The west shore. (Portland, Or.) 1875-1891, May 01, 1884, Page 141, Image 17

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gating influence of the Japan current is not felt and all
the rigors of an Arctic climate are encountered Hearts
from thoroughly competent prospectors are to the effect
that the placers and quartz ledges are of unusual rich
ness; but because of the brevity of the working season
and the enormous distance over which supplies have to
be taken, they cannot be worked profitably. On the
other hand, much work was done last year, especially on
the placers, several thousand miners having spent the
summer along the Yukon, and many of these men are
preparing to return the present season. The quartz
ledges in the vicinity of Sitka and in the interior back
from Sitka and Wrangell were first discovered, and have
been worked successfully on a small scale. It will take
several years to determine the fact whether the quartz
ledges of the interior are sufficiently rich to make mining
there profitable under the many disadvantages surround
ing it
The greatest and most available resource of Alaska is
the abundance of food fish to be found in the streams
and in the waters along the coast From June until
Serjtember the fresh-water streams, from the great Yukon
to the little brooks flowing from melting glaciers, are
crowded with salmon and trout, while their presence in
the bays and adjacent sea is indicated by the leaping of
herds of Dorooises Dursuinc them for food. Were it not
for their destruction by these ravenous fish, and the fact
that but a small percentage of the spawn lives to reach
deer, water, the sea and bays in the vicinity of these
rivers would become unnavigable. In the spawning
season they ascend the streams in such numbers as to
render fording extremely difficult There are five dis
tinct species as classified by the inhabitants, though no
scientific classification has yet been made. Early in J une
the Quinnat (a very fine fish, called Chowchou by the
Rnaaiana Wxrinu to run. followed SOOn by the Kikoff.
In July appears the Crassena Bubia (red-fleshed), and
in August the Garbosha (humpbacked), ioiioweu luwr in
the season by the Kischutch, or black-mouthed. The
loot i nnnaiAaroA Hia finest table fish, though the Gar-
bosha, which is coarse and unfit for canning, is the
wUi. tfco Tndmnn. and is cured by them in great
laiuiiro tt j vw j -
quantities for their winter food. There are already ha f
a dozen canneries at worn, several oi wm -
,. A tiiA AlfiHka nack is becoming quite a
factor in the market The possible expansion of tins
ia rotiVRlW unlimited. Large quantities are
packed in barrels by the various fur and trading com-
nr TVv, anA Klmmnirim islands, at the southern
pitmen. vu. vi o t t .
extremity of the Alaskan Peninsula, cod fishing is carried
on quite extensively. Three companies in San Francisco
i j. i ,,aaQla in this work, catching about
tons annually. In this vicinity there are a number of
good banks, with a depth of woter varying iron wiu y
:i t i,a onutirn end of Behnng Sea is a
bank covering an area of 18,000 square miles, which has a
depth of fifty fathoms, and on every portion axIfMi are
abundant The cod is found from the Straits of nca as
far north as latitude 59 degrees, or the southern limit of
floating ice in Behring Sua, having boon caught at
Nootko, Sitka, Lituyn Bay, Ynk-otnt Bay, Cook's Inlet,
throughout the Aleutian Islands, the Alexandrian Archi
pelago and in the Okhotsk Sea. The black cod, which is
now attracting mnoh attention, nnd i uwinlly fil"trit
in the vicinity of Queen Charlotte Islands and some dis
tance to the northward, is superior to the cod of Labra
dor; so also is the fish caught near the bhunmgun Islands.
Halibut abound, but have never boon caught in large
numbers for the market The Indians dry them for
food. They range from 40 to 500 ixmmls in weight, nnd
are caught without difficulty. There are many other
species of fish, valuable for fowl or oil, which will all
furnish thoir quota to the woalth which will Imj drawn
from Alaska in the future.
The area of Alaska is computed at 000,000 square
miles, more than 20,000 of which aro comprised iu two
great archipelagoes the Aleutian, extending westerly
from the extremity of the peninsula nearly to Asia, and
the Alexandrian, following the coiwt south from Cross
Sound till it memos in the aroluixMago ixrdormg the
coast of British Columbia. By the latest author itioa the
native population, which has evidently boon heretofore
underestimated, is given as 30,000, divided into throe
general classesthe Innuits of the Yukon region, the
Aleutians, and the Sitkuns of the Alexandrian Archill
ago, the last being subdivided into half a dozon families
or tribes. In this estimate no account is taken of the
nnmmrativelv limited number of Esquimaux inhabiting
the extreme northern, or Arctic, shores, about whom
nrActicnllv nothing is known. The customs of the Sitka
Indians are an interesting study yet open to some enthu
ainutin ethnologist Of thoir religiouH ideiut nothing
definite is known, except that they entoitain a Ixilief in a
multitude of spirits, both gxd and evil, and that ihey
seem more inclined to propitiate the evil ones than to
court the favor of the gxxL The only chance the de
parted spirit of an Indian has for future felicity comes
through the cremation of his body, and to this friends of
the defunct brave zealously attend. In the roar of his
house is built a pile of woxl uKn which the Ixxly is
laid, having been removed from the house through hole
in the roof specially cut for that purpose. The Ixxly it
carefully covered with a blanket, now that blanket can
be had, and near it are dojxwitoa tne winnow, nnory aim
arms of the deceased. The pile is thou ignited, and as it
blazes a doleful chant is sung by a hired band of masked
men, who keep time to their wailing musio by boating
. Iwmr.1 with sticks. When a murderer has been
killed by the victim's friend the two IxxlioH, provided the
vengeance has lxn swilt eiiougn ana mo iwo iniuiww
are satisfied, 'are cremated under one blanket and oh the
smoke from the burning Ixxlies ascends in one column, so
the hearts of the contending families are unitod, and the'
compact of Ioaco is sealed.
Among the curious customs of these xxpl is the use
of the "Totem Stick," on Indian coot-of-arms, as distinc
tive and as zealously guarded 'from dishonor as that
hanging in any Eurom baronial ludL Tlio tot-in stick