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About The west shore. (Portland, Or.) 1875-1891 | View Entire Issue (Dec. 1, 1887)
870 THE WEST SHORE.
number, were without food and cloth- iron. These heraldic columns have great
ing, with no means to return to their significance. The Alaskan tribes are di.
country, and offered to surrender uncon- vided into families, and each has a totem
ditionally. They were supplied with stick, erected in front of the habitation
food, and conveyed in the vessels to Vic- of the head of the family. The size of
toria, where they procured canoes and the stick and the amount of carving
returned home, promising never to come thereon indicate the wealth and impor.
back. Since then, the white settlements tance of the possessor. They vary from
of the sound have never been molested two to five feet in thickness, and are
by these marauders of the north, though often sixty feet high. Each family has
the Indians have occasionally suffered its symbol, or crest, and when the fami
from similar hostile incursions. Now lies intermarry, these symbols are blend
everything is changed. Yearly, scores of ed, or independently carved on the same
these long war canoes enter the sound, stick, causing many curious combina
but on a mission of peace, the tribes of tions and interminglings of devices.
British Columbia and Alaska gathering These totem sticks often cost $2,000.00,
there to pick the hops of the Puyallup and a chief who has asserted his impor
valley. tance by having one made, generally
The skill of these tribes is also shown gives a " potlatch," in which blankets,
in the carving of numerous objects. For arms, and valuables of all kinds are lav
this purpose they generally use the ishly bestowed upon the assembled mul
handsome red cedar of those high lati- titude, the donor not infrequently im
tudes. A multitude of utensils and ap- poverishing himself by his liberality,
pliances are fashioned by them, but their Miniatures of these wooden totems are
greatest work is the carving of heraldic carved in stone by the Haidas, the work
columns, or totem sticks, which stand in being most delicate and beautiful, and
front of their houses, as is shown in the many Alaska tourists bring them, or the
engraving on page 872. The Haidas are cheaper wooden carvings, away with
the most advanced in this art, carving, them as curious and interesting souve
also, in Btone, silver, gold, copper and nirs of their trip.