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.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Angus McDonald

James Robert Anderson, son of Alexander Caulfield Anderson, was about ten years old when he first met Angus McDonald, his father's clerk at Fort Colvile.
James wrote of Mcdonald in his memoirs, "Notes and Comments on early days in British Columbia," and it is very obvious that he adored the man.
The story I am telling below took place in either 1849 or 1850, by which time young James knew Angus quite well.
"A few days before the date of my Father's expected arrival on his return journey from Fort Langley," James wrote, "Mr. Angus McDonald the gentleman in charge of the post in the Flathead country, made his appearance to await the brigade and convey his outfit to the post.
"Two days before my father was due, Mr. McDonald suggested to my Mother that he and I should proceed a day's journey to meet my Father.
"This having been decided upon, we made a start after breakfast on our horses for the Mission where we were to cross the Columbia, but what was our chagrin when we espied my Father cantering towards the Fort by another road.
"Having his eyes fixed on his destination he did not see us, and we had to follow ignominously in his wake.
"Needless to say, we were most unmercifully chaffed...."

Angus, who liked to surprise and tease people, would have been especially humiliated at missing the return of Anderson to Fort Colvile.
He must have felt very humbled when he and James rode into Fort Colvile, long after Anderson had arrived at the place.
But Angus would have recovered his good mood almost immediately.
McDonald entertained the Anderson family with his poems and music on many occasions, and that evening would have been one of them.
James wrote that "it was a treat to hear him sing in Gaelic, strutting about as if in the act of playing the bagpipes and to see him dance the sword dance."

James continued with McDonald's story -- a short biography:
"Angus McDonald lived and died in the interior; he was always employed in the Flathead country and vicinity and as late as 1860 was in charge of Fort Colvile....
"He was a rough specimen of a Highlander and despised many customs as effeminate.
"I met him last at Fort Vancouver about 1865 and on that occasion he expressed his contempt of the galvanic battery offering to take the highest charge.
"Dr. Benson accepted the challenge and I was deputed to work the instrument; it was an old-fashioned concern and in the act of increasing the voltage the bar slipped and the highest charge was given.
"McDonald gave a yell and dropped to the ground much to his consternation and disgust."
Another humiliation for Angus McDonald...

According to Steve Anderson's biography, called "Angus McDonald of the Great Divide: The Uncommon Life of a Fur Trader, 1816-1889," [Museum of North Idaho Press, 2011] McDonald was born in seaside village of Craig, in Ross-shire (Scotland) in 1816 -- which date makes him only a few years younger than Alexander Caulfield Anderson.
McDonald's parents were farmers who moved to Dingwall when their child was quite young, and Angus went to school in that town and for a short time clerked in a Dingwall business.
In 1838, Angus joined the fur trade and in spring 1839 he was assigned to his great-uncle Archibald McDonald's post of Fort Colvile.
Angus McDonald travelled west with Roderick Finlayson, Dr. John McLoughlin, and apprentice clerk Dugald McTavish (who kept a journal of the journey west); he was rescued from death by drowning in a Columbia River whirlpool by Big Michel, Fort Colvile's French-Canadian/Cree steersman.
All in all he had enough of adventures by the time he reached Fort Colvile -- but that thirst for adventure would not long be diminished.

After a short stint at Fort Colvile, Angus was sent into the Snake District, to work with Francis Ermatinger -- a man who could "equal any free trapper when swilling whiskey or injecting foul language into a conversation."
But Ermatinger was a good trader and a willing teacher, and taught his young protege a great deal about the Snake District's fur trade.

Angus McDonald was a writer and a poet, and because of this common interest, he and Anderson got along very well.
His writing and poems are featured in Steve Anderson's book; McDonald described the voyageur Joseph Monique's "personal appearance was as proposing as was his singular address in the prow of his canoe or barge...One glance of that fiery black eye of his read leagues of the turbulent stream at once."
But Monique drowned on one of his river journeys, and Angus wrote his first poem after the voyageur's death:
"Up! Boy up! The day stands blue to his steep
I hear the hoarse cheer of the winds rushing strong from the deep
Quick! Boy! Quick! [Up] from the frost covered yoke where you kneel
And ride the bold pride, of the torrents that long for your keel...."

