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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/654

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

The marriage ceremonies of these tribes are very complicated. The young man must buy his bride from his future father-in-law before he gets his consent to marry her. But even then the formalities he has to go through are not at an end. He must come into the house where the girl lives and sit down next to the door. Then the girl's parents know what he comes for. They scold him and abuse him as much as they can for two days. On the third day the mother gives him a mat to sit on, and on the fourth he gets a little food. Then he is invited to the fire, and the parents give their consent to the marriage. The chief of the gens to which the young man belongs now comes in great state and brings the price, which was agreed upon beforehand, to the parents, who in their turn on the next day pay a certain price, through the chief of their gens, to the parents of the young man. Then both parties give a great feast. At last the friends of the young man go to fetch the bride. They cover the road leading from their house to the beach with gay mats and embark in their boats. After a few hours they land before the house of the girl, though it may stand close to theirs, and lay mats from the beach to the house-door. Then the chief of the girl's gens dresses himself up with all his dancing-ornaments, takes her by the hand, and leads her to the boat, where she is received by the chief of the bridegroom's gens. Then they return to their house, and the marriage ceremonies are at an end.

The efforts of the missionaries to Christianize these Indians have in most places been very unsuccessful. The history of the mission is quite interesting, and has been the subject of some publications in our journals and newspapers. But, as in all these only one side of the Indian question in British Columbia has been presented, a few remarks on the state of affairs, which is not without influence upon our Alaska Indians, may not be out of place.

The first to take up the work energetically was Mr. Duncan, who established himself at Fort Simpson among the Tsimpshian tribe. His influence upon the Indians has been enormous.

These results have been brought about by the peculiar method Mr. Duncan applied in Christianizing these Indians. He did not deem it unworthy to trade for his pupils, and to teach them to work, instead of instructing them in the Christian faith alone. Thus he improved their condition, and was remarkably successful. In order to protect his adherents from the influence of the heathenish Indians and of the worse influences of the white traders, he emigrated with them from Fort Simpson and founded the settlement of Mestlakahtla, or more properly Meghtlaqatla (gh being pronounced like the German eh, and g being a very guttural k). He succeeded in keeping the destructive whisky-trade from his followers.

His success encouraged the missionaries of other churches. The Catholic Church had tried to convert and civilize the tribes on both