John Muir


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the Church exercises but a feeble control. Shamanism with slight variations extends over all Siberia and Alaska and, indeed, all America. May 22. Left Unalaska early this morning for St. Paul, which we reached about 1 o’clock next day, passing within a mile of St. George. Both St. P. and St. G. are masses of lava shorn off on top and around the sides by ice sheets. St. Paul is the larger of the two, about 15 miles long. On it I saw several small craters, how recent cannot say – perhaps but little changed by local ice. The shores mostly abrupt bluffs, the highest nearly 1000 ft. Here is the village of St. Paul, well built, neat looking as a New England vill[age], snug frame houses built by A.C.C. for their employees, Indians and whites, 190 miles from Unalaska. It has 64 cottages (frame), large church, school-house, and priest’s residence. Pop. 279, 4 whites, 1 woman. [Drawing.] Vill[age] of St. G. 88, 3 whites. It is interesting to find here Aleuts wholly under white control, who have abandoned their own pursuits, clothing and mode of life in general and adopted that of the whites. They are all employed by the Co. to kill and flay the 100,000 seals taken each year, working about 2 mos. And making from 3 to 600 dollars per season. The Co. supplies them with schools, religion and frame cottages, -also with a bank encouraging savings. Some have an account of 500 to 3000 dollars. They are anxiously guarded against kvass and whisky, still with all precautions a few bottles of the latter are smuggled for them, while so fiery is their thirst one man said, who has a bank account of 800 dollars that he would give it all for five bottles of whisky. The agent said he thought he offer made in good faith. Kvass material is sold in limited quantities by the Co., yet the agent told us that while we were lying at anchor that day that he did not believe there were half a dozen perfectly sober Aleuts on the island. They are, however, less demoralized that any other Alaska [Drawing – “Old gray haired Esquimau on St. Lawrence. Pushed back hood. “See, I’m old.”] Indians under white influence, the interests of the Co. being enlisted on their behalf. They highly value their privilege of taking seals to the exclusion of all others. They are paid 40 cents per skin. The whole number of seals that visit these

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Original journal dimensions: 11 x 18.5 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