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About The Daily Astorian. (Astoria, Or.) 1876-1883 | View Entire Issue (Sept. 16, 1883)
v ol. xix.
Astoria, Oregon, Sunday Morning, September 16,
How the Natives Capture Them in
South American Rivera.
It was the good fortune of an
Entfuxrcr man early last week lo
run across John G. Gonzales, a
native of Venezuela, who for the
past ten 3ears has been employed
upon an English steamer running
un the Mucdalena river as far
as Honda, at the foot of the
Andes. This route is the most
convenient to Bogota, the capital
of the United States of Colombia,
or New Granada, as it is called in
some geographies. Among other
interesting matters pertaining to
the country Mr. Gonzales describes
a tribe of savages called Ottomacs,
or Dirt Eaters, whose habits and
mode of life are something more
than passing strange. They live
on the banks of the Orinoco river.
a short distance above the point
where the river makes its second
srreat turn to the cast. "Thev arc
a horrid-looking set of people
when in full dress," he said, "and
their full dross means no dress at
all. They first give themselves a'
priming of rod which consists of a
dye called 4a:lnatto,, and is ob
tained from a plant. Over the
red ground they form a lattice
work of lines or blocks, with a dot
in the center of every little
square or diamond. Their long
black hair is well oiled with turtle
"Do they live upon dirt en
:0h, no. The are passionately
lond of sea-cow, which they call
nianati, because its fins bear a
faint resemblance to the hads of a
human being. It has also nails
well developod upon the outer
edge ofits fins or forearms. . ' It is
a large ish, usually about twelve
feet in length, and weighs from.
five to eight hundrud.g Its body is
shaded something like a huge seal,
it has a large, fiat rounded tail,
sctiiorizontally, which serves the
purpose of a rudder to direct its
course in the water. Behind its
shoulders appears a pair of flip
pers for you cannot call tiiem
fins which look 'all the world
like a pair of hands set into the
,body without arms." The fish
uses thein for creeping along the
banks of the river, and to assist in
carrying her 3'oung. The lips of
the fish arc covered with bristles
or hair, giving lo the countenance
a. sort of human appearance, which
accounts for the name sometimes
given it by sailors woman fish
since it has large mamma;, or
Jjrcasts. It does not look like a
mermaid, if-such :i fish could ex
ist. The fish, strang to say, lives
upon grass, which it finds along
the banks of the rivor, and of this
it eats an enormous quautfo, usu
ally browsing at night, whon all is
"The season formnnati hunting
or fishing is after the floods, when
the waters are falling rapidly.
"When tlfc nunaa'tion is at its
height the raanati pass ont of the
channel current of the great river,
and, iu March of grass finds its
i way into the great lakes and sure
rounding marshes, and remaining
to browse upon the grasses, is an
easy objeot captured. Sometimes
and more commonly, perhaps, the
Indians assemble in a large body
with their cauoos and hunt the
vcowYlsh'm a wholesale manner.
Sometimes the monks who have
Charge of the JlSpanish missions
hci& these Hunting expeditions,
for Oiough it is ts, mammiferous
animal they findft very conven
ient to style it a "fish during Lent.
A camp is formednear shore and
largo scaffolds are "erected for sun
drying the flesh and skins, and
pots and kettles are brought for
renting the fat into oil, which is
callediinanati butter. The oil is
used In the lamps?of the mission
churches, as wcllas in cookery, as
it possesses none of the fetid
smell peculiar to whale and salt
water petacaj. mAt the proper
time the fisherman starts off in his
canoe tar 'dug-out, which is hoi
lowcaciut from a single trunk.
