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Indian/White Relations

Charles Lillard

This tape is pat of the Salt Spring Island Historical Society Collection and comprises an address to its members, entitled ‘Indian/White Relations’.
Mr Lillard talks about the problems faced by Indians as the Pacific Northwest was settled. Very little mention is made of Salt Spring Island and the tape ends abruptly.

Accession Number Interviewer Salt Spring Island Historical Society address
Date March 10, 1987 Location
Media tape Audio CD mp3
ID 63 Topic




Unknown Speaker 0:01
seeing or have read, God bless you seven shillings a year, which is the history of Vancouver Island. When I was asked to talk over here, I had agreed because I found quite a bit of Saltspring Island material that was not, we're not able to use in that book, mainly because Well, primarily, I had found it because I saw a Saltspring as an extension of the Saanich Peninsula. And also as an extension of what was happening in collagen. To me, it's one of the only islands along the coast that has these connections. At any rate, when I came to put all my materials together to prepare this talk, I realized that the material was quite interesting. But I had no photographs, no slides and I could possibly make to illustrate it. And there is nothing I'm finding more interesting than listening to someone talk for half an hour when you don't have a map in front of you or a slide in front of you or anything. So I cut out. What I want to talk about is a problem that is discussed in every book that mentioned Saltspring. Also, every book that mentions Vancouver Island, and this is the Indian problems and 1840s and 50s. It's an interesting situation, because we now have the military history of that time, written by very guff and three volumes, I believe published through the UBC press and very scholarly, very thoroughly done histories. We have a tremendous number of First Person comps, or second secondary accounts by people whose ancestors told the story. But what we don't have is the Indian side of the story. And I don't want to beat a drum. But I would like today to discuss and with the help of some slides, how this situation developed because it's one of the, to me intriguing problems with anyone dealing with Vancouver Island history or the ideas of what is connected to Vancouver Island history. And that is, as we shall see, in his slides, the idea of fear. Our ancestors were afraid one of the Indians whom they didn't know anything about, and they had grown up in England, for the most part, reading the paperback magazines of that period. The dime novels talking about Indian massacres everywhere and how one person would go out and shoot 35 Indians before breakfast, and then after lunch 35 Indians would shoot him on his festivals, kinfolk. The residents that came to most of the islands did not come across United States or across Canada. In the earliest years, they came directly from a dock in Europe, or in Britain to adopt in Victoria. They were deathly afraid of the Indians, they may have been outnumbered, the pioneers may have been outnumbered as much as six and seven to one. No one at this stage knows. There are other fears that the people had. But because of this fear, and because of our relatives, our ancestors Victorian type massiveness, I suppose we could call it on a number of aspects, the Indian didn't get quite a fair shake. Not that he's innocent by any means. But the pioneers also had some problems. So I would like to start by showing you a series of maps dating back to 1768 and show you step by step how the Indian problem will developing. Okay, here's 1768. This is before cook before Vancouver. Before anyone really but the Spanish working from the south up, you can see them reaching Cape Mendocino. And what is Northern California, and the Russians who aren't on this map at all working their way down. And you can see the legends what the legends have done the maps. See the the foo saying the the Strait of Fuca, all of which no one is sure anyone ever did see, but they put them on the maps. Of course, the Strait of Juan de Fuca did materialize. But is this river that goes through is of course the Northwest Passage. This is a dream of Europe to find a way across the North American continent. Many years later, of course, this river or the Northwest Passage idea had gone away of all theories. But it had become an idea of Captain Cook that there was a river from Hudson's Bay, across to the Gulf. of Alaska or to the Arctic. And it's this idea that never did materialize. That finally, the last lever in the story, which was Alexander mackynzie, that was what brought him across the continent.

Unknown Speaker 5:15
This is 1768. This is a map of about 1772. You can see, it's very difficult to focus with properly because there are so much detail on here.

Unknown Speaker 5:30
But you can begin to see the new world taking shape. Here is Vancouver Island in 1792. This is, of course, a time of machismo of Vancouver, a book at a quadra of many of the others.

