Metlakahtla and the North Pacific Mission
by Eugene Stock
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"If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall Thy hand lead me and Thy right hand shall hold me"—Ps. cxxxix 9, 10

Shores of the utmost West Ye that have waited long Unvisited noblest, Break forth to swelling song High raise the note that Jesus died Yet lives and reigns the Crucified


The third, fourth, and fifth chapters of this little book are substantially a reprint of parts of a pamphlet entitled, "Metlakahtla, or Ten Years' Work among the Tsimshean Indians," published by the Church Missionary Society in 1868. Almost all the rest, or three-fourths of the whole, is new matter—new, that is, in a separate form, for the greater part has appeared at various times in the Society's periodicals. One or two facts are taken from the Rev. J. J. Halcombe's excellent book, "Stranger than Fiction," which has done so much to make the Metlakahtla Mission known. For much valuable information I am indebted to Admiral Prevost.

E. S.






















British Columbia, now forming part of "The Dominion of Canada," includes within its limits several islands, of which Vancouver's is the principal, and that part of the continent of North America, west of the Rocky Mountains and east of Alaska, which is included between the 49 deg. and the 60 deg. parallels of north latitude.

English connection with this part of the world may be said to date from an exploratory voyage made by Captain Cook in 1776, when he landed at Friendly Cove and Nootka Sound, and took possession of them in the name of his sovereign. He supposed at the time that these places were on the mainland, and it was not until Captain Vancouver, an officer in the English Navy, was despatched in 1792 to the Pacific, that he discovered that Nootka and Friendly Cove were on the west side of the island which now bears his name, and which is sometimes spoken of as the gem of the Pacific.

In 1793, Alexander Mackenzie, one of the most enterprising pioneers in the employment of the North-West Fur Company, who had already discovered the mighty river since named after him, crossed the Rocky Mountains, and pushed his way westward, until he stood on the shores of the Pacific. Some years later, in 1806, Mr. Simon Frazer, another employe of the same Company, gave his name to the great river that drains British Columbia, and established the first trading post in those parts. After the amalgamation of this Company with the Hudson's Bay Company, other posts were established, such as Fort Rupert, on Vancouver's Island, and Fort Simpson, on the borders of Alaska, then belonging to Russia, but subsequently sold by her to the United States.

In 1858, the discovery of gold in the basin of the Fraser river, on the mainland, attracted a large number of gold-diggers from California, and among them a considerable body of Chinese. To maintain order among a motley population of lawless habits, British Columbia was formed into a colony, with its capital at Victoria, on Vancouver's Island.

Official returns, made a few years ago, gave the number of Indians in British Columbia as 31,520, distributed over the islands and mainland. They belong to several distinct families or nations, speaking distinct languages, subdivided into a multitude of tribes speaking different dialects of their own. Thus the Hydahs of Queen Charlotte's Islands are altogether distinct from the Indians of Vancouver's Island, where, indeed, those on the east coast are distinct from those on the west. Again, on the mainland, the Indians on the sea-board are distinct from the Indians of the interior, from whom they are divided by the Cascade range of mountains. These inland Indians are of more robust and athletic frame, and are altogether a more vigorous race.

Among the coast tribes, however, there are great differences, those to the north being far superior to those in the south. Those who know the Indians well declare that it would be impossible to find anywhere finer looking men than the Hydahs, Tsimsheans, and some of the Alaskan tribes. "They are," writes one, "a manly, tall, handsome people, and comparatively fair in their complexion."

The Indians on the sea-board of the mainland, and those on the east coast of Vancouver's Island who have affinity with one another, have been grouped into three principal families or nations. The first of these is met with at Victoria and on the Fraser river, and may be called the Chinook Indians, from the language which is principally in use. In the second division may be comprised the tribes between Nanaimo on the east coast, and Fort Rupert at the extreme north of Vancouver's Island, and the Indians on the mainland between the same points. The Tsimsheans, a third family, cluster round Fort Simpson, and occupy a line of coast extending from the Skeena river to the borders of Alaska.

On his arrival at Fort Simpson, on the 1st of October, 1857, Mr. Duncan found located there, to quote his own words in a recent official report, "Nine tribes, numbering (for I counted them) about 2,300 souls. These proved to be just one-third of the tribes speaking the Tsimshean language. Of the other eighteen tribes, five were scattered over 100 miles of the coast south of Fort Simpson, other five occupied the Naas river, and the remaining eight tribes lived on the Skeena river—the whole of the twenty-seven tribes numbering then not over 8,000 souls, though I at first set them down at 10,000. In addition to the Tsimshean tribes which I have mentioned, I found that Indians of other two distinct languages frequented the Fort for trade. These were the Alaska Coast Indians, whose nearest village was only some fifteen miles north of Fort Simpson, and the Hydahs from Queen Charlotte's Islands."

The tribal arrangements among the Tsimsheans are very much the same as among other Indian clans. Each tribe has from three to five chiefs, one of whom is the acknowledged head. Among the head chiefs of the various tribes one again takes preeminence. At feasts and in council the chiefs are seated according to their rank. As an outward mark, to distinguish the rank of a chief, a pole is erected in front of his house. The greater the chief the higher the pole. The Indians are very jealous in regard to this distinction.

Every Indian family has a distinguishing crest, or "totem," as it is called in some places. This crest is usually some bird, or fish, or animal; particularly the eagle, the raven, the finback whale, the grisly bear, the wolf, and the frog. Among the Tsimsheans and their neighbours, the Hydahs, great importance is attached to this heraldry, and their crests are often elaborately engraved on large copper plates from three to five feet in length, and about two in breadth. These plates are very highly valued, and are often heir-looms in families. No Indian would think of killing the animal which had been taken for his crest. While two members of the same tribe are allowed to intermarry, those of the same crest are prohibited from doing so under any circumstances. The child always takes the mother's crest: if she belonged to a family whose crest was the eagle, thru all her children take the eagle for their crest.

The most influential men in a tribe—not excluding the chiefs—are the medicine men. Captain Mayne, R.N., thus speaks of them:—[Footnote: Four Years in British Columbia, and Vancouver Island, p. 260 (Murray, 1862).]

"Their initiation into the mysteries of their calling is one of the most disgusting ceremonies imaginable. At a certain season, the Indian who is selected for the office retires into the woods for several days, and fasts, holding intercourse, it is supposed, with the spirits who are to teach him the healing art. He then suddenly reappears in the village, and, in a sort of religious frenzy, attacks the first person he meets and bites a piece out of his arm or shoulder. He will then rush at a dog, and tear him limb from limb, running about with a leg or some part of the animal all bleeding in his hand, and tearing it with his teeth. This mad fit lasts some time, usually during the whole day of his reappearance. At its close he crawls into his tent, or falling down exhausted is carried there by those who are watching him. A series of ceremonials, observances, and long incantations follows, lasting for two or three days, and he then assumes the functions and privileges of his office. I have seen three or four medicine men made at a time among the Indians near Victoria, while twenty or thirty others stood, with loaded muskets, keeping guard all round the place to prevent them doing any mischief. Although a clever medicine man becomes of great importance in his tribe, his post is no sinecure either before or after his initiation. If he should be seen by anyone while he is communing with the spirits in the woods, he is killed or commits suicide, while if he fails in the cure of any man he is liable to be put to death, on the assumption that he did not wish to cure his patient. This penalty is not always inflicted, but, if he fails in his first attempt, the life of a medicine man is not, as a rule, worth much. The people who are bitten by these maniacs when they come in from the woods consider themselves highly favoured."

Mr. Duncan, in 1857, gave the following painfully curious description of the medicine men—

"The superstitions connected with this fearful system are deeply rooted here, and it is the admitting and initiating of fresh pupils into these arts that employ numbers, and excite and interest all, during the winter months. This year I think there must have been eight or ten parties of them, but each party seldom has more than one pupil at once. In relating their proceedings I can give but a faint conception of the system as a whole, but still a little will show the dense darkness that rests on this place.

"I may mention that each party has some characteristics peculiar to itself, but, in a more general sense, their divisions are but three, viz, those who eat human bodies, the dog eaters, and those who have no custom of the kind. Early in the morning the pupils would be out on, the beach, or on the rocks, in a state of nudity. Each had a place in front of his own tribe, nor did intense cold interfere in the slightest degree. After the poor creature had crept about, jerking his head and screaming for some time, a party of men would rush out, and, after surrounding him, would commence singing. The dog eating party occasionally carried a dead dog to their pupil, who forthwith commenced to tear it in the most dog like manner. The party of attendants kept up a low growling noise, or a whoop, which was seconded by a screeching noise made from an instrument which they believe to be the abode of a spirit. In a little time the naked youth would start up again, and proceed a few more yards in a crouching posture, with his arms pushed out behind him, and tossing his flowing black hair. All the while he is earnestly watched by the group about him, and when he pleases to sit down they again surround him and commence singing. This kind of thing goes on, with several different additions, for some time. Before the prodigy finally retires, he takes a turn into every house belonging to his tribe, and is followed by his train. When this is done, in some cases he has a ramble on the tops of the same houses, during which he is anxiously watched by his attendants, as if they expected his flight. By-and-bye he condescends to come down, and they then follow him to his den, which is marked by a rope made of red bark being hung over the doorway, so as to prevent any person from ignorantly violating its precincts. None are allowed to enter that house but those connected with the art; all I know, therefore, of their further proceedings is, that they keep up a furious hammering, singing, and screeching for hours during the day.