On jseetbg the cowfish resting on
tfe surface -of the water, the Otto-
mac paddles toward it, using,
however, the greatest caution, for
though the fish's organs of sight
and hearing are externally very
poorly developed, yet it hears and
sees well, and on the slightest ap
proach of danger will dive out of
sight. The animal is very timid
and never shows fight, yet some
times in his splashing about he
upsets the canoe,but this is
nothing to the Ottomac, vho is
nearly as much of a water bird as
the fish itself, "When near enough
he takes good aim with his har
poon, which, piercing the animal's
body, sticks fast. To the har
poon a cord is attached with a
float, and the latter, remaining
above water, indicates the direc
tion the fish has taken. When it
has wearied of struggling, the In
dian proceeds to haul in the cord,
drawing tlie fish to the side of his
canoe. He rarely kills it outright
until it is safely landed in the
boat, and this lie does by driving
a wooden plug into the creature's
nostrils. The most curious part
of this fishing procedure is the In
dian's method of getting the huge
fish, which may weigh a thousand
pounds, into tho canoe, and his
method is as original as it is in
genious. Of course no single
person could lift such an enormous
weight, so the savage sinks the
canoe below the carcass by first
filling the vessel nearly full of wa
ter, and when he has got his
freight aboard bailing the ca
noe out with a gourd. The fish
thus secured he paddles to the
rendezvous with his prize, not
carrying it. however, to his own
house, but to that of the chief,
who apportions it out, according
to the number of families in the
tribe. The hide of the sea-cow is
used for main- purposes, both for
coverings lijitlteir .tonfe- anfl bed
to lie down upon. The stratum of
fat, or blubber which lies beneath
is removed to be converted iuto
oil, while the flesh, which is es
teemed equal to pork, lioth in del
icacy and flavor, is out into thin
slices. This is broiled and eaten
at the time, or cured, but not by
salting down, but by sun-drying
and smoking over a slow fire. This
dried1 fish thus cured lasts for a
long time. The alligator's flesh is
similarly cured, though this is
an animal that few tribe of even
savages will eat, yet tho Ottomacs
"You say they are dirt-outers?"
"Yes, sir; and I moan it in its
literal sense. You know tho
French traveler, Macroix, who
explored the sources of the river
Amaxon, found a tribe of Indians
so infernally layy that having
eaten up all the four-footed ani
mals in their reach, including par
rots and monkeys, snakes and
creeping things, were reduced to
living solely on bugs and insects
These Ottomacs arc fully as bad.
They live upon mudballs when
the river is high and fishing ceases.
It is a sort of unctuous clay of a
peculiar kind, which they find up
on the banks of streams. It is
soft to the touch, like putty. In
its natural state it is of a yellow
ish-gray color, but when hardened
before the fire it assumes a tinge
of red, owing to tho oxide of iron
that it contains."
"Is is nourishing?"
"Not in the least. It merely
fills up produces a satiety and
satisfies the pangs of hunger. 1
have been told by chemists and
medical men who have analyzed
the little balls into which they roll
it to'stow away, that it contained
nothing nourishing, simply silex
and aluminia, with three or four
per cent of lime. They call these
balls poyd) and store them up into
little pyramids, just as cannon
balls are piled in a fort. Each
ball is three or four inches in di
ameter. When hungry, he takes
a ball and softens it by wetting,
and eats about a pound a day.
There is something in the dirt-eat
ing habit which produces a sort of
craving for it. I do not think the
habit is confined exclusivelv to the
Ottomacs, but believe that it is
generally known among- the In
dians of the tropics. 1 have just
heard ef a poor class of whites liv
ing in North Carolina, who, when
pressed by hunger, eat the mud
daubings that hide the chinks in
"That's the country for turtles,
and the mode of catching them is
peculiar. There are two kinds of
them in the Orinoco river the
arau and terecay. The former is
the largest, being very nearly a
yard across the back, and weigh
ing from fifty to one hundred
pounds. Shy in their habits, it is
no easy thing to capture them.
They swim with their heads above
water, exposing the soft and fleshy
part of the neck, which is a fine
mark for their arrows tipped, as
they arc, with the deadly poison,
curare. The terecay is not cap
tured so easily. He floats in ths
water completely below the sur
face, not exposing a single portion
of his body at which the marks
man could take aim. The Otto
mac's method of killing them is
ingenious. He aims his arrow not
at the turtle, but up into the air,
the arrow describing a parabolic
curve, and so aimed that it will
fall perpendicularly upon the tur
tle, penetrating his thick shell and
piercing his vitals.