From one of the captions in Steve's book I learn that when McDonald took charge of Fort Colvile after Anderson left the place, the fort itself had deteriorated significantly -- a sign of Anderson's unhappiness at Fort Colvile, I presume.
But of course the fur trade in the Columbia district was in serious decline and no one knew how long the British fur traders would be allowed to remain in what had become American territory -- perhaps Anderson felt it was just not worthwhile to maintain Fort Colvile to any degree.
I know that when Anderson arrived the fort, its palisades were long gone.
Because of the Cayuse War that now inflamed the Columbia River south of Fort Colvile, Anderson ordered the construction of new palisades around the main part of the fort.
According to Angus McDonald, this smaller stockaded area enclosed the north side of the fort and the fort's offices.

From a book called "Readings in Pacific Northwest History," [I have no other information on publisher to give] I found a description of the buildings at Fort Colvile, at the time Angus McDonald was in charge.
From an article "Fort Colvile Dispatches the Winter's Fur Catch," from a book by John K. Lord, "At Home in the Wilderness: What to Do There and How to Do it," (3rd ed., London, 1876) pp. 53-63 -- "It may prove interesting en passant, to give a brief outline of the plan adopted by all the far inland fur-trading posts, for the conveyance of the year's furs to the place....
"As a description of one will apply with equal force to all of them, I shall select for description Fort Colville [sic], which is situate on the banks of the Upper Columbia about 1,000 miles from the seaboard.
"This quaint old place, one of the Company's earliest trading stations west of the Rocky Mountains, is worthy of a passing description as affording a good example of the fur-trader's 'Home in the Wilderness.'
"The trader's house is quadrangular in shape, and built of heavy trees squared and piled one upon another...
"The visitor, on entering the somewhat ponderous portals of this primitive mansion, finds himself in a large room dimly lighted by two small windows, the furniture of which, designed more for use than ornament, consists of a few rough chairs and a large deal table, the latter occupying the centre of the room.
"Looking beneath this table one cannot fail to notice an immense padlock, which evidently fastens a trap-door, and if you happen to be a guest of the chief trader, (and here I must add as a result of long experience that the Hudson's Bay Company's traders are the most hospitable kind-hearted fellows I ever met with), the probabilities are greatly in favour of your discovering the secret of the trap-door, very soon after you enter the room.
"The table pushed back, the trap-door is unfastened, and the trader descends into a dark mysterious looking cave, soon however to emerge with a jug of rum, or something equally toothsome.
"Now, if you are of an inquisitive turn of mind, you may find out that in this underground store-room, all valuables are deposited and secured.
"This room beneath which the cavern has been excavated, has some person to occupy it night and day, and the chief trader sleeps in it; hence it is next to impossible that the savages could steal anything unless they forcibly sacked and pillaged the establishment.
"An immense hearth-fire, both warms and lights this dreary sitting room, for at least eight months of the year..."

Then this gentleman goes on to describe the trading shop... "The trading shop, and store of goods employed in bartering with the savages, adjoins the trader's house, although not actually a part of it; and the fur-trader stands therein behind a high counter, to make his bargains.
"The Indians have a curious custom in their barterings, which is, to demand payment for each skin separately, and if a savage had fifty marten skins to dispose of, he would only sell or barter one at a time, and insist on being paid for them one by one.
"Hence it often occupies the trader many days to purchase a large bale of peltries from an Indian trapper....
"In many of the Posts the trade room is cleverly contrived, so as to prevent a sudden rush of Indians, the approach from outside the pickets being through a long narrow passage, only of sufficient width to admit one Indian at a time, the passage being bent at an acute angle near the window, where the trader stands."
Note that this is not necessarily how Fort Colvile was set up; the Natives here were quite friendly with the fur traders and these precautions may not have been needed.
"This precaution is rendered necessary, inasmuch as were the passage straight, the savages might easily shoot him [the fur trader]...
"Over the fur shop are large lofts for storing and drying the furs in as they are collected.
"Beyond this a smith's shop, a few small log shanties, and an immense 'corral,' for keeping the horses in, whilst fitting out the 'brigade,' make up all that is noteworthy as far as the buildings are concerned at Fort Colvile...
"The houses are by no means uncomfortable, and I can truthfully say, many of the happiest evenings of my life, have been passed in the 'big room' at Fort Colvile."

