BC government apologises for hanging Tsilhqot chiefs

Chilcotin Sunset by Christie Hurrell on Flickr
Chilcotin Sunset by Christie Hurrell on Flickr

Better late than never… BC Premier Christie Clark has apologized to Tsilhqot’in Nation chiefs Joe Alphonse and Roger William for the hangings.

I wrote about the incident, known as the Chilcotin War, in On Potato Mountain:

“Antoine remembered the wound as if it were yesterday. His father, who had taken part in the Chilcotin War, told him that the ferryman on the Waddington survey had refused food to two starving Chilcotin hunters. In a rage, they had shot him. The main hunting party was nearby and when they were told of the shooting, they decided to form a war party to stop the incursions of the whites – midagh – into the Chilcotin. The war party had been led by Klatssasin, a war chief, who incited his band to follow him. They fell on the survey and road-building crew, killing all but three who escaped.

The mercenaries and settlers who had been sent there by the government in New Westminster – then the capital of British Columbia – in turn had hunted the Chilcotins. Klatsassin and his men could not be found on the vast plateau. On a promise of safety should they turn themselves in, the Chilcotins did so and instead of freedom found themselves put in chains, tried by Judge Begbie and convicted. Six were hanged at Quesnel as common criminals: an eye for an eye, and a life for a life. ”

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