The Chilcoaten Indians – The Murderers of Mr. Waddington’s Party
The Daily British Colonist, May 12, 1864
As the particulars of the fearful massacre laid before our readers in another column will doubtless invest the blood thirsty perpetrators with a horrible interest, we give a brief description of the tribe, their numbers, appearance, &c., as furnished us by a former packer on the Bentinck Arm trail, and who has also travelled over the entire Bute Inlet route.
The full number of warriors in the tribe does not exceed 50 men at the outside, with about 100 women and children. The men are a very large athletic race, many of them being over 6 feet in height, and stout in proportion. They are well armed with muskets and large knives, and have also a good many revolvers. Although they have been described as Horse Indians they have but very few horses only 8 or 9 being in their possession last winter. Their headquarters lie about 100 miles from the head of Bute Inlet, on the shores of the Benshee, Tatla, and Chilcoaten Lakes. Benchee Lake is about 7 miles long, Tatla Lake about 25 miles long, and Chilcoaten Lake about 6 or 7 miles long. The lakes are surrounded by prairies and low rolling hills, dotted here and there with trees, and teem with fish, which form the chief food of the Indians. This tribe is extremely warlike, and is the terror of the Coast Indians, who fly at their approach. Although they are well supplied with flint-lock muskets they are short of flints, and are in addition rather poor marksmen, not having been long in the possession of fire-arms. They are described as very cowardly and treacherous.
About 40 miles from this tribe is located another and more powerful tribe, named the Sit-leece Indians, or Anni-hums, after their principal chief. They number about 100 warriors, and closely resemble the Chilcoatens, with whom they are on the most friendly terms, and they may therefore be taken into account as forming common cause with the latter, in any operations against them. They are also well armed, having more revolvers that the Chilcoatens, and the two tribes taken together would doubtless form a dangerous enemy.
The Sit-leece Indians have a species of fort or stockade at Nacootlon, on the Bentinck Arm trail, formed of a row of stout stakes, about 6 feet high, and firmly driven into the ground; they also have another of a similar description, but not so strong, about 8 miles distant. They do not usually live in these in summer, however, being occupied in fishing on the lakes. Our informant is of opinion that in the event of these tribes being attacked, they would either fly in the direction of Fort Alexandria, on the Fraser, or towards Knight’s Inlet on the coast, as only in these nieghborhoods could they obtain sufficient supplies of fish for sustenance. Our informant, who is a young athletic man, and is quite willing to act as guide to any party sent in pursuit of the murderers, states that the best way to secure the wretches would be for one party to go by Bute Inlet, another by Bentinck Arm, while a third came on them from the rear by way of Alexandria. By this means the Indians would be cut off from the only practicable mode of escape.
Source: "The Chilcoaten Indians — The Murderers of Mr. Waddington's Party," Daily British Colonist, May 12, 1864.
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