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abound in sunny weather. The last part of July, August, and most of September are very rainy. October brings a change; the winds, usually from the southwest from July to the latter part of September, now are mostly from the north, and though cold, bring fine weather.
The valley of the Lower Youkon is foggy in the latter part of the sam. mer, but as we go up the river the climate improves, and the short summer at Fort Youkon is dry, hot, and pleasant, only varied by an occasional shower. The great pests in the spring, all along the river, are the mosquitoes, the numbers of which are beyond belief; but they retire about the middle of July. On the coast they are not so numerous, but linger until the fall.
Inhabitants. The native inhabitants, curiously enough, are divided by the same invisible boundary that marks the vegetation. All along the treeless coast we find the Esquimaux tribes; passing a few miles inland we come to trees and Indian lodges. This holds good all over the Youkon Territory. The Esquimaux extend all along the coast and up the principal rivers as far as there are no trees. The Indians populate the interior, but seldom pass the boundary of the woods. In regard to hab. its, neither perform any agricultural labor whatever, and the only vegetables, besides berries, used for food, are the roots of Hedysarum Mackenzii, Polygonum viviparum, and a species of Archangelica, and the leaf stalks of a species of Rheum or wild rhubarb.
A great delicacy among the Esquimaux is the stomach of the rein. deer, distended with willow sprigs, well masticated, and in a half-digested state. This “ gruesome mass” is dried for winter use; when it is mixed with melted suet, oil, and snow, and regarded by the consumers much as we regard cariar, or any other peculiar dainty. It is, no doubt, a powerful antiscorbutic. The Russian settlements in the Youkon Territory were few in number. There were four on the Youkon; one on the Kuskoquim River; two on Norton Sound; and one on Bristol Bay. All of these were formerly provided with gardens. The number of Russians in the territory at no time exceeded forty, with double the number of halfbreeds, assistants, or workmen. They were all in the employ of the Russian American Company. Many of them left the country after the purchase, but the greater number remain in the employ of different American trading companies. The Russian-born inhabitants were a very degraded class, almost without exception convicts from Siberia or elsewhere. The creoles or half-breeds are a more intelligent and docile race, but lazy, and given to intoxication whenever stimulants are within their reach.
Natural productions. The first need of traveler, hunter, or settler, in any country, is timber. With this almost all parts of the Youkon Terri. tory are well supplied. Even the treeless coasts of the Arctic Ocean can hardly be said to be an exception, as they are bountifully supplied with driftwood, brought down by the Youkon, Kuskoquim, and other rivers, and distributed by the waves and ocean currents.
The largest and most valuable tree found in this territory is the white spruce, (Abies alba.) This beautiful conifer is found over the whole country, but it is largest and most vigorous in the vicinity of running water. It attains not unfrequently the height of sixty to one hundred feet, with a diameter of over three feet near the butt; but the more common size is about thirty or forty feet high, and about eighteen inches at the butt. The wood of this tree is straight-grained, easily cut, white and compact, and while very light, it is also very tough, much more so than the wood of the Oregon pine, (Abies Douglasii.) For spars it has no superior, but it is rather too slender for large masts. The
bark is used for rooting by the Hudson Bay Company at Fort Youkon, and the roots, properly prepared, for sewing their birch canoes and dishes, by the Indians. I have seen log-louses twenty years oldi, in which many of the logs were quite sound. The unsound logs were said to be those which had been used without being seasoned. These trees decrease in size and grow more sparingly toward Fort Youkon, but are still large enough for most purposes. The unexplored waters of the Tananal River bring down tbe largcst logs in the spring freshets. The number which are annually discharged from the mouth of the Youkou is truly incalculable. It supplies the shores of Beliring Sea, the islands, and the arctic coasts; logs of all sizes lie in winrows, where they are thrown upon the shore by the October southwesters.
The wood is put to manifold uses : houses, Indian lodges, &c., are all constructed of spruce. Soft, fine-grained, and easily cut, the Indians of the Lower Youkon spend their leisure, during the short winter days, in carving dishes, bowls, and other utensils, and ornamenting them with red oxide of iron, in patterns, some of which, though far from classical, are very neat.
