A few days ago I posted on a visit to King Island by the U.S. Revenue Cutter Corwin in 1881 (A Visit to King Island, July 12, 1881).
The Corwin, under Captain Calvin Hooper, also visited in 1880. Hooper's report was published in 1881: Report of the Cruise of the U.S. Revenue-Steamer Corwin in the Arctic Ocean .
Hooper supplied his own illustrations - here's his picture of King Island from about four miles to the south:
On the 6th [July 6th - Ben], we stopped and communicated with the natives of King’s Island, a small, high island about thirty miles S. S. E. from the Diomedes. It is about seven hundred feet high, with almost perpendicular cliffs, and bold water on all sides. It is composed of basalt, has an exceedingly rugged outline, and is entirely barren of tree or shrub. On the summits of the cliffs are a number of stone columns, resembling the remains of some old feudal castle. The most remarkable feature of the island is the village, composed of winter-houses, excavated in the side of the cliffs, and summer-houses, made of walrus-skins, stretched on poles, secured to the rocks outside. This village, which contains about forty houses, is built on a part of the cliff which rises from the sea at an angle of about forty-five degrees. Some of the houses are two hundred feet above the water. The natives of this Arctic Gibraltar are very expert with the “kyack." It is said [so he didn't actually see this - Ben] that when the surf is breaking against the perpendicular sides of the island, should it be necessary to launch a canoe for any purpose, the native who is to embark takes his seat in his "kyack" as near the surf as he can approach with safety, secures his water-proof shirt, made of the intestines of the walrus, to the rim of the hatch, grasps his paddle, and, watching a favorable opportunity, gives a signal to two men who stand in readiness, and is thrown entirely clear of the surf. These "kyacks" probably the finest in the world, but, owing to the rough service they have to perform, are made somewhat heavier than those in use in Kotzebue Sound, and are covered with walrus-hide. The natives live almost entirely by walrus and seal-hunting. The skins of the walrus and seal are used for houses, boat-covers ["boat covers" makes them sound less important than they were (as if they were simply something thrown over the boats), umiaks were made by stretching walrus skins over a wooden frame, so the skins were a key part of the hull - Ben] , and other purposes; the flesh forms the chief article of food, and the ivory is sold to traders for rum, tobacco, calico, arms, drilling [what is drilling? - Ben] , beads, and other articles. Many hair-seals are killed, the skins of which, when turned, are called "luvtahk" and form one of the principal articles of trade with the natives of the interior.
They seem to be very prosperous, and, although they appeared glad to see us, could not quite understand why we had come among them, if we did not wish to trade. We visited the village by climbing the steep cliff, and, disregarding the sense of smell, we entered several of the houses, where we were offered a lunch of walrus-meat by our hospitable entertainers, which we were compelled to decline. Not so, however, our native interpreter, who had been obliged to live on "Government rations" for two weeks, and seemed, from his appetite, to be in a famishing condition.
Near the village is a cave in the rock, where the natives store meat for winter food. The entrance, which resembles a huge gothic window, during the summer can be reached by water only, the cliff being too steep to climb, even for a native.
You can read more about King Island here: King Island.
Minor edit (corrected spelling of Corwin) March 31, 2009. Minor edit June 22, 2009.