"Of all these parties, none are so much dreaded as the cannibals. One morning I was called to witness a stir in the camp which had been caused by this set. When I reached the gallery I saw hundreds of Tsimsheans sitting in their canoes, which they had just pushed away from the beach. I was told that the cannibal party were in search of a body to devour, and if they failed to find a dead one, it was probable they would seize the first living one that came in their way; so that all the people living near to the cannibals' house had taken to their canoes to escape being torn to pieces. It is the custom among these Indians to burn their dead; but I suppose for these occasions they take care to deposit a corpse somewhere, in order to satisfy these inhuman wretches.

"These, then, are some of the things and scenes which occur in the day during the winter months, while the nights are taken up with amusements —singing and dancing. Occasionally the medicine parties invite people to their several houses, and exhibit tricks before them of various kinds. Some of the actors appear as bears, while others wear masks, the parts of which are moved by strings. The great feature in their proceedings is to pretend to murder, and then to restore to life, and so forth. The cannibal, on such occasions, is generally supplied with two, three, or four human bodies, which he tears to pieces before his audience. Several persons, either from bravado or as a charm, present their arms for him to bite. I have seen several whom he has thus bitten, and I hear two have died from the effects."

One of the most curious and characteristic customs of the the Indians of British Columbia is the giving away of property at feasts. Mr. Duncan gives the following account of it:—

"These feasts are generally connected with the giving away of property. As an instance, I will relate the last occurrence of the kind. The person who sent the aforementioned invitations is a chief who has just completed building a house. After feasting, I heard he was to give away property to the amount of four hundred and eighty blankets (worth as many pounds to him), of which one hundred and eighty were his own property and the three hundred were to be subscribed by his people. On the first day of the feast, as much as possible of the property to be given him was exhibited in the camp. Hundreds of yards of cotton were flapping in the breeze, hung from house to house, or on lines put up for the occasion. Furs, too, were nailed up on the fronts of houses. Those who were going to give away blankets or elk-skins managed to get a bearer for every one, and exhibited them by making the persons walk in single file to the house of the chief. On the next day the cotton which had been hung out was now brought on the beach, at a good distance from the chief's house, and then run out at full length, and a number of bearers, about three yards apart, bore it triumphantly away from the giver to the receiver. I suppose that about six hundred to eight hundred yards were thus disposed of.

"After all the property the chief is to receive has thus been openly handed to him, a day or two is taken up in apportioning it for fresh owners. When this is done, all the chiefs and their families are called together, and each receives according to his or her portion. Thus do the chiefs and their people go on reducing themselves to poverty. In the case of the chiefs, however, this poverty lasts but a short time; they are soon replenished from the next giving away, but the people only grow rich again according to their industry. One cannot but pity them, while one laments their folly.

"All the pleasure these poor Indians seem to have in their property is in hoarding it up for such an occasion as I have described. They never think of appropriating what they gather to enhance their comforts, but are satisfied if they can make a display like this now and then; so that the man possessing but one blanket seems to be as well off as the one who possesses twenty; and thus it is that there is a vast amount of dead stock accumulated in the camp doomed never to be used, but only now and then to be transferred from hand to hand for the mere vanity of the thing.

"There is another way, however, in which property is disposed of even more foolishly. If a person be insulted, or meet with an accident, or in any way suffer an injury, real or supposed, either of mind or body, property must at once be sacrificed to avoid disgrace. A number of blankets, shirts, or cotton, according to the rank of the person, are torn, into small pieces and carried off."

The religion of the Tsimsheans is thus described:—

"The Tsimsheans, I find, believe in two states after death: the one good, and the other, bad; the morally good are translated to the one, and the morally bad are doomed to the other. The locality of the former they think to be above, and that of the latter is somewhere beneath. The enjoyment of heaven and the privations of hell they understand to be carnal. They do not suppose the wicked to be destitute of food any more than they were here, but they are treated as slaves and are badly clothed.

"The idea they entertain of God is that He is a great chief. They call Him by the same term as they do their chiefs, only adding the word for above—thus, 'shimanyet' is chief, and 'lakkah' above: and hence the name of God with them is Shimanyet Lakkah. They believe that the Supreme Being never dies: that He takes great notice of what is going on amongst men, and is frequently angry, and punishes offenders. They do not know who is the author of the universe, nor do they expect that God is the author of their own being. They have no fixed ideas about these things, I fully believe; still they frequently appeal to God in trouble; they ask for pity and deliverance. In great extremities of sickness they address God, saying it is not good for them to die.

"Sometimes, when calamities are prolonged or thicken, they get enraged against God, and vent their anger against Him, raising their eyes and hands in savage anger to Heaven, and stamping their feet on the ground. They will reiterate language which means 'You are a great slave!'"

A very curious tradition respecting the first appearance of white men on the coast was related some years ago to Mr. Duncan by an old chief:—

"A large canoe of Indians were busy catching halibut in one of these channels. A thick mist enveloped them. Suddenly they heard a noise as if a large animal was striking through the water. Immediately they concluded that a monster from the deep was in pursuit of them. With all speed they hauled up their fishing lines, seized the paddles, and strained every nerve to reach the shore. Still the plunging noise came nearer. Every minute they expected to be engulfed within the jaws of some huge creature. However, they reached the land, jumped on shore, and turned round in breathless anxiety to watch the approach of the monster. Soon a boat, filled with strange-looking men, emerged from the mist The pulling of the oars had caused the strange noise. Though somewhat relieved of fear, the Indians stood spell bound with amazement. The strangers landed, and beckoned the Indians to come to them and bring them some fish. One of them had over his shoulder what was supposed only to be a stick, presently he pointed it to a bird that was flying past, a violent poo went forth, down came the bird to the ground. The Indians died. As they revived again they questioned each other as to their state, whether they were dead, and what each had felt. The whites then made signs for a fire to be lighted. The Indians proceeded at once, according to their usual tedious fashion of rubbing two sticks together. The strangers laughed, and one of them, snatching up a handful of dry grass, struck a spark into a little powder placed under it. Instantly flashed another poo and a blaze. The Indians died. After this the new comers wanted some fish boiling. The Indians therefore put the fish and water into one of their square wooden buckets, and set some stones in the fire, intending when they were hot, to cast them into the vessel, and thus boil the food The whites were not satisfied with this way. One of them fetched a tin kettle out of the boat, put the fish and the water into it, and then, strange to say, set it on the fire. The Indians looked on with astonishment. However, the kettle did not consume, the water did not run into the fire Then, again, the Indians died. When the fish was eaten, the strangers put a kettle of rice on the fire. The Indians looked at each other and whispered, 'Akshahn, akshahn,' or 'Maggots, maggots.' The rice being cooked, some molasses were produced and mixed with it. The Indians stared, and said, 'Coutzee um tsakah ahket,' or 'The grease of dead people.' The whites then tendered the rice and molasses to the Indians, but they only shrank away in disgust. Seeing this, to prove their integrity, they sat down and enjoyed it themselves. The sight stunned the Indians, and again they all died. Some other similar wonders were worked, and the profound stupor which the Indians felt each time come over them they termed death. The Indians' turn had now come to make the white strangers die. They dressed their heads and painted their faces A nok nok, or wonder working spirit possessed them. They came slowly, and solemnly seated themselves before the whites, then suddenly lifted up their heads and stared. Their reddened eyes had the desired effect. The whites died."

Among the Indians of British, Columbia no Protestant Missionary had laboured prior to 1857. Some Roman Catholic priests, however, had been in the country, and of them Captain Mayne writes:—[Footnote: "Four Years in British Columbia," p. 305.]

"If the opinion of the Hudson's Bay people of the interior is to be relied upon, the Roman Catholic priests effected no real change in the condition of the natives. The sole result of their residence among them was, that the Indians who had been brought under their influence had imbibed some notions of the Deity, almost as vague as their own traditions, and a superstitious respect for the priests themselves, which they showed by crossing themselves devoutly whenever they met one. Occasionally, too, might be seen in their lodges, pictures purporting to represent the roads to Heaven and to Hell, in which there was no single suggestion of the danger of vice and crime, but a great deal of the peril of Protestantism. These coloured prints were certainly curious in their way, and worth a passing notice. They were large, and gave a pictorial history of the human race, from the time when Adam and Eve wandered in the garden together, down to the Reformation. Here the one broad road was split into two, whose courses diverged more and more painfully. By one way the Roman Catholic portion of the world were seen trooping to bliss; the other ended in a steep bottomless precipice over which the Protestants might be seen falling. [Footnote: A fac-simile of a similar picture appeared in the Church Missionary Gleaner, of March, 1880.] Upon the more sensible and advanced of the Indians, teaching such as this had little effect. I remember the chief of the Shuswap tribe, at Kamloops, pointing out to me such an illustration hanging on his wall, and laughingly saying, in a tone that showed quite plainly how little credence he attached to it, 'There are you and your people,' putting his finger as he spoke on the figures tumbling into the pit."

