrom- 
chenko had already seen in use by the Togiagamiut and the Kus- 

39. Khromchenko was correct in assuming that the Nuniwaga- 
miut lacked formal political organization. As he suggests, recognized 
leadership qualities included age and experience. Success in hunting 
was the principal source of personal prestige and such skills gave a 
man and his family wealth as well as recognized status in the com- 
munity. These were all factors that contributed to the recognition 
of an individual as a leader (Lantis, 1946, pp. 247-248). 


40. Lantis (1946, map 1, p. 162) notes a village of this name, 
which means "point of land," at the tip of Cape Corwin. It was a 
summer settlement for the winter village of Paimiut, at one time 
the largest community on the east side of the island (see Fig. 5) . 

41. For a detailed description of Nuniwagamiut burial practices, 
see Lantis (1946, pp. 227-228). 

42. Heat for the traditional Eskimo baths in this area was sup- 
plied by an open fire in the center of the kashgee. Khromchenko 
may be referring to the water vapour bath involving heated rocks 
and introduced throughout southwestern Alaska by the Russians 
(Oswalt, 1963, p. 148; Zagoskin, 1967, p. 224). 

43. Possibly Eskimos from the mouth of the Kuskokwim River 
or from a village on the Yukon-Kuskokwim delta. 

44. A river just north of Chinik heads in a small lake approxi- 
mately five miles inland. There are, however, no islands anywhere 
off the coast of Cape Corwin. It is possible that Khromchenko is 
referring to a group of small islets just off shore from the next cape 
to the north which is unnamed. 

45. Nunivak Island, as well as the Pribilofs, consists largely of 
undissected volcanic topography of Cenozoic age (Wahrhaftig, 1965, 
p. 32). 

46. Named in 1821 by Vasilev for Lieutenant A. P. Avinov who 
was in command of the ship's boat. 

47. Sighted in 1821 by Etolin and named for the British navi- 

48. The Russian text here says NWE, but NNE is presumed to 
be intended. 

49. Cape Manning. 

50. Khromchenko apparently missed Hazen Bay, although he 
observed the coastal hills extending to the northeast from Cape 
Vancouver (see fig. 2) . 

51. The original reads W by E. 

52. It is possible that Khromchenko mistook Dall Point for Cape 
Romanzof. There is no spit extending north of the latter, but one 
does extend to the south and almost meets a similar spit reaching 
north from Dall Point. Between these two narrow spits is the en- 
trance to Igiak Bay (see fig. 2). 

53. Named in 1778 by Captain Cook. 


54. This is Khromchenko's interpretation of the Eskimo word 
kikiktapuk which simply means "big island" (Ray, 1971, p. 14). 

55. This is the Eskimo name (Ktvigpak, "big river") for the lower 
portion of the Yukon occupied by Eskimos. The Indian word for 
the upper part is now applied to the entire river. 

56. The nineteenth century village of Atuik ("bent point"). 
Slightly to the south of the site of Atuik is the present-day village 
of Stebbins, the Eskimo name of which is Tapkak ("sandy beach") 
(Ray, 1971, pp. 10, 21). 

57. The raincoats to which Khromchenko refers were actually 
made from the dried intestines of seals (see Nelson, 1899, pp. 36-37). 

58. The inhabitants of Sledge Island (Ayak; see Ray, 1971, p. 
12, footnote 21) in the Bering Sea off the coast of Seward Peninsula 
approximately 25 miles west of Nome. These Eskimos served as 
middlemen in the Siberian-Alaskan fur trade which flourished fol- 
lowing the establishment of a trading post on the Kolyma River by 
the Russians in 1789 (Wrangell, 1840, pp. 114-119; Ray, 1964, p. 86). 
The island received its English name from Captain Cook in 1778. 

59. Although a certain degree of cultural uniformity does exist 
throughout the area explored by Khromchenko and Etolin, there is, 
as previously noted (footnote 16), a sharp linguistic boundary at 
Norton Sound. 

60. Probably syphilis. 

61. Differences between the kayaks of Nunivak Island and Nor- 
ton Sound are described and illustrated by Nelson (1899, pp. 219- 
220, pi. LXXIX, 2-3). 

62. This contradicts Khromchenko's earlier statement (p. 57; 
see footnote 31) that there were only loach in the Nushagak River. 

63. Stuart Island is near the northern boundary of the Yupik 
language. As previously noted (footnote 16), the inhabitants of 
Nunivak Island speak Cux, a dialect of Yupik. 

64. The Russian word used here is yurt which, in exploring ac- 
counts dealing with Alaska, refers to both tents and houses. Gen- 
erally, however, it refers to the semi-subterranean Eskimo house. 

