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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 192 pages of information about Narrative of a Voyage to the Northwest Coast of America in the years 1811, 1812, 1813, and 1814 or the First American Settlement on the Pacific.

Their houses, constructed of cedar, are remarkable for their form and size:  some of them are one hundred feet in length by thirty or forty feet in width.  They are constructed as follows:  An oblong square of the intended size of the building is dug out to the depth of two or three feet; a double row of cedar posts is driven into the earth about ten feet apart; between these the planks are laid, overlapping each other to the requisite height.  The roof is formed by a ridge-pole laid on taller posts, notched to receive it, and is constructed with rafters and planks laid clapboard-wise, and secured by cords for want of nails.  When the house is designed for several families, there is a door for each, and a separate fireplace; the smoke escapes through an aperture formed by removing one of the boards of the roof.  The door is low, of an oval shape, and is provided with a ladder, cut out of a log, to descend into the lodge.  The entrance is generally effected stern-foremost.

The kitchen utensils consist of plates of ash-wood, bowls of fibrous roots, and a wooden kettle:  with these they succeed in cooking their fish and meat in less time than we take with the help of pots and stewpans.  See how they do it!  Having heated a number of stones red-hot, they plunge them, one by one, in the vessel which is to contain the food to be prepared; as soon as the water boils, they put in the fish or meat, with some more heated stones on top, and cover up the whole with small rush mats, to retain the steam.  In an incredibly short space of time the article is taken out and placed on a wooden platter, perfectly done and very palatable.  The broth is taken out also, with a ladle of wood or horn.

It will be asked, no doubt, what instruments these savages use in the construction of their canoes and their houses.  To cause their patience and industry to be admired as much as they deserve, it will be sufficient for me to mention that we did not find among them a single hatchet:  their only tools consisted of an inch or half-inch chisel, usually made of an old file, and of a mallet, which was nothing but an oblong stone.  With these wretched implements, and wedges made of hemlock knots, steeped in oil and hardened by the fire, they would undertake to cut down the largest cedars of the forest, to dig them out and fashion them into canoes, to split them, and get out the boards wherewith to build their houses.  Such achievements with such means, are a marvel of ingenuity and patience.

CHAPTER XX.

Manners and Customs of the Natives continued.—­Their Wars.—­Their Marriages.—­Medicine Men.—­Funeral Ceremonies.—­Religious Notions.—­Language.

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