This writer also described the brigades to Fort Hope, though he was very critical of the brigade system.
"This journey from Colvile to Hope occupies nearly three months for its accomplishment.
"About the beginning of June preparations commence at Fort Colvile for the Brigade.
"The horses (the Hudson's Bay Company never use mules), in number about 120 to 150, are brought by the 'Indian Herders,' who have had charge of them during the winter, to a spot called the 'Horse Guard,' about three miles from the fort, where there is an abundance of succulent grass and a good stream of water.
"Here the animals are taken care of by the trustworthy Indians until their equipment or 'rigging' is ready, which process is at the same time going on at the fort.
"Here some thirty or forty savages may be seen squatting round the door of the fur-room; some of them are stitching pads and cushions into the wooden frames of the pack-saddles; others are mending the broken frames; a third group is cutting long thongs of raw hide to serve as girths, or to act in lieu of ropes for lashing and tying; and a fourth is making the peltries up into bales, by the aid of a powerful lever press.
"Each bale is to weigh about sixty pounds, and the contents to be secured from wet by a wrapper of buffalo-hide, the skin side outermost."
[I think it more likely the bales were ninety pounds each, but maybe he's right..]
"This package is then provided with two very strong loops, made from raw hides, for the purpose of suspending it from what are called the 'horns' of the pack-saddle.
"Two of these bales hung up each side of a horse is a load, and a horse so provided is said to be packed.
"When all the preparations are completed the horses are driven in from the 'guard' to the fort, and the packing commences.
"They use no halters, but simply throw a lassoo round the animal's neck, with which it is held whilst being packed; this finished, the lassoo is removed, and the horse is again turned loose into the 'corral,' or on to the open plain, as it may be."

"Let us imagine a horse lassooed up awaiting the operation of packing.
"First a sheep or goat's skin, or a piece of buffalo 'robe', failing either of the former, called an 'apichimo,' is placed on its back, with the fur or hair next to that of the horse, and is intended to prevent galling; next the pack-saddle is put on.
"This miserable affair with its two little pillows or pads, tied into the cross-trees of woodwork, is girthed with a narrow strap of hide, which often, from the swaying of the load, cuts a regular gash into the poor animal's belly.
"Next a bale is hung on either side, and the two are loosely fastened together underneath the horse by a strap of raw hide.
"This completes the operation of packing, and the horse is set free, to await the general start.
"When all the animals are packed, each of the hands who are to accompany this cavalcade mounts his steed; then waving their lassoos round their heads, and vociferating like demons, they collect the band of packed animals, and drive the lot before them as shepherds do a flock of sheep.
"The principal trader, as a general rule, takes command of the brigade, the journey being anticipated by both the master and his men as a kind of yearly recurring jubilee."

If you think that the voyageurs are acting like a bunch of cowboys, then you will appreciate this description of the arrival of the brigade at Fort Hope, from Susan Allison's "A Pioneer Gentlewoman in British Columbia:"
"From the doorway of our shack we could see the Hudson's Bay Company's Post and watch the pack trains come in from Colvile, Keremeos and other places.
"Sometimes there would be a grand stampede and the pack trains would disrupt.
"Horses and men could be seen through a misty cloud of dust, madly dashing all over the Hope flat, lassos flying, dogs barking, hens flying for safety anywhere.
"Suddenly the tempest would subside as fast as it had arisen, the pack boys would emerge from the clouds of dust leading the ring leaders in the stampede..."

Young Susan also described the horses -- "These Hudson's Bay Company horses, though called "cayooses," were most of them splendid animals, hardy and enduring, with lots of good horse sense."
She was told that they were "descended from the Spanish Barb brought to American three hundred years ago by the Spaniards and left to run wild."