Unknown Speaker 5:51
And Saltspring isn't much of anything there. In fact, that entire area had been very badly charted by the Spanish. And of course, Vancouver didn't get close to the southern end of the island, he stayed on the mainland short. But you're beginning to see a merging here what I like to call the Great River of the North. Let's see another. Okay. This again, focusing is difficult. This is 17 or 18. About 1820. Vancouver, Vancouver's Island is there. The Queen Charlotte Islands are there most of the inmates are there, the Alaskan islands are there. And this is part like I say this great murder of the North. The movement here is north and south. There is no movement east and west or very, very little of it. Now, here's what you have at the northern end. This is ghadames and the Queen Charlotte Islands taken about 1880. But it gives you an idea of how artistic these people were and are and how very deeply rooted in the ground one might say they are. This is a very ancient village. And here we have an example of their culture the inside of the longhouse the fish hanging from the the eaves. Now this culture had been going on probably very little change since about, well for about 10,000 years. Almost all the stories of these people taking long sea voyages, the whole Thor higher doll idea of people populating the Polynesian islands, from Bella Coola, from the Queen Charlotte Islands, is if not nonsense, it can't, it hasn't been proven even to slightest degree yet. These are very stable people. They're they're a warlike people. But it's war as much as our ancestors fought in Europe, it's between small groups. And they have no reason to go very far. There's nothing to attract the Queen Charlotte Island people very seldomly ever traveled farther than amass the the mouth of the NASS river where they bartered for oolichan oil, because the NAS was controlled by the Niska. And they traveled to what is now a port Simpson Metlakatla area to sell canoes to the Simpson that's a that was a limit of their traveling. They had begun to move north into Alaska, but only slightly and they met the Clinkard, who were the same opinion they were about their neighbors, which now, we come into what I'm calling a third period of of history. First we had the development of the idea of a Northwest coast. And then we have the Indians who are already here. And then in 1843, probably the greatest shock to the coast, at least Arcos that has ever occurred was the construction of Fort Victoria. And here we see it. What's interesting here though, is for all the stories of the warlike problem or the war problems that the people early settlers in Victoria had is look at the background look how close the Indian houses are to the fork. Look at the trees on both sides of the of the walls. Look at the people and the houses right here in the front. This is not the scene of somebody who is or of white people who are afraid of the Indians. This is rather the scene of people who are probably mingling 24 hours a day or at least during the day. I'd hours with the Indians. Now here's Victoria at the same period of time, a little more of the sedate a little quieter, you're beginning to get into the period now where people are trying to make Victoria look like their idea of what a fork, a British fork should look like. This is a beaver in the in the center ground. There is Nanaimo about 10 years after it, it was first built about 1862 or so. Again, not a town that is from the all appearances very afraid of the Indian problem. Now, look at the map and look at the Northwest coast, which is from the mouth of the Columbia. The the old definition of the Northwest coast was from the mouth of the Columbia to a few miles north of Sitka Alaska. What is interesting about this, and what should tell us a great deal about the Indian problem is the movement north and south. Except for Hekate straight, the mouth of Queen Charlotte sound and Dixon entrance. It's all most all inside water. People have been going up there in every type of vessel imaginable from Puget Sound, proving that you probably could get on a log and make it if you really wanted to the people that are living in the north at the mouth of the stickiness River at Sitka Alaska, or the cricket, whose territory extends down to about where the mouth of the NASS river would can be is, if you can see it there. The Haida are in control of the Queen Charlotte Islands, also in charge in control of the southern end of Prince of Wales Island, and doll Island, which is just on the American side of Dixon entrance. On the coast, you have the Bella Coola, you have the other Coast Salish tribes, you come down and you have a clock, you know, these people had been fighting back and forth for decades, centuries, but suddenly they had something to do other than fight. They could go to Victoria, because Victoria is at the mouth of Puget Sound. There is within a few years of course, Port Blakely and Puget Sound, other Puget Sound ports, the various small ports like Port Townsend on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and it's all inside waters. It's easy traveling, it's a good summer's trip to go down to Victoria and have a good time, which meant selling your women and drinking as much whiskey as you could and then just doing what the loggers did. And the miners did, everyone else did later on. But what was happening at Victoria, was they were trying to separate these Indians. They were trying to control the liquor trade. And more than one early diarist points out that the people in control of the liquor trade were also in control of the police who were trying to stop it. You have developing in Victoria and other southern ports, to me an extremely interesting situation. This is the first major contact of the bad European or the bad America, the bad Canadian, and the Indian who was simply enjoying himself and ended up being taken advantage of of course, you have very little contact now with a newcomer on the West Coast coming down here for some reason they stayed away. For the clock util, the Clinkard. the Salish Sea, reached Victoria and there were as many as three and 4000 Indians camped around the areas of the Sun he reserved. Why the 1850s it of course, is a situation that is going to do nothing but explode and explodes in several different ways. But our ancestors being what they were, don't talk about most of this or if they do, they simply brush it off, or it's always of course, someone else's fault. But I've called this a great river north because in my own theories, everybody is moving up and down this way. And why so many of the pioneers had problems relating to British pounds. Under was British Columbia was doing its damnedest to look east and west. And of course, these people that landed here had very little reason to look east. They could look south, they could look north. But east and west simply didn't make any. Nevermind. What was also interesting at this point is that this is exactly what Vancouver and Seattle begin to do. Vancouver or Seattle, particularly, it knows its future is north. And it becomes very early on the gateway to Alaska. Vancouver Islands incredible idea was at Cape Scott, the very tip of Vancouver Island that was going to be the gateway to Alaska and British Columbia.

