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

Tsilhqot’in Culture

[ Tsilhqot'in Coiled Basket, Hand Maul and Unidentified Tool, Image Courtesy of Royal British Columbia Museum., Carey and McAllister, Victoria, RBCM PN 7384-B ]

The Tsilhqot’in (also called the Chilcotin) people are the most southern of the Athapascan-speaking Aboriginal people in British Columbia. Their traditional territory, the undulating Chilcotin Plateau, is one of the roofs of the world. Tipped up on the west by the Coast Range and sloping down to the Fraser River, the average elevation is 1,300-1,600 metres (4-5,000 feet).

Today, the Tsilhqot’in people live in Alexandria, north of Williams Lake, British Columbia, and in a string of communities accessible from Williams Lake on Highway 20, paved now, but only completely so in the past few years. From east to west one encounters Toosey [Tl’esqoxt’in], Stone [Yunesit’in], Anaham [Tl’etinqox], Redstone [Tsi Del Del], and the mixed Tsilhqot’in-Carrier community of Ulkatcho at Anahim Lake. South from Highway 20 an hour and a half along a gravel road is the Nemiah Valley home of the Xeni-Gwet’in.

Aside from the aboriginal communities, there are only two small unincorporated towns in the whole region: Alexis Creek and Anahim Lake, the largest, with 522 people. Numerically, at least, the Tsilhqot’in still dominate the Chilcotin plateau.

What we know about the Tsilhqot’in culture in the 1860s comes from three sources: what anthropologists have researched and written about them, what their oral history remembers, and fur trade records, which are reprinted in the next section.

Tsilhqot'in Stories

Oral History or Interview

Anthropologist Stories

Chapters in Books

Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History