And on one occasion, Susan took a walk up the brigade trail to pick berries, and met Angus McDonald on his way to Hope:
"..I heard bells tinkling and looking up saw a light cloud of dust from which emerged a solitary horseman, the most picturesque figure I had ever seen.
"He rode a superb chestnut horse, satiny and well groomed, untired and full of life in spite of the dust, heat and long journey.
"He himself wore a beautifully embroidered buckskin shirt with tags and fringes, buckskin pants, embroidered leggings and soft cowboy hat.
"He was as surprised to see me as I was to see him, for he abruptly reined in his horse and stared down at me, while I equally astonished stared at him.
"Then as the Bell Boy and other horses rode up, he lifted his hat and passed on..."

Monday, December 12, 2011

Native fishermen at Fort Colvile

When Alexander Caulfield Anderson first rode into Fort Colvile in 1849, he might have been privileged to watch one of the fort's most interesting entertainments -- the Native fisheries at Kettle Falls.
In his memoirs, Anderson's son, James Robert, also wrote of these Native fisheries -- sometimes it is hard to tell which description is Anderson's, and which are his son's.
We will begin this chapter with James' Memoirs, when he writes of his journey to Kamloops in 1848, where he would remain until his father returned from Fort Langley.

"In 1849 [1848] a horse trail having been constructed in the interval between the time of my father's exploration and the above date, the route was for the first time used for the transportation of supplies to the various interior posts.
"In the year previous, my father had been transferred to the charge of Fort Colvile and we all moved to Kamloops where we, mother and family, spent the summer whilst my father was absent on his journey to Fort Langley, and on his return, we went to Fort Colvile where my father relieved Mr. John Lee Lewis [Lewes]...
"In 1848 after the return of my father to Kamloops we left that place and proceeded to Fort Colvile where as mentioned before, Mr. Lewis was relieved, who with his wife and family consisting as far as I can remember of an elder son, Adolphus, two good-looking girls and some younger children...

"Fort Colvile was a pleasant post, the country in the vicinity was clear of timber up to the foot-hills one or two miles distant.
The fort was situated about a miles from the Columbia River on the left hand bank and about the same distance from the Roman Catholic Mission down the river, presided over by Pere de Vos, a Jesuit Priest.
"Quite near the mission which was situated on higher ground than the Fort, were the Kettle or Chaudiere Falls which stretch clean across the Columbia.
"Here the Indians used to congregate when the salmon were running.
"The manner of capturing the fish was accomplished in two ways -- one was by baskets, so called, made of withes some ten feet long, closed at the sides and lower end.
"This was suspended so that the upper end touched the water of the falls, the other end being lower.
"The salmon, in attempting to leap the falls, often missed and fell struggling into the basket when he was hooked out.
"The other way was by spearing the salmon whilst in mid air, from a frail looking staging sticking out over the seething torrents, a most exciting pursuit....."

Alexander Caulfield Anderson wrote about the same manner of fishing in a manuscript which has now more or less disappeared, but which might have been written for the Royal Engineers in 1860 or thereabouts.
It exists today in scraps in one of his son's folders in the archives.

This is what Alexander Caulfield Anderson wrote:
"Modes of fishing are very varied & as a matter of course the conditions under which fish are captured are so widely different that innumerable means were employed.
"On rivers & lakes salmon were captured by means of spearing, traps & scoop nets & baskets set under water falls into which the salmon falls if he misses his leap or in cases of short streams where some salmon, on going down the stream, numbers fall in to the baskets & are caught.
"These baskets are made of withes or split pieces of wood from ten to twelve and perhaps more feet in length fastened with cedar roots or boughs to transverse pieces with one & two sides raised sufficiently high to prevent the salmon from escaping.
"By means of long poles well secured to the shore in a horizontal position, the basket is suspended so that the open end goes well into the water of the fall, or in cases where the volume of water is small, the open end may reach the rocks, the closed end being slightly lower so that the fish in falling into the basket slides to that end where from a frail platform it is hooked by the gills & thrown ashore to the women who immediately prepare them for drying."

These fish traps sound as if they were well designed and quite ingenious.