"Gathering turtle eggs during
the laying season is both profitable
and fun-affording employment for
the Ottomac. This season occurs
in March, when the waters have
gone down and loft the banks
bare. Then for weeks before mil
lions of turtles arc seen either
basking in the sun or lazily float
ing'near the breeding place. As
the sun grows warmer the desire
of the turtle to deposit its eggs be
comes sometuin'r uncontrollable.
For weeks before the animals can
be seen in a long row in the water,
liftinsr un their heads and ncoks
and looking at their intended
nurserj, as if to see if all is safe
And it is well that they act so
carefully and with -such caution,
for turtle eggs are a delicacy that
are highly esteemed by a number
of animals. The iajjuar lurks
upon some of the limbs of the
overhanging trees, ready to both
suck the eggs and eat the turtles
afterward. The alligator has sense
enough to watch the turtle lay
them in the hot sand and dig them
up. The white cranes love them,
while the black vultures fly in
a dark cloud overhead, ready to
swarm down and devour. The
Indians hide out of sight of the
turtles and endeavor to fight off
the other animals, but this they
have to manage most carefully, for
if anything like a panic occurs the
entire herd would seek quarters
for hying elsewhere. The turtles
generally la' their eggs at night,
for then the horrid black vulture
is asleep and stupid. Each turtle
scoops out a hole of nearly a yard
in diameter and depth, and de
posit therein from fifty to one hun
dred eggs. Then it covers them
carefully up, smoothing the surface
and trampling it firmly down.
Sometimes, in the fluny and ex
citement, several turtles lay in the
same nest, and with their un
wieldy bodies break each others
eggs. The shells crackle and
break, sounding like the roar of a
cataract 011 the night air. Some
times all the turtles do not arrive
on time. Then they seem to lose
all the fear and timidity that they
formerty displayed, and they rush
upon shor and in the presence of
the Indians proceed to lay their
eggs with the greatest of sany
froid, so great is their desire of
maternity. The Indians call these
'mad turtles,' and, turning them
over on their backs, have no diffi
culty in catching them. When
the turtles have all gone the egg
gathering commences. The ground
is staked off like an oyster bed,
and each tribe works by itself.
The land upon the top of the
nests is removed, the.canoes drawn
ashore and the eggs loaded, broken
and pounded and whipped about,
as if a gigantic omelette were to
be made. A certain quantity of
water is added and the mixture
poured into large caldrons and
boiled uutil the oil -comes to the
top, which.is skimmed off and put
into earthen pots for use and sale.
While the egg-gathering goes on
some of them are hatched out and
tin- turtles, not any bigger than a
silver dollar.crawl outof their shells
and as lively as young crickets,
skedaddle over the sand trying to
get to tho water. Then the fun
commences. Stark naked boys
and girls, alligators, cranes1 and
vultures all rush in a heap for
these delicacies. It's a sort of free
fight, open to savage, beast; bird j
and reptile, and all seem equally
to understand and enjoy it. The '
young Ottomacs seize the little1
turtles and eat them body, bones,
head, tail, and all, requiring noj
more cooking than
competitors. The turtle
over, these savages have a grand
spree. They gorge themselves on
..! n u -i ..11: . ..!..
washing it down with oil, mauati
butter and baked mud-pies. They
daub themselves all over with
colored mud and get gloriously
drunk on a species of snuff called
niopo,' which has a similar effect to
opium. Then they become quar
relsome and want to fight, and
thoir mode of pummelling each
other is unique. They do not use
clubs or stones or weapons of any
kind, but poisoning their finger
nails with the deadly curare, which
is one of the most mysterious and
speediest of all vegetable poisons, j
they proceed to scratch each other, j
In the event of any of this poison
entering the circulatory system,
death by spasms ensues iu a short
time. And vet this same curare
a u.. ..ui .. c
Germany to be the only cure for
Mr. Samuel Weakley, Sunt.
A Tr1.-., -r-, o Ct;i. i)o.. J
Adam a Express Lo. StaOles, Z2ad
1 T-? ti 1 1 1 t-
otreer, rniiaticinina, rn.. savs
St.Tacobs Oil cured him as if by
magic of a most severe rheumatic
On the Mexican Central Rail
road tracks are now laid at the
rate of three miles a day. It is be
lieved that the road will be com
pleted from El Pascrto tiic city of
Mexico by the first of May next.