Unknown Speaker 15:47
They haven't even got a road in there yet. And then in the turn of the century, they had maps, which I've seen with the railroads and highways drawn in. Here's the 1850s. And we're beginning to see the development now of the islands, which they began to chart the islands in the 1850s. And this was, of course, the first major charting since the Spanish came through on this side of the coast in 1792. This is another fascinating item that one begins to realize about Vancouver Island is that once Victoria was built, they didn't really care about the rest of the island. You can see on that map, trails drawn in that beat you up to qualicum on on up the island. And even as late as 1900. Train guides could get lost on these trails. Nothing happened. It was a dead end, victorious stop and Senate. And here is one of the more interesting maps of this period, which is again showing you how the development of the settlers was taking place. This is the grant by Lieutenant Colonel WC Grant, who was in 1849, British Columbia's or Vancouver Islands, also first columnist. He waited to shore up Cobra point and isn't enthusiasm for being here shot the first cow he saw because he thought it was a buffalo. And his career as a columnist went downhill from there. He was broke. He was an extremely good army officer who had to retire from the army because of having lost his private fortune, nothing to do with his own antics. But he travels on the island extensively in the in 18 4950, non to to about 54 or 55. And you can see the European awareness of the island building, but you can see what the problems are, are developing. Within four years of this map, there's a first major sawmill on the island at the head of Nootka scarf at the head of Alberni inlet. There are traders up and down on the west coast of the island. People are moving into the Saanich Peninsula on the Salt Spring Island. And something that no one knows anything about how many people in this area, all the way up to the mouth of this Queen Charlotte sound. Were never reported on any census. In fact, the first census in British Columbia wasn't taken until about 1882 As I recall, first proper one. We know there were people at almost every point along the rivers up in this area. Most of them were whiskey traders, slavers, they were doing the Indians one better by taking Indians captive and taking them up, say to Alaska and selling them and up there taking Indians captive and bringing them down here and selling them. What we don't know probably won't hurt us but it's there is a great deal of trouble brooding here

Unknown Speaker 19:18
and this is what the Indians from the canoes were seeing. Can you imagine what a couple of curious Indians looking at this and wanting to do something for a little fun where they've they've been cheated out of money in Victoria or they have run out of whiskey, or their whiskey has been salted or watered with saltwater. And they take one look at this and decide to get even. And this is a type of place that was developing all the way from the Oregon border up the west coast through Puget Sound and right up into Alaska. It was fair game, but the settlers and the Indians weren't having the problems. It was what was happening. at either end of the, of the travel with these Indians, the one problem being of course, was an immense amount of prostitution, whiskey trading, slave trading. And then by 1859, you've got the gold rush starting. And no one's quicker to make $1 than a Haida or Concord. And up there, they when you also have logging started, you've got you've got a very complicated situation growing up here, as I've said. This is one of those lovely unidentified photographs, which simply says,

Unknown Speaker 20:50
First houses in a Vancouver Island town, it could be anywhere it could be at any time. Of course,

Unknown Speaker 20:58
it could be a mine, it looks more like a mine in some ways, mine cabins and anything else. But again, this is a very, very thin, strangle or not Stranglehold but thin grip the white southerners have on the east coast of the island, Saltspring, whatever, wherever.

Unknown Speaker 21:26
Now, this is regrettably impossible to do anything with other than admire its blues.

