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

Tsilhqot’in Warfare by James Teit, 1909

[ Bull Canyon, Bull Canyon where , according to oral history, the Tsilhqotin lured Bella Coola invaders and ambushed them., Liam Haggerty, Copyright Great Unsolved Mysteries Project  ]

In warfare large expeditions appear to have been the exception. To judge from tradition, most wars were waged with the Carrier of Fraser and Nechaco Rivers; and in these fights the Chilcotin claim that they generally were victorious, although the enemy sometimes retaliated with varying success. There are traditions of the Chilcotin attacking the Carrier of Alexandria twice; and Father Morice mentions their war of about 1745, when they practically exterminated the inhabitants of the Carrier village of Chinlac at the mouth of Stuart River. There is also a tradition of their attacking and burning a village of the Coast Indians on one of the inlets south of Bella Coola, when they killed many people and took a large number of slaves.

It seems that the tribe never fought with the Bella Coola, and their fighting with the Lillooet and Shuswap consisted principally of affrays between hunting-parties. The Carrier of Fraser and Nechaco Rivers, the Shuswap, and on one occasion the Lillooet, appear to have been the only tribes who ever attacked the Chilcotin. The Coast Indians never did. About 1748 a large number of Chilcotin were killed by the Carrier in revenge for the Chinlac massacre.

On a little flat below a cliff on the north side of the Chilcotin River, a little east of the mouth of the Chilco, may be seen a number of bowlders, which, according to tradition, are the transformed bodies of Alexandria warriors who strayed over the cliff in the dark while on the way to attack a camp of Chilcotin who lived in the vicinity....

In war, besides bows and arrows and daggers, the Chilcotin used spears with stone and antler points, and clubs with stone heads, like those of the Shuswap. In later days, arrow and spear heads and knives were made of iron. Cuirasses of wood, and thick elk-hide shirts, were worn by some warriors. I did not hear of any forts or fortified camps being in use.

Source: James Teit, "Warfare" in The Jesup North Pacific Expedition, Memoir of the American Museum of Natural History, Franz Boas (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1909), 784-785.

Return to parent page

Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History