Sleds, frames for skin boats, fishing rods, &c., are made by the Esqui. mally from spruce, and all their liouses and casinos, or dance-houses, are built of it. One of these, on Norton Sound, about thirty by forty feet square, had on cach side shelves or seats formed of one plank, four inches thick and thirty-eight inches wide at the smaller end. These enormous planks took six years to make, and were cut out of single logs with small stone adzes.
The next most important tree is the birch, (Betula glandulosa.) This tree rarely grows over cighteen inches in diameter and forty feet high; on one occasion, lowerer, I saw a water-worn log about fifteen feet long, quite decorticated, lying on the river bank near Nuklukalyet, on the Upper Youkon, which was twenty-four inches in diameter at one end and twenty-eight at the other. This is the only hardwood tree in the Youkon Territory, and is put to a multiplicity of uses. Everything needing a hard and tough wood is constructed of birch. Sleds, snow-shoes, standards for the iish traps, and frames of canoes, which are afterwards covered with its bark, sewed with spruce or tamarack (Larix) roots, and the seams calked with spruce gun. The black birch is also found there, but does not grow so large. The soft net wood of the birch, as well as of the poplar, is cut very fine and mingled with his tobacco by the economical Indian. The squaws at certain periods rear birchen hoops around their necks; and neck-rings and wristlets of the same wood, with fantastic devices söratched upon them, are worn as a token of mourning for dead friends by the Tananah Indians.
Several species of poplar (Populus balsamifera and Populus tremuloides) abound, the former along the water-side, and the latter on drier uplands. The first-mentioned species grows to a very large size. The trees are frequently two or three feet in diameter and from forty to sixty feet high. The timber is of little value, but the Indians make small boards, for different purposes, out of the soft wood, and use the feathery down from the catkins for making tinder, by rubbing it up with powdered charcoal.
Willows are the most abundant of trees. They are of all sizes, from the slender variety on the Lower Youkon, which grows serenty or eighty feet high while only six inches in diameter at the butt, and with a mero wisp of straggling branches at the extreme tip, to the dwart willow, crawling under the moss, with a stem no bigger than a lead pencil, and throwing up shoots a few inches high. Willows are almost iurariably rotten at the heart, and are only good for fuel. The Kutchin Indians make bows of the wood to shoot ducks with; as its elasticity is not injured by being wet. The inner bark is used for making twine for nets and seines by the Indian women, and the Esquimaux of Behring Straits use willow bark to color and tan their dressed deer-skins. It produces a beautiful red-brown, somewhat like Russia leather. The inner bark or cambium of the alder (Alnus rubra) is lised for the same purpose.
The other species rising to the rank of trees in this district are the larch (Larix dahurica ?), which is found on rolling prairies, of small size; a small birch (Betula nana,) and several alders (Alnus viridis and incana,) a species of Juniper (Juniperus,) and numberless willows, (Salicae.) A species of pine (Pinus cembra) has been reported from Kotzebue Sound, I cannot but think erroneously, as I saw no true pines in the territory during a two years' exploration. The most northern point touched by the Pinus contorta, at the junction of the Lewis and the Pelly Rivers, at Fort Selkirk, in latitude 63° porth, longitude 1370 west (approximate.) The Hudson Bay men at Fort Youkon call the white spruce - pine."
Fodder.-The treeless coasts of the Youkon Territory are covered, as well as the lowlands of the Youkon, with a most luxuriant growth of grass and flowers. Among the more valuable of these grasses (of which some thirty species are known to exist in the Youkon Territory) is the well known Kentucky blue-grass (Poa pratensis,) which grows luxuriantly as far north as Kotzebue Sound, and perhaps to Point Barrow.*
The wood meadow-grass (Poa nemoralis) is also abundant, and furnisbes to cattle an agreeable and luxuriant pasturage.
The blue-joint grass (Calamagrostis Canadensis) also reaches the lati. tude of Kotzebue Sound, and grows on the coast of Norton Sound with a truly surprising luxuriance, reaching in very favorable localities four or even fire feet in height, and averaging at least three. Many other grasses enumerated in the list of useful plants grow abundantly, and contribute largely to the whole amount of herbage. Two species of Elymus almost deceive the traveler with the aspect of grain fields maturing a perceptible kernel, which the field-mice lay up in store.
