John Muir


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Russians. These furs are worth about 15 to 20 dollars apiece, and far exceed in value all the other products of Alaska. Next in value comes the sea otter, some 5 or 6000 of which are now caught annually, the number increasing for the last few years. (Last year Aleutian 4850, Kadiack district 900.) These are worth about 80 to 100 dollars apiece. The Aleuts obtain from 30 to 50 dollars in goods or money, an alternative not due to the fact that the goods are sold for their money value, but to the fact that the traders sooner or later receive back whatever money they pay out instead of goods. Unlimited competition would of course run the price much higher, as for example, it has done in southwestern Alaska. Here the only competition lies between the Western Fur and Trading Co. and the A.C.C. The latter gets most of them. Each Co. seeks the good will of the best hunters by every means in their power, by taking them to and from the hunting grounds in schooners, by advancing provisions and all sorts of supplies, by building cottages for them, and supplying them with the services of a physician and medicine free. Only Indians are allowed by law to take furs, and whites married to Indian women. This law has induced some fifteen white men to marry Indians for the privilege of taking sea otter. They have settled at Ounga Island, one of the Shumagin group, where there is a village of some 185 Indians. 5,700 sea otter, worth in London $ 600,000. 100,000 fur seals 1,000,000. 10,000 martens) 8,000 foxes) 1,000 bears) 80,000 4,000 beavers) 20,000 minks) Last year [Drawing - “W. Diomede village. Dogtown.”] 600,000 codfish from the Shumagin Islands worth, say $70,000. 2,000 bbls. Salmon worth 12 to 15,000. Western Alaska alone received, 1880, from A.C.C. and W.F.T.C. 18,200 bbls. Flour 3,452 cases hard bread 753 chests tea 2,948 ½ bbls. Sugar 50,000 bbls. Tobacco.

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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