65. Named by Captain Cook in 1778. 

66. Named by Captain Cook in 1778 who published it as Bes- 
borough Island. 

67. Possibly a misprint for half W. It has been impossible to 
verify a sailing direction one and one-half. 


68. Named by Khromchenko in 1821. 

69. Probably Carolyn Island located in Golovnin Bay at 64°27' 
N, 162°53'W. 

70. The present-day village of Golovin. The name means "point 
of land." 

71. Possibly the now abandoned settlement of Igluchaik on the 
west coast of Golovnin Bay (Ray, 1964, p. 70; map 1, p. 92). 

72. The Eskimo word kuianna means "thank you." 

73. Khromchenko is probably speaking here of the Niukluk 
River, although he appears to have confused the name with the Tuk- 
suk Channel which connects Grantley Harbor and Imuruk Basin. 
The Niukluk is a major tributary of the Fish River which flows into 
Golovnin Bay (see fig. 3). 

74. A tributary of the Kuzitrin which flows into Imuruk Basin. 
For a general discussion of settlements and travel in this area, see 
Ray (1964, p. 69). 

75. These visitors may have come from the now abandoned set- 
tlement of Atnuk on the east coast of Cape Darby. 

76. The Eskimo name for the present-day settlement of Wales, 
and Cape Prince of Wales, is Kingigan. Nykhta is apparently a 
wrong pronunciation. Khromchenko's informant is doubtless refer- 
ring to the settlement. 

77. The Kuzitrin River which flows into Imuruk Basin. The lat- 
ter is connected to Grantley Harbour and Port Clarence by the pre- 
viously-mentioned Tuksuk Channel. 

78. This may be the first printed reference to the Punuk Islands. 
They do not appear on a published map until 1849 (Orth, 1967, p. 

79. As noted in the introduction, the vocabularies collected by 
Khromchenko are valuable for studies of Eskimo dialectology. This 
is particularly true of the St. Lawrence Island vocabulary which is 
the earliest for that area. There are earlier word lists for the dialect 
at Chaplino on the Siberian mainland and by comparing the two, 
linguists can determine that the Chaplino and St. Lawrence dialects 
were virtually identical in the 1820's. This information is significant 
since the present population of the island is almost entirely new, 
having come from Chaplino. Although nineteenth century epidemics 
wiped out the bulk of the original St. Lawrence population, linguistic 
continuity from the earliest historic period can be demonstrated. It 


would appear that Tungan remembered the words well since they 
can be recognized by a St. Lawrence Islander today, almost 150 
years after they were collected. 


Bibliographic sources listed at the end of the introduction and 
also utilized in the preparation of the editorial comments are not re- 
peated here. 

Hammerich, L. L. 

1958. The western Eskimo dialects. Proceedings of the Thirty-Second Con- 
gress of Americanists, 1956. Copenhagen. 

Lantis, M. 

1946. The social culture of the Nunivak Eskimo. Trans. Amer. Philos. Soc, 
n.s., XXXV, pt. III. Philadelphia. 

Orth, D. J. 

1967. Dictionary of Alaska place names. Geol. Surv. Prof. Paper 567. Wash- 

Oswalt, W. H. 

1963. Mission of change in Alaska. Eskimos and Moravians on the Kuskok- 
wim. San Marino, California. 

Petroff, I. 

1884. Report on population, industries, and resources of Alaska. Washington. 

Pilling, J. C. 

1887. BibUography of the Eskimo language. Washington. 

Porter, R. P. (compiler) 

1893. Report on population and resources of Alaska at the eleventh census: 
1890. Washington. 

Ray, D. J. 

1964. Nineteenth century settlement and subsistence patterns in Bering Strait, 
Arctic Anthro., 2, no. 2, pp. 61-94. Madison. 

1971. Eskimo place-names in Bering Strait and vicinity. Names, 19, no. 1, 
pp. 1-33. 

Sarafian, W. L. 

1970. Russian-American Company employee policies and practices, 1799- 
1867. Ph.D. dissertation, U.C.L.A., University Microfilms, Ann Arbor. 

Sarychev, G. a. 

1826. Atlas Severnoy chasti Vostochnago okeana, so stavlen v. chertezhnoy 
Gosudarstvennago Admiraltezhkago Departamenta, s Novgyshikh opisey i 
kart, .... St. Petersburg. 

Tebenkov, M. D. 

1852. Atlas severozapadnykh beregov Ameriki ot Beringova proliva do mysa 
Korrientes ostrovov Aleutskikh c prisovokupleniem nekortorykh miest Sever- 
ovostochnago beregov Ameriki, ostrovov Aleutskikh i nekotorykh drugikh 
miest Severnago Tikhogo okeana. St. Petersburg. 



Wahrhaftig, C. 

1965. Physiographic divisions of Alaska. Geo!. Surv. Prof. Paper 482. Wash- 

Wrangell, F. p. 

1840. Narrative of an expedition to the Polar Sea in the years 1820, 1821, 1822 
& 1823. London. 

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