"Of such kind was the only instruction that the Indiana had received prior to 1857. Its influence was illustrated in that year at Victoria, where a Roman Catholic Bishop and several priests had been resident for some time, and were known to have exerted themselves among the Songhie Indians who reside there. A cross had been raised in their village, and some of them had been baptized; but when these were called before the bishop for confirmation, they refused to come unless a greater present of blankets was made to them than had been given at their baptism. The bishop was said to have been very angry with the priests when this came to his knowledge; he having very possibly been deceived by them as to the condition of the Indians. I am informed that he had a large heart painted upon canvas, through which be drew a blanket, and represented it to the Indians as symbolical of their condition."

How the Indians were brought to know the way of God more perfectly, and to choose it for themselves, it will be the purpose of the following chapters to show.



The Red Indian is in a peculiar sense, the child of the Church Missionary Society. More exclusively so, indeed, than even the Negro. In those efforts for the evangelisation of Africa with which the Society's name has, from the first, been so indissolubly associated, it has but shared the field with other excellent societies. In the Far North and Far West of British America, it has laboured almost alone. Nearly sixty years have passed away since its missionaries penetrated into the then remote regions of the Red River, and since that time, nearly the whole of the vast territories, stretching northward to the Arctic Sea, eastward to the borders of Labrador, and westward to the Rocky Mountains, have been trodden by their untiring feet. It was fitting, therefore, that when, in the providence of God, the day came for the Gospel to reach beyond the Rocky Mountains to the tribes on the shores of the Pacific, it should be carried thither by the Church Missionary Society.

But long before that time arrived, the eye of the Committee, passing round the globe, had rested upon those distant shores. In their Annual Report for 1819-20, the following interesting passage is to be found:—

From the C. M. S. Report, 1819-20.

"It has been suggested to the Committee that the Western parts of British America, lying between the high ridge called the Rocky Mountains and the North Pacific Ocean, and extending from about the 42nd to the 57th degree of North Latitude, offer a more extensive, promising, and practicable field for Missionary labours than any other in that quarter of the globe. The climate is, in general, temperate, the soil reasonably productive, and the surface of the country level. [Footnote: Some of the information given to the Committee at that early date was not very accurate. The surface of British Columbia is anything but level and the soil is not too productive.] The people are not savage, ferocious, and wandering but settled in villages and in several respects somewhat civilized, though still in the hunter state, with few arts, no letters, no general knowledge, but a great desire to be taught by white men, whose superiority they clearly discern. Numbers of them are scattered over this great range of country, and it has hitherto been very little known that so great a portion of the North American continent is covered with a stationary, aboriginal people, still, however, very much in a state of nature. The North West Company trades through all the great space which lies between Montreal and the North Pacific, a longitudinal distance of not less than 4,000 miles, and keeps up a direct communication, by sea, between London and the mouth of the river Columbia, on the North West coast of America. A member of that Company, who is a highly respectable merchant in Canada, informs your Committee that he has been frequently among the Indians in question, and thinks the prospect of the introduction of Christianity very promising, while many of the principal persons in Upper Canada are anxious for the promotion of that object."

The Society's work, however, among the Red Indians, which was begun in the following year, was concentrated on Red River, and thirty-six years passed away before the attention of the Committee was again drawn to the more remote field on the Pacific shore.

In the spring of 1856, the late Rev. Joseph Ridgeway, Editorial Secretary of the Society, attended, as a deputation, the anniversary meeting of the Tunbridge Wells Church Missionary Association. There he met a naval officer, Capt. J. C. Prevost, R.N., who had just returned from Vancouver's Island. While in command of H.M.S. Virago, he had been much impressed by the spiritual destitution of the Indians of the Pacific coast of British North America and the adjacent islands. They were "scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd," and he, like his Divine Master, was "moved with compassion on them." No Protestant missionary had ever yet gone forth into the wilderness after these lost sheep; and in addition to their natural heathenism, with its degrading superstitions and revolting cruelties, a new danger was approaching the Indians in the shape of the "civilisation" of white traders and miners, with its fire-water and its reckless immorality. Capt. Prevost earnestly inquired of Mr. Ridgeway what prospect there was of the Church Missionary Society undertaking a Mission on the coast.

The reply was not encouraging. The Committee had just determined to signalise the conclusion of the Crimean war by planting a Mission at Constantinople, to extend their work in the Punjab by the occupation of Multan; and to accept Sir Robert Montgomery's invitation to Lucknow; and there was little hope of their having men or money to spare for the "few sheep in the wilderness" to be found scattered over British Columbia. The Editorial Secretary's sympathies, however, were touched, and he, at least, did what he could. He invited Captain Prevost to write a memorandum on the subject for the Church Missionary Intelligencer. The offer was thankfully accepted; and in the number of that periodical for July, 1856, appeared an article entitled "Vancouver's Island," in which Mr. Ridgeway briefly stated the case, and introduced Capt. Prevost's contribution. After an interval of twenty-four years, and remembering what wonderful and blessed fruit has sprung from the seed thus quietly sown, it will be interesting to reproduce here the Christian officer's own words:—

Captain Prevost's Memorandum, July, 1856.

"The country within which the proposed Mission is designed to operate extends from about the 48 deg. of north latitude to 56 deg., and from the Rocky Mountains on the east to the Pacific Ocean on the west. It includes several beautiful and fertile islands adjoining the mainland, of which the largest, most important, and most populous, is Vancouver's, being about 290 miles in length and 55 miles in its average breadth.

"The Government, impressed with a sense of its great commercial, and its growing political, importance, combining also great advantages as a naval station, erected it into a colony in 1838, and gave to the Hudson's Bay Company a charter, conferring on them certain privileges on condition of their carrying into effect the intentions of the Government. The climate of this island is more genial than that of England, its soil is more productive, and its coasts abound with the finest fish. It contains, too, the only safe harbours between the 49 deg. north latitude and San Francisco, and there have been discovered lately fields of fine coal of immense extent, from which the entire coast of the Pacific, and the steamers trading there, can be supplied. What has been stated with regard to these natural advantages of Vancouver's Island applies generally to the mainland."

"The seat of the Colonial Government is at Fort Victoria, where there is a chaplain, the only Protestant minister within the limits of the above mentioned territories. About three years since a Roman Catholic Bishop, a British subject, arrived at the same place, accompanied by a staff of Jesuit priests, and purchased a site for a cathedral there. Hitherto their success has been very doubtful."

"It is difficult to ascertain, with any degree of accuracy, the total amount of the native population, a mean, however, between the highest and lowest estimates gives 60,000, [Footnote: Since 1856 many thousands have died of disease and from vicious habits (see p. 2).] a result probably not far from the truth. It 13 a fact well calculated to arrest the attention, and to enlist in behalf of the proposed Mission the active sympathies of every sincere Christian, that this vast number of our fellow subjects have remained in a state of heathen darkness and complete barbarism ever since the discovery and partial surveys of their coasts by Vancouver in 1792 1794, and that no effort has yet been made for their moral or spiritual improvement, although, during the last forty years a most lucrative trade has been carried on with them by our fellow-countrymen. We would most earnestly call upon all who have themselves learned to value the blessings of the Gospel, to assist 'in rolling away' this reproach. The field is a most promising one. Some naval officers, who, in the discharge of their professional duties, have lately visited these regions, have been most favourably impressed with the highly intelligent character of the Natives, and, struck by their manly bearing, and a physical appearance fully equal to that of the English, whom they also resemble in the fairness of their complexion, and having their compassion excited by their total destitution of Christian and moral instruction, they feel it to be their duty to endeavour to introduce among them the knowledge of the Gospel of Christ, under the conviction that it would prove the surest and most fruitful source of social improvement and civilization, as well as of spiritual blessings infinitely more valuable, and would be found the only effectual antidote to the contaminating vices which a rapidly-increasing trade, especially with California and Oregon, is bringing in its train.

"There is much in the character of the Natives to encourage missionary effort. They are not idolaters: they believe in the existence of two great Spirits—the one benevolent, and the other malignant; and in two separate places of reward and punishment in another world. They are by no means bigoted. They manifest a great desire and aptitude to acquire the knowledge and arts of civilized life; and, although they are addicted to some of the vices generally prevalent amongst savages, they yet possess some virtues rarely displayed by them. Some of the servants of the Hudson's Bay Company, who have married Native women, bear the highest testimony to their characters as wives and mothers, and to the manner in which they fulfil all their domestic relationships. Drunkenness was almost wholly unknown, until lately introduced by increasing intercourse with Europeans; but it is now spreading with rapid and destructive effect among the tribes. Loss of chastity in females was considered an indelible disgrace to the family in which it occurred, and was consequently uncommon. But here, again, European influence has made itself felt, and this is now far from being the case. Persons who are acquainted both with this people and with the New Zealanders, are of opinion that the former are mentally and physically equal, if not superior, to the latter; and that, were like measures taken to convert and civilize them, they would be attended by similarly happy results. As to the medium of communication, although the number and variety of languages is very great, yet the necessities of trade have given rise to a patois generally understood, and easily acquired, which might be made available for missionary purposes, at least as far as oral teaching is concerned.

