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The Chilcotin War
Transcript of The Chilcotin War
By Hayley Eng & Hillary Zhu
Actions of the Chilcotin Chiefs and Colonial Troops
Significance of the Governor joining in
How did each side view the conflict?
The Chilcotin conflict is said to have started when William Brewster had found that a store of flour had been taken and blamed the Chilcotin people for the missing flour. Brewster then continued to threaten the Chilcotin people with threats of smallpox and other diseases. The leaders of the Chilcotin people then formed a group of warriors which led various attacks which resulted in few deaths of the colonial workers. The Governor of BC, Frederick Seymour, then formed two military groups who then searched for the Chilcotin warriors. After run-ins together and deaths of both Chilcotin people and Colonial men, 6 chiefs went to the Colonial camp to negotiate peace. Unfortunately, instead of negotiating for peace, the chiefs were then arrested, found guilty and hung. The last chief was hung one year later after the others since there was not enough supporting evidence. In total, hundreds of Chilcotins, 15 Europeans, and 6 chiefs died.
Governor Frederick Seymour took the matter into his own hands after the advice from former Governor Douglas suggested to first attain information of the attack, send a small party of armed militia, and give out rewards for tracking the party down. With the governor himself, participating in the war, it showed how important this event was. It wasn't just another argument between the Europeans and the First Nations but a real conflict and problem. Such a huge problem, that the governor was notified about it.
February 17, 1865
Vol XCIII, No. 311
Summary of the Chilcotin Conflict
Massacre? Something Else?
What started out as a massacre after smallpox spread, evidently became a war. This event was referred to as a massacre, a rebellion, a war, and this was the type of reaction that the Europeans would call "resistance."
Even though peace was brought up on one side, communication between the two party's became difficult as it was a conflict that ended with the death of at least 15 European settlers and the hanging of six Chilcotin chiefs.
The Chilcotin War
The chiefs created a group of warriors which went to attack the colonials and get rid of them from their territory
In Late April, headed towards the colonial camp and destroyed the ferry
Entered Colonial camp and killed a bunch of Europeans
Killed Manning at his homestead, who is later found by the colonial troops
Retreat and go into hiding once hearing that the colonials are forming military groups to go after them
After the death of McLean, the Chilcotin go to the colonials to negotiate peace
In 1858, the discovery of gold in the Cariboo contributed to the events of 1864. Many miners were coming in to search for gold from the Fraser River and Brother Jonathan,a miner had smallpox that spread throughout to thousands of people in British Columbia and Vancouver Island. In 1862, smallpox stroke again and almost half the Chilcotin population was wiped out. The Chilcotin people have always practiced their traditional lifestyle and did not involve themselves in the fur trade. While The Hudson's Bay Company did not succeed in building forts in their area. During the Gold Rush, many Europeans came into the Chilcotin people's territories without permission and used their land. They did not pay the Chilcotin people anything and in turn, brought them diseases. While the Chilcotin population declined, and the people began to starve, the Europeans were disrespectful, not willing to share their food with the First Nations and instead threw them into the fire. Aside from the fact that the Europeans were coming in and taking over the Chilcotin's land, they also wanted to preserve and save their culture and not be forced into assimilation. Finally the last reason, that the Chilcotin people attacked the Europeans, was that William Brewster threatened to bring more smallpox upon them that would kill more of their people. This frightened the Chilcotin people and the chiefs decided it was time to stand up and defend their people.
Formed two military groups to search for the Chilcotin warriors
One group to move eastward and one to move westward led by William Cox
Search for the Chilcotin people but are never able to locate them
After McLean dies, Cox's group of military retreat back to Bendziny
When the Chilcotin chiefs come to negotiate peace, troops arrest them and hang them after finding them guilty
On the colonial side, the reasons why they fought back to the Chilcotin people was to defend their workers, as it was clear the Chilcotin warriors were set to kill all of them. The Colonial troops saw the attacks from the Chilcotin people as unwanted and without reason they retaliated.
Evidence That Supports & Does Not Support it Being Called a War
The Europeans had grouped together men to form a military. As well as the Chilcotin, who gathered men to form a group which could act as their military
They were fighting over a political topic; the rights for those who get to use and claim land
Both sides were forewarned that the enemy was heading their way.
There were casualties of war: hundreds of Chilcotin, 15 Europeans, 6 Chilcotin Chiefs
Both sides had military weapons to use such as guns
Seymour developed a strategy for Cox's war party.
The Chilcotin had gone into their camp and killed unarmed men who had been inside their tents
The settlers had killed hundreds of Chilcotin people by bringing their diseases which spread through the miners making their way through the land
The settlers had hung 6 chiefs in total, who had originally come to settle for peace amongst the two group.
Background of the Chilcotin Conflict