We do not know his name: Klatsassin and the Chilcotin War

War and Magic

[ Chilcotin Stick Figure from Tree Carving near Anahim Lake, Unknown Artist,   ]

by Henry Solomon with Terry Glavin

In Chilcotin, war is deni ts’ulhdilh.

To get ready for deni ts’ulhdilh, you build a big campfire, dance around....

"Some paint up themselves, maybe put some kind of like a groundhog hide on his head. Some of them put feathers on his head. On top of his head. I guess he gotta wear some kind of old-timer clothes, then he dance like that. So he dance like that, before he go to war."

In the days before smallpox and muskets, war was not carried out on a grand scale. It was undertaken by small groups of men.

"They use them spear and that bow and arrow, stuff like that," Henry said. "They used to war with them rock, with a sinew on it. That one, they knock you on the head. They just kill you like that."

Or with kingfisher medicine, as the deyen had used in the war with the Bute Inlet people, or with the hummingbird. The ts’utanchuny.

One of the old-timer people, a witch doctor, was headed down to Gwetsilh, the place known as Siwash Bridge down in Bull Canyon, Henry explained. Someone kidnapped his wife during the salmon run, and the witch doctor caught sight of him on the other side of the river. The witch doctor dreamed about the ts’utanchuny, the hummingbird, and started to sing.

"Pretty soon you see this hummingbird sitting on his hand, and he just blew on it, and it flew right through that fella, on the back, and he just dropped right there, dead."

The Chilcotins needed powers like that, considering their powerful neigh­bours.

Source: Henry Solomon, "War and Magic," Nemiah: The Unconquered Country Terry Glavin (Vancouver: New Star Books, 1992), 98-103.

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Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History