1895: CW-speaking expert canoeist Haidas in Hawai’i

A Hawai’i newspaper tells of a disabled Haida-crewed sealing schooner limping into port there, and in turn rescuing 3 drifting Japanese fishermen…

sealing canoeA Nuučaan’uɬ sealing canoe, the closest I could get (image credit: donsmaps)

…and to cap it off, genuine Haida canoes are brought out for a show of seamanship!

From this article we see that the Jargon was still an important language of Haida Gwaii near the turn of the century. And that it was sometimes heard in Hawai’i!






Rescued in the Bay by the Sealing
Schooner Mascot.

The Schooner Puts Into Port for
Repairs — She Carries an
Indian Crew.

The sealing schooner Mascot,
Lawrence, master, arrived in port
yesterday, thirty-six days from
Queen Charlotte Island [sic], her last
port. She sailed from Victoria, B.
C, on the 28th of December, went
to Queen Charlotte Island for an
Indian crew and sailed for the
Japan coast on the 22d of January.

The 8th inst[ant] [i.e. of this month] was a very un-
lucky one for the little schooner.
A heavy gale sprung up and tore
away the main rigging, thus dis-
abling the vessel. As this was the
nearest port her captain steered for
the islands and arrived off port last
Tuesday night. Anchor was cast
outside the bell buoy but the wind
was blowing a gale and the vessel
was set adrift, making it necessary
to heave anchor, set sail and cruise
about until morning.

Just as the sailors were heaving
anchor a dark object attracted the
attention of the captain. Taking
his glasses he made out what
seemed to him a boat with men in
it. Mistaking the occupants for
natives he thought no more of the
matter until startled by the cry,
“Help poor Japanee,” repeated at
intervals. A boat was put off im-
mediately with several of the crew
aboard. The wind was blowing a
gale and the sea was rough. When
the occupants of the boat were
reached it was found that they
were three Japanese fishermen.

The story told by them was an
intensely exciting one. They left
shore early in the morning and
sailed out beyond the bell buoy
where they cast anchor and began
to fish. At about 6:30 o’clock in
the evening the chain which held
them parted and they were forced
to hoist sail. A gale was blowing
and the boat capsized. Righting
her the Japanese attempted to set
sail again, but were once more cap-
sized. Nothing was left in the
boat and she was down to the
very edges in water. The Japan-
ese were taken aboard the Mascot,
given dry clothing and brought in
to port yesterday morning.

The crew of the Mascot is made
up of thirteen Masset Indians and
seven white men. The Indians are
a hearty set of fellows and speak
the Chinook language. The captain
says that they make the finest kind
of seal hunters.

As soon as the sealer cast anchor
off Brewer’s wharf, three or four
Indian canoes were lowered and
manned by the Indians who pad-
dled about. They attracted a large
crowd on the wharves by their

The canoes are all about twenty
feet long and built of cedar, after
the regular pattern prevalent among
the Masset Indians. They are
light and when paddled by the In-
dians shoot along on the water with
the greatest rapidity and ease. The
captain of the sealer was asked why
canoes were chosen instead of the
regular boats. He replied that the
Indians were accustomed to the
canoes and could do better work in

As soon as the repairs to the
fore rigging have been completed,
the sealer will sail for the Japan
coast, eventually visiting Hakodati [Hakodate].

— from the Honolulu (HI) Pacific Commercial Advertiser of February 28, 1895, page 8, column 3

What do you think?