Heuralgia, Sciatica, Lumbago,
Backache, Soreness of the Ohesf,
Gout, Quinsy, Sore Throat, Swell'
ings and Sprains, Burns and
Sccfds, General Bodily
Tooth, Ear and Headache, Frosiod
Foot and Ears, and all other
Fains and Aches.
Ho Preparation on cxrth equals St. J a cots Oil
as a safe, sure, simple and cheap External
Etmtdjr. A trial entails but tho conparatiTely
trifling outlay of 50 Cents, and ererr one uCer
lng Kith rain can baTo cbeap end poiilirs proof
of iU claims.
Directions In Eleven lansnagcs.
A. & CO.,
Salt hnorc, 2StI., XT. Jf. A.
Wholesale and retail dealer In
Glass and Plated Wars,
TROPICAL AND DOMESTIC
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES.
0 IMS . &
I figagfiSga !
A 3$fy$eSV PUYG,
This powder never varies. A marvel o
purity, strength and whalesomeness. More
economical than the ordinary kinds, and
cannoi he sold in competition with the mtd-
titude of low test snort weight, alum or
phosphate powders. Snhlonlyin cans. Roy-
ATjIIAKIXi; l'OWDER UO.. 10G WOil-St. N. Y.
In fever and Acne Olstriata. in tronieal and
l oiDor regions vi?ucu ny cpiacmics. ana m-
Uecd in all localities whero tho conditions are
F..v.r Vt a t til. il.r. r
unfavorable to health, this famous vo2etablo
invigorani and alterative llostcttcr's Stom
ach L' liters, has ucon found a potent safogunrd
oven to feeblo consti.utions andfraril frames.
while as a euro for indigestion, biliousness
ana Kindred complaints, it 13 without a rival,
Kor sale oy all Drupuists and Dealers
iiU iKLS AtfD RESTATJKAOTS.
SI, H. PAHKKK. Prop.,
ASTORIA, - - - OREGON.
K. P. rAKKlil:, - Manager ami ARent.
AI .CItO.SIiY,. - - Day Clerk-
Phil. BOWERS, - - Nisht Clerk,
.la. DUFFY has the Bar and Billiard room.
First Class in all Eespects.
FREE COACH TO THE IIOUSE.
IT IB A FACT
JEFF'S CHOP HOUSE
Crncorn!y Street is the Best in
JIo lias Always o I la ml FKEtiH
Slioal IValer Hay and Easl
" JEFF" IS THE BOSS CATERER.
tlr Iim lM"f l'rirlcJor of the "Anront
Slutel in I'lnapptou seven years.
OPEN BAY AND NIGHT.
Chop House and Restaurant.
OPEN DAY AND NIGI1T.
Ilea's 5 cents anil upward.
G. nOUIARD, -31.4
IX STREET. -
22. 3- 3E5. E2
Hay, Oats, Straw.
Lime, Brick, Cement and Sand
Wooil Delivered to Order,
Drcying, Teaming and Express Business.
Horses ana Carriages for Hire.
'.VINES, L'.QUORS AMD CIGARS.
I. W. CASE,
POUTER AND WHOLESALE AND 11&
TAIL DEALER IN
nTnnrn i t
Corner Chenamu? and Cass streets.
ASTOP.IA .... OREGON
j " CELEBRATED H A
Doors, Windows, Blinds, Transoms, Lumber.
All kinds of
OAK LUMBER, ,;
Boat Material, Etc.
1 Boats of all Hnds Made to Order. 1
E37Orders from a distance promptly attended to, and satisfaction guaranteed In all cases
S. AENDT & EERCHEN,
ASTORIA. - OREGON.
The Pioneer Machine Shop
n i nt
Doner anop 3
Ail kinds of
Promptly attended to.
A specialty made of repairing
FOOT OF LAFAYETTE STREET.
ASTORIA IRON WORKS.