"The expense of establishing and supporting a Mission would not, it is hoped, prove large. Fish and game are extremely cheap. Fuel, both coal and wood, is cheap and abundant. It is proposed that the first missionary station should be at Fort Simpson, on the mainland, as it offers many advantages for prosecuting the objects of the Mission. There the Missionaries would enjoy the protection, and, it is hoped, the cordial co-operation, of the Hudson's Bay Company; and, in return, the Company's servants would receive the benefit of the ministrations of the members of the Mission. The position is central to all the most populous villages; and here, in the spring of each year, a kind of great national fair is held, where the tribes from the most distant parts of the coast and interior assemble, to the number of about 15,000, and receive the commodities of the Company in exchange for the skins collected during the preceding season. On these occasions valuable opportunities would be afforded to the missionaries of conversing with the natives, and giving them religions instruction. Here, too, a school might be opened for the Native children, where they would receive an industrial as well as religious and secular education, and be secluded from the prejudicial influence of their adult relatives."

This earnest appeal was not long in eliciting a response. Shortly afterwards, in the list of contributions published monthly by the Society, appeared the following entry:—

Two Friends, for Vancouver's Island, L500.

Still the Committee hesitated; but two or three months afterwards, Capt. Prevost came to them again with the news that he was re-appointed to the same naval station, and was to proceed thither immediately in command of H.M.S. Satellite; and, with the sanction of the Admiralty, he offered a free passage by her to any missionary the Society could send out.

Here was the opening, here were the means; but where was the man to go? There did not seem to be anyone available; but, at length, only ten days before the "Satellite" was to sail, a student, then under training, was thought of. Who was this?

A few years before, one of the Society's Missionaries had addressed a village meeting in the Midland Counties. It was a very wet night, and but a handful of people attended. The Vicar proposed to postpone the meeting; but the missionary urged that the few who had come were entitled to hear the information they were expecting, and proceeded to deliver a long and earnest speech. Among the listeners were three young men, and the heart of one of these was deeply touched that night. He subsequently offered himself to the Society, and was sent to the (then existing) Highbury Training College to be trained as a school master, under the Rev. C. R. Alford, afterwards Bishop of Victoria, Hong Kong. That young man's name was WILLIAM DUNCAN, and it was he to whom now came the call of the Committee to start in ten days for British Columbia.

William Duncan was ready. On December 19th, 1856, he took leave of the Committee, and on the 23rd, he sailed with Capt. Prevost from Plymouth in the Satellite. [Footnote: An interesting notice of Captain Prevost's offer, and of the valedictory dismissal of Mr. Duncan, appears in the recently published "Memoir of Henry Venn" p. 137.]

The voyage to Vancouver's Island took nearly six months. It was on June 13th, 1857, that the Satellite cast anchor in Esquimault Harbour, Victoria. But Mr. Duncan had still five hundred miles to go. His mission was to the Tsimsheans, and for them Fort Simpson was the point to aim at. Unable, however, to obtain a passage thither at once, he remained at Victoria three months, patiently preparing for future work by studying the language. Meanwhile the officers of the Hudson's Bay Company raised some objections to his settling at Fort Simpson. The Indians, they said, could not be allowed to come into the fort to him, and it would be quite unsafe for him to venture outside; and they recommended him to turn his attention to the tribes of Vancouver's Island, who, having been brought more into contact with white men, were presumed to be on that account more accessible to Christian influence. Mr. Duncan, however, justly felt that the advantage was rather the other way; besides which to Fort Simpson he was appointed, and to Fort Simpson he would go. The Governor of the Colony warmly entered into his views, and gave him letters to the officer in charge, directing that accommodation was to be found for him, and all facilities given him for the prosecution of his work.



On the night of October 1st Mr. Duncan landed at the Fort. Like other Hudson's Bay Company trading posts, this "Fort" consisted of a few houses, stores, and workshops, surrounded by a palisade twenty feet high, formed of trunks of trees. Close by was the Tsimshean village, comprising some two hundred and fifty wooden houses, well-built, and several of them of considerable size. A day or two after his arrival, Mr. Duncan had a significant glimpse of the kind of savages to whom he was presently to proclaim the Gospel of Peace:—

"The other day we were called upon to witness a terrible scene: An old chief, in cool blood, ordered a slave to be dragged to the beach, murdered, and thrown into the water. His orders were quickly obeyed. The victim was a poor woman. Two or three reasons are assigned for this foul act: one is, that it is to take away the disgrace attached to his daughter, who has been suffering some time from a ball wound in the arm. Another report is, that he does not expect his daughter to recover, so he has killed this slave in order that she may prepare for the coming of his daughter into the unseen world. I think the former reason is the most probable. I did not see the murder, but, immediately after, I saw crowds of people running out of those houses near to where the corpse was thrown, and forming themselves into groups at a good distance away. This, I learnt, was from fear of what was to follow. Presently two bands of furious wretches appeared, each headed by a man in a state of nudity. They gave vent to the most unearthly sounds, and the two naked men made themselves look as unearthly as possible, proceeding in a creeping kind of stoop, and stepping like two proud horses, at the same time shooting forward each arm alternately, which they held out at full length for a little time in the most defiant manner. Besides this, the continual jerking of their heads back, causing their long black hair to twist about, added much to their savage appearance. For some time they pretended to be seeking the body, and the instant they came where it lay they commenced screaming and rushing round it like so many angry wolves. Finally they seized it, dragged it out of the water, and laid it on the beach, where I was told the naked men would commence tearing it to pieces with their teeth. The two bands of men immediately surrounded them, and so hid their horrid work. In a few minutes the crowd broke again in two, when each of the naked cannibals appeared with half of the body in his hands. Separating a few yards, they commenced, amid horrid yells, their still more horrid feast. The sight was too terrible to behold."

Just at the same time another feature in the character of the Indians was painfully illustrated. On October 7th he wrote:—

"Immediately after dinner the second officer of the Fort, who had not been absent more than a minute, came rushing back, to report that an Indian had just been murdered close to the Fort gates. On repairing to the gallery, I saw this shocking sight. Several Indians, with muskets in their bands, were hovering about the dying man, and one or two ventured to go near and assist him. He was shot in the right breast, and apparently dying, but seemingly conscious of what had happened. In a few minutes two Indians, looking as fierce as tigers, carrying muskets, came bounding to the spot, and, after ordering all away, one of them immediately fired at the poor fellow as he lay on the ground, and shot him in the arm. They then as quickly bounded away. The head chief was the murderer. Being irritated by some other chiefs while partly intoxicated, he vented his rage upon the first stranger that came in his way, and, after shooting him, ordered two of his men to finish the horrible deed."

But the young missionary, though saddened, was not discouraged. The more barbarous and degraded he found the Indians to be, the more vivid was his sense of their need of the Gospel; and was anything too hard for the Lord? So he continued vigorously his study of the language, assisted by an Indian named Clah. Taking an English dictionary, he succeeded, by unwearied industry, in ascertaining the Tsimshean equivalents for fifteen hundred of the most necessary words. At the same time he set about making friends with the people. During the winter, when the severe cold and the deep snow kept them much indoors, he visited every house in turn, and on Jan. 14th he wrote:—

"To-day we have finished our calls. I have been inside 140 houses, all large and strong buildings. The largest would measure, I imagine, about sixty by forty feet. One house I was not permitted to enter, as they had not finished their sorceries for the season. However they sent me out an account of their family. In all, I counted 2,156 souls, namely, 637 men, 756 women, and 763 children; and, making an addition for those away procuring fuel, and those at the Fort, I estimate the sum-total of residents to be 2,325, which is rather over than under the true number. The total number rendered by themselves, which of course includes all that belongs to them, whether married into other tribes or living south, is 2,567. These are divided into nine tribes, but all speak the same language, and have one general name—Tsimshean, So far as I am at present able to make out, I calculate that there are seventeen other tribes, all living within fifty miles of this place, which either speak Tsimshean or something very near to it.

"It would be impossible for me to give a full description of this my first general visit, for the scenes were too exciting and too crowded to admit of it. I confess that cluster after cluster of these half-naked and painted savages round their fires was, to my unaccustomed eyes, very alarming. But the reception I met with was truly wonderful and encouraging. On entering a house I was saluted by one, two, or three of the principal persons with 'Clah-how-yah,' which is the complimentary term used in the trading jargon. This would be repeated several times. Then a general movement and a squatting ensued, followed by a breathless silence, during which every eye was fixed upon me. After a time several would begin nodding and smiling, at the same time reiterating, in a low tone, 'Ahm, ahm ah ket, Ahm Shimauyet' ('Good, kind person, good chief'). My interpreter would then ask them to let us know how many they had in their family, which was instantly followed by a deafening clamour. Sometimes the vociferation was so general that it was really bewildering to hear it. Everybody was talking and trying to outdo the rest, and nobody was listening. This storm, would be abruptly succeeded by a general hush, when I was again pleasantly but rigidly scrutinized. Of course the attempt of everybody to count was a failure, and so the business at last was taken up by one of the leading persons, who generally succeeded to the satisfaction of all. While this was going on, I managed to count and class the inmates of the house, and look at the sick. In some houses they would not be content until I took the chief place near the fire, and they always placed a mat upon a box for me to sit upon. My enquiries after the sick were always followed by anxious looks and deep sighs. A kind of solemn awe would spread itself at once."

