Owing to the failure of the salmon run dog feed is so scare that several
of the freighters have been compelled to go to Circle City to winter their dogs. We have
no feed and can procure none for our own dogs. To date they have been subsisting
on spoiled bacon, but in future they will have to live on whatever scraps they can pick
up. A large amount of dog fed, consisting of tallow and damaged flour, was shipped
from St. Michael's by the trading companies but their steamers are frozen in at Circle City.
Should we require to make any trips it will be a case of carrying a pack and
sufficient food to live on. Most of the miners pull their sleds with from 150 to 200
lbs. on them, hard and killing work, but their only way of getting supplies to their
diggings. I have the honour to be, sir,
It is to be hoped that the government will take some steps in the liquor question.
Last year permits were given to a person who simply sold the liquor, and took
the money out, and moreover used this country as a base to smuggle it into the
territory of Alaska. In my judgment if the permit system is to be continued permits
should only be issued to the companies or firms doing a legitimate business in the
country. The general feeling is for a high license. The reputable dealers would
be quite willing to pay a high one, the only objectors are the low class of saloons.
As I have before stated parties applying for license should have them recommended
by the officer in command of the subdistrict in which the applicant lives, and his
recommendation or otherwise should be final.
The territory about the mouth of the Mackenzie River and Herschel Island is
one that the attention of the government is called to. Twelve
whalers, steam and
sailing, wintered there last winter. The crews number from 1,000 to 1,200, these
vessels do not leave winter quarters until about the middle or end of July. Each year
a vessel is loaded at and despatched from San Francisco with supplies for this fleet,
of which cargo liquor forms a large share. The liquor is sold or traded to the
natives for furs, walrus ivory bone and their young girls who are purchased by the
officers of the ships for their own foul purposes. The natives have also learnt to
make liquor from dried fruit, sugar or molasses. They are very violent and dangerous
when in liquor. Last winter, it is reported that one had tied up hid daughter by
the heels, and whipped her to death, Mr. Whittaker (a missionary) and the ships'
captains tied up the man, and whipped him. The result was that the native
threatened to make the missionary leave the island, if not worse.
There is no wood on Herschel Island, nor is there any for 50 miles from the
Arctic coast except drift wood, which is said to be plentiful. Many men desert from
the whalers each season, and having heard of the rich placer mines of the Yukon
make their way here, i.e. the Yukon district, some now being at Circle City, 200
miles north of this down the river, one was a cook on the steamer "P. B. Weare." These
men come across country to Rampart House on the Porcupine River, a distance of
10 days' travel over a rolling country and, for this territory, fairly easy travelling,
thence down the Porcupine to Fort Yukon and from there up the river. One of these
men by some means got word to the vessels, giving an account of the country here
which induced a number more to leave and many wished to but were unable for
various reasons. In some instances where men had succeeded in getting away for
some distance they were overtaken by the ships' officers, and stripped of all they had,
hoping they would then return. The Indians as a rule will help them through
which causes trouble with the ship's men which may get to be serious. Many of
these men on arrival at Rampart House Mission demand food and clothing, which if
not given they will take by force.
In one case there was a fight between the ship's people and a party of deserters
in which one of the pursuing party was killed and another wounded. None of the
deserters were hurt.
The presence of an armed government vessel, with a strong and disciplined crew,
would do much good service in putting an end to the traffic in liquor to the natives
as well as protecting the revenue, and more especially the fisheries which must be
valuable or so many ships would not be in these waters.
Herschel Island is in the Yukon district situated in latitude 69 40' longitude
139, two degrees east of the international boundary line, and close to the coast.
Pearl Cove is the harbour on the south side of the island, which is between 6 and 7
miles long from east to west, and 3 to 4 wide, being about 80 miles from the westerly
mouth of the Mackenzie. The easterly mouth of the river is the main one about 130
miles from the island. The ice at the island breaks up about the end of May,
leaving in the early part of July. The tidal flow is from 2 to 3 feet. The ice begins
to form about the 1st September in each year. The ships' companies usually live on
land, building their houses or cabins of drift wood, covering the buildings with sand.
The cold is said to be not more intense than here, but with more wind and
Your obedient servant,
C. CONSTANTINE, Inspector
Com. Yukon District.
Commanding Mounted Police,