The grasses are woven into mats, dishes, articles of clothing for summer use, such as socks, mittens, and a sort of hats, by all the Indians, and more especially by the Esquimaus.
In winter the dry grasses, collected in summer for the purpose, and nently tied in bunches, are shaped to correspond with the foot, and placed between the foot and the seal-skin sole of the winter boots worn in that country. There they serve as a non-conductor, keeping the foot dry and warm, and protecting it from contusion to an extent which the much-lauded moccasins of the Hudson Bay men never do. In fact, I believe the latter to be, without exception, the worst, most uncomfortable, and least durable covering for the foot worn by mortal man.
Grain bas never been sown on a lårge scale in the Youkon Territory. Barley, I was informed, bad once or twice been tried at Fort Youkon, in small patches, and the grain had matured, though the straw was very short. The experiments were never carried any further, however, the traders being obliged to devote all their energies to the collection of furs. No grain had ever been sown by the Russians at any of the posts. In the fall of 1867 I shook out an old bag, purchased from the Russians, which contained a handful of mouse-eaten grain, probably wheat; the
*For the determination of the species, and many interesting facts. I am iudebted to Dr. J. T. Rothrock, professor of botany in the Agricultural College of Pennsylvania, and late botanist in the scientific corps of the Western Uuion Telegraph Company's exploring expedition. His report on the flora of Alaska will be found in tho-Emithsonian report for 1867.
succeeding spring, on examining the locality, quite a number of blades appeared, and when I left Nulato, June 2d, they were two or three inches high, growing rapidly. As I did not return, I cannot say what the result was. Turnips and radishes always flourished extremely well at St. Michael's, and the same is said of Nulato and Fort Youkon.
Potatoes succeeded at the latter place, though the tubers were small. They were regularly planted for several years, until the seed was lost by freezing during the winter. At St. Michael's they did not do well. Salad was successful, but cabbages would not head.
The white round turnips grown at St. Michael's were the best I ever saw anywhere, and very large, many of them weighing five or six pounds. They were crisp and sweet, though occasionally a very large one would be hollow-hearted. The Russians preserved the tops also in vinegar for winter use.
Cattle.--I see no reason why cattle with proper winter protection might not be successfully kept in most parts of the Youkon Territory. Fodder, as previously shown, is abundant. The wild sheep, moose, and reindeer abound, and find no want of food.
A bull and cow were once sent to Fort Youkon by the Hudson Bay Company. They did well for some time, but one day, while the cow was grazing on the river bank, the soil gave way and she was thrown down and killed. Due notice was given of the fact, but for a year or two the small annual supply of batter in the provisions for Fort Youkon was withheld on the ground of there being " cattle” (to wit, the bull) at that post. Finally the commander killed the animal, determined that if he could not have butter he would at least have beef. It will be remembered that this point is north of the Arctic Circle, and the most northern point in Alaska inhabited by white men.
Fruits. There are, as might be supposed, no tree fruits in the Youkon Territory suitable for food. Small fruits are there in the greatest profusion. Among them may be noted red and black currants, gooseberries, cranberries, raspberries, thimble-berries, salmon-berries, blueberries, killikinik berries, bearberries, dewberries, twinberries, service or heath. berries, mossberries, and roseberries; the latter, the fruit of the Rosa cinnamomea, when touched by the frost, form a pleasant addition to the table, not being dry and woolly, as in our climate, but sweet and juicy,
All these berries, but especially the salmon-berry or “ morosky” of the Russians (Rubus chamaemorus,) are excellent anti-scorbutics. They are preserved by the Esquimaux in large wooden dishes or vessels holding five gallons or more; covered with large leaves, they undergo a slight fermentation, and freeze solid when cold weather comes. In this state they may be kept indefinitely; and a more delicious dish than a plateful of these berries, not so thoroughly melted as to lose their coolness, and sprinkled with a little white sugar, it would be impossible to conceive.
The Russians also prepare a very luscious conserve from these and other berries, relieving the sameness of a diet of fish, bread, and tea, with the native productions of the country.
This comprises the Aleutian Islands and part of the peninsula of Aliaska, with the islands about it. Kadiak and the islands immediately adjoining it, liowever, belong more properly to the Sitkan district.
These islands are merely the prolongation of the Alaskan range of mountains. Many of them contain volcanic peaks, some still in a state