John Muir


image preview


contrary to the instincts of other Indians, are eager to know and learn. They beg for teachers and missionaries, not probably because they are predisposed to piety, but simply because Christian teachers are the only ones they ever see, and because these from their comparatively unselfish devotion to the welfare of the Indians gain their confidence. It is too often found that in attempting to Christianize savages, they become very nearly nothing, lose their wild instincts and gain a hymnbook, without the means of living, being capable of taking nothing more. Then they mope and doze and die on the outskirts of civilization like tamed eagles in barnyard corners, with blunt talons, blunt bills and clipped wings. These, however, are capable of civilization in a substantial sense. They are industrious, willing to give good and fair work for fair wages, and to adopt all of the benefits of the uneducated of any people under the sun. Unprincipled whisky-laden traders are their bane; commonsense Christian teachers their greatest blessing. A few good missionaries, a few good cannon with men behind them, and fair play, protection from whisky, is all that the Alaska Indians require. Uncle Sam has no better subjects, white, black or brown, or any more deserving his considerate care. { Sketch: Tree of Cascades in Granville Sound } Sitka has a rusty, decaying look, a few stores, a few houses inhabited, many empty and rotten and falling down, a church of imposing size and architecture, seems as if imported entire from Constantinople; cannon lying in the streets sinking like boulders in much; dirty Indians loafing about; everybody of any character away at the mines or out a-fishing. It was the capital while the country was in the hands of the Russians and a place of considerable trade, but since the purchase it has been practically abandoned. The discovery of gold in the adjacent mountains has created quite a stir; should the mines prove productive, then it will rise from the dead and grow. Nothing of consequence has yet been discovered, but the possibilities are great. From Sitka we went to a salmon cannery six miles from here to land freight. This and another one at Klanack are the only

Date Original



Original journal dimensions: 8.5 x 13.5 cm.

Resource Identifier



Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library

Rights Management

To view additional information on copyright and related rights of this item, such as to purchase copies of images and/or obtain permission to publish them, click here to view the Holt-Atherton Special Collections policies.


John Muir, journals, drawings, writings, travel, journaling, naturalist