John Muir


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We are in the dark, but we want light. There is one carved post in village about 25 ft. high with a bear on top well carved. I sketched in midst of a curious crowd who looked over shoulder and laughed heartily as one feature after another came to view. This village is an offshoot of the larger one 10 or 15 ms. Farther north. On account of the patriarchal form of government that prevails the tribes are divided into a few families. There are three in this tribe, and because of inveterate quarrels the chief of one of the families moved his branch of the tribe to this bay where the beach offered a safe landing to their canoes and the stream which enters at the head of the bay abounds with salmon, and where the adjacent hills and forests were well stocked with deer and wild sheep. Here, he said, they had peace and prosperity, multiplying fast enough and living as best they could. Now he only wished a teacher to bless the young with knowledge like those about Fort Simpson. His constant reference to the children with so much benevolence of expression showed that he truly loved them and had a right intelligent insight as to what would most benefit his tribe. He offered a Boston bedstead to Mr. Y[oung] and myself in such a spirit that we could not help an unconditional acceptance, let the wee beastie consequences which we dreaded be what they might. Oct. 21. This morning we set sail for the main old village with high hopes for the future of so promising a people. Arrived about 1:30 P.M. The rock all along this portion of the coast is coarse blue marble weathered into picturesque coves and jutting tablets, each with a few trees carefully put on. The opposite island about the Hoona village is also marble or limestone as far as I have seen. Our reception at the upper Hootsenoo village was very different from that accorded us at the lower. When we rounded the point and the massive dwellings came in sight we heard a kind of wolfish howling that was at once recognized by our Indians as the whisky howl. As we approached the landing, a fine gravelly beach, the horrible howls and yells increased so much that I dreaded meeting

{sketch: Tree studies. The Menzies sp. Is very variable in habit. In some the secondary branches all rise above the axis of the main branches, in others all fall below, while in the young, quick-growing specimens they droop in long, tressy, pendulous tails. This is always the case on old Indian towns where the soil has been well manured. I could always determine the sites of old towns by a single glance at the trees while sailing past in a canoe}

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Original journal dimensions: 11.5 x 18 cm.

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Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library

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