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

Murders or War?

[ HBC Flintlock Detail, Detail of the HBC standard trade musket in use in the Chilcotin in the 1860 and 1870s showing the trademark snake. This one was manufactured in 1878, Unknown,   ]

Depending on how you look at it, the Tsilhqot’in attacked and killed unsuspecting and unarmed civilians, or they were defending their territory against a lethal threat. Did the colony respond to the deaths as a series of crimes requiring a judicial response or as a war that required a military response? The evidence lies in the documents, divided here loosely by the main events, though some of the correspondence and newspapers refer to the multiple events.

One of the main issues in reconstructing the events is the delay in communication. It sometimes took weeks for a letter to pass from the heart of the Cariboo or the Chilcotin Plateau back to the capitals of New Westminster and Victoria, and then up to four to six months for the British Colonial Office in London to receive this information and send instructions back to colonial officials in British Columbia and Vancouver Island. As a result, the colonial officials and newspapers were responding to events that were two weeks old and their instructions would take two weeks to get back to the field, during which time a lot had transpired.

Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History