Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

aluminum ear markers for the deer belonging to the association. The dollar that remains is to be sent to the Eskimo for each member's subscription. It is our intention, eventually, to make the paper the property of the association. Each member also has to pay an initiation fee, in female deer, to the association. In this way the association, in several years, will have a large herd to draw from and should be able to raise quite a fund for its work. Having deer in each herd belonging to the association will make it easy for the Eskimos to Inake transfers to each other, over long distances, as a man can turn over a deer to the association at one herd, and the man he is doing business with can take a deer at the other herd. It will take several years to work out this plan, so that it will be uniform and efficient; but I believe that in two years it can be fairly well organized in this district, and I trust work along the same line can be pushed in the western district. There is much work to be done by some one for the reindeer stock itself, but this association, and the regular work through the fairs and the Eskimo will go a long way to do the needed work for the Eskimo personnel. And that is properly the work of this bureau. The Eskimo.—During the year our little paper has published many articles by reindeer men on subjects of direct interest to all of them. They have shown their appreciation of the paper by allotting $1 of each man's dues to their local club for his subscription to the paper. Reindeer owned by white men.—Lomen & Co. have done three things during the year that promise well for the industry and have benefited the native herds indirectly: (1) They have developed an outside market for all the meat that they can ship. Most of their meat goes to Minneapolis. During the year they have shipped about 624 carcasses. As far as I know, this is the first time such a large shipment has been made. (2) They have commenced to buy steers on the hoof for shipment to the States. The price paid is only $10 per head, which is all the company claim they can pay, with the risk of losing the deer before he can be butchered. Where there is a local market the Eskimo can retail his deer for more than that, but the local market is becoming very limited at present. So the chance of selling steers on the hoof, even at $10, has been welcomed by many herders. We have especially encouraged the large owners to sell their steers by this method, for in this way they leave the local market for the smaller owners. One herder has twice sold lots of 100 at this rate. (3) The company has made large drives of its steers from its various herds. Some of the drives have been clear across Seward Peninsula. This has been taken advantage of by the herders to get choice bulls out of other herds for mixing in their own herds. The company has positively stated officially that they do not intend to make any attempt to purchase deer from native owners and have refused several offers to purchase deer from white men who secured herds for their children. However, there is always a possibility that there may eventually be friction between the native herds and the white herds. This may come on account of the mixture of native deer and deer belonging to the white owners. It is more likely to come over the question of grazing grounds. Some of the more shiftless herders enter the employ of white herds for wages and then lose their interest in the industry as reindeer owners. Possibly this will develop a class of professional reindeer herders, but there is a chance that some of these men will cease becoming reindeer owners, which will be a serious loss. As long as Lomen & Co. and other white owners continue their present policy and as long as none of them enlarge their holdings by encroaching upon the deer that are held directly or indirectly by the natives, I believe that our work for the Eskimos is in no danger. Personally I am strongly of the opinion that the time has now come when we must look to the leaders of the ICskimos to do their part to hold their own people together. The Eskimos must understand that the time has come when as reindeer producers they must “make good.” I believe that they will.

REPORT OF WALTER H. JOHNSON, SUPERINTENDENT OF THE WESTERN DISTRICT.