At length, after eight months' patient preparation, Mr. Duncan was able to make his first attempt to convey to the Indians, in their own tongue, the message of salvation through a crucified Saviour, by means of a written address, which he had composed with infinite pains, and which he proceeded to deliver at the houses of the different chiefs:—

"June 13, 1858: Lord's day.—Bless the Lord, O my soul, and let all creation join in chorus to bless His holy name. True to His word, 'He giveth power to the faint, and to them that have no might. He increaseth strength.' Bless for ever His holy name!

"Last week I finished translating my first address for the Indians. Although it was not entirely to my satisfaction, I felt it would be wrong to withhold the message any longer. Accordingly I sent word last night (not being ready before) to the chiefs, desiring to use their houses to-day to address their people in. This morning I set off, accompanied by the young Indian (Clah), whom I have had occasionally to assist me in the language. In a few minutes we arrived at the first chief's house, which I found all prepared, and we mustered about one hundred souls. This was the first assembly of Indians I had met. My heart quailed greatly before the work—a people for the first time come to hear the Gospel tidings, and I the poor instrument to address them in a tongue so new and difficult to me. Oh, those moments! I began to think that, after all, I should be obliged to get Clah to speak to them, while I read to them from a paper in my hand. Blessed be God, this lame resolution was not carried. My Indian was so unnerved at my proposal, that I quickly saw I must do the best I could by myself, or worse would come of it. I then told them to shut the door. The Lord strengthened me. I knelt down to crave God's blessing, and afterwards I gave them the address. They were all remarkably attentive. At the conclusion I desired them to kneel down. They immediately complied, and I offered up prayer for them in English. They preserved great stillness. All being done, I bade them good-bye. They all responded with seeming thankfulness. On leaving, I asked my Indian if they understood me, and one of the chief women very seriously replied, 'Nee, nee' ('yes'); and he assured me that from their looks he knew that they understood and felt it to be good.

"We then went to the next chief's house, where we found all, ready, a canoe-sail spread for me to stand on, and a mat placed on a box for me to sit upon. About 150 souls assembled, and as there were a few of the Fort people present, I first gave them a short address in English, and then the one in Tsimshean. All knelt at prayer, and were very attentive, as at the other place. This is the head chief's house. He is a very wicked man, but he was present, and admonished the people to behave themselves during my stay.

"After this I went in succession to the other seven tribes, and addressed them in the chiefs' houses. In each case I found the chief very kind and attentive in preparing his house and assembling his people. The smallest company I addressed was about fifty souls, and the largest about 200. Their obedience to my request about kneeling was universal, but in the house where there were over 200 some confusion took place, as they were sitting so close. However, when they heard me begin to pray, they were instantly silent. Thus the Lord helped me through. About 800 or 900 souls in all have heard me speak; and a great number of them, I feel certain, have understood the message. May the Lord make it the beginning of great good for this pitiable and long-lost people."

Mr. Duncan was now beginning to feel his way among the Indians, and the head chief, Legaic, having offered him the use of his house for a schoolroom, he opened school on June 28th. Twenty-six children attended in the morning, and fourteen or fifteen adults in the afternoon. The head chief and his wife took great interest, and assisted in every way they could. Their house was made clean, and a seat was placed upon a mat for Mr. Duncan. The children also came neat and clean; one boy only had nothing but a blanket to cover him, and in his case it was not poverty, but superstition, that prevented him from having a shirt on like the rest. This poor lad had been initiated into the mysteries of medicine in the previous winter, and so was forbidden by law to wear any thing over him except a blanket or a skin for one year. If he had put on a shirt, death would have been expected to ensue.

On Sunday, July 11th, God enabled him a second time to proclaim the Gospel in another carefully-written address. He went, as on the first occasion, to each of the nine tribes separately, and began and concluded with prayer. At the concluding prayer almost all knelt, or the exceptions were rare. One man, however, sullenly refused. It was Quthray, the chief of the cannibal gang, of whom we shall hear again.

After a few weeks the school was suspended, in consequence of the absence of the chief in whose house it was held. It had been used sufficiently long, however, to show that it was appreciated by both parents and children, and thus encouraged, Mr. Duncan determined to commence to build a school-house. The wood had arrived in a raft, and a number of Indians were engaged to assist in the building; but scarcely had they begun to carry the wood up the hill, when one of the Indians dropped dead. The news ran through the camp, and great alarm spread on all sides. Mr. Duncan at first feared that owing to the superstition of the Indians with regard to such events, the confidence which he had secured among the people would be greatly shaken, and his work amongst them retarded. But, through God's mercy, his fears were not realized. He deemed it prudent to suspend the work for a time, but, after repeated invitations from the Indians, he resumed it on Sept. 17th:—

"Yesterday I spoke to a few on the subject, and all seemed heartily glad. One old chief said to me, 'Cease being angry now,' thinking, I suppose, my delay was occasioned by anger. He assured me he would send his men to help. It was quite encouraging to see how earnestly they expressed their desire for me to proceed with the work, and I may safely say the feeling was universal. This morning I went to the raft at six a.m., but only one old man was there. In a little time came other two or three, then a few more, then two chiefs. By about half past six we mustered seven or eight workers on the raft, though several more came out and sat at their doors, Indian like, as though they wished only to look on. This seemed greatly in contrast with their expressions to me yesterday; but such is the Indian. I knew it was of no use to push, so I patiently waited. About half-past six one of the Indians on the raft sprang to his feet, gave the word of starting, which is a peculiar kind of whoop, and he, with the few so inadequate to the work, determined to begin. At this I proceeded up the beach to the place for building upon, but what was my surprise when, on returning, I met upwards of forty Indians carrying wood. They all seemed to have moved in an instant, and sprung to the work with one heart. The enthusiasm they manifested was truly gladdening, and almost alarming. Amongst the number were several old men, who were doing more with their spirited looks and words than with their muscles. The whole camp seemed now excited. Encouraging words and pleasant looks greeted me on every side. Every one seemed in earnest, and the heavy blocks and beams began to move up the hill with amazing rapidity. When the Fort bell rang for breakfast they proposed to keep on. One old man said he would not eat till the work was done. However, I did not think it good to sanction this enthusiasm thus far, but sent them off to their houses. By three o'clock p.m. all was over, for which I was very glad, for the constant whooping, groaning, and bawling of the Indians, together with the difficulties of the work, from the great weight of the pieces and the bad road, kept me in constant fear."

But no sooner had Mr. Duncan set up his school, and commenced work in it, than the opposition of the medicine men began. They saw that if the work progressed, "their craft was in danger of being set at nought." The chiefs of three tribes had already declared that they had made up their minds to abandon their sorceries.

On November 19th the new school was opened, and it was soon attended by one hundred and forty children and fifty adults; but on December 1st Mr. Duncan was told by the manager of the Fort that the head chief, Legaic, was going to ask him to give up the school for about a month during the medicine season. Shortly afterwards he was told that they would be content if he would stay school for a fortnight, and after that they would all come to be taught; but if he did not comply, they intended stopping him by force, and had determined to shoot at the pupils as they came to the school. Mr. Duncan had a long talk to two of the officers about the matter, giving them plainly to understand that he did not intend in the least degree to heed the threats of the Indians. "Go on with my work I would, in spite of all. I told them Satan had reigned long enough here; it was high time his rule should be disturbed (as it is)." On December 20th he wrote:—

"This day has been a great day here. I have heartily to thank that all -seeing Father who has covered me and supported me to-day. The devil and wicked men leagued to overthrow me this day, but the Lord would not have it so. I am still alive. This morning the medicine party, who are carrying on their work near to the school, broke out with renewed fury. On going to school, I observed a crowd of these wretched men in a house that I was approaching. As soon as I got into the school, the wife of the head chief came to beg me to give up school for a little time. She was certainly very modest in her manner and request, but altogether unsuccessful. I spoke to her a little, and then she said (what I knew to be false) that neither she nor her husband desired to go on with the medicine-work, for, they often cried to see the state of things, but it was the tribe that urged them to do what they were doing. When she saw she could prevail nothing, not even so much as to prevent striking the steel (used as a bell), which they have a peculiar hatred for, she left me. I then went up the ladder and struck the steel myself, as I did not like to send a boy up. Very soon about eighty pupils were in the school, and we went on as usual.

"This afternoon a boy ran to strike the steel, and not many seconds elapsed before I saw the head chief (Legaic) approaching, and a whole gang of medicine men after him, dressed up in their usual charms. The chief looked very angry, and bade the boy cease. I waited at the door until he came up. His first effort was to rid the school of the few pupils that had just come in. He shouted at the top of his voice, and bade them he off. I immediately accosted him, and demanded to know what he intended or expected to do. His gang stood about the door, and I think seven came in. I saw their point: it was to intimidate me by their strength and frightful appearance; and I perceived the chief, too, was somewhat under the influence of rum. But the Lord enabled me to stand calm, and, without the slightest fear, to address them with far more fluency, in their tongue, than I could have imagined possible —to tell them of their sin faithfully—to vindicate my conduct—to exhort them to leave their bad ways, and also to tell them they must not think to make me afraid. I told them that God was my Master, and I must obey Him rather than them, and that the devil had taught their fathers what they were practising, and it was bad, but what I was teaching now was God's way, and it was good. Our meeting lasted for more than an hour. I saw a great many people at a distance looking anxiously at our proceedings, the school door being open. The chief expressed himself very passionately, now and then breaking out into furious language, and showing off his savage nature by his gestures. Towards the close of the scene, two of the confederates, vile-looking fellows, went and whispered something to him, upon which he got up from a seat he had just sat down upon, stamped his feet on the floor, raised his voice as high as he could, and exhibited all the rage and defiance and boldness that he could. This was all done, I knew, to intimidate me, but, blessed be God, he did not succeed. Finding his efforts unavailing, he went off.

