Wanted discreet Alexis Creek, British Columbia

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Refworks. Open Collections. BC Historical Books. Featured Collection. THE present volume is an enlargement of a paper the writer had prepared on Aboriginal History,embodying facts which, on of the light they throw on the manners and customs of the natives in pre-Euro- pean times, he thought it well to preserve for posterity. As he went on in his studies, he soon discovered that only a part of the history of British Columbia had so far been written ; that which is most interesting and, from a certain point of view, most important, has to this day never been presented to the public.

Who knows, for instance, that long before Victoria and New Westminster had been called into existence, the province had been settled in a way, and had possessed a regular capital—at Stuart Lake—whence a representative of our own race ruled over reds and whites? Not one in a thousand Canadians or even British Columbians. The record of these times and ways of life which are irrevocably past has never been written, not to say published, and the only author who has ever touched on some of the events with which we will soon entertain the reader, Hubert Howe Bancroft, is so irretrievably inaccurate in his remarks that his treatment of the same might be considered well-nigh worthless.

Nay, two months have scarcely elapsed since there was issued in this city, under the auspices of that same Hudson's Bay Company to which we shall have so frequently to refer, a little pamphlet, in which we read that although McKenzie came west. Yet, if any set of individuals ought to be familiar with the early history of British Columbia, it must surely be the members of that trading corporation, whose immediate predecessors discovered and kept under sway more than half of its territory.

A b uno disce omnes. This apparently unable ignorance shall be our excuse for offering the present volume to the kind appreciation of Canadian and other readers. The originality of the material of which it is mainly composed and the novelty of the scenes it records have, in our humble opinion, rendered it imperative that we should enter into details and tarry on minor facts which, under other circumstances, might well have been passed over with a brief mention. We have aimed at giving a faithful picture of the times, persons and British Columbia of which we have written.

The reader will judge of the degree of success which our efforts have met with. It is hardly necessary to mention that none of the letters and other manuscript documents we quote from was written with a view to meet the critical eyes of modern readers. Therefore it is but fair to remark that, out of consideration and regard for the proprieties of grammar and orthography, we have occasionally taken slight liberties—though as seldom as possible—with the recorded utterances of the Hudson's Bay Company and other writers, while religiously conserving their sense or meaning.

Had it not been for the courtesy of Mr. Murray, the gentleman in charge of Fort St. James, on Stuart iv. For the generous access he gave us to all the old papers, letters, journals, books, and memoranda in his keeping, we beg to return our sincerest thanks. The same is also due to such gentlemen as the Hon. Senator R. Scott, Secretary of State for Canada, who kindly put at our disposal a photograph of the first British Columbian, Simon Fraser, whose portrait British Columbia hitherto never appeared in print; to Messrs. Gosnell and E. Scholefield, of Victoria, for the loan, by the former, of a volume of unpublished letters by the pioneer traders and the blocks of some illustrations, and for the readiness with which the latter laid open for our benefit the well-guarded riches of the Legislative Library at the provincial capital.

Finally, the services of Archbishop Orth, of Victoria, call likewise for public acknowledgment, as do also those of Messrs. Mc- Innes, of Alexandria ; G. Vancouver, B. The Country and its Aborigines. Chapter I. Earliest Historical Times. Chapter II. Still Pre-European Times.

Discovery by Alexander Mackenzie. Chapter IV. First Foundations. Founding and Exploring. John Stuart and Harmon at Stuart Lake. Chapter VIII. William Connolly Succeeds Stuart. Chapter IX. An Episode and its Consequences.

Connolly and Dease at Stuart Lake. Peter S. Ogden takes Wanted discreet Alexis Creek of the District. The District and its Resources. Ogden Governs. Among the Babines. McLean is apprehensive - Chapter XV. First Catholic Missions. Chapter XVI. Manson's Tribulations. Gold versus Furs.

From Chikotin to Omineca. Some of the Later Pioneers. James—Judge P. O'Reilly—Themis at fault—G. Hamilton succeeds P. Ogden— P. Laudetur Jesus Christus! James To-day Old Fort St. Anderson Bishop Demers Hon. John Work James A. Senator James Reid Rev. McGuckin, O. The Country and Its Aborigines. Authors disagree as to its boundaries. This region is mostly mountainous, especially in the 1. Endless forests, mostly of coniferous trees, and deep lakes, whose length generally exceeds considerably their breadth, cover such spaces as are not taken up by mountains. The only level or meadow lands of any extent within that district lie on either side of the Chilcotin River, where excellent bunch grass affords lasting pasturage to large herds of cattle and horses.

