No. 25, Civil
18 February 1860
My Lord Duke
The desire manifested on the part of Her Majesty's Government for the improvement and well being of the aboriginal races of British Columbia, induces me to lay before Your Grace the enclosed interesting correspondence between the Reverend Edward Cridge Manuscript image Cridge, District Minister of Victoria, and Mr William Duncan, an exemplary and truly worthy gentleman, who has, for some years past, been devotedly labouring with a wonderful degree of energy and perseverance as a Christian Missionary among the Indian population, at, and about Fort Simpson.
2. The facility with which Mr Duncan has acquired the Native language, and succeeded in winning the confidence and attachment of the Natives, is a proof of the good sense, kindness of heart, and talent which he has brought to the task; while the very marked success of his efforts as a religious Teacher gives Manuscript image gives rise to the gratifying hope that the Natives will yet, through God's blessing, be rescued from ignorance, and assume a respectable position in British Columbia.
3. Mr Duncan proposes to found a Missionary settlement for Indian converts in an eligible situation, about twenty miles south of Fort Simpson, (probably Port Essington), a plan which meets with my entire approval.
4. I therefore, with Your Grace's sanction, intend to reserve several hundred acres of land in that neighbourhood, to enable Mr Duncan to carry this useful and benevolent plan into effect.
By the Imperial Act of 1842—called the Land Sales Act—I think it is permitted to reserve Land for the use of the Aborigines of a Colony.
5. I Manuscript image5. I would submit with respect to all land reserved for Indians, the advisability of withholding from them the power to sell or otherwise alienate the Title, as they are yet so ignorant and improvident that they cannot safely be trusted with the management or control of landed estate, which, if fully conveyed to them, would soon pass into other hands.
6. I would therefore recommend as a safe and preferable course, that such reserves of land should be conveyed to the Governor of the Colony for the time being, in trust for the use and benefit of the Indians, leaving Manuscript image leaving no power whatever in them to sell or alienate the estate.
7. Should those measures meet with Your Grace's approval, I have to request the sanction of Her Majesty's Government for carrying them into effect.
I have etc.
James Douglas
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Elliot
It will be a bright feature in British Colonization, and an example to the United States, if we can succeed in converting to Christianity and introducing to civilization the native Inhabitants, or any portion of them, of British Columbia. To grant a reserve of Land, as a missionary settlement for Converts seems to me a very proper & justifiable proceeding, and as this Office has inculcated upon the Govr that he shd take good care of the Indians we can scarcely withhold a practical illustration of the reality of our intentions. But Manuscript image refer to the Land Board for any observations.
ABd 12 April
The motive of the proposal is of course excellent, but I fear that both in British North America and also in Australia, where the same plan was tried to a smaller extent, the making of land reserves for the good of the Aborigines has proved far from successful. Refer however to the Land Board?
TFE 18 April
CF 19
N 20
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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Reverend Cridge to Douglas, 18 February 1860, forwarding copy of a letter from W. Duncan, with reference to his previous letter as noted below.
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Cridge to Duncan, January 1860, advising that Douglas had expressed an interest in his ministry at Fort Simpson and had asked to be kept informed of his progress, which includes any suggestions for improvements for Indigenous peoples there.
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Duncan to Cridge, 7 February 1860, reporting on the progress of his missionary work for the information of Douglas, and requesting that a reserve be created where better disposed Indians could be [separated] from the rest.
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Newcastle to Douglas, No. 27, 25 May 1860, approving his plan to reserve several hundred acres of land in the neighbourhood of Fort Simpson for the Christian First Nations settlement proposed by Duncan.