"The leading topics of the chiefs angry conversation were as follows— He requested four days' suspension of the school, he promised that, if I complied, he and his people would then come to school, but threatened if my pupils continued to come on the following days, he would shoot at them, lastly, he pleaded, that if the school went on during the time he specified, then some medicine men, whom he expected on a visit shortly from a distant tribe, would shame, and, perhaps, kill him. Some of his sayings during his fits of rage were, that he understood how to kill people, occasionally drawing his hand across his throat to show me what he meant, that when he died he knew he should go down, he could not change, he could not be good, or, if I made him good, why, then, he supposed he should go to a different place from his forefathers, this he did not desire to do. On one occasion, whilst he was talking, he looked at two men, one of them a regular pupil of mine, and the other a medicine-man, and said, 'I am a murderer, and so are you, and you' (pointing to each of these men), 'and what good is it for us to come to school?' Here I broke in, and blessed be God, it gave me an opportunity of telling the three murderers that pardon was now offered to them if they would repent, and amend, and go to Jesus our Saviour."

It was afterwards found out that Legaic, at the moment of his most violent fury, had caught sight of Clah (who, unknown to Mr. Duncan, was watching over him with a revolver), and knew that, if he touched the missionary, it would be at the risk of his life. So it ever is: "in some way or other, the Lord will provide!"

This conduct on the part of Legaic was the more discouraging, inasmuch as he had, in the first instance, as we have seen, given up his own house for the school. So persistent, however, was his hostility at this time, and so great were the difficulties in the way of attending school, that Mr. Duncan was at length obliged to close the new building, and another chief having offered him the use of his house for a school, where the children and others would not be afraid to come, he readily availed himself of his kindness, and was soon able to report the steady progress of the work. On Christmas Day he wrote:—

"Yesterday I told my scholars to bring their friends and relatives to school to-day, as I wanted to tell them something new. We numbered over 200 souls. I tried to make them understand why we distinguished this day from others. After this I questioned the children a little, and then we sang two hymns, which we also translated. While the hymns were being sung, I felt I must try to do something more, although the language seemed to defy me. I never experienced such an inward burning to speak before, and therefore I determined to try an extemporaneous address in Tsimshean. The Lord helped me: a great stillness prevailed, and, I think, a great deal was understood of what I said. I told them of our condition, the pity and love of God, the death of the Son of God on our account, and the benefits arising to us therefrom; and exhorted them to leave their sins and pray to Jesus. On my enumerating the sins of which they are guilty, I saw some look at each other with those significant looks which betokened their assent to what I said. I tried to impress upon them the certain ruin which awaits them if they proceed in their present vices. Very remarkably, an illustration corroborating what I said was before their eyes. A poor woman was taken sick, not four yards from where I stood, and right before the eyes of my audience. She was groaning under a frightful affliction, the effect of her vices."



From the extract last given we can gather that, notwithstanding the opposition of some, and the frightful depravity of all, Mr. Duncan seemed to be gaining the ear of the people just in proportion as he advanced in fluency of speech in their mother tongue. And during the following year, 1859, not a few tokens for good were granted him. In some parts of the camp open drunkenness and profligacy were diminishing, and the comparative quiet and decorum consequent on this made a great impression on the rest. In March a meeting of chiefs was held at Legaic's house, at which Mr. Duncan's arguments against many of their most degrading customs were discussed, and generally approved; and a message was sent to him that they wished him to "speak strong" against the "bad ways" of their people. On April 6th, Legaic himself appeared at the school, not now to intimidate the missionary, but to sit at his feet as a learner. Others followed his example; and when, in August, one notoriously bad character, named Cushwaht, broke into the school with a hatchet, intending to shoot Mr. Duncan, and, not finding him there, smashed all the windows, the greatest indignation was expressed on every side, and Mr. Duncan had to implore the people not to shed the offender's blood.

Nor were only outward changes visible. It was soon manifest that the Spirit of God was at work in the hearts of some. On October 10th a most encouraging incident occurred:—

"I was informed, on coming out of the school this afternoon, that a young man, who has been a long time suffering in consumption (brought on by a severe cold), and whom I have visited several times, was dying; so, after a little reflection, some misgiving, and prayer, I started off to see him. I found him, as his wife had said, dying. Over twenty people were about him; some were crying, and two, I am sorry to say, were partly intoxicated. I looked on for some time in silent sorrow. When I wished to speak, silence immediately ensued. I rebuked the noise and tumult, and directed the dying man to fix his heart on the Saviour Jesus, to forget the things about him, and spend his little remaining time in praying in his heart to God to save him. His reply was, 'O yes, sir; O yes, sir;' and for some moments he would close his eyes, and seemed absorbed in prayer. He begged me, with much earnestness, to continue to teach his little girl. He wanted her to be good. This little girl is about seven years old: her name is Cathi. She has been very regular at school since I commenced, and has made nice progress. Much to my comfort, a young woman sat by his side, who has been one of my most regular pupils. She is in the first class, and can read portions of the Bible. Her intelligence is remarkable, and I have observed her to be always listening to religious instruction. Thus, here was one sitting close to the dying man who could tell him, much more accurately than I, the few directions I desired to utter. What a remarkable providence it seemed to me! With tears in her eyes, she begged him to give his heart to God and to pray to Him. I longed to pray with him, and watched anxiously a long time for the opportunity. The opportunity came, and the strength came with it. I knelt down by his side. All was hushed, and I prayed from a full heart to the Lord our God to have mercy upon the poor soul about to come into His presence, for the sake of His dear Son Jesus. I felt sure that the Lord heard my prayer, and I can indulge a hope for this poor man's salvation."

There was much in the case of this young man which encouraged Mr. Duncan in the hope that he was a true believer in Christ. He understood the main and leading truths of the Gospel, and he frequently prayed much to God. Daring his sickness, he never permitted the medicine folks to operate upon him; and this of itself showed a wonderful change in him. He died the following night, having reassured the people around him of his safety, and had a very solemn parting from his little girl.

Thus, just two years after the solitary Missionary had landed on the coast as a stranger, the first fully ripened fruit of his labours was gathered into the heavenly garner.

In January, 1860, the first Bishop of Columbia, Dr. Hills, arrived at Victoria. Observing the deplorable condition into which the Indians fell who flocked thither, and thus came into contact with the vices of an outlying colonial settlement, the Bishop invited Mr. Duncan to come down and organise some Christian work amongst them. He accordingly spent two or three months in the summer there, holding Tsimshean services, and opening a school. A good work was thus set on foot, which has since been successfully carried on by others.

At this time Captain Prevost returned to England, and as a specimen of the results so far of the Mission which his own loving zeal had originated, brought home with him a little journal kept, during Mr. Duncan's absence at Victoria, by one of the Tsimshean boys at Fort Simpson. Here are some fragments of it:—

"Tuesday, April 4th, 1860.—If will die my father, then will very poor my heart 4 my brother all die; only one Shooquanahts save, and two my uncle save. I will try to make all things. I want to be good, and I want to much work hard. When we have done work, then will please, Sir, Mr. Duncan, will you give me a little any thing when you come back."

"April 17: School, Fort Simpson.—Shooquanahts not two hearts—always one my heart. Some boys always two hearts. Only one Shooquanahts—not two heart, no. If I steal any thing then God will see. Bad people no care about Son of God: when will come troubled hearts, foolish people. Then he will very much cry. What good cry? Nothing. No care about our Saviour; always forget. By and by will understand about the Son of God."

"May 17.—I do not understand some prayers, only few prayers I understand; not all I understand, no. I wish to understand all prayers. When I understand all prayers, then I always prayer our Saviour Jesus Christ. I want to learn to prayer to Jesus Christ our Saviour: by and by I understand all about our Saviour Christ: when I understand all what about our Saviour, then I will happy when I die. If I do not learn about our Saviour Jesus, then I will very troubled my heart when I die. It is good for us when we learn about our Saviour Jesus. When I understand about our Saviour Jesus, then I will very happy when I die."

Another encouraging case is that of an old man, of whom Mr. Duncan wrote:—

"One night, when I was encamping out, after a weary day, the supper and the little instruction being over, my crew of Indians, excepting one old man, quickly spread their mats near the fire, and lay down to sleep in pairs, each sharing his fellow's blanket. The one old man sat near the fire smoking his pipe. I crept into my little tent, but, after some time, came out again to see that all was right. The old man was just making his bed (a thin bark mat on the ground, a little box of grease, and a few dry salmon for his pillow—a shirt on, and a blanket round him—another bark mat over all, his head too, formed his bed in the open air, during a cold, dark night in April). When everything was adjusted, he put his pipe down, and offered up, in his own tongue, this simple little prayer, 'Be merciful to me, Jesus.' Then he drew up his feet, and was soon lost to view."

