John Muir


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greatly in this respect with the Thlinkets [Tlingits] or Koluschans. It was interested to see how keenly and quickly they felt a joke, and winced when exposed to ridicule. Some of them women are nearly white. They show much taste in the manufacture of their clothing and make everything durable. With their reindeer trousers, sack, shirt, and sealskin shoes they bid defiance to the most extreme cold. Their sacks, made from intestine of the sea-lion, while exceedingly light, as waterproof. Some of their parkas are made of the breast skins of ducks, but in no case do they wear blankets. When they can procure calico or drilling they were overshirts of this material, which gives them a very shabby and dirty look. Why they should want such flimsy and useless material I cannot guess. Dressed in their roomy furs, tied at the waist, they seem better dressed than any other Indians I have seen. The pants of the men are made of sealskin, with the fur outside. Those of the women are deerskin and are extremely baggy, the legs, where gathered and tied below the knee, measure about 2 feet in diameter. The chief of this village is a large man, 5 ft 10 or 6 ft. tall, with a very long flat face and abruptly tapering forehead, small, bright, cunning eyes and childishly good-natured and wide awake to everything curious. He as well as his people seemed always searching for something to laugh at, ready to stop short in the middle of their most important bargainings to get a hold of some bit of fun. Then their big faces would fall calm with ludicrous suddenness, either from being empty or from some business requiring attention. There was less apparent squalor and misery amongst them than amongst any other Indians I have seen. It is a curious fact that they cut off their hair close to the scalp, all save a narrow rim around the base, much like the Chinese without the cue. The hair in color and coarseness is exactly like that of the Chinese; in a general way they resemble them also in their clothes. Their heads seem insensible to cold, for they bare them to the storms, and seem to enjoy it when the snow falls on their skulls. There is a hood, however, attached to most parkas which is drawn up over the head in very severe weather. Their mode of smoking is peculiar. The pipe is made of brass or copper, often curiously inlaid with lead, and the bowl is very small, not over a quarter of an inch in diameter inside, and with a flaring cup-like rim to prevent loss when it is being filled. Only a small pinch of finely pulverized tobacco is required to fill it. Then the Eskimo smoke it with a match or flint and steel, and without removing the pipe from his mouth sucks in the smoke and inhales it, inflating his lungs to the utmost and holding it a second or two, expels it, coughs, and puts his pipe and little bag of tobacco away, the whole smoke not lasting one minute. From the time he commences he

Date Original



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