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OUT OF POMPEII.
The body of a young girl was found in Pompeii, lying face downward, with her head resting upon her arms, perhaps asleep; the scoria of the volcano had preserved a perfect mold of her form. She was clad in a single garment. No more beautiful form was ever imagined by a sculptor.
PIONEER PACKHORSES IN ALASKA.
I. THE ADVANCE.
HE continent of Alaska, roughly speaking 2000 miles in length and 1700 miles in width, purchased in 1867 by the United States Government from Russia for $7,200, ooo, offers to the traveler a vast, almost unknown area. Within its limits nature presents contrasting scenes; its northern and western ice-fields harbor the polar bear and the walrus, and the tiny humming-bird nests in its southern forests. Its surf-beaten coast-line has long ago been charted, and its navigable waters have been explored; but the great interior, unapproached by waterways, is almost
A journey which I made in central Alaska in 1890, as a member of an exploring expedition, assured me beyond doubt that defective transport was the sole reason for the undeveloped and unexplored state of the land. The Indian carrier was the only means of transportation; he controlled the situation, and com
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manded most exorbitant pay. Moreover, his arrogance, inconsistency, cunning, and general unreliability are ever on the alert to thwart the white man. No matter how important your mission, your Indian carriers, though they have duly contracted to accompany you, will delay your departure till it suits their convenience, and any exhibition of impatience on your part
will only remind them of your utter dependence upon them; and then intrigue for increase of pay will at once begin. When en route they will prolong the journey by camping on the trail for two or three weeks, tempted by good hunting or fishing. In a land where the open season is so short, and the ways are so long, such delay is a tremendous drawback. Often the Indians will carry their loads some part of the way agreed upon, then demand an extravagant increase of pay or a goodly share of the white man's stores, and, failing to get either, will fling down their packs and return to their village, leaving their white employer helplessly stranded.
The expense of Indian labor, therefore, with its attendant inconvenience and uncertainty, renders a long overland journey impossible. An Indian cannot be hired at less than two dollars a day, which, however, is a mere trifle compared to the obligation of feeding him. Your carriers will start with loads weighing from 80 to 90 pounds, and will eat about three pounds dead-weight each day per man, so that at the end of the month a point will have been reached in the interior, and all your stores consumed by the men carrying them, and for this unusual privilege the traveler has still to pay sixty dollars a month for each man's services. When traveling on his own account, the Indian lives sparingly on dried salmon, but when employed by a white man his appetite at once assumes boaconstrictor proportions. Game is so scarce that it cannot be relied on to afford much relief to the constant drain on your provisions. Occasionally an opportunity will present itself by which you can bag a bear or a mountain-goat, a very pleasant addition to your larder, and an acceptable change from the monotonous beanand-bacon fare; but you cannot depend on the rifle for food; without a plentiful supply of provisions, misery and hunger will drive you unceremoniously from your working-ground.
The only way to test the resources and possibilities of Alaska is by making thorough research through every part of the land, and conducting your investigations entirely independent of native report either favorable or discouraging.
I determined to revisit Alaska in the spring of 1891, and to endeavor to make a journey to the far interior with packhorses. From what he had already seen of the land, John Dalton, who accompanied me on the previous journey, was equally convinced with myself of the feasibility of such an undertaking. As I was about to make what I thought to be rather an important experiment, I ventured to ask some slight assistance from the geographical departments of the United States and Canadian governments, such as the loan of a few instruments,
which otherwise would lie idle in some Government office, in return for which privilege I promised a rough map of an enormous area of unknown land; but my suggestions failed to obtain a favorable hearing. Failing to awaken interest in my experiment through different channels, I decided to go at my own expense. Dalton had agreed to aid me; in fact, without the promise of his valuable services I should have hesitated to make the attempt.
An interesting part of this vast unexplored interior lies between the Yukon River and Mt. St. Elias on the southeast coast of Alaska. Gold has been discovered everywhere on the outskirts, warranting the supposition that the same precious metal exists in the interior. All the streams heading from this quarter show specimens of mineral along their shores, a fact which created in our minds the reasonable hope that we might strike the supply at its source.
In Alaskan expeditions it is essential that the party of whites be as small as possible. Each additional man adds to the need of transport, and besides, a large body of whites is liable to arouse the suspicions of the natives and to create trouble. So Dalton and I decided to make the venture alone. He was a most desirable partner, having excellent judgment, cool and deliberate in time of danger, and possessed of great_tact in dealing with Indians. He thoroughly understood horses, was as good as any Indian in a cottonwood dugout or skin canoe, and as a camp cook I never met his equal.
We equipped ourselves at Seattle with four short, chunky horses weighing about nine hundred pounds each, supplied ourselves with the requisite pack-saddles and harness, stores and ammunition, then embarked on board a coast steamer, and sailed north from Puget Sound, through the thousand miles of inland seas, to Alaska. We disembarked at Pyramid Harbor, near the mouth of the Chilkat River, which is by far the most convenient point from which to start for the interior. No horses had ever been taken into the country, and old miners, traders, and prospectors openly pitied our ignorance in imagining the possibility of taking pack-animals over the coast-range. The Indians ridiculed the idea of such an experiment; they told us of the deep, swift streams flowing across our path, the rocky paths so steep that the Indian hunter could climb in safety only by creeping on his hands and knees. Finding that their discouraging reports failed to influence us, the Chilkat Indians, foreseeing that our venture, if successful, would greatly injure their interests by establishing a dangerous competition against their present monopoly, held meetings on the subject, and rumor reached us that our further advance would be resisted. However, when we were ready, we saddled up, buckled on
our pistol-belts, and proceeded on our journey without any attempt at hindrance save by verbal demonstration.
