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

Tsilhqot’in Casualties

[ Fish trap from Chilcotin War and earthworks, John Lutz, Copyright Great Unsolved Canadian Mysteries Project  ]

by Henry Solomon with Terry Glavin

By the time McDonald’s pack train had reached the summit of a place called the Great Slide and was making its first few miles into Chilcotin country, it was becoming clear that something was wrong. McDougall’s wife, Klymtedza, said their lives were in danger because of plans she had heard about for a general uprising against the whites. By the time the pack train reached Anahim Lake, Lhasas?in had already been there, recruiting warriors and laying plans to ambush McDonald somewhere between Nimpo Lake and Puntzi Lake.

A few miles past Anahim Lake, McDonald’s party called it quits. They constructed a rude earthworks fort on a knoll that commanded a view of the surrounding meadows. Their guide, Tom, was sent out to look for two missing pack horses. When he didn’t return, McDonald decided to turn back.

At this point, the pack train consisted of 40 horses, eight white men and an Indian woman. After the party had covered a mere five miles of the trail back to Bella Coola, it was attacked from both sides. The horses panicked, the white men bolted in every direction, and Peter McDougall was the first to get hit.

The dead were McDougall, Klymtedza, Clifford Higgins, and McDonald, who fired a fatal shot at the warrior Chacatinea before his own death. The five surviving whites, bleeding and battered, made their way the remaining 100 miles back to Bella Coola on foot.

Apart from some injuries sustained during skirmishing with the 50-man expeditionary force led by William Cox, there was no blood shed in direct engagements until the killing of Samandlin several weeks later. But Chacatinea’s death had its own consequences, resulting in the murder-suicide of two of his brothers, identified as Niko and Chinanihim.

Henry Solomon tells the story this way. There was a man who didn’t want to make war anymore, and his brother killed him because of it. The murderer, so full of remorse, had his friends build a great bonfire for him, and he threw himself into the flames.

Henry said. “Used to be like that.”

Source: Henry Solomon, "Tsilhqot'in Casualties," Nemiah: The Unconquered Country Terry Glavin (Vancouver: New Star Books, 1992), 98.

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