John Muir


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strange meeting feel asleep and was found long after the assembly had broken up, to the great amusement of the family. The last meeting was held in a larger house whose owner was away. This also was filled with good-looking listeners – more women than at the first meetings. An old doctor of grave venerable aspect, high wrinkled forehead, Roman nose and light colored skin, heard all that was said, not only in the regular meetings but in the familiar after dinner talks around the fire, on astronomy, geology, physics in general, etc. He said, “I am old, but I am glad to listen to those strange things you tell, and they may well be true, for what is wonderful than the flight of birds in the air.” I gave them a lecture on gl[acier]s which they seemed to understand well from their own observations. The old doctor said that he was glad to have good white men come among them that so they might know each other better, fore that heretofore they had been like people trying to talk to each other on opposite sides of a broad and noisy mountain river. Only when they were on the same side could they hear well and understand each other’s hearts. Soon after entering the house the Chief enquired whether we could eat Indian food. We replied that we could most of it. We thought we would be happy to try – that what we did not relish we could pass by, hoping that they would not be offended. This was unsatisfactory, and a feast was speedily provided, one of the head men giving directions to several young men who served as waiters. First a large wooden bowlful of water was brought and set at our feet to wash our hands. After Mr. Y. had washed he brought the basin and set it before me. I asked for clean water, which was at once brought, but after I had washed the same water was passed on to the rest of the company, Kadachan, Toyatte, John and Charley. Then five or six large colored washbowls were brought out and a large potful of good-sized white potatoes were peeled with the fingers and passed round in the bowls. A large bowl was set at the feet of two or three persons – enough for a dozen. Then the bowls were collected, wiped and filled with dried salmon torn into pieces five or six inches sq., after being roasted before the fire over sticks truck through a whole salmon and set in the gravel of the hearth. This we also did full justice to with salt we had brought and which the Indians never use. To this dish they added pelican oil, yellow and of the consistence of rather soft lard, smelling horribly but relished by our Indian friends who dipped both salmon and potatoes in it. Then came beautiful red berries, fresh and good (Bear berries), which abound here, and serve well to vary the oily diet of fish, oil, etc. The chief (old one) had a slave, a young girl, good-looking, who waited on him, cooking his food, lighting his pipe, etc. Her servitude seemed by no means galling. He told her that after the teacher came he would dress her well, send her to school, and use her in very way like his own daughter. Slaves are still owned by many of the richest of the head men among the Chilcats and other tribes among the Thlinkets. Formerly many of them were killed on great occasions such as the opening of a new house or the erection of a carved pillar. Kadachan gave the old chief a pair of white blankets. He ordered John to take the blankets out of a trunk and wrap them about the chief {sketch: In Hoona village, Cross S.}

Date Original



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