Arthur McCallum to Frederick Chesson, 29 October 1886, C141/138

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McCallum, Arthur









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MSS. Brit. Emp. S. 18 / C141-138


Maple Bank Esquimalt Harbor
29th October 1886

My dear Mr Chesson,

I enclose you a letter I had yesterday from Senator Macdonald of Victoria with the letter of Bishop Cridge of the Reformed Episcopal Church relative further to the Metlakahtla affair.

H.M.S. Cormorant although she got up steam the previous day, did not leave until 10AM yesterday morning the 28th inst. When she stood out with colors flying 2 drums beating. The delay may have been to give ‘Mr Duncan’ (who had unexpectedly arrived from Metlakahtla) the opportunity of giving government all possible information which he hastened to do. There is no telegraphic communication with Metlakahtla from Victoria so that Mr Duncan could not possibly have known of the intentions of government towards his people and himself until after his arrival. I need hardly say that as regards the previously declared intention of arresting this gentleman the government have had time for reflection and have not done this. I hope you may be able to give prominence to the views of Bishop Cridge. His letter is cut from the conservative paper of Victoria, I may be able to send you the views of the opposition papers later. The trouble will begin when H.M. forces kill any of these Indians to whom legal remedy is denied.

I would ask the object of civilizing these tribes if they are to be denied all rights save ‘the mercy of the Crown.’ We have not conquered them, we have simply taken up their country without treaty and in fact in many cases without their knowledge. We now back certain claims of the Church Missionary Society against them and their nonconformist pastor, with a gunboat because having no treaty with the Metlakahtlan we dare not let them come into a civil court! What then is the use of treaties?

Sir John Macdonald when here last month practically tore up the treaty with the Indians of Victoria when he gave away their reserve of excepted from their treaty with Sir James Douglas. Injustice breeds hatred, whose offspring is revenge. In event of an Indian war outlying settlers, prospectors and miners and traders will be sacrificed, the fish canning interests of this province will be at a stand still like its sawmills and lumber trade. The government will find it quite impossible to distinguish between the Indians of the United States and of British Columbia, the Indian can obtain all they require from the Indians of the States and a few miles of water in these inland seas separate them. Their mountains are inaccessible for troops even blue jackets; the Indians have good repeating rifles and know how to use them sufficiently well to shoot sea otter and seal from a … canoe in a heavy sea. They are at home in the woods where white men would starve, and in a country where except by water land carriage of material is quite impossible. Life is sweet to the Indian, but ten times more is liberty. These men have been swindled and cheated by traders, and now all faith in our justice or the principles of the religion we have taught them is to be proved a sham and a cheat also. Before the advent of their pastor Mr Duncan £500 worth of sea otter skins have been taken prom an Indian for a trade musket worth /25, The musket stood on end and the pelts piled skin on skin pressed down until they reached the muzzle of the gun. That there are wheels within wheels in this shameful business you may take my word, for the Metlakahtla mission is supported by the Indian industries there established. London is supplied with some of the best canned salmon done up and canned for market boxed and despatched entirely by these Indians.

The present actions of this local government is calculated to financially ruin this Indian industry and break up their homes, their saw mills and workshops etc. What right have Indians to compete with white men and where is such competition to end? Then again it shows that missions in British Columbia may be made self supporting!

I am dear Mr Chesson
Yours truly
Arthur … McCallum

[for enclosed see C141/158]