Anderson wanders away from Fort Colvile in his discussion of the spears used for fishing, but he will return....
"Spears were made in different ways, the most kind I think were thrown.
"The shaft of the spear was generally made of a split piece of fir about twenty feet long, perhaps an inch in diameter at each end & slightly larger in the middle.
[The prongs or ends, sometimes, in the case of two prongs of unequal length, made of hardwood, are fixed] "to the shaft by means of cedar roots or cherry bark & consisted of one, two & sometimes four, the latter being used generally on the sea coast for spearing crabs, octopi, flat fish &c, the barbs were made of bone & were either rigidly attached to the prongs or fitting on the end, were when the prey was struck, detached from the prongs & held to the spear by means of ropes.
"The spear intended for throwing had a flat piece of wood with places cut in to fit the fingers, fastened to the upper end in order that it could be used with greater force.
"The ordinary salmon spear was however never or very seldom thrown, it was used in shallow water where the fish could be seen, sometimes at night by the aid of torches.
"The most exciting method of spearing I ever witnessed was at the Kettle Falls on the Columbia River where the Indians stood on the end of a very rickety looking platform overhanging the seething waters & struck his prey in mid air as the salmon attempted to leap the falls."

Many Native tribes gathered at Kettle Falls for the annual fisheries, and we would have more stories of them if only Fort Colvile had become a part of British Columbia.
The fort was south of the boundary line, however, and so it did not.
As most of Anderson's later essays were confined to British Columbia's history, we have lost many stories that Anderson may have told about Fort Colvile.

There is, however, another source of information on the salmon (and other fish) that entered the Columbia River, and that is Alexander Caulfield Anderson's fisheries reports for the Dominion of Canada, in the years 1876 to 1884.
In his "Notes and suggestions regarding the Salmon Fisheries on Fraser River," in Sessional Papers of the Dominion of Canada, 1875, Anderson tells us that the salmon that swam up the Columbia River were as large as the Chinook which came up the Fraser River.
The weight of the Fraser River salmon sometimes exceeded fifty pounds and on one occasion a sixty-five pound Chinook was caught near Victoria, and Anderson compares the BC chinook with the Columbia River salmon:
"This fish -- the saw-quai of the lower coast tribes [the Chinook].. does not obviously differ externally from the large spring salmon of the Columbia River (s. quinnatt eqannett chinook.)
"But there are certain apparent differences in their habits, which lead me to infer that they are probably distinct varieties.
"One fact observable with the Fraser River kase [Chinook] is, that they do not, so far as I have observed or been able to ascertain, enter any of the lakes, such as Stuart's Lake, Fraser Lake, &c, along the course of the Fraser and its tributaries.
"Upon reaching the outlet of these lakes, they diverge up the adjacent streams to spawn -- the smaller variety, or ia-lo (suck-kai of the Lower Fraser) [sockeye] alone continuing their course through the dead-water of the lakes, to the tributaries beyond.
"The equannett of the Columbia (s. quinnatt) exhibits no such apparent reluctance; passing unhesitatingly through the lakes of the Upper Columbia on its course towards the head-waters, where its spawning grounds are situated.
"Again, the run of the large Columbia salmon from the sea is apparently more continuous and regular than that of the nearly corresponding fish of the Fraser; and commences, also, at a somewhat earlier date.
"This last fact, however, may reasonably be assigned to local causes only."

[The chinook carried a different name on the Upper Fraser than it did on the lower, hence the two names -- kase, and saw-quai -- in above paragraph. It sometimes confuses me that Anderson, in all the years after he left Fraser's Lake, continued to call the Chinook by its northern name, the kase.]

I understand that there is some argument about the size of the salmon that once swam up the Columbia River to be caught at Kettle Falls.
Alexander Caulfield Anderson's Fisheries reports confirm that the Columbia River salmon that reached Kettle Falls and beyond, in the 1850's, were sizable fish.
That makes the apparent flimsiness of the Natives' fishing utensils even more amazing, that they could withstand the weight of a fifty pound fish falling down the falls into the baskets!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Book-sellers around the world

I have just done a google search to see where my book: The Pathfinder: A.C. Anderson's Journeys in the West, is listed, and I have found quite a few listings.
In Canada the book is sold through, and through the Chapters and Indigo bookstores at
In Victoria the book is listed on my favorite bookstore's site -- Munro Books, at (you can get signed copies from them).

