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

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Travel and Adventure in the Territory of Alaska

Omitting all details of a tedious passage, we arrived at Bute Inlet on the 22nd March, and getting a fair breeze, we made the mouth of the Homathco River the same day. On entering the inlet, the transition from the low rocky islands of the Gulf of Georgia to the precipitous snow-capped mountains of the mainland was very marked. The skipper, who knew the Norway coast, said that it exactly resembled the scenery of the “Fiords." The snow, then fast melting, yielded many a streamlet which glided peacefully through the forest to the sea, and many a thundering cataract which fell over bare and abrupt cliffs. Near the river some Chilicoten Indians paddled out in their canoes, and came on board to get a free ride. They had rings through their noses, were much painted, and wore the inevitable blanket of the coast. For the rest, there was nothing very characteristic in their costume; some having a shirt without breeches, some breeches without a shirt. Two of them were picturesque with wolf-skin robes, hair turned inwards, and the outer side adorned with fringes of tails derived from marten or squirrel. Among them one old hag attracted some notice, from her repulsive appearance and the short pipe which she seemed to enjoy.

On nearing a small wharf already erected at the mouth of the river, a solitary white man, Mr. C-----, made his appearance, and was evidently glad to see us. He had been left in charge of stores, mules, &c., during winter, and the Indians had at times threatened his life.

An amusing incident had occurred during his stay. He had missed many small things from his log house, and could not catch the thief, whoever he might be, but who he had reason to believe must have entered the cabin by the large open chimney. At last he got a friend to go inside with a quarter of a pound of gunpowder, and locking the door, made pretence of leaving, but crept back near the house to watch the result. Soon, an Indian came stealthily along, sans culottes, sans everything. He climbed on the roof, and got nearly down the chimney, when the man inside threw the powder on the smouldering ashes, and off it went. The Indian went off also! and with a terrific yell; but over his condition a veil must be drawn. He afforded for some time afterwards a very wholesome warning to his tribe, being unable to sit or lie down.

These people appeared to be very bare of provisions, and disputed with their wretched “cayota" dogs anything that we threw out of our camp, in the shape of bones, bacon rind, or tea leaves, and similar luxuries. Many of them were subsequently employed in packing goods on their backs, always carrying their loads fixed to a strap which came round and over their foreheads. As they would pack 100 lbs. and upwards this way, their heads must be regarded as tolerably strong and thick! Some of them were also employed in building the road….

Source: Frederick Whymper, "Travel and Adventure in the Territory of Alaska" (Ann Arbor: University Microfilms, Inc., 1966), 19-20.

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Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History