Page images
[merged small][merged small][graphic][merged small][merged small]

the majority about eight cents an hourthese boys are from twelve to fifteen years old."

This report was made at the time of the anthracite coal strike.. The law now requires them to be thirteen years of age. The work is heart-breaking and backbreaking enough for the little fellows at thirteen, but not all of them are thirteen, by any means. The superintendent of schools of a borough in the vicinity of Wilkes-Barre says that out of a total of three hundred and fifty boys working in the breakers in his district, one hundred and sixty of them are certainly known to be less than thirteen years old.

ton, last November, Charles Bieborich, a fourteen year old boy, was killed in the Gibbons Breaker, and before the machinery could be stopped the body was horribly mangled. The boy was engaged at his regular duties, which consisted of 'tending the harbor,' that is, keeping the dirt and waste away from the rollers or cogs, when his end came. He was standing on an iron flooring at the head way, when he suddenly slipped and fell in the direction of the rollers. The 'Breaker Boss' sprang to his rescue, and in a moment he reached the spot, but in vain, for the boy's body was already half way in the cogs. The horrifying sight chilled

the man's blood and for a second stunned him, as the body passed all the way into the rollers. It was but a lapse of a few minutes before everything in the building was silent-every bit of machinery having stopped-and willing hands started to take the body from its terrible death hole; but this was found impossible until all the machinery was loosened and displaced."

The silent, pitiful tragedy of it! A little fellow fourteen years old, martyred as he tries vainly to make a few pennies to keep a starving soul and body together.. Like the boys in the glass-works, these breaker boys are uncomplaining martyrs to industry. They are free born American citizens, half of them of the purest American stock. In these perilous industries they show the real stuff that they are made of. They take whole-souled American pride in their work. The tragedy of it all is that they glory in their independence. They are manly little fel

lows, every one of them. They trudge out early in the morning to work their nine or ten hours a day at the hardest kind of labor, and they have the true home-born, American home-born, American stamina which makes them proud of it.

In the face of this spirit in the youngsters, how much. greater becomes the stinging curse of the new slaughter of the innocents. We, the American people, owe them an education and if we have any sense of justice left we will give it to them. We will see that the laws are enforced and that better and closer restrictions are placed upon this vile traffic in lisping children. We have only to remember that the future earning capacity of every child who works before he is fourteen years of age is divided by two.

And there are two million of these little slaves whose very life is being sapped away by this frightful mortgage upon their manhood.

Let It In

When you're feelin' grouchy,

Let the Sunshine in;

When your face gets feelin' hard,

Crack it with a grin.

Don't be 'fraid o' wrinkles,

Tear loose with your mirth; An old face, laughter-wrinkled, Is the sweetest thing on earth. -Houston Post.

How Jackson Saved the Eskimo

By Edward B. Clark

HEN the white man with his civilization arrived in Alaska the troubles of the natives began. The Innuits, otherwise known as

Eskimos, the Aleuts, the Thlingets and the rest, came in contact with the blessings of the Gospel and with the curses of rum and disease. It is perhaps logical from the church point of view to regard it as better that a man should suffer in his physical lifetime than to be damned spiritually through eternity, but luckily for the Alaskans there

by sharp circumstance to look upon the missionary as one who, with due regard for the soul of his charge, also looks well after his body.

Dr. Sheldon Jackson, a Presbyterian clergyman, is the foster father and in a large sense the god father of the aboriginal people of Alaska. He studied conditions in the northern land and became convinced that unless the Eskimo were given some means of earning their livelihood other than that of their ancestral custom of following the chase, their end was starvation. The natives depended

[graphic][merged small]

These wonderful animals will have a great part in making the future of Alaska.

were some men, Christians of the right mind, who thought it would be only Gospel-like to save the Eskimo from suffering both before death and after death -and these men seem to have found the means of accomplishing the end.

The reindeer seemingly has solved the problem of the temporal if not the eternal salvation of the Alaskan. He gets his food, his raiment and his Gospel on the reindeer range. He has been taught

upon the wild animals of sea and land for all their necessaries of life, and the American clergyman found that with the advent of the white men the whales, the seals, the walruses and the caribou were disappearing, as wild animals always disappear when the Caucasian, with his perfected killing contrivances, gets on their trail. As another has put it: "Dr. Jackson saw that unless something was done at once the United States would

have to choose between feeding the 20,000 and more natives or letting them starve to death."