For American readers in the Seattle, Portland, and Spokane areas, it is listed on Barnes and Noble, at -- and is also available at Powells Books, at -- a major Pacific Northwest bookstore.
That's very good coverage and means it will be readily available in the Pacific Northwest, an area that is thoroughly covered in the book.
There are other listings that appear to be American, that I am unfamiliar with -- these are and (a world-wide bookseller, it appears)

Many Anderson-Seton descendants still live in England, and so they might find the book on the British version of Amazon Books, at

For those many Alexander Caulfield Anderson descendants who lived in New Zealand and Australia (the majority near Feilding and North Palmerston, NZ),the book is readily available through these online booksellers: and;;; and -- as well as
The New Zealanders who would be most interested in reading Alexander Caulfield Anderson's story are those who are descended from Anderson's eldest daughter, Eliza Charlotte Anderson, who married James R. Beattie at Victoria and moved to Feilding, New Zealand (and yes, that is the way Feilding is spelled).
By the way, if you are a descendant of Alexander Caulfield Anderson, you should never be shy about contacting me; we have an active group of researchers who would like to hear from you.
I did not do all the genealogical research by myself -- we shared information and we continue to share information.

In the Hong Kong market, the book is available through -- probably a good market for those Asian or Japanese historians interested in the story of the wreck of the Honjunmaru on the Pacific northwest coast in the early 1840's.
That's a pretty amazing list of online sources for this book -- I am really happy to see it is so well promoted overseas and in the Pacific Northwest.
I am told that the new author spends hours in searching bookstores for her newly published book, and weeks in worrying about book reviews and book prizes, and authorly stuff like that.
I guess that's the stage I am in right now.
I am told the best thing to do is to get to work on the next book -- and that is what I am ready to do.

Oh, by the way, a reader has already informed me about an error in the book.
No book is ever perfect, and so I was prepared for this.
The error appears in the coloured map in the middle of the book which shows the 1848 Anderson's River brigade Trail, and the 1849 Coquihalla Brigade trail -- the trails have been reversed.
My editor overlooked it, and so did I.
Angie will find another error in the book; it was something I learned from her just as the book was running through the presses so she will know where to look...

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Blackeye the Similkameen

I have stumbled on some new information that might actually allow me to identify Blackeye, the Similkameen chief Anderson met on the north side of the Coquihalla mountain in 1846, near modern day Tulameen.
Even if this is not the answer to my question, "Who is Blackeye?" it is a wonderful story and I am going to share it with you.
Firstly I will quote the story as written in "Notes on the Shuswap People of British Columbia," by George Mercer Dawson, found online at, published in the Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada, Section II, 1891, pp. 3-44.

[p.24] "Mr. J. W. Mackay, from different sources, has put together the following notes bearing on the early history of the Indians now inhabiting the Similkameen country. In quoting these notes, which Mr. Mackay has kindly communicated to me, I retain his orthography of the native names:--

"A long time before the white man first came to the country, a company of warriors from the neighbourhood of the Chilcotin River made their appearance in the Bonaparte Valley, apparently with the object of attacking the Indians who were there and of making slaves of such as they could take alive. This happened during the salmon-fishing season.

"At that time it was customary for the Shuswaps who lived on the banks of the Thompson River between Kamloops and the mouth of the Bonaparte and in the Bonaparte Valley, to take their winter stock of salmon from the Fraser River at the western base of the Pavilion Mountain.

"The warriors above mentioned had evidently calculated that most of the Shuswaps would be absent from their winter quarters on the Bonaparte and Thompson valleys, and would be encamped on the Fraser River during the salmon season, and that therefore they might make an easy prey of the few Indians who might be remaining in these valleys. It happened that during the previous winter provisions had been more than ordinarily scarce, in consequence of which all the Shuswaps belonging to these localities had removed to their salmon fisheries on the Fraser.