Upon our arrival at the coastrange we were compelled to suffer delay owing to the backwardness of the season. The mountains were still deeply buried in snow; on the higher slopes the topmost tufts on the tall spruce and hemlock just
peered through their wintry mantling. During the daytime the thermometer rose to 54° above freezing-point, but each night the mercury dropped a few degrees below. The rapidly increasing heat of the sun, heralding the approach of summer, was ousting winter from its frigid sway, and furnishing the land with a gentler cli
DRAWN BY MALCOLM FRASER.
CHILKAT PILLAR RECORDING LEGEND OF RAVEN
A short distance from the coast the snow lay deep, even in the valley lands. We found a fine patch of grass, however, around the village of Klokwan, twenty-five miles up the Chilkat River, which would maintain our horses in good condition till
the season opened sufficiently to permit a further advance. At this Indian settlement there are about twenty houses constructed of heavy planking, roofed with rudely hewn boards, each having an immense aperture for the escape of smoke. On all sides these dwellings are loopholed for muskets. Many a stubborn fight has been decided around this village, the planking being pitted with slugshot. Most of these huts are occupied by three or four families; some of greater dimensions, however, will shelter sixty Indians.
The Chilkat nation is divided into sections, each named after some living thing. There are the Ravens, Wolves, Eagles, Snails,
DRAWN BY MALCOLM FRASER.
DRAWN BY MALCOLM FRASER.
PLAITED FIBER DANCING-BONNETS.
Bears, etc., and the houses of the principal men are ornamented with large, grotesquely carved tablets, which signify by their particular design the legend or history of the respective family. These people have no written. language. In former days every event of consequence was duly chronicled by some design, suggestive of the occurrence, chiseled upon a wooden pillar, such designs being placed in succession till an immense log was entirely
DRAWN BY MALCOLM FRASER.
WOODEN DANCING-MASKS, CROW NATION.
taken up with a strange medley of exaggerated figures. Most of these carvings are very old, and their legends and historical references have been distorted by constant repetition. Only the oldest men attempt to interpret the puzzling designs produced by their ancestors. Formerly powerful chieftains held court here with barbaric pomp, and terrorized the neighboring peo
BANQUET DISH, 14 FEET LONG, 14 INCHES WIDE, AND 15 INCHES DEEP. VOL. XLIV.-88.
ples. They were bucaneers and pirates. The chief, Klenta Koosh, has a strange collection of old firearms, and outside his house two iron cannons defend the approach with threatening array-all stolen from a Russian ship which stranded on the Alaskan shore in former days. Slavery was then in general practice; prisoners became the serfs of
their captors, and, as in central Africa to-day, constituted the principal source of wealth. The old-time Chilkat, dressed in skins and furs obtained from the inland tribes, had his garments picturesquely fringed, and tasseled, and beaded, and woven in with stained swanquills. He wore bracelets of copper, and carried copper spears, knives, and arrows. He was a warrior, and lived but to perish in battle. In those days no ceremony was complete unless attended by human sacrifice; execution of slaves was of frequent occurrence, for superstitious belief deemed disaster and illness the doing of angry spirits, only to be appeased by the shedding of human blood. Tribal wars and hand-to-hand fights followed from the slightest disagreement.
It was the custom then for all the young men in the village to plunge each morning, winter and summer, into the chilly stream, stay in the icy waters till benumbed with cold, and then to thrash one another with stout-thonged whips till circulation and animation were thoroughly restored. This novel apprenticeship is said to have had the effect of creating unusual stamina, producing the ability to withstand cold and hunger, and deadening feeling. The Indians say that a warrior thus trained, though mortally wounded, would face his foe and cut and stab while life remained. In such duels they
protected their heads with wooden helmets, shaped in design according to their nation; they also wore buckskin shirts, and bound their arms with strips of leather. Gormandizing competitions used to be a popular form of entertainment; an immense trough, called KlookOok-Tsik, 14 feet long, 14 inches in width, and 15 in depth, was filled with meats, bear and mountain-goat, fish, berries, and oil. Then families vied with one another as to who could eat the most, and many serious fights have resulted from the jealousy of the losers.
The present generation of Chilkat Indians is fast relinquishing tribal customs and ceremonies, and is taking but little interest in the history of its ancestors. Dances are no longer held in which family head-dresses and costumes are worn. The great wooden banqueting-trough is now embedded in moss and in grass that grows between the floor-boards in the house where once old " Kay Tsoo" assembled his followers by drum-beat, despatched them on the trail for war or trade, declared the guilty and the innocent, and condemned to death as he willed. At the present day there are a few men in the villages known as "ankow," or chief, but they have only feeble power.
In character these Indians are a strange composition-unemotional, morose, unsympathetic, superstitious, indifferent to death,