With Dr. Jackson to think was to act. He knew that the Siberians who live in a climate much like that of Alaska were


self-supporting because they had their herds of domesticated reindeer, an animal that is prolific, whose flesh is good for food, whose hide is good for clothing and whose strength, endurance and docility make it available either as a pack or as a draught "horse."

There was an object other than the mere desire to give food and clothing to the Eskimo in Dr. Jackson's plan for the bringing of reindeer into the country. from Siberia. He studied the character of the natives and he came to the conclusion that nomads as they were, they were unfitted for any of the white man's vocations save that of herding. The Alaskans had found plenty of work in connection with the pursuit of the wild animals whose flesh and pelts enabled their captors to live. In other words the chase, with the Eskimo, was an industrial pursuit. It was the clergyman's belief that reindeer herding would interest the native and, while keeping his abode stationary, would at the same time give him the opportunity to roam the country within prescribed limits. It was fifteen years ago when under the supervision of Dr. Jackson sixteen reindeer were brought from Siberia across Bering Strait to a little island close to the mainland of Alaska. As usual, when a man begins a great enterprise for the better

ing of the condition of his fellowman there was more sneering than praising. The good doctor was called a visionary, and it was predicted that his reindeer, transplanted, either would die out of hand or, under new climatic conditions, would fail to multiply and replenish the earth.

Fifteen years ago there were sixteen reindeer in Alaska; today there are nearly 15,000 reindeer in Alaska, and the natives have been changed from ignorant. hunters to intelligent herders, and it is entirely within the realm of reason that before a score of years has passed the Alaskans will be furnishing to the white Americans a large part of their animal food supply.

Herds of reindeer are now established, as the last report of the commissioner of education discloses, in the neighborhood of Barrow, Kivalina, Kotzebue, Deering, and Shishmaref, along the Arctic coast; Wales, Teller, Golofnin, Unalakleet, and Eaton, on the Bering Sea coast; Gambell, on St. Lawrence Island, in Bering Sea; Tanana and Koserefsky, on the Yukon River; Bethel, on the Kuskokwim River,

[graphic][merged small]

and Iliamma, near Cook's Inlet, in southern Alaska.

A new station has been established this winter near Icy Cape on the shore of the Arctic Ocean between Point Barrow and Point Hope. Eskimo herders with their reindeer have been transferred to this far northern point and another link has been added to the chain of relay stations along the coast of the northern sea. The reindeer industry in Alaska in a general way is -under the supervision of the United States Bureau of Education, which is attached to the Department of the Interior. Dr. Jackson is the bureau's general agent of education in the northern territory. Under the direction of the clergyman-educator the Eskimo boys are trained as reindeer herders and every inducement is given them to enter the training stations. While,as Dr. Jackson says, the original purpose in the introduction of domesticated reindeer into Alaska was to assist in the civilization of the natives and to help them to a better and more certain method of gaining

ger of transportation in employing and directing the trained Eskimo herders and teamsters.

The trading stations for reindeer herder apprentices are branches of the public school system in Alaska. Bright young Eskimo men are selected and are placed in the schools for a period of five years under skillful Finn or Lap instruct

[ocr errors]

ors. In addition to his food and clothing the apprentice is given two female reindeer each year upon which he may place his mark and consider his private property, subject to government control. When his apprenticeship is up he becomes a herder in real earnest and he is given fifty reindeer which he may brand and know as his' own.



The reindeer, as has been said, is of service as draught a ni mal. According to C. C. Georgeson, a special agent in charge of the Alaska agricultural experiment stations, the first notable example of the endurance of reindeer in Alaska and their adaptability to winter travel was a trip made in the winter of 1896-97 by W. A. Kjellman while he was superintendent of the Teller reindeer station. He left Port Clarence in the middle of December, 1896, and traveled southward to the Kuskokwim River, about 1,000 miles distant, and returned to the station April 25, having accomplished 2,000 miles through a rough and barren country, in the worst season of the year, the reindeer obtaining their living from the


a livelihood, yet the reindeer will prove equally important to the white man who may seek a home or engage in business in sub-Arctic Alaska.

The ordinary white man is unwilling to undergo the drudgery of herding in that rigorous climate and unwilling to work for the small compensation that is paid for such service. He can do better. His directive ability can be more profitably employed as merchant, or as mana

« PreviousContinue »