Mr. Duncan had now the joy of welcoming a fellow-labourer. The Rev. L. S. Tugwell, who had been allotted by the Society to a Mission which looked so hopeful, arrived with Mrs. Tugwell in August, and at once threw himself with the utmost earnestness into the work of preparation for future usefulness. But to his keen disappointment the health of both entirely broke down in the damp climate, where sometimes the rain falls for ten months out of the twelve, and he was obliged to return to England after fourteen months' residence on the coast.

Before leaving, however, Mr. Tugwell had the high privilege of admitting into the visible Church its first Tsimshean members. On July 26th, 1861, fourteen men, five women, and four children were baptized. Others were deterred by heathen relatives. Some candidates were not passed. But of these, Mr. Duncan wrote, "We truly hope they are indeed children of God."

But other fruit, though not so ripe, was now plainly visible, and had begun to attract public attention. In January, 1860, Mr. Duncan received a letter from the Rev. E. Cridge, the English chaplain at Victoria, conveying a message from the Governor, Sir James Douglas:—

"I am requested by his Excellency the Governor to express to you the great gratification he has received from conversing with several of the Indians who have been under your instruction at Fort Simpson, and who are now at Victoria; and his pleasure at witnessing the great improvement in manners, bearing, and religion which you have succeeded in effecting in their condition. His Excellency trusts you will continue to show the same energy, perseverance, and zeal which he is sure you must already have applied to the work, and that your labour will be rewarded by a still larger measure of success. His Excellency also wishes me to say that he would feel obliged by your reporting to him from time to time on the progress of your Mission. Any suggestions you may make with regard to measures which may occur to you as likely to prove beneficial to the Indians under your care, such as settling them in any particular locality, or setting apart a reserve of land for their use, will receive his Excellency's best attention; who will also, if necessary, represent any such measures, with his favourable recommendation to her Majesty's Government."

Commander Mayne, R.N., mentions in his interesting book, Four Years in British Columbia (p. 212), that Captain G. Y. H. Richards, of H. M. S. Hecate, who was in command on the coast at this time, was so much struck by Mr. Duncan's success, that he said to him, "Why do not more men come out? Or, if the missionary societies cannot afford them, why does not Government send out fifty, and place them up the coast at once? Surely it would not be difficult to find fifty good men in England willing to engage in such a work; and their expenses would be almost nothing compared with the cost which the country must sustain to subdue the Indians by force of arms. And such," adds Commander Mayne, "are the sentiments of myself—in common, I believe, with all my brother officers—after nearly five years' constant and close intercourse with the Natives of Vancouver's Island and the coast."



As early as July, 1859, Mr. Duncan had foreseen the necessity, if the Mission were not only to save individual souls from sin, but to exercise a wholesome influence upon the Indian tribes generally, of fixing its head-quarters at some place removed from the contamination of ungodly white men. "What," he wrote, "is to become of children and young people under instruction when temporal need compels them to leave school? If they are permitted to slip away from me into the gulf of vice and misery which everywhere surrounds them, then the fate of these tribes is sealed." What that fate would be may be gathered from one of Bishop Hills' first letters in 1860. He found that of one tribe more than half had been cut off in a dozen years by drink and dissolute habits; and the traffic in Indian females for immoral purposes was openly carried on, from L40 to L60 per head being paid for them. "Victoria," wrote Mr. Duncan, "although it is 500 miles from Fort Simpson, will always prove the place of attraction to these tribes, and to many even further away. There they become demoralised and filled with disease; and from thence they return, laden with rum, to spread scenes of horror too awful to describe."

The Tsimsheans who had come under Mr. Duncan's influence, themselves implored him to devise some way of escape from the ruin they saw impending on their nation. And he laid before the Society a plan for establishing a colony, where well-disposed Indians might be gathered together. His objects are thus succinctly stated in an official report presented by him to the Canadian Government some years afterwards:—

"1st. To place all the Indians, when they became wishful to be taught Christianity, out of the miasma of heathen life, and away from the deadening and enthralling influence of heathen customs.

"2nd. To establish the Mission where we could effectively shut out intoxicating liquors, and keep liquor vendors at bay.

"3rd. To enable us to raise a barrier against the Indians visiting Victoria, excepting on lawful business.

"4th. That we might be able to assist the people thus gathered out to develop into a model community, and raise a Christian village, from which the native evangelist might go forth, and Christian truth radiate to every tribe around.

"5th. That we might gather such a community around us, whose moral and religious training and bent of life might render it safe and proper to impart secular instruction.

"6th. That we might be able to break up all tribal distinctions and animosities, and cement all who came to us, from whatever tribe, into one common brotherhood.

"7th. That we might place ourselves in a position to set up and establish the supremacy of the law, teach loyalty to the Queen, conserve the peace of the country around, and ultimately develope our settlement into a municipality with its native corporation."

The Indians themselves pointed out the locality for such a settlement, a place called METLAKAHTLA, [Footnote: Metlakahtla = the inlet of Kahtla, Kahtla was the name of the tribe formerly settled there.] occupying a beautiful situation on the coast, seventeen miles from Fort Simpson. It had formerly been their own home; but they had removed their tents to Fort Simpson twenty years before for convenience of trade. Here they would be free from the influences of the Fort, which were decidedly adverse to the well-being of the Mission; they would have more opportunity of social improvement; they would have plenty of beach room for their canoes; and they would have plenty of land suitable for gardens, which they did not possess at their present station, and a channel always smooth, and abounding with salmon and shell-fish, while its beauty formed a striking contrast to the dreary country around.

The project met with the entire approval of the Governor, and the winter was occupied in preparing wood for the buildings, in the expectation that the removal would be effected in the spring. But the departure of Mr. Tugwell delayed the accomplishment of the scheme, and it was not until the summer of 1862 that Mr. Duncan found himself able to carry it out.

On May 18th, 1862, he began taking down the large temporary school which had been put up at Fort Simpson, and three days later its materials were rafted, and were on their way to the new site. Just then a message from God of a most solemn kind came to the coast tribes. Only two days after the raft had gone away, canoes from Victoria arrived with the news that the smallpox had broken out among the Indians there; and, worse still, it immediately became evident that the canoes had brought the fell disease with them. "It was," wrote Mr. Duncan, "evidently my duty immediately to see and warn the Indians. I had previously determined to do this in a farewell visit to each tribe before my departure from Fort Simpson, but I now felt doubly pressed to call upon all quickly to surrender themselves to God. I therefore spent the next few days in assembling and addressing each tribe (nine in all) separately. Thus all in the camp again heard a warning voice; many, alas! for the last time, as it proved. Sad to relate, hundreds of those who heard me were soon and suddenly swept into eternity."

Even at that moment of alarm very few of the Indians could make up their minds, when the time for departure came, to throw in their lot with the new colony. Nor can we be surprised at this, when we read the rules Mr. Duncan had framed for its guidance, admirable in themselves, and now abundantly justified by their signal success, but still involving a radical change in the habits of the Indians, and the abandonment of some of their most cherished practices. They were fifteen in number:—

1. To give up their "Ahhed," or Indian devilry; 2. To cease calling in conjurors when sick; 3. To cease gambling; 4. To cease giving away their property for display; 5. To cease painting their faces; 6. To cease drinking intoxicating drink; 7. To rest on the Sabbath; 8. To attend religious instruction; 9. To send their children to school; 10. To be clean; 11. To be industrious; 12. To be peaceful; 13. To be liberal and honest in trade; 14. To build neat houses; 15. To pay the village tax.

Nevertheless, when the day of removal came, fifty Indians accompanied Mr. Duncan to Metlakahtla:—

"On the 27th May, in the afternoon, we started off. All that were ready to go with me occupied six canoes, and we numbered about fifty souls—men, women, and children. Many Indians were seated on the beach, watching our departure with solemn and anxious faces; and some promised to follow us in a few days. The party with me seemed filled with solemn joy as we pushed off, feeling that their long-looked-for flit had actually commenced. I felt we were beginning an eventful page in the history of this poor people, and earnestly sighed to God for His help and blessing.

"The next day, the 28th May, we arrived at our new home about two p.m. The Indians I had sent on before me with the raft I found hard at work, clearing ground and sawing plank. They had carried all the raft up from the beach, excepting a few heavy beams; erected two temporary houses; and had planted about four bushels of potatoes for me.

"Every night we assembled, a happy family, for singing and prayer. I gave an address on each occasion from one portion of Scriptural truth suggested to me by the events of the day."

