John Muir


image preview


wife, etc. When he went ashore to get ready we went with him. The settlement consisted of only two habitations with 25 or 30 persons, located back ¾ of a mile from the coast. On reaching home Joe quickly vanished. His hut was about 25 ft. in dia., made of poles bent down at the top, where the yall meet and form hemisphere. This frame was covered with skins of seal, sea-lion, and walrus, chiefly the latter. In building the frame there is first a ring of short posts about 5 or 6 ft. long set in the ground, either of driftwood or whale’s ribs or jaws. On these poles are fixed at the top, binding them together and forming a base to fix the long slender hewn poles that meet at the top, these last also bound together at intervals of 5 or 6 ft. and supported here and there by posts set in the ground, the floor being the natural ground, with here and there a slippery stone or piece of the large bones of whale for seats. Since much of the flesh on which the Chukehis subsist is eaten raw, only very small fires are made, and the huts are cold. The ground inside of this one was wet and muddy as a California corral in the rainy season, and seemed almost as large. But around the sides of this cold, squalid shell, little more than wind-break and partial shelter from rain and snow, there are a number of very snug, clean, luxurious bedrooms made of fur, the sides, ceiling, and floor, lighted with a pan of whale oil with a bit of moss for a wick. After being out all day hunting in the stormy water, or ice-packs, or frozen tundras, he withdraws into this furry sanctum and takes off all his clothing and spreads his wearied limbs in luxurious ease, sleeping perfectly nude in the severest weather. After introducing ourselves and shaking hands with a few of the most dignified of the old men, and looking about the strange domicile, where dogs, children, men, women, utensils, spears, guns, whale lances, etc. were stuck about the rafters and hanging on the supporting posts, we looked into one of the fur bedrooms about 6 by 7 and found Joe enjoying a bath ere putting on his fine clothes to set out with us. Soon he emerged clad in a blue cloth army coat with brass buttons and shoulder straps and army cap! I scarcely knew him. In the meantime Captain H[ooper] was off taking a drive over the snow with a dog team and sled. When he returned Joe

Date Original



Original journal dimensions: 11 x 18.5 cm.

Resource Identifier



Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library

Rights Management

To view additional information on copyright and related rights of this item, such as to purchase copies of images and/or obtain permission to publish them, click here to view the Holt-Atherton Special Collections policies.


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