Travel and inspection.—It is reasonable to presume that each superintendent of schools has at some time arrived at a decision that his particular district was harder and more difficult to travel over than any other district in Alaska. Undoubtedly he has come to this conclusion after months of travel, probably at the end of an extremely hard run. It is necessary for superintendents to travel vast distances; it is only when weather and trail conditions exhaust man and beast so that it is impossible to proceed that camp is made before the goal is reached. If forced to camp where there is no fuel or shelter, an experienced superintendent manages in some way to build a fairly comfortable camp, and after satisfying his appetite from a larder containing food prepared for just such an emergency he lays out a plan of campaign for the morrow. The extent of the district makes it imperative that, while traveling on his tour of inspection, the superintendent must take advantage of every opportunity for covering ground; upon arriving at a school or reindeer camp he must first of all see that his instructions regarding the preparations for continuing the journey are carried out, and that all is in readiness for an immediate start whenever he has completed his work at that particular place. Frequently it is necessary to make a run of only a dozen miles in the evening and then make camp, rather than stay all night at the station, for the next day's run may be over an unsheltered barren section 40 or 50 miles in length. On holidays and on Sundays, in rain or snow, from daylight often far into the night, until his destination is reached, the pace must be kept up. Mountain ranges must be traversed, valleys crossed, ravines and rocky areas skirted, shortest distances through brush and timber ascertained, and a continual alertness exercised so that every natural condition be taken advantage of. At all times the strain on one's vitality is great, and he who can forget the trials and tribulations and take advantage of the occasional stretches of good trail and fine weather to recuperate is indeed fortunate. At the schools and reindeer stations the superintendent must settle questions of dispute, doing justice to all; he must supervise and inspect the work of the teachers, giving suggestions and corrections in such a way that all are encouraged; instill the feeling that their work is noble and uplifting, and has to do with the welfare of a people that is in dire need and well worth any effort that may be put forth to uplift them. He can not delay but must hurry away, even though a day's visit might help to cheer the teacher and bring about a fraternal feeling and result in closer cooperation, which is so necessary in this work. During the fall and through the greater part of the winter very little snow fell; consequently travel was extremely difficult. For miles the ground would be almost free from snow, and what little was encountered in the gullies and grass was mixed with sand and dirt. The rivers and lakes were covered with glare ice frozen to a depth of over 6 feet; there were many overflows; shallow streams were frozen to the bottom. Not until the latter part of January did snow fall in any quantity. January 27 a warm spell, almost a thaw, seemed to bring on the snow, and thereafter it continued to snow nearly every day for a month. The warm spell continued for about a week, and the tundra was covered wih a foot of slushy, sticky snow. Unfortunately, much of my journey after this period was through a heavily timbered section. After plunging through snow waist deep for several days we finally had to give up part of our trip. In the deepest snow we took turns snowshoeing ahead of the train of reindeer. Unless you have snowshoed in soft snow in a heavily timbered country you have no idea of the skill and labor that is attached to this kind of travel. The past winter I have traveled with sled over barren ground, glare ice, rough sea ice, in water a foot deep on the tide-swept flats near Hooper Bay, on sloughs filled with snow mixed with sand, in swamps where the grass was 5 or 6 feet long, over “nigger-heads” where the ground was worn away from them to a depth of 3 to 5 feet, in mud, on gravel banks, Over rocks, in fact on almost every known kind of trail, but never have I experienced such difficulty in making headway as in the deep snow found in sheltered timbered valleys. In such a place snow must be packed down, deer staked out on the top of some ridge where the snow is not too deep for feeding, and the frozen tent carefully unrolled and set up. In cold weather the vapor from cooking and breathing forms a coat of ice in the tent that requires a day to thoroughly remove; then, unless you have food cooked in advance, it will take nearly an hour to cook the all-satisfying mulligan. I think that our outfit is the best available and that we have the camping system down to its nth power; still it behooves us to start our fire at about 4.30 a. m. if we would properly dry our clothing and be ready to leave at the break of day. This makes a 16-hour day, for it is seldom that work is laid aside before 8.30 p. m. These long, hard days are necessary if the itinerary is to be completed before travel becomes impossible, which happens directly after the April thaw and before the rivers are open for navigation. This year the ice did not leave St. Michael Bay until the last of June, consequently there was no travel during the latter part of the fiscal year. Teachers and schools.-The teachers of the Alaska school service are, without a doubt, a most loyal and conscientious body of workers. They love the work and labor with the realization that they are working for the betterment of a class of people that needs uplifting and aid, mentally, morally, and physically. They teach with a definite aim, and every subject taught is put into practical use. The practical lesson is often passed on from native to native until all in the community are receiving the benefit of the teacher's work. Many of the schools and villages worked for the Red Cross. Some picked the down from waterfowl and made pillows, which were sent to the hospitals. One village alone sent over 50 pillows; another sent 30 pillows and various lonitted articles. Several schools and villages gave money. Many native young men requested permission to register for the draft, but were refused this privilege. I trust that they soon may have the opportunity to serve their country by being drafted and stationed in various posts of Alaska. The pamphlets issued by the Food Administration were sent to all of the schools. The teachers took advantage of this opportunity for much practical work. Many dishes were prepared by the cooking classes and meals served to children and parents. The regulations of the Food Administration were complied with as near as possible. A special effort was made to utilize and save the products of the country. Medical aid.—It is extremely necessary that every section of this district should receive the aid of trained medical workers. Nurses who were stationed at Unalakleet, St. Michael, and Holy Cross cared for the patients of the imidediate vicinities. The great number of cases successfully treated speaks well for the invaluable work done by them. In connection with the hospitals at Akiak and Uulato tubercular camps were maintained. As soon as possible arraucements will be made to enlarge these camps in order to care for more of the great number of consumptives scattered throughout the district. The doctors and nurses made trips to villages, the former traveling for weeks at a time, and yet they were unable to visit more than a small portion of the popula: tion. The surgeon at Fort St. Michael gave free medical aid to those who could not pay. General conditions.—The Western District is blessed with natural resources that could care for many times the number of natives now living in it. The rivers teem with fish—salmon in the summer, while trout, eels, white fish, and various other varieties are caught during the winter. At almost no time during the year are the natives without fresh fish. The tundra is covered with many kinds of berries that are easily preserved for winter use; it is simply necessary to store them in a cool place until winter and then let them freeze. The hills are covered with reindeer moss sufficient to supply for an indefinite time a hundred thousand reindeer. The only work necessary to preserve the herds is to keep watch, so that the deer do not stray away. Fur-bearing animals are found in sufficient numbers to pay for more than the amount of supplies that should be purchased from the stores. There are mink, ermine, muskrat, land otter, white, red, silver, and cross foxes, with an occasional black one. Marten and beaver are quite plentiful in certain localities. Black and brown bears, a few caribou, and an occasional moose are killed annually. The streams flowing into the Yukon River drain valleys that would supply lumber of fair quality, so that every native could have a good warm house and enough fuel to last for ages. But the native does not know how to utilize all that nature has given him; it is the duty of our Government to teach him how to reap the fullest benefit from what is so lavishly supplied him by a generous Creator; he must be trained and educated to utilize his own environment. It is a mistake to take a native out of the country for any purpose whatsoever. This is an argument for the establishment of vocational training schools in each district. Vocational school.—A vocational school for the Western District should be located on the lower Yukon River, somewhere within a radius of 50 miles from Pilot Station. Suitable ground for buildings, fresh water, large areas for agriculture, good grazing ground for reindeer, timber, and fishing sites are all found in this area. It is also centrally located. In this school each industry of value to the natives can be taught. The youth of both sexes could learn by actual experience the best method of doing their chosen work. A reimbursable fund of $50,000 would start a cooperative store; it would also suffice for establishing a small cannery, where all kinds of food would be put up for local needs and for exportation; it would start a sawmill that would soon pay for itself by furnishing lumber to natives and whites; it would pay for the power boat that is an absolute necessity. At the reindeer herd methods for the improvement of the stock could be tested ; the by-products, such as skins, hoofs, horns, tongues, fat, sinew, bones, and offal could be disposed of to the best advantage; study of diseases and parasites peculiar to reindeer could be made, and undoubtedly thousands of dollars yearly would be saved. Food for supplying a fox farm could be derived from cannery waste and the offal from reindeer carcasses. The older boys and girls could make a trip to the nearest sealing grounds and in a short time secure enough seal, oogruk, and walrus to supply the whole school with oil, fat, and skins. The doctor and nurse in charge of

