Makah Tribe Encounter & Rescue
Escape to the Hoh River Leads to Captivity
At dawn following a harrowing, fearful night awaiting retribution, the Russian party reconnoiters, but finds only dense forest growing down to the high-tide surf line. Captain Bulygin decides to take the party south in hopes of being picked up by the Kad'iak at Grays Harbor. The party loads up on food, ammunition and guns and moves out, crossing the Quillayute River in a small boat and sets off on a six-day walk to the mouth of the Hoh River.
At a landing at the mouth of the Hoh River, a skirmish against warriors from the Hoh Tribe, possibly fortified by Quinault warriors, divides the party, with four members, including Anna, taken captive. The remainder head about 13 miles upriver to face a winter encampment in a rough-hewn blockhouse they throw together. Through trade and theft the Russian American Company party survives. In late winter they board a red cedar canoe and a homemade boat and head back to the coast. The party, now led by Tarakanov after their captain becomes distraught over the capture of his wife, surrenders, spurred on by the entreaties of Anna who claims she prefers the treatment of the tribe, which is now joined by Makah men from the Cape Flattery area, and led by a charismatic, top hat-wearing son of an English sailor and tribal woman from Nootka Sound.
The exchange of the Russians and Alutiiq is made and most of them move north, considered slaves now of the Makah.
Makah Tribe Encounter & Rescue
At times Anna is with her husband, at other times she is held by native tribes. The Makah reassure the Russians that she is being treated well and give them hope of her release in exchange for goods arriving aboard a passing trading ship. Relations improve as the Russians learn the ways of the Makah and the tribe. Tarakanov amazes the Makah by building and flying high a small kite, and by his knowledge of western military tactics, his bravery and practical knowledge are respected by the Makah.
But there is still a dark side to this sidetracked mission. In August 1809, Anna dies, and months later what is described as a lingering consumption takes the life of her husband Captain Bulygin.
Rescue comes in May 1810 with the arrival of Captain Thomas Brown, an American sailing captain in command of the Russian American Company ship Lydia
. Brown pays a ransom in trade goods for the captives.
Back in Sitka, Baranov greets the survivors, hears their harrowing tale and decides against colonizing New Albion for Czar Alexander in St. Petersburg, thousands of miles away to the west in Russia. The decision, driven by the wreck of the Sv. Nikolai
, later turns the tide of discovery
and colonization in the Northwest to the favor of the United States, then a nation of people living almost entirely east of the Mississippi River. Washington State's settlement by these easterners won't amount to much for seven or eight more decades. However the first cuts are made in the path west to the deep forests of New Albion, now becoming popularly known as the Oregon Country thanks to the journals of American explorers, Lewis and Clark.