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


The method used to capture Klatsassin and his party left an uneasy feeling with the judge, the governor and the press, but the trials proceeded in any case. The trials are especially interesting both because they recap the events, and because the voice of the aboriginal participants was recorded by the judges at the trials or in the pre-trial process and offer a rare contemporary insight into Tsilhqot’in motivations.

For a full month after the trials were complete, the field force was still ranging over the plateau and the coastal inlets trying to track down the remaining participants but came up empty-handed. Klatsassin himself said that there were 21 implicated in the events, but only nine were ever tried and only seven convicted. The Tsilhqot’in had lost six of their number to the hangman and three others in the conflict, but when the field force withdrew, they had full possession of their territory and a reputation for being dangerous.

Today, the Chilcotin War looms large on the plateau and among the Tsilhqot’in. It became one of the focuses of a provincial justice inquiry in 1993. Today the Tsilhqot’in Nation celebrates Klatsassin Memorial Day on the anniversary of his hanging and they use his determination to drive out the colonists as a key point in their long struggle to protect their territory.

Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History