National Geographic : 1898 Apr
THE NORTHWEST PASSES TO THE YUKON more than one hundred per cent profit on the goods they gave the Chilkats in exchange for furs, and the Chilkats realized a still greater profit when they dealt with the Tinnehs. For the half century that the H. B. Co.'s ships regularly visited Chilkat inlet the traders never dealt directly with the Tinnehs. The Chilkats were relentless monopolists, meeting the Tinnehs at established camping grounds, at Tagish houses, and other points beyond the range each year, and packing the furs back over the Chilkat or the Shaseki (Chilkoot) pass. Occasionally they brought a Tinneh chief down under escort as a great re ward and honor, to allow him to look at the fire-ship of the white traders. Mr Robert Campbell, of the H. B. Co., who crossed from the Mackenzie river to the Pelly in 1842-'43, wrote: " The rascally Chilkat Indians from the Pacific coast were in the habit of making trading excursions to Pelly. They ascended by Lynn canal, thence crossed over the mountains to the head of Lewes river. Descending this river they came to the Pelly, where oftentimes, when strong enough, they pillaged and massacred the Pelly Indians, than whom there could be no more honest men." In 1849 the H. B. Co. built Fort Selkirk, at the junction of the Lewes river and the Pelly, buying furs directly from the Tinnehs and sending them out by the chain of H. B. Co. forts connecting with the Mackenzie river and Hudson bay. The difficulty of getting supplies into Fort Selkirk had induced the H. B. Co. to consider abandoning it, when the Chilkat chief, incensed at this interference with his fur trade, led a war party across the mountains and plundered and burned the fort. The blockade of the passes was more strictly maintained than ever against Tinnehs and whites. The first white man to cross the range, according to local Chil kat and common Alaskan tradition, is said to have been a red headed Scotchman in the employ of the H. B. Co., who, reach ing the ruins of Fort Selkirk in 1864, started alone over the old "grease-trail" to the sea. He hid from Indians all the way, but was captured near the coast and held until ransomed by Capt. Swanson, of the H. B. Co.'s Labouchere, on its regular visit to Pyramid Harbor. Because of his red hair he was regarded as a shaman and treated with distinction during his stay. Dr Daw son discredits this story of the Scotch pioneer, as Fort Selkirk was in ruins at that time, and he believes the whole story arose from the fact that certain articles belonging to the traders at Fort Selkirk were brought to the trading ship on the coast.