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Fort Ross Quotations
|"From 1812 to 1841 Russian American Company
Settlement Ross was home to a unique blend of cultural groups-Russians,
Creoles (the children of Russian men and Native North American women),
Native Californians (local Kashaya Pomo and Bodega Coast Miwok) and
native Alaskans. . . . In the census for 1821 are listed a total of
175 adults: 121 men, of whom only 24 are Russian; the others are Creole
and Natives-Fox Island Aleuts, Chugash and Kodiaks from Alaska, Yakuts
from Siberia, Tlingits, Hawaiians, and California Miwok and Pomos.
Of the 54 women, all are Creole or Native-none are Russian."
Brochure, Cultural Heritage Day, Fort Ross Celebration of Russian
America, July 27, 2002.
|"Sea Otters abound in the harbour [of San
Francisco] and in the neighboring waters. . . . An otter skin of good
size and of the best quality is worth $35 in China. The best grade
of skins must be large, of a rich colour, and should contain plenty
of hairs with whitish ends that give a silvery sheen to the surface
of the fur." Louis Choris (Russian artist), Voyage pittoresque
autour du monde. . . trans. Porter Garnett in San Francisco One Hundred
Years Ago (San Francisco: A. M. Robertson, 1913), p. 16.
|"M. Kuskof, assisted by the small number
of men with him, catches almost two thousand otters every year without
trouble. . . . The otter skins are usually sold to American fur-traders.
The Russian Company not having a sufficient number of ships, sends
its own skins to China . . . on American ships." Louis Choris
(Russian artist), Voyage pittoresque autour du monde. . . trans. Porter
Garnett in San Francisco One Hundred Years Ago (San Francisco: A.
M. Robertson, 1913), pp. 16-20.
|"The Russians were the rulers of the only
skilled otter hunters of the world. For years their Aleutian Indian
vassals had been braving the elements in their little skin-covered
canoes for the fur wealth of the far north. . . . From five to fifteen
bidarkas usually went forth to hunt together. The moment an otter
was seen floating on the water, the alert Indians fixed their eyes
upon it. . . . When within shooting distance, while the man at the
stern guided the boat, the nearest bowman raised his dart, and with
sure aim threw his boned pronged spear with incredible accuracy. For
twenty minutes or so the otter would remain submerged, his course
being marked by a bladder attached to a long cord. When the animals
arose to the surface for air, a ruthless hunter was on hand to finish
him." Adele Ogden, "Russian Sea-Otter and Seal Hunting on
the California Coast 1803-1841," California Historical Society
Quarterly (1933): 217-39.
|"Fort Ross and her southern outpost, the
Farallone Islands, served as needed bases. Fort Ross, was a center
for sea-otter hunting as well as for supplies. . . At Fort Ross bidarkas
and waterproof clothing were made from the skins and bladders of Farallone
sea lions. More valuable than the sea lion, however, was the fur seal..
. . [E]ach year the Russians killed from 1,200 to 1,500 and between
1812 and 1818, 8,427 seal skins were obtained at the Farallone station."
Adele Ogden, "Russian Sea-Otter and Seal Hunting on the California
Coast 1803-1841," California Historical Society Quarterly (1933):
|"The sea otter had brought the Russians to
California. It had accounted greatly for their continued interest
in the southern coast, and decreasing returns from sea-otter hunts
was one of the reasons for their withdrawal." Adele Ogden, "Russian
Sea-Otter and Seal Hunting on the California Coast 1803-1841,"
California Historical Society Quarterly (1933): 217-39.