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

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George McDougall to John Stuart

[18 January 1822]

...After...consulting with Mr. McDonell, as to going to the Chilk otins...and being apprehensive, a similar opportunity might not again offer for some time, of ascertaining whether any thing could be expected from that Quarter, added to which my having promised the three Indians of that Place who came here in Octr. last, that we would possitively pay them a visit in the Winter, I decided on going then...Mr. McBean, myself, Duncan Livingston with 11 Men and an Indian as Guide left this on the 2nd [January], when Mr. McDonell remained in charge during my absence. The Roads were so bad, the Weather so mild, added to the great depth of Snow, It was not till the evening of the 7th day we got to the River, the 8th day or 9th inst. we got to a Lodge where we saw 3 Indians & their Families, who could barely give us Salmon for all hands for one night, they had no Beaver, having worked it all into 3 or 4 New Beaver Robes we [had] seen on their backs, we left them at 1/2 past 2 P.M. & after proceeding 8 Miles along the Banks of a remarkable Shallow & Rappid River, but bordered by agreeable & extensive Plains, we encamped, the next morning we again proceeded upwards about 8 or 9 Miles which brought us to two ground Lodges containing 9 or 10 Families who had a few Furs, but had we been able to come in the beginning of December, much more could have been obtained, for even in these 2 Lodges we [had] seen 7 or 8 fine New Robes, that must have been made within a month, here we decided on making a Stop & sent an Indian to get the nearest hand Indians to come to our camp with what few Furs they might have, our first messenger returned with a few Indians, who told us their freinds would have come, but doubted the messenger we sent, as to our being there, we therefore sent off another about noon the 11th having decided on waiting to see if more would come, in the mean time several stragglers came, but brought but little, the morning of the 12th we got 3 or 4 Beaver Skins from some others who came, and they very candidly told us, they had killed a number of Beaver in the Fall, purposely to trade with us, but finding we did not come and the cold weather coming on, they made all the Beaver they had into Robes, they also appeared willing to trade them with us, could we have given them any thing in lieu, with which they could cover themselves, however that being impossible & altho’ by losing a few days more travelling among them, we might have picked up a few more Beaver Skins, I thought it more prudent and advantageous to return, we therefore left them the afternoon of the 12th with only 12 Parchment Beaver, 3 dressed ditto, 1 Beaver Robe, 1 Silver Fox, 1 Large & 1 Small Beaver Skin, weighing 37 lbs. It is by far the poorest trip of its kind I ever made, however I have every reason to think it will be attended with many salutary advantages at a future period, they are certainly a fine brave looking set of Indians, whose lands are far from being poor either, as to Beaver or Large Animals.

If we can judge from what was told us & that part of their lands which fell under our immediate Eye coroborated, a part, while their Dress was still a farther proof of what they told us, the Men being generally well and warmly clad, with good Chevreux, Elk, as well as some Carriboux Skins as Blankets, with good Leggings of excellent Leather, their Women, those we seen as well the Children are in general covered with good Beaver Robes, we did not see a Single Indian Man or Woman bare legged, nor with any thing of a shabby covering on their backs, from those we seen & who appeared to have some authority among them, we got much information respecting their Country in general, with which they seemed to part as freely & heartily as they appeared cheerful at our first arrival among them, the result of our enquiries were briefly this.

The West side of the River abounds with Lakes & Small Rivers where there is a quantity of Beaver & of almost all kinds of Fish in their proper season, the East side produce[s] but few fish or Beaver, but is their favourite hunting grounds for Large Animals, we also saw some moose Skins, which animal they also have on their Lands, but it appears that the Carriboux are the most numerous at certain seasons; from what we saw of the River, it appears about 50 or 60 yards wide, running from North to South, taking its water from a Large Lake which they say is about half a mile broad & takes them two days En Canot to go from the entrance to its extremity, extending in the same direction as the River, which River they say yeilds them abundance salmon in its Season.

In short if a person could believe them, their Lands abound with Milk & honey but without doubt, they, when once supplyed with proper implements to work the Beaver, will be a great acquisition to this Establishment [Alexandria] & possibly in time might deserve an Establishment among themselves, they took great fancy to all our Iron works, but more particularly to our Traps. Ammunition I think they will freely purchase, some took a little even now, one of them had a Gun, it was one of Barnetts 1808, he says he and several others have had Guns from Indians who come from the Sea, at the extremity of this Lake of theirs, they cross over a Mountain, which portage takes them from 5 to 6 days light, where they fall upon a River running in a Southerly direction & said to empty itself into the Sea. By dint of enquiry & with the help of small sticks, we made out to get nearly their strength, they say there are 6 Large Ground Lodges about the Lake, containing 53 Families from the place where we fall upon the River to the entrance of the Lake 25 & below that 4 others, in all along the River 29 Lodges containing 131 Families, they have one great Chief & 4 others somewhat respected; from the entrance of the Lake to where Chilk otin river falls into the Frasers River, it takes them when light 3 days good walking. Our course or track from this to fall upon that River, was in general S. & S.S.E. a distance of nearly 100 Miles, through a rugged & mountainous Country having no less than 4 Mountains to Cross...on the 16th we all returned safe….[The Chilcotin Indians] possitively promised to work the Beaver well this Spring &...come across in the early part of the Summer with what hunts they may make….

Source: BCA, Manuscript, Fort Chilcotin, MM/C43, George McDougall, Letter to John Stuart, January 18, 1822, 1-4.

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