The black pine is fairly common all over the country, and it is always indicative of a dry, j sandy, and usually level ground, just as the poplar and the aspen betoken a moist and rather rich soil. Apart from the animals to which they give shelter, these woods afford but very meagre resources adapted to the wants of man.

These are reduced to some varieties of berries, prominent among which is the service berry, the fruit of the A melan- cliier British Columbia, which the aborigines compress into flat cakes and keep in their larder for use in any emergency. Lakes and rivers are practically less. Mary's, McLeod, i. Bancroft, in his " History of British Columbia," asserts that " the lake country from Chilcotin to Fort Fraser and beyond is generally open I p.

The map will show the respective position of each. The chief streams, apart from the Fraser, are the Nechaco, which, some sixty-five miles from its mouth, receives the Stuart, which drains the lake of the same name, together with Lakes Tatla and Tremble, through the Middle and the Thache Rivers ; the Blackwater, a stream of minor importance, called West River by Sir Alex.

Mackenzie, who ascended its valley on his way to the Pacific; the Quesnel, which he in Wanted discreet Alexis Creek lake of the same name, and the Chilcotin more properly Tsilhkhohwhich takes its source in the lake called Chilco by the whites, and waters the finest part of the country.

Bear Lake and Babine Lake, with their outlets, as well as the Bulkley, belong to the basin of the Skeena, which may be said to form the north-western boundary of the district; while the Parsnip and the Finlay, with their tributaries the Pack, Nation, Omineca, etc. Most of these lakes and rivers contain excellent fish, two sometimes three or more kinds of trout, whitefish, landlocked salmon, ling and a multitude of carpoides and other inferior fish.

A few sturgeon are occasionally caught in Lake Stuart and outlet, but that fish is unknown in the other basins. These sheets of water become also annually the rendezvous of myri of ducks, geese, and other aquatic fowls, some of which, as the grebe, abound to such an extent that, for a fortnight or so, they are daily taken by the hundred in a single locality.

As to the fauna, its representatives are fairly numerous. The natives class them into venison and fur animals. The various fur-bearing animals are the grizzly and the black bears,1 the beaver, foxes of different color, though they are the offspring of the same parents; the marten and fisher, the otter, the mink, and other game of minor value. These, from time immemorial, have been trapped or chased by the American representatives of the human species who call themselves Dene menand are divided into four main tribes.

From north to south these are: the Sekanais, on the west slope of the Rocky Mountains. These tribes, though all belonging to the same ethnic group of aborigines, differ not a little as regards language, manners, and customs, and even physical appearance. Thus the Sekanais, for instance, are slender and bony, with fairly delicate features, very small eyes, and thin lips. The Carriers are stouter and more heavily built, with coarser traits, thicker lips, and quite large eyes.

The Babines and Chilcotins are shorter than the Carriers, with broader shoulders and, the former at least, with even thicker lips and flattish faces. A fifth tribe, that of the Nahanais, roams through the territory immediately to the north of the Babines and the Sekanais, though on 1. The brown bears in the district belong to the same species as the black ones. Several of their women are almost fair complexioned.

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These four or five tribes form what we call the Western Denes. They have all very black and straight hair, dark eyes, small hands and feet, and a complexion-of a swarthy brown, though they are, as a rule, fairer than their heterogeneous neighbors, the Shushwaps. None of them originally had any village chiefs in our sense of the word. Indeed, the Sekanais, who are quite nomadic and without houses or villages, were formerly destitute of any kind of chiefs, but kept wandering in quest of game under the nominal leadership of the older he of related families.

As to the Babines, the Carriers, and the Chilcotins, they possessed what they called tceneza, hereditary " noblemen," who owned the hunting grounds and were the honorary he of various clans or gentes. Succession to rank or property invariably followed the female line among the Babines and the Carriers, while among the Chilcotins and the Sekanais heredity was, as amongst us, always on the side of the father.

These tribes concurred in their religious ideas. They believed in a future world, and had some confused notions of a Supreme Being who governed the universe through the instrumentality of spirits, whose object was to protect or injure the individual. In the first case, they were what is now called totems or tutelary genii, and the second were the immediate cause of disease, wherewith they were sometimes confounded.

