No. 114
Victoria Vancouver's Island
14 March 1859
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your Despatch No 62 of the 30th of December last, containing many valuable observations on the policy to be observed towards the Indian Tribes of British
, and moreover your instructions, directing me to inform you if I think it would be feasible to settle those Tribes permanently in villages; suggesting in reference to that measure, that with such settlement, civilization would at once begin; that law and religion would become naturally introduced among them, and contribute to their security against the aggressions of immigrants; that through indirect taxation, on the additional articles they would purchase, they would contribute to the Colonial revenue, and with their own consent, some light and
simple form of taxation might be imposed, the proceeds of which would be expended strictly and solely on their own wants and improvement.  
2. I have much pleasure in adding, with unhesitating confidence, that I conceive the proposed plan to be at once feasible, and also the only plan which promises to result in the moral elevation of the Native Indian races; in rescuing them from degradation and protecting them from oppression and rapid decay.  
It will, at the same time, have the effect of saving the Colony
from the numberless evils which naturally follow in the train of every course of national injustice, and from having the Native Indian Tribes arrayed in vindictive warfare against the white settlements.  
3. As friends and Allies the native races are capable of rendering the most valuable assistance to the Colony while their enmity would entail on the settlers, a greater amount of wretchedness and physical suffering, and more seriously retard the growth and material development of the Colony, than any other calamity to which, in the ordinary course of events, it
would be exposed.  
4. In my despatch No 4 of the 9th of February last, on the affairs of Vancouver's Island, transmitting my correspondence with the House of Assembly, up to that date, there is a message made to the House on the 5th of February 1859, respecting the course I proposed to adopt in the disposal and arrangement of the land reserved for the benefit of the Indian population at this place, the plan proposed, being briefly thus; that the Indians should be established on that reserve, and the remaining unoccupied land
should be let out on leases at an annual rent to the highest bidder, and that the whole proceeds arising from such leases should be applied to the exclusive benefit of the Indians. *
Quite what this Office desired.  
5. The advantages of the arrangement are obvious. An amount of capital would thereby be created, equal perhaps to the sum required for effecting the settlement of the Indians, and any surplus funds remaining over that outlay, it is proposed to devote to the formation and support of schools, and of a Clergyman to superintend their
moral and religious training.  
6. I feel much confidence in the operation of this simple and practical scheme and provided we succeed in devising means of rendering the Indian as comfortable and independent in regard to physical wants in his improved condition, as he was when a wandering denizen of the forest, there can be little doubt of the ultimate success of the experiment.  
7. The support of the Indians will thus, wherever land is valuable, be a matter of easy accomplishment, and in Districts where the white population is
small, and the land unproductive, the Indians may be left, almost wholly to their own resources, and, as a joint means of earning their livelihood, to pursue unmolested their favourite calling of fishermen and hunters.  
8. Anticipatory Reserves of Land for the benefit and support of the Indian Races, will be made for that purpose, in all the Districts of British Columbia inhabited by Native Tribes.  
Those reserves, should in all cases include their cultivated fields, and village sites, for which from habit and association they invariably
conceive a strong attachment, and prize more, for that reason, than for the extent or value of the land.  
9. In forming settlements of Natives, I should propose, both from a principle of justice to the State, and out of regard to the well-being of the Indians themselves to make such settlements entirely self-supporting, trusting for the means of doing so, to the voluntary contributions in labor or money of the natives themselves; and secondly, to the proceeds of the sale or lease of a part of the land reserve, which
might be so disposed of, and applied towards the liquidation of the preliminary expenses of the settlement.  
10. The plan followed by the Government of the United States, in making Indian settlements, appears in many respects objectionable; they are supported at an enormous expense by Congress, which for the fiscal year ending June 30 1856, granted the sum of 358,000 dollars for the support and maintenance of the Indians of California alone, and for the four years ending with the 30th June 1858
the total expenditure for that object, came to the large sum of 1,104,000 dollars, and notwithstanding the heavy outlay, the Indians in those settlements are rapidly degenerating; neither would I recommend the system pursued by the founders of the Spanish Missions in California.  
Their objects, though to a certain extent mercenary, were mainly of a benevolent kind; the Indians were educated and trained in the Roman Catholic Faith; they were well fed and clothed, and they were taught to labor; but being kept in a state of pupilage, and not allowed to acquire property of
their own, nor taught to think and act for themselves, the feeling and pride of independence were effectually destroyed; and not having been trained to habits of self government and self reliance, they were found, when freed from control, altogether incapable of contributing to their own support and really were more helpless and degraded than the untutored savages.  
11. With such beacons to guide our steps, and profiting by the lessons of experience so acquired, we may perhaps succeed in escaping the manifest
evils of both systems; the great expense and the debasing influences of the American system, by making the Indians independent and the settlements self-supporting, and to avoid the rock on which were wrecked the hopes of the Spanish Missions, I think it would be advisable studiously to cultivate the pride of independence so enobling in its effects, and which the savage largely possesses, from nature and early training.  
12. I would for example propose that every family should have a distinct portion of the
reserved land assigned for their use, and to be cultivated by their own labor, giving them however for the present, no power to sell or otherwise alienate the land, that they should be taught to regard that land as their inheritance; that the desire should be encouraged and fostered in their minds, of adding to their possessions, and devoting their earnings to the purchase of property, apart from the reserve, which would be left entirely at their own disposal and control; that they should in all respects be treated as
rational beings, capable of acting and thinking for themselves; and lastly, that they should be placed under proper moral and religious training, and left under the protection of the laws, to provide for their own maintenance and support.  
13. Having touched thus briefly on the prominent features of the system, respecting which you requested my opinion, and trusting that my remarks may convey to you the information you desired, and may not be deemed irrelevant.  
I have etc.
James Douglas
Minutes by CO staff
Lord Carnarvon
The views expressed in this desph coincide with those of Sir Edd Lytton. It is only necessary, I think, to ansr that Sir Edward is much pleased to find the Governor's sentiments so completely in accordance with his own; & to add his hope that the Governor's endeavors to conciliate & promote the welfare of the Indians may be followed by all persons whom circes may bring into contact with this race.  
Print for Parlt.  
This is an important proposal on the part of the Govr but I agree with Mr Blackwood that the answer sd be an approval in general terms. I believe that a somewhat analogous settlement of the question has been carried out in Canada and with success both as regard the Colony and the Indians. But I think it wd be perhaps desirable to add a caution to the Govr to the effect, that whilst making ample provision, under the arrangements proposed, for the future sustenance & improvement of the native races care sd be observed in laying out & defining the several reserves, in order to avoid checking at a future day the progress of the White Colonists.  
May 13
Print this for Parlt at once. Acknowledge & suggest the caution recommended by Lord C.  
May 14
Other documents included in the file
  • Draft reply, Carnarvon (in the absence of Lytton) to Douglas, No. 67, 20 May 1859, approving of Douglas's proposal.  
  • For tonights mail. Print for Parlt with the Govr's despatch. Sir Edward says "at once".  
    16 May
Despatch to London:
Douglas to Lytton, 14 March 1859, National Archives of the UK, 4800, CO 60/4. The Colonial Despatches of Vancouver Island and British Columbia 1846-1871. Ed. James Hendrickson and the Colonial Despatches project. Victoria: University of Victoria. Accessed 22 July 2018. 

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