"The strangers from Chilcotin were evidently ignorant of the geography of the country into which they had penetrated, and as they saw no Shuswaps where they expected to find them, they continued their advance southward down the Bonaparte and Thompson valleys till they reached a position opposite the mouth of the Nicola River. At this place they were discovered by some scouts belonging to the N-tla-ka-pe-mooh tribe, who immediately descended to Nicoamen and Ti-kam-cheen (Lytton), where most of the members of this tribe were assembled for the salmon fishery. They gave the alarming information that a hostile company was advancing down the Thompson.

"A strong force of the N-tla-ka-pe-mooh immediately set out to intercept the strangers, and having soon ascertained their position and probable strength, established themselves both in front and behind them. The intruders, after they discovered that they were thus menaced by a force stronger than their own, took advantage of the night to cross the Thompson and proceeded to ascend the Nicola Valley. The N-tla-ka-pe-mooh followed and harassed them, continuing to do so till the strangers were driven into the Similkameen valley, where they took a firm stand, and by their prowess, obliged their pursuers to desist from molesting them. The strangers were mostly young men, who had their wives with them, but only a few children, for in these primitive days the women accompanied their husbands to war and were valuable auxiliaries. The neighbouring N-tla-ka-pe-mooh and Salish of the Okanagan soon discovered that the stranger women were larger and better looking than their own, and treaties for peace and intermarriage were made. The language of the strangers fell gradually into disuse, and only a few words of it are now remembered by the oldest Indians of the Similkameen, the N-tla-ka-pe-mooh and Okanagan dialects being now used by these people indiscriminately. These strangers, who are said to have come from the Chilcotin country, are thus the earliest inhabitants of the Similkameen valley of whom any account has been obtained.

"The traditions and legends of the British Columbia Indians would make it appear that before the advent of the whites the different tribes of Indians were constantly at war and endeavouring to enslave the weaker bands. The more northern races were the most warlike and were continually dispossessing the less warlike southern tribes of their fisheries and hunting grounds. It thus appears possible that the intruders may really have been a Tinneh tribe which was driven south before the advance of the Tinneh now inhabiting the Chilcotin region."

A footnote on page 26 says: "[Finan] Macdonald is mentioned by Ross Cox as having been in the employment of the Northwest Company in charge of a post among the Flatheads in 1812, so that the events here narrated must have occurred about the beginning of the century.

If this incident occurred in, say, 1810 when Blackeye, the Similkameen, was a young warrior twenty years of age, he would have been only fifty-six years old in 1846 when Anderson met him.
Anderson did describe him as "old Blackeye," and so there is plenty of room for him to have been ten to twenty years older -- The story fits, and is possible.
And that's always nice to know.
Let us continue; there is more.

From: "Account of the Similkameen Indians of British Columbia," by. [Mrs.] S.S. Allison, from The Journal of the Anthropoligal Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 21 (1892), pp. 305-318 (available at

[305] "Of the origin of the former inhabitants of the Similkameen I know nothing, but of the tribe at present occupying the valley tradition relates that about 150 years ago a small bank of the warlike Chilcotins, accompanied by their wives and decked out in their war paint and feathers, crossed the Frazer River on the war path to avenge a wrong (the death of a chief) inflicted on them by the Shuswaps of the Bonaparte and Thompson.

"Penetrating too far into the interior the winter suddenly set in, they found their retreat cut off and themselves hemmed in by their enemies. They were, however, in a country abounding in game of all kinds, which, together with the long black lichens that descended from the pine trees, afforded them ample sustenance.

"Establishing themselves in the upper valley of the Similkameen they manfully faced the rigours of the winters, and bravely held their own against their foes. Making friends with the Spokans (who admired the fairness of their women) they inter-married with that tribe and increased in numbers for many years till, in common with all the neighbouring tribes, they were nearly obliterated by that dire scourge, small-pox. Whether this is due to the entire change that has taken place in their food and manner of life it is hard to say, but I know from personal experience that the Similkameen Indians of to-day are totally different both physically and mentally from what they were thirty or even twenty years ago. Though the women are of small stature (possibly from the custom of marrying them before they have attained their full growth) the men average five feet six in height; their frames are lithe and muscular, their movements quick and graceful..."

