The Chilcotin War

The Chilcotin War of 1864

The Victoria Colonist, Edition of  Tuesday, June 28, 1864, carried the following letter:

"Those who are well acquainted with the Indians of the Northwest Coast express great surprise at the course adopted by governor Seymour in arming and taking with the expedition some thirty or forty of the Bella Coola Indians. Setting aside the well known treachery of the savages, it is a notorious fact that this tribe is closely connected both by blood and marriage with the very rascals whom the volunteers are in search of, besides, it will be seen from the letter of our resident correspondent, who is intimately acquatinted with the Indians, that some of them at least were prepared to join the Chilcotins in cutting off every white man on the coast routes. Mr. Alfred Waddington, whose knowledge of the Indians in that region is very considerable, is also of the opinion that the course pursued has been far from prudent, and thinks that both Governor Seymour and the whole party are in a very serious danger. It is not at all unlikely that the Bella Coolas may lead the expedition into ambush, where every soul may be cut off; or with their habitual treachery they may, in the skirmish that occurs, turn suddenly around and attack the very party they have been engaged to assist. It is to be hoped that the marines from the Sutlej may arrive to swell the numbers of the little band before any possible treachery can be accomplished."

Thus was the stage set for Act II of the Chilcotin War in which a number of shots were fired and one man killed.

Taken from book  Bella Coola, by Cliff Kopas, page 110
This transcription was kindly provided by Arlene Klapatiuk

The Indians were greatly surprised to find themselves surrounded by armed men and told to lay down their arms. All did as commanded except Tellot, who seized his musket by the barrel and smashed it across a tree. Then, lifting himself to his full height, he said, "shoot me now. King George's men are great liars." Cox and his men took the prisoners to Quesnel, where the little army was disbanded and the Chilcotins surrendered for a regular trial under Chief Justice Matthew Begbie. Of the eight involved, two were retained as witnesses, one was sentence to life imprisonment but escaped as he was being taken to Westminster to serve his time and the remaining five, including Tellot and Klattasine, were hanged in the presence of a great crowd of Indians. A story that many of the Indians were paid to come and see the show was never convincingly denied. To all intents and purposes the Chilcotin War was over.

Taken from book  Bella Coola, by Cliff Kopas, page 113
This transcription was kindly provided by Arlene Klapatiuk

Photo of the Chilcotin War sign near Nimpo Lake.

The plaque at Fish Trap at the outlet of Nimpo Lake put up by Parks Canada pertaining to the Chilcotin war murders was removed some time ago as the wording of it was considered offensive to the First Nations people of the area. This is the site where the party dug in expecting an attack which never happened and the next morning the pack train moved out and was then attacked a few miles West of this site at a place called Keg O' Nails meadow named where some relics from the attack were found by early ranchers to the area. The remains of those killed were gathered up by the army that came apon the site later and according to the late Clayton Mack and Thomas Squinas they were burried in a low depression near where the present day RCMP building is now situated in Anaham Lake.

Added by Peter Solhjell October 29, 2000

There is a book called "The Chilcotin War", researched and written by Melvin Rothenburger.

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Comments and corrections always welcome !!

Posted 25 September 2000, last updated 30 June, 2002