The latter had, however, to yield to the incantations of a certain class of men known among us as shamans,1 who, supposedly endowed with supernatural powers, were regarded almost as the masters of life and death. Or medicine-men. Only in the cases of prominent or much beloved members of a band were the remains placed on a rough scaffolding out of the reach of wild beasts, or encased within the hollow or hollowed trunk of an upright tree.

Among the Carriers, the widow of a deceased warrior used to pick up from among the ashes of the funeral pyre the few charred bones which would escape the ravages of fire and carry them on Wanted discreet Alexis Creek back in a leathern satchel— hence the name of the tribe—until the co-clansmen of the deceased had amassed a sufficient quantity of eatables and dressed skins to be publicly distributed among people of different clans, in the course of an ostentatious ceremony called I potlatch," a ceremony which prevailed among all but the Sekanais and the Eastern Nahanais tribes.

To the customs in vogue among their congeners, the Babines added that of letting their women wear, from the time of their puberty, a labret or plug of bone or hardwood, perhaps half an inch and more in diameter, between the teeth and the lower lip, which was thus distended out of all reasonable proportions. This caused the French Canadians in the employ of the early fur-traders to call the whole tribe Babines, or " Lippy People.

The Sekanais are the most honest and moral; the Carriers the proudest and most progressive ; the Chilcotins are violent and none too scrupulous, while for loquacity and conservativeness the Babines have few superiors. With regard to their origin, the short space at our command in this little sketch evidently debars us from entering into anything like an adequate discussion of that intricate question. All we are prepared to state, after a careful survey of their languages, manners and customs, is that: 1st, They are undoubtedly of a mixed origin ; 2nd, they Wanted discreet Alexis Creek come from the north-north-west; 3rd, they had, in their early history, commerce, perhaps through intermarriage, with peoples of Jewish persuasion or origin.

As it is, none but the Babines have any reminiscence of a home different from that they British Columbia occupy. If we are to credit the Ackwilgates or Western Babines and their neighbors, the Kitksons, a Tsimpsian tribe which has the same tradition, the original seat of the whole Babine tribe would have been on a flat along the left bank of the Bulkley, a short distance above the mouth of the Bear River.

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Kitksons and Babines then lived in close proximity and intermarried freely, when a squirrel1 having, one day, crossed the river on top of the weir erected for the capture of salmon, the natives, frightened at the sight of such an ominous occurrence, and dreading the sad fate it portended, immediately scattered in all directions.

The Kitksons went down to the Skeena, and the Babines took refuge in the shelter of the woods, whence they subsequently emerged to settle, some on the lake British Columbia called after them, others near the fall in the Bulkley, at the place known to-day as Moricetown.

The Kitksons say a double-headed squirrel. Threatened with starvation, the Western Babines went in a body, armed cap-a-pie, and forcibly took the new terminus from its owners of Tsimpsian parentage. In course of time, the rock, which was to give a name to the new place—Fallen Rock—wore away to such an extent that salmon could return to their former haunts up the river ; but the Babines or Ackwilgates have since retained possession of both fisheries. So much for the Babines and their traditions.

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We now come to the real history of their congeners, and the authentic of their doings immediately before, and ninety years after, the advent of that superior race which was to revolutionize their ideas, manners and 'customs, and Wanted discreet Alexis Creek not always too edifying deeds we shall also have to record.

His name has come down to the present generation as that of one who was the personification of old age, and after a careful computation based on the various data forming our original chapter and many others not furnished here, the date of his birth cannot be set later than the year He grew up to attain, in course of time, the honored position of tceneza, or hereditary nobleman, of the Stuart Lake sept, and he is likewise famous as having been the first Den6 who could boast the acquisition of an iron axe or adze.

This came to him, probably aboutby way of Tsechah, an Indian village close to what is now Hazelton, on the Skeena. The wonderful implement was one of the many wares brought up by the Tsimpsian traders, who got it from some of the skippers or adventurers whose vessels were patrolling the waters of the North Pacific Ocean in the interest of commerce or geography. Some say that on its reception Na'kwcel convoked his fellow-tribesmen to a great banquet or ceremonial feast, where all the guests could admire it hanging above them from one of the rafters of the large lodge where they were assembled.

Wanted discreet Alexis Creek, British Columbia

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