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

the hospital would teach sanitation and give lessons in first aid. In connection with this training school, adopted for the natives, would also be a church, hall, and wireless plant, all placed within the limits of a reservation of suitable dimensions to give room for expansion. When we realize that the work of the average teacher embraces practically all of the above some idea of the magnitude of his task can be understood. As the teacher can only give a little time to each subject, progress is necessarily slow, and the pupil who is anxious to proceed along certain lines can receive but little more attention than the others. If a training school were located in the district the teachers could select suitable pupils and assist them in preparing for entrance to the vocational school. In a very short time pupils from every section of the district would be in attendance and the plant running to full capacity. Reindeer.—As the number of natives owning reindeer increases the work of the representatives of the Bureau of Education becomes harder and requires more time. It will be many years before the natives will be able to properly manage their business affairs, and the reindeer that they own is the greatest business that they can possibly have. Therefore the Government should not relax its vigilance over owners who do not yet ully realize the great value that the deer are to them and the benefits that their posterity will derive from this industry. Up to the present time the bureau has concentrated its efforts in the training of men to care for deer and the introduction of deer into new sections of the country. The time is now at hand when these men must be trained in the management of their business affairs and taught to plan for the future development of the industry along well-established business methods. It is to be deplored that some of the missions were so short-sighted as to overlook the future possibilities of this great material work by giving out the deer placed in their hands without placing any restrictions or regulations relative to their future care. These same missions sold the deer that were put in their charge for distribution, without regard for the moral obligation that they had with the Government. It is needless to say that most of the natives that received deer from them are following their example and are disposing of practically the only productive asset they have. A few of the Eskimos who own large numbers of reindeer are beginning to realize how much there is to the industry, and come for aid and instructions at every available opportunity. These men have advanced far enough to see that there is much for them to learn. They are the hope and pride of the community, and if all restrictions were removed as to the sale of female deer to whites, they would not sell. It is only when practically all of the Eskimos have advanced to this stage that the bureau can relax its vigilance and feel secure that its work of many years will stand the test of self-management. The Government herds at Hooper Bay and Pilot Station have been moved, the former toward the Yukon River, while the latter is now located at Shageluk. Lomen & Co. purchased two large herds at Unalakleet, and occupy the ground formerly grazed over by the mission deer, and by the Lapps. Mr. Twitchell, of Iditarod, increased his herd by purchasing a large number from the Lapps located near Akiak. Mr. Kell and Mr. Williams also purchased several hundred deer, the former herding his deer near Ruby, while the latter has his herd near the Melozi River. With deer at Iditarod, Shageluk, Ruby, and Melozi, the eastward trend is now a reality. Plans are now in progress for driving the Goodnews Bay herd to Akiak and joining it with the Kalkag herd. Then this large herd will be driven to Copper Center, and the Indians of interior Alaska will have an opportunity of learning the industry.

« PreviousContinue »