And a much larger number were not long in following. On June 6th a fleet of thirty canoes arrived from Fort Simpson, bringing nearly three hundred souls; in fact nearly the whole of one tribe, the Keetlahn, with two chiefs. Not many days, however, elapsed before the dreaded cloud overshadowed the coast. Small-pox broke out at Fort Simpson, and seized upon the Indians; and although for awhile they were content to ward it off, as they thought, by incessant conjuring, yet when some of the leading medicine men themselves fell victims to the disease, a great fear fell upon all, and they fled in all directions, but only spread the fatal scourge more widely by so doing. Many came to Metlakahtla, and though Mr. Duncan refused to receive some, he could not refuse all. "For the temporal and spiritual welfare of my own people," he wrote, "who now clung to me like timid children, I was kept in constant labour and pressing anxiety. Death stared us in the face on every hand. But God remembered us in the day of our calamity;" and of the original settlers only five were cut off. One of these was Stephen Ryan, one of the first group baptized by Mr. Tugwell in the preceding year. A touching account is given of his end:

"He died in a most distressing condition, so far as the body is concerned. A way from everyone whom he loved, in a little bark hut on a rocky beach just beyond the reach of the tide, which no one of his relatives or friends dared to approach except the one who nursed him; in this damp, lowly, distressing state, suffering from the malignant disease of small-pox, how cheering to receive such words as the following from him: 'I am quite happy. I find my Saviour very near to me. I am not afraid to die; heaven is open to receive me. Give my thanks to Mr. Duncan: he told me of Jesus. I have hold of the ladder that reaches to heaven. All Mr. Duncan taught me I now feel to be true.' Then, saying that he wished to be carried to his relatives, his words were, 'Do not weep for me. You are poor, being left; I am not poor: I am going to heaven. My Saviour is very near to me: do all of you follow me to heaven. Let not one of you be wanting. Tell my mother more clearly the way of life: I am afraid she does not yet understand the way. Tell her not to weep for me, but to get ready to die. Be all of one heart and live in peace.'"

Notwithstanding this heavy trial, the infant settlement grew and prospered; and in the following March, 1863, Mr. Duncan, in a letter to the Society, summed up the results of the Mission so far in these remarkable words:—

"The Lord has sustained His work, and given marked evidence of His presence and blessing. Above one-fourth of the Tsimsheans from Fort Simpson, a few Tongass, Nishkah, Keethrathla, and Keetsahlass Indians (which tribes occupy a circle of about seventy miles round Fort Simpson), have been gathered out from the heathen, and have gone through much labour, trial, and persecution, to come on the Lord's side. About 400 to 600 souls attend Divine service on Sundays, and are being governed by Christian and civilized laws. About seventy adults and twenty children are already baptized, or are only waiting for a minister to come and baptize them. About 100 children are attending the day schools, and 100 adults the evening school. About forty of the young men have formed themselves into two classes, and meet for prayer and exhorting each other. The instruments of the medicine-men, which have spell-bound their nation for ages, have found their way into my house, and are most willingly and cheerfully given up. The dark and cruel mantle of heathenism has been rent so that it cannot be healed. Numbers are escaping from under its deadly embrace. Customs, which form the very foundation of Indian government, and lie nearest the Indian's heart, have been given up, because they have an evil tendency. Feasts are now characterized by order and good will, and begin and end with the offering of thanks to the Giver of all good. Thus the surrounding tribes have now a model village before them, acting as a powerful witness for the truth of the Gospel, shaming and correcting, yet still captivating them; for in it they see those good things which they and their forefathers have sought and laboured for in vain, viz., peace, security, order, honesty, and progress. To God be all the praise and glory! Amen and amen."

To this may be added some extracts from a formal report which he sent to the Governor at the same time, and which gives a most interesting account of the material prospects of the settlement:—

"Metlahkatlah, 6th March, 1863.,

"Sir,—The Tsimshean Indians, who have lately removed from Fort Simpson under my superintendence and settled here, are very anxious to tender your Excellency their warmest thanks for the liberal and timely aid which you have rendered them in building their new village. The 150 window-sashes and 600lbs. of nails, which came of your bounty of L50, arrived quite safely in September last by the Hudson Bay Company's steamer 'Labouchere,' and have been duly distributed and appropriated as follows:—To thirty-five houses (averaging about 34 feet by 18) four window-sashes and 13lbs. of nails each; and to two smaller houses two window-sashes and 6lbs. of nails each. Five window-sashes and about 130lbs. of nails remain.

"In obedience to your Excellency's kind wish, I will proceed to lay before you a few particulars respecting our new Indian Mission settlement.

"Your Excellency is aware of the dreadful plague of the small-pox with which it pleased Almighty God to visit the Indians of this coast last year, and by which many thousands of them were swept away. Though no fewer than 500, or one-fifth of the Tsimsheans at Fort Simpson, have fallen, I have gratefully to acknowledge God's sparing mercy to us as a village. We had only five fatal cases amongst those who originally left Fort Simpson with me, and three of these deaths were caused by attending to sick relatives who came to us after taking the disease. Yet so fearful was the amount of death and desolation on every side of us till about the end of September, that the Indians had but little spirit left for building, or even for the gathering necessary food for the winter. Thus it was that they found inclement weather upon them long before they were properly housed. In addition to the great amount of labour and trouble attendant upon moving and building new houses, we have had to encounter great opposition from many of the Indians from Fort Simpson, who, in spite of the great warnings they have had, continue still to be steeped in drunkenness and heathenism. Nor has the conflict been one wholly outward, if indeed mainly so. For to many who have joined me, the surrendering their national and heathen customs performed over the sick—ceasing to give away, tear up, or receive blankets, etc., for display, dropping precipitately their demoniacal rites, which have hitherto and for ages filled up their time and engrossed all their care during the months of winter—laying aside gambling, and ceasing to paint their faces—had been like cutting off the right hand and plucking out the right eye. Yet I am thankful to tell you that these sacrifices have been made; and had your Excellency heard the speeches made by the chiefs and some of the principal men at our Christmas evening meeting, alluding to these and other matters, you would, I am sure, have rejoiced.

"On New Year's Day the male adult settlers came cheerfully forward to pay the village tax, which I had previously proposed to levy yearly, viz., one blanket, or two and a half dollars of such as have attained manhood, and one shirt or one dollar of such as are approaching manhood. Out of 130 amenable we had only ten defaulters, and these were excused on account of poverty. Our revenue for this year, thus gathered, amounts to 1 green, 1 blue, and 94 white blankets, 1 pair of white trousers, 1 dressed elk skin, 17 shirts, and 7 dollars. The half of this property I propose to divide among the three chiefs who are with us, in recognition of stated services which they will he required to render to the settlement and the other half to spend on public works.

"As to our government, all disputes and difficulties are settled by myself and ten constables, but I occasionally call in the chiefs, and intend to do so more and more, and when they become sufficiently instructed, trustworthy and influential, I shall leave civil matters in their hands. I find the Indians very obedient, and comparatively easy to manage, since I allow no intoxicating drinks to come into our village. Though we are continually hearing of the drunken festivals of the surrounding tribes, I am happy to tell you that Metlahkatlah has not yet witnessed a case of drunkenness since we have settled here—a period of ten months. Still, not all with me are true men. Some few, on their visits to Fort Simpson, have fallen, and two, whose cases were clearly proved and admitted of no extenuation, I have banished from our midst.

"On Sabbath days labour is laid aside, a solemn quiet presides, and the best clothing is in use. Scarcely a soul remains away from Divine Service, excepting the sick and their nurses. Evening family devotions are common to almost every house, and, better than all, I have a hope that many have experienced a real change of heart. To God be all the praise and glory!

"We have succeeded in erecting a strong and useful building, capable of containing at least 600 people, which we use as church and school. We held our first meeting in this building on the night it was finished, the 20th December last. I have about 100 children, who attend morning and afternoon, and about 100 adults (often more) in the evening. I occupy the principal part of the time in the adult school, in giving simple lectures on geography, astronomy, natural history, and morals. These lectures the Indians greatly prize.

"On the 6th February we commenced our first works, viz., making a road round the village. This will take us some time to complete, as the ground is very uneven, and much of it wooded. I propose, after the road is conveniently finished, to set about building, out of our public fund, two good sized houses for the accommodation of strange Indians when they come to trade with us, and thus prevent the interference to domestic comfort and improvement arising to the villagers from these visits under the old system. I have other public works in view, such as fixing proper rests for canoes when unemployed, laying slides for moving canoes on the beach and into the water at low tides, also sinking wells and procuring pumps for public use, etc., etc.

"I feel, also, that it is of vast importance to seek out profitable employment for those with me, and thus keep them away from those labour markets which exhibit temptations too strong and vices too fascinating for the Indian, in his present morally infantile condition, to withstand. Hence, I have already measured out and registered over 100 plots of ground for gardens, situated in various parts of the channel in which we are settled. These, the Indians are anxious to cultivate. I have also desired them to prepare salt and smoked fish, fish grease and dried berries, which, with furs, will form our first articles of exportation. Other branches of labour will arise in due course. But in order to set about thus much, we need seed (especially the potato), salt, direct means of communication with Victoria, and an agent there.

"I am anxious that even the trading vessel should be in our own hands, first, because the Indians would, on that account, feel a deeper interest in her, and exert themselves the more to keep her well and profitably employed, secondly, the profits of the vessel would redound to the village, and, thirdly, it is necessary to avoid having intercourse with that barbarous class of men who are employed in running the small vessels up the coast, which, by trading in intoxicating drink, are all doing a work not easily described, and not readily believed by those who do not witness it. Their visits to the Indian camps are invariably marked by murder, and the very maddest riots. To purchase the vessel we need, I suppose from L100 to L150 will be required. I therefore propose that 100 Indians shall subscribe L1 or L1 10s, or the equivalent in furs. The Indians are willing to do their utmost, and I expect to have to render them little help, beyond seeking out the vessel, and I do not intend to give them any pecuniary aid, except to procure such things as, through ignorance or inexperience, they despise, but such as are, nevertheless, essential to their well-being and prosperity.

"Trusting, by God's blessing upon us, we shall go on improving, and continue to merit your Excellency's favour and good-will,

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