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


Ahan was a Sutless chief and Tsilhqot’in warrior who had been recruited by Klatsassin to participate in the attack against the pack train. Klatsassin apparently argued that the packers had to be killed to stop the reintroduction of smallpox in Tsilhqot’in territory.

Following the attack, Ahan, along with Lutas and another Tsilhqot’in, fled north and remained in hiding for almost a year. In May 1865, Chief Anaheim convinced he and Lutas to travel to Bella Coola and use furs and money to buy their freedom, a common practice in traditional aboriginal societies in the area. Their efforts, however, were unsuccessful and both men were brought to New Westminster by Mr. Moss to stand trial.

Judge Henry Pering Pellow Crease presided over Ahan’s trail for the murders of Alexander McDonald, Clifford Higgins, and Peter McDougall. During the trial, Ahan testified that he knew the victims and had shot at McDougall (or possibly McDonald, the sources are unclear) but was unsure whether he had fired the fatal shot. He also testified that the gun he used had been given to him by Klatsassin. Ahan was found guilty of first degree murder and on July 18, 1865, he was sentenced to death.

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Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History