The early explorers and traders on the Northern Coast found the natives well provided with furs of various kinds, chief among them being the sea otter, which were plentiful around Dixon’s Entrance and the neighboring channels. This animal is now practically extinct, although a few remain, as one was shot near Halibut Bay not so very long ago.
The Indians had well defined areas set aside for hunting preserves, and a family or division of a clan had certain portions of territory for their own use, which they hunted and trapped each season until the coming of white man rendered certain parts useless for hunting purposes. The area of the upper Salmon in which is now located the Big Missouri and other mining properties was a good bear country, from which Peter Robertson, a Nass Indian, yearly took a large bale of skins. On the Bear River, Barney Blackwing hunted “Barney’s Gulch”, also the ground covering the Mountain Boy claims half way up American Creek near which stood “Barney’s Camp”, a small log cabin.
Barney was something of a schemer, and when the hunting played out he turned his talents in another direction. In the fall, when the salmon fishermen on the Nass were in funds, Barney catered to their desires for something stimulating, and, as various “tonics” and “blood purifiers” contained a large percentage of alcohol in those days, he found ready buyers, until in error he supplied a brand that reacted disastrously, and sick Indians, on their recovery, looked for Barney; but he left for parts unknown and stayed away until he rendered it safe to return.