Unknown Speaker 21:35
You can't blow it up in any other way except by inch by inch from here on. This is a map dating to 1865. And it is a first complete map first decent map of southern Vancouver Island. So almost 100 years after Cooke touched foot on Vancouver Island,

Unknown Speaker 22:01
we finally have a map being drawn to the interior. The story behind it is again, somewhat the story of all the places along the coast. And that is a pioneer being on the edge of the island and not knowing what's in behind him. The victory for Victoria the Hudson's Bay Company being the very toe the island and having no clue as to what is up there. The gold or the coal mining starting up at Fort Rupert, northern end of the island. No one knowing what's in there either. And Robert Brown was hired to lead the Vancouver Island exploring expedition which was to find gold on Vancouver Island to start a gold rush to save Victoria. The entire history of this area is saved Victoria. And of all things this man and his crew discovered gold at the best spot you could discover gold which was up behind souk and leech River. It didn't say Victoria because it was over a year. But other things, other things did happen. But here we have, as I say 100 years, we're only beginning to map the island. And you can certainly see from this the paths the Indians would have come down, but also all the problems that the British commanders write about trying to catch someone. You could disappear into these waterways for the rest of your life.

Unknown Speaker 23:43
Of course, there are no drawings of Indian problems, or Indian battles, mainly because the wipes were usually wiped out. Or we're too busy doing other things. Obviously it'd be drawing, but this is one of the first battle scenes that we have on the coast. It's 1792. The ship is a Columbia. And the captain, of course is Robert Gray, who discovered not only the entrance to Juan de Fuca Strait, and is sure that it is a straight. He also is the first man to sail into the mouth of the Columbia River, which Vancouver misses for some very good reason, but which caused any number of troubles for next 50 years. Because this gave the US prior claim this is one of the first recorded battle scenes is not particularly interesting, but it gives you an idea of what the artists thought everything should look like. There is another scene this one takes place in the Washington territory. There is no net think historically valuable about it for us, except it gives you an idea of the appearance of the men what they were fighting with. And that wildly solid wall, the forest behind them. It's always interesting in these in drawings from this period right up into the time well, even the drawings of Emily Carr the paintings of Emily Carr, no one ever sees into the fourth in the car never painted more than about three drawings or paintings of the interior of a forest. It's always a wall. And these people were scared to death of what might happen. What was happening inside these walls. This is a not an unfamiliar view of Victoria, neat, keen 40s. But does anyone notice anything unique about it I've seen but for reproductions of this, and no one has ever commented on what strikes me as quite an obvious

Unknown Speaker 26:09
detail. Look at the center of the slide, you can see the rocks in the bottom of the canoe.

Unknown Speaker 26:22
look slightly to the right of that on on the on the posts standing up the human head. And the people in the drawing seem to be hiding behind a mountain for some reason. There's no least I haven't been able to find any explanation for this. But it gives us a different impression now of the growing Indian problem. One other horrid and unforgivable act at this time, and one doesn't know how it could be dealt with any differently. How it could have been dealt with any differently was that in a spot like this with three or 4000 people, you, of course are going to have diseases breaking out. And at one point, a massive epidemic sweeps this area of smallpox. Governor Douglas had nothing else to do but forced the people in their canoes, and forced them to go home again, which consequently spread smallpox all the way up into the Arctic. How many 1000s of people died from this epidemic? No one knows. But again, the Indian side of the problem had its had its reasons, because of course they were going to blame the white man for any of this. And now, the 1860s we usher in a new period that the Crown colony, the HBC are no longer in charge of the island or the mainland. The Douglas can no longer fight the battles away the HBC used to which was immediate retaliation. They had to go by British law which was very, very honorable toward the native peoples and the military came in this is the trim Kamali? About this is taken this drawing was done in England in 1850s. A bit earlier than she was on station here. So this is what the people are watching moving in. And of course, repeatedly when you have difficulties with the Indians. It's not until you you begin digging in very far into the diaries and that that you begin to realize that the problem up at Bexhill on the island here was almost a non problem. What it caused it happened elsewhere, and the resolution happened elsewhere. And it was if it wasn't this incident, it was one other the English officers realizing what had happened and realizing the Haida had a very good complaint because they bought whiskey which was half saltwater sort of made the Indians Captain Jefferson I think was his leader at the height of this time there slapped his wrist and made him promise never to do it again. But again, as I say this volatile situation which is beginning to develop of course the coast we have the coastal development along with this. This was I thought simply interesting because here's the firepower in one of these ships.

Unknown Speaker 29:48
This is a gun deck of the I forget which which vessel this is but here's a gun deck and they're opening up with his gun deck on a few people in canoes

Unknown Speaker 30:09
sorry, that's a slightly off kilter but again what's interesting now is it for any number of settlers south on San Juan Island on Orcas Island. I believe they're even older on Walden Island.