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The Whale House of the Chilkat   By:

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ANTHROPOLOGICAL PAPERS OF THE AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY

VOL. XIX, PART I

THE WHALE HOUSE OF THE CHILKAT

BY

GEORGE T. EMMONS

Lieutenant U.S. Navy

NEW YORK PUBLISHED BY ORDER OF THE TRUSTEES 1916

Transcriber's Note: The first part of the Publications in Anthropology has been moved to the end of this text and merged with the last part of that list.

THE WHALE HOUSE OF THE CHILKAT.

BY GEORGE T. EMMONS.

Lieutenant U.S. Navy.

PREFACE.

The material here presented has been gathered from the most reliable native sources throughout a period of twenty five years of intimate personal acquaintance and association with the Tlingit, and treats of their past, before the exodus from their old villages to the mining camps and salmon canneries of the white man so reduced their numbers that communal life in the large old houses, upon which their social customs and practices depended, was rendered impossible, and the seed of a new life was sown.

I first visited the Chilkat in 1882, when little influenced by our civilization. They were a comparatively primitive people, living under their own well established code of laws, subsisting on the natural products of the country, clothed in skins, furs, and trade blankets, practising ancestor worship in their elaborate ceremonial, cremating the dead, dominated by the superstitions of witchcraft and the practice of shamanism, proud, vain, sensitive, but withal, a healthy, honest, independent race, and friendly when fairly met.

Their villages then represented the best traditions of the past in both architecture and ornamentation. The houses of heavy hewn timbers, split from the giant spruces, were fortresses of defense, with narrow doorways for entrance and the smoke hole in the roof for light and ventilation.

But today this is all changed. The old houses have disappeared, the old customs are forgotten, the old people are fast passing, and with the education of the children and the gradual loss of the native tongue, there will be nothing left to connect them with the past. So on behalf of native history and my deep interest in the people, I offer this paper, describing in accurate detail one of the last relics of their culture. Had the Chilkat been able to work stone instead of wood, their country would now be the archaeological wonder of the Pacific Coast.

The illustrations in color are from sketches made upon the ground and are reasonably accurate both as to form and color. For their final form I am indebted to Mr. S. Ichikawa. To Winter and Pond I am under obligations for permission to use the photograph of the two Chilkat chiefs.

GEORGE T. EMMONS.

Princeton, New Jersey, April, 1916.

CONTENTS.

PAGE.

PREFACE 3

INTRODUCTION 9

THE OLD WHALE HOUSE 18

DETAIL OF THE HOUSE POSTS 25 GONAKATATE GARS 25 DUCK TOOLH GARS 26 YEHLH GARS 28 TLUKE ASS A GARS 29

OBJECTS ASSOCIATED WITH THE HOUSE 30

THE PRESENT WHALE HOUSE 33

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

PLATES.

1. Decorative Figure on Edge of House Platform.

2. Carved and painted Screen over the Front of the Chief's Private Apartment at Rear of the House.

3. Carved Posts inside the Entrance to the House, Gonakatate Gars and Duck Toolh Gars, respectively.

4. Carved Posts flanking Screen in Plate 2, Yehlh Gars and Tluke ass a Gars, respectively.

TEXT FIGURES.

1. Coudahwot and Yehlh Gouhu, Chiefs of the Con nuh ta di 7

2. An Old House, Kluckwan 11

3... Continue reading book >>




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