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


Lutas was one of the Tsilhqot'ins accused of participating in the murders of Alexander McDonald, Clifford Higgins, and Peter McDougall on May 17, 1864. Lutas belonged to Anaheim's tribe living at Nancootloon and was said to be a relative of Ahan.

A few days before the attack on McDonald's pack train, Klatsassin and others went to Nacoontloon to recruit warriors, claiming the whites threatened to reintroduce smallpox. It is unknown how many men subsequently joined Klatsassin's group, but Lutas was certainly present when the attack occurred. Afterwards, Lutas fled north with Ahan. They were not seen until the following spring when they arrived in Bella Coola to attempt to barter for their freedom with furs and money. They were brought to New Westminster to stand trial by Mr. Moss.

On May 31, 1865, during his trial testimony, Lutas confirmed that he was present for the attack and had held a gun belonging to Anaheim but denied killing anyone except a horse. Judge Henry Crease found Lutas guilty of third degree murder and sentenced him to death. Unlike Ahan, who was also convicted of murder, Lutas received a pardon from Governor Seymour because, according to Seymour, "a sufficient number of Indians has now perished on the scaffold to atone for the atrocities committed last year." Lutas was the only Tsilhqot'in to receive clemency.

Secondary Sources

Hewlett, Edward S. "The Chilcotin Uprising: A Study of Indian-European Relations in Nineteenth Century British Columbia." MA Thesis, UBC, 1972.

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Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History