Sunday, December 18, 2011

A little more on the Stuwi'x people of the Nicola Valley

As you know, I am searching for information on Blackeye, the Similkameen Chief who Anderson met in 1846 at the foot of the Coquihalla.
My research has brought me to the Stuwi'x people who were found in the Nicola valley about the time Anderson was there -- they have since disappeared or been absorbed by other tribes.
They are also called Nicola Valley Athapascans, and Archibald McDonald's 1827 map of the Similkameen Valley shows that, to him, the "Schimilicameachs" occupied the valley of the Similkameen (Red Water Branch), the Tulameen River, and Nicola Valley up to the junction of the Nicola River with the Coldwater, west of Nicola Lake.
[This map says it was drawn by 'Andrew McDonald' of the HBC in 1827, but I believe that it was Archibald, not Andrew. Archibald McDonald's map is in the B.C.Archives and so I should check and see what it says].
A second map from Langley Museum shows the Nicola Valley Athapascans occupying the Similkameen valley from Keremeos west to the Tulameen, and northward through the Nicola Valley almost all the way to the junction of the Nicola with the Thompson River.
Ashnola (where Ashnola John resided) is close to Keremeos and so Ashnola John might have been Blackeye's son -- as I have speculated previously -- or he might have just been a Native chief that Anderson would have come to know in the years he led the Fort Colvile brigades through the Similkameen valley.
So, that question has not been answered, yet.

But another early article on the Stuwi'x people has been brought to my attention, and while I think it does not prove anything, it offers more interesting information that might lead to an answer.
This information on the Stuwi'x is found in the Tenth Report on the North-Western Tribes of Canada, found on -- another good resource if you are going to research the Natives of Canada!

From the Fifth Report on the Indians of British Columbia, by Franz Boas, 1895:
"During the months from September to December 1894, I revisited British Columbia under instructions of the Committee, the object of the journey being to fill, so far as possible, gaps left in previous investigations....
"On account of lack of time I was unable to visit the He'iltsuq, and for the same reason I delegated the work in Nicola Valley to Mr. James Teit, of Spence's Bridge, who is thoroughly conversant with the language and the customs of the Ntlakya'pamuq [Nlaka'pamux]. His report will be found embodied in the following pages....
"II. The Tinneh tribe of Nicola Valley, by Mr. James Teit (p.30)-"
Here, following, is what James Teit had to say, after his visit to the Nicola Valley in March 1895:

"I saw the three old men who are said to know the old Stuwi'hamuq language, which was formerly spoken in Nicola Valley, and found that they only remembered a few words of what they had heard from their fathers. One of them could only give me five or six words, another one twelve, and another one twenty... One Indian, who also knows some words of the language, is living at present in Similkameen; therefore I was unable to see him. It is unfortunate that the work of collecting the remains of the language was not undertaken a few years sooner. An old woman who was half Stuwi'hamuq died in Nicola only five years ago. She was the last person who could talk the language properly. The three Indians whom I saw are only one quarter Stuwi'hamuq blood; each of them is old and white-haired, and I should judge over seventy years of age. One of them said he remembered that when he was a boy his grandfather (who was by then a very old man and hardly able to walk) pointed out to him the spot on the Nicola a little below the lake where he (the old man) was born, and also told him that his people had always inhabited that region. This old man must have been born in Nicola at least 120 years ago, and it seems that he had no knowledge of the origin of his tribe."

So already, in 1895, the Stuwi'x have almost disappeared into the tribes that surrounded them. Tait continues further down the page;
"They have a tradition that at one time their tribe was numerous and that their southern boundary extended to Keremeous, on the Lower Similkameen River. They have no tradition regarding a foreign origin, and were quite indignant when I mentioned to them Mr. McKay's theory of their being descended from a war party of Chilcotin... Their personal names, so far back as they can trace them, are ... Ntlakya'pamuq [Nlaka'pamux]. The oldest personal name that they could give me was that of a man of note among them called Tsuqkokwa's. This is the only name that I do not recognize as Ntlakya'pamuq [Nlaka'pamux]. They said that the pure Stuwi'hamuq whom they had seen were of about the same height as the Ntlakya'pamuq [Nlaka'pamux] and Okanagan, but generally heavier in build. They were also of the same complexion. Their features were slightly different, but they could not explain wherein the difference consisted..."

But later in the story is an interesting addition, which has been mentioned in my previous posting, I believe:
"One of the old men whom I saw, named Tcuie'ska or Sesuluskin, is the first person of the Ntlakya'pamuq [Nlaka'pamux] whom I have seen tattooed on the body. He is one quarter Stuwi'hamuq, one quarter Okanagan, and half Nkamtei'nemuq. He said that formerly the Stuwi'hamuq were occasionally tattooed on the body, as were also some of the Nkamtci'nemuq."

Who are the 'Nkamtci'nemuq' today?

Boas finishes his report -- and Teit's -- with this conclusion: "From what we know about Indian life, Mr. McKay's theory that the Stuwi'hamuq are descendants of a Chilcotin war party, which was hemmed in by the Ntlakya'kpamuq [Nlaka'pamux], seeems very unlikely, and Mr. Teit's data prove beyond a doubt that the people have lived in the Similkameen and Nicola regions for a long time. I do not doubt that they must be considered the most northern of the isolated bands of Tinneh origin which are found all along the Pacific coast." However, in the next paragraph he says that the dialect "was much more closely related to the Tinneh languages of British Columbia than to those farther south, although it would seem to have differed from the former also considerably."

So, still clear as mud. But it has occurred to me that I should check Alexander Caulfield Anderson's writing to see what he had to say.
In his "Notes on North-Western America," which was published in Montreal and accompanied his 'Skeleton Map of North-West America' to the gigantic Philadelphia International Expedition of 1876, he writes quite a long paragraph about the Tinneh people:
"The Chipewyan race, who for convenience sake are now classed as the "Dinee" or "Tinneh" tribes, occupy as will be seen a very extensive tract. They have evidently been great wanderers; for to them the isolated sept of the Sarcees of the Saskatchewan owes its origin; and a similar offset, the Klatskanai (now extinct), not very long ago inhabited the highlands beyond the mouth of the Columbia River, while traces of the language appear even farther south.
"Dinneh means literally a man...."

In this manuscript he speaks of the people who live and lived in North West British Columbia, but does not appear to have recognized that Blackeye was Tinneh -- which may mean he was not.
But in scraps of a manuscript written by A.C. Anderson and stored in his son's fonds in the archives, he has a lot to say about identifying Natives:
"In dealing with the subject I have only mentioned those heads of tribes which have always stood prominently forward as representative of the multitude of minor divisions and subdivisions of tribes or families.
"It must be borne in mind that in attempting to make a [division] the lines of demarcation are of a very arbitrary nature in any attempt to define the territorial limits of the nomadic tribes inhabiting the wild part of North America & to arrive at any degree of accuracy as to the proper division of those tribes living conterminously with each other on or near the boundaries or apparent boundaries would require years of study of their habits, physical characteristics & language -- certainly much more than I have had the opportunity of giving the subject & it seems almost presumptuous to attempt even a rough sketch such as I have given without a more thorough knowledge of all the points so necessary in arriving at conclusions as to the derivation & relationship of the different races under review."
Anderson knew George Mercer Dawson (in fact it was Dawson that he wrote this manuscript for), and I believe that McKay was the Kamloops Indian agent when Anderson was acting as Dominion Indian Commissioner in 1877.
I think he probably had to explain to both men -- and to others such as the Royal Engineers -- that identifying the various Native tribes in British Columbia was not going to be an easy task.
I think I agree with him.

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