Bkntox Street, Near. Parkeii House,
ASTORIA. - OREGON.
GENERAL MACHINISTS AND
BoilerWork, Steamboat Work
and Cannery Work a spe
cialty. OASTISTG-S ,
Of nil DcscriptionB made to Order
at Short Notice.
A. D.Wass. President.
J. G. Hustler, Secretary,
I. W. Cask, Treasurer.
Joittf Fox, Superintendent.
LOEB & 00,
AGENTS FOR THE
Best San Francisco Houses and
Tumblers Decanters, and All
Kinds ofSaloon Supplies.
J5fAH goods sold at San Francisco Prices.
Opposite Tarker House, Astorht, Oreuon.
BUY THE BEST !
Salmon Net Threads
Woodberry, and Needle Brands,
CORK AND LEAD LIKES,
Fish Founds, Seines, and Xets
Imported, to Order. A
AND FISH HOOKS.
CONSTANTLY ON HAND.
KENRY DOYLE & CO.,
517 and 519, MARKET STREET
"Agents for the Pacific Coast.
FOARD & STOKES,
WE HAVE OPENED AGAIN
In Hume's New Building,
And are Eeady to Supply
the Wants of Our
A FULL STOCK
7T ry- e
1 X FUITOr.
ATTORNEY AT LAW.
Rooms 5 and 6, Odd Fellows Building:.
FIKE INSURANCE COMPANIES.
AUCTIONEER, COMMISSION AND IN
J"AY TSJTTliE. 21. I.
ntYSICIAN AND SURGEON
OpyiCH Rooms 1, 2, and 3. Pythian Build
ing. Residence Over J. E. Thomas' Drug
Q.EJLO I I'AItKKK.
Clatsop County, and City of Astoria
OlOce :-Chenamu3 street, Y. M. C. A. hall
Room No. 8.
ASTORIA, - - ,
Rooms In Allen's building up stairs, corner
f Cass and Sqemocqhe stret .
ATTORNEY AT LAW,
Chenamus treet, - - ASTORIA, OREGON
Ship and Steamboat Joiner,
JQR. J. U. laPORCE,
Room ll, 0ld Fellows Building, Astoria, Or.
Gas administered for painless extraction
.T. CURTIS ,
ATT'Y AT LAW.
Notary Public, Commissioner of Deeds for
California, New York and "Washington Ter
ritory. Rooms 3 and A, Odd Fellows Building, As
N.B.-Clalms at "Washington. D. C, and
OEO. T. WHEELS!:. W. L. KOBB.
WHEELER & EOBB.
REAL ESTATE, INSURANCE, AND
Real Estate bought and sold on Commis
sion. Accounts adjusted and Bills collected.
Correspondence from abroad solicited.
G7"0fllce in Hume's new building, on Squo
moqua street, next door to Foard & Stokes.
GENERAL STEAMSHIP AGEHCY.
Bills of Exchange on any
Part ol Europe.
1AM AGENT FOR TIE FOLLOWING
well known and commodious steamship
STATE LINE, RED STAR,
NATIONAL, and AMERICAN LINE.
Trepaid tickets to or from any European
For full information as to rates of fare,
sailing days, etc, apply to
I. "W. CASE.
BOZORTH & JOHNS.
Real Estate and General Insurance
WE WRITE POLICIES IN THE "WEST
ern. State Investment, Hamburg, Bre
men and North German Fire Insurance Com
panies, and represent the Travellers' Life
and Accident of Hartford, and the New
York Life, of N.Y.
We haw tho only complete set of township
maps In the county, and liave made arrange
ments to receive applications, filings, and
final proofs on Homesteads, Preemptions.
Timber Lands, etc., having all tho official
blanks therefor. Our mans can be exam
ined in the office, upon the payment of a
"We also have for sale city property in As
toria and additions, and farms and tide land
Rents, and other collections made, and
BOZORTH & JOHNS,
Gas and Steam Fitting
DONE BY RUDDOCK & "WIB2ELER. AT
fair rates. Also a complete stock of
goods In our line. Estimates given and
Cass street. In rear of I O 0 F Traildlng,
next to Gas Co's office.