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

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Duncan to Douglas

British Columbia
6 March 1863

His Excellency
James Douglas [C.B.?]
Governor of Vancouver Island
& British Columbia


The Tsimshean Indians who have lately removed from Fort Simpson under my superintendance and settled here, are very anxious to tender your Excellency their warmest thanks for the very liberal & timely aid which you have rendered them in building their new village....

In obedience to your Excellency's kind wish I will proceed to lay before you a few particulars respecting our new Indian Mission settlement.

Your Excellency is aware of the dreadfull plague of the Smallpox with which it pleased Almighty God to visit the Indians of the Coast last year & by which many thousands of them were swept away.

It was on the 15th May or two days before the sad intelligence of the outbreak of that fatal disease reached us that we made our first move to our new settlement & very providentially indeed for us that all those who had intended joining me arrived before the plague began to spread at Fort Simpson.

While I am sorry indeed to inform your Excellency that five hundred or one-fifth of the Tsimshean Indians at Fort Simpson have fallen, I have gratefully to acknowledge God's sparing mercy to us as a village. We had only four fatal cases amongst those who originally left Fort Simpson with me & three of these deaths were caused by attending to sick relations who came to us after they had taken the disease. Yet so fearful was the amount of death & deslation on every side of us till about the end of September that the Indians had but little spirit for building or even gathering their necessary food for the winter - thus it was, they found inclement weather upon them long before they were properly housed.

In addition to the great amount of labour & trouble attending upon moving and building new houses we have had to encounter great opposition from many of the Indians at Fort Simpson who in spite of the great warnings they have had continue to be steeped in drunkenness & heathenism....

Trusting by Gods blessing upon us we shall go on improving & continue to merit your Excellency's favour & goodwill.

I have the honor to remain
with warmest gratitude
Your Excellency's humble &
obedient servant.
William Duncan

Source: BCA, Colonial Correspondence, GR-1372, F498, Mflm B-1326, William Duncan, Letter to James Douglas, March 6, 1863.

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