She continues to describe these people and many of their customs, and I believe that for the most part she is speaking of the Chilcotins, not those who lived thre later.
She has stories of some of the Similkameens hiking over the Coquihalla to Hope, bearing goods....if this happened before 1843 that would have encouraged James Murray Yale to tell Alexander Caulfield Anderson of the trail over the Coquihalla, that resulted in his 1846 exploration from Fort Langley to Kamloops, via the Coquihalla, Nicolum and Summalo Rivers.

In the latter part of the article I found this intriguing line: "Slaves taken in war were well treated, but always had one eye blemished to mark them..."
Is that where the name Blackeye came from -- our Similkameen chief was the leader of a group of Natives who "blacked" the eyes of their slaves?

The Chilcotin people are of Athapascan or Tinneh [Dinneh] stock, and there are many mentions of Athapascans being squeezed into the lower Nicola Valley and the Similkameen.
In fact, even Diamond Jenness, in "The Indians of Canada," first published in 1932, admits as much when he says, "At the end of the eighteenth century there was a small Athapascan-speaking tribe, wedged in among these five Salishan tribes, which occupied the valley of the Nicola river and part of the valley of the Similkemeen. Early in the nineteenth century the Thompson River Indians absorbed it so completely that only a few legends, and a small vocabulary of names, bear witness to its former existence."

In George Dawson's afore-mentioned "Notes on the Shuswap," I learned that Chief Nkwala's mother was "a Similkameen woman of the Tinneh type, which is clearly shown in the physiques of her descendants to the present day."
So Nkwala's father, Pelka'mulox, probably married one of the Chilcotin women who fought their way through the Nicola valley to the Similkameen.
Tsilaxitsa, who was Nkwala's cousin, would, through Nkwala's mother, be a close relative to Blackeye, if Blackeye was actually one of those same Chilcotin warriors.

However, the further you look into the story, the more confusing it becomes!
The story might not be true at all!
I have discovered they are Chilcotin/Similkameen peoples are called the Nicola Athapaskans or Stuwi'x, today.
They lived in the Nicola valley and around Tulameen, and the last members of the group who lived near Nicola Lake were assimilated into the Secwepemc people by the end of the nineteenth century.
Historian Mark S. Wade (who happens to be in my family tree but not an Anderson) wrote that they were the first known inhabitants of the Similkameen but were driven out by the group today living there. [This book is said to be a little inaccurate and, perhaps, rushed to publication.]
The Stuwi'x retreated to Douglas, Stump, and Nicola Lakes where they were sheltered by Chief Nkwala, their close relative.

The Canadian Enclopedia informs us that: "The Nicola-Similkameen were an enclave of Athapaskans living in the Nicola and Similkameen River valleys of south central BC, surrounded by Interior Salish.
"One theory about Nicola-Similkameen settlement in this area suggests they originated from a Chilcotin Athapascan war party that stayed and intermarried with the Thompson and Okanagan Interior Salish in the mid-1700's.
"Another suggests that the Nicola-Similkameen had a long history in this area, having moved from a more northerly Athapaskan homeland many hundreds of years ago, but archaeological data have not supported this theory."

I think this question needs a lot more work before I can satisfactorily identify Blackeye and his son.
It is time to give the question a rest!

You might wonder why the Tulameen area was called the Similkameen by the fur traders.
From "Glorious Tulameen," at www.tulameenbc/com/tcc/history.pdf I find that "in the early sixties [I am assuming this in 1960's], the Tulameen River was also known as the North Similkameen.
"The two branches come together at Princeton, which was at one time called The Forks.
"There is no agreement as to the meaning of the Indian word Similkameen, but its sister word Tulameen means red earth, and refers to deposits of ochre which are common in the area.
"This ochre was formerly highly prized by the native peoples who came long distances to trade for this paint. Allison subdivision in Princeton before the white man came was called Yak-Tulameen or the place where the red earth is sold. "It was the first market place in the valley, and red ochre was our first export."