Arthur McCallum to Frederick Chesson, 18 November 1886, C141/140

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McCallum, Arthur









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MSS. Brit. Emp. S. 18 / C141-140


Maple Bank Esquimalt British Columbia
18th November 1886

My dear Mr Chesson,

I am most glad to be able to report to you that active hostilities have not taken place between the Queen’s gunboat and the Metlakahtla Indians. H.M.S. Cormorant carried up there a magistrates civil court, the Indians made no resistance to arrests being made by the police, and prisoners are being brought here to Victoria for trial for obstructing the survey. I would draw your attention to the herewith printed matter from yesterday’s Colonist. I saw Mr Duncan and certain Metlakahtla chiefs last evening who have come down to see him, and there is solid foundation for the statement that this persecution of the Indians will lead to a wholesale exodus of the tribes affected into American States Territory. They will have plenty of law here and very little justice ‘they say’ judging from what has already taken place.

The letter on ‘Indian grievances’ signed by Fort Simpson Indians is I know the unassisted production of an Indian named Edward Marsden the organist at the Metlakahtla Church and engineer of the tug steamer employed in the Indian salmon cannery industry. If I were to state that the Imperial power here has been invoked on the behalf of a syndicate of Victorian land grabbers who are interested in the appropriation of the whole peninsular at Fort Simpson from the Indians there, for a projected town and railway extension, that this syndicate is composed of prominent members of the local government with one or two of the Hudson’s Bay employees, I should be stating a fact known to everybody. And were I to add perhaps that the naval offers of H.M.S. Cormorant are disgusted at the role they are made to play in these arrangements and that they have probably returned with more respect in their heart for the Indians, than for those who have employed them on such an errand I should not presumably be wide of the mark.

That the result of the trials of these Indians should be jealously looked to by the Imperial government goes without saying. Could the Indians afford it they would send their chiefs to England with an humble petition to the Throne. As it is their apparent only remedy at Fort Simpson, at Metlakahtla and elsewhere is to leave for ever the country of their fathers to avoid the petty worry and persecution of a mercenary government that prostitutes the imperial power in the name of justice, whilst telling civilized Indians that they have no rights and are in the clemency of the Crown. The position is wholly monstrous but Victoria, B.C. is a long way from London. The Indians say ‘we must either fight for our rights or leave our country for justice we cannot find, you deny us the rights of men, the United States may grant us the rights of free men.’

I am dear Mr Chesson,
Yours truly
Arthur … McCallum