G. Columbia to Kimberley
70 Upper Berkeley St.
London W.
27 May 1871
My Lord,
I have the honor to ask your kind attention to the subject of the welfare of the Native Race of British Columbia, who number some 50,000 and live in villages scattered throughout the Colony.
For some years the Church of England has carried on Missions amongst them, expending annually about £2000, in four chief centres in each of which two missionaries are at work. These chief centres are
1. The Chymseans & Nishkahs
2. The Tahkahts
3. The Cowichans
4. The Fraser & Thompson River Tribes.
The first of these is supported byManuscript image the Church Missionary Society, the three latter in part by that for the Propagation of the Gospel.
The result of this work is that some 5000 natives are under instruction and many more ask for teachers. Industrial improvement is promoted—some 300 gardens are a witness to considerable progress.
We have hitherto received no assistance from the Government, upon which point I beg to quote the remarks of the Archdeacon of Vancouver. He says in a letter to the New England Company published in the Columbia Report for 1870 [newspaper clipping]
The Government of this colony has hitherto had no definite or tangible policy with regard to the native Indian tribes. They have preserved for them Crown lands, under the name of Indian Reserves; they have prevented their land being encroached upon; they have in existence a Liquor Law, with penal clauses stringent and severe, but honoured more in the breach than in observance. Beyond this they have done nothing, so far as I know. There does not exist an Indian hospital in the colony to ameliorate the evils which contact with a too advanced stage of civilization has brought upon its unprepared victims. There may be insuperable obstacles in the way of any definite policy of preservation and development being adopted. I am bound to suppose that such obstacles do exist; otherwise, such negligence would make the very stones cry out for redress against the wrongs of suffering humanity. Some such obstacles assuredly must exist, otherwise what is known here would scarcely be credited elsewhere. I have before me as I write the Colonial Estimate for 1869. The estimated expenditure of the Government for that year is £122,250, and in that amount this item occurs: "Expenses connected with the Indian tribes, £100"—the Indians in the colony being estimated by some at over 50,000, who pay duty on every article that they consume, if it has been imported into the colony. I do not wish to say more on this point, neither have I said this by way of complaint; but I could scarcely have said less to make the N.E.S. realize the fact that little or nothing is done for the moral and social benefit of the North American Indians on this coast, outside the circle of efforts of the various religious Societies.
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It has been computed that the Native Race contributes at least a fourth of the Revenue of the Colony and it would appear to be only just as well as politic that they should share with the Europeans in the Educational Grant. It will be of advantage to the Colony if, before the influx of Emigrants which is expected in connection with the Pacific Railroad, the Indian tribes shall have been trained in Christian principles and the arts of peace.
I would respectfully suggest that a grant be made for Indian improvement and dispensed through Missionary Societies under a Superintendent of Indian Affairs appointed by the Government. I quote a precedent for this from the last annual Message of President Grant delivered to Congress in December last:Manuscript image He says [newspaper clipping]
Reform in the management of Indian affairs has received the special attention of the Administration from its inauguration to the present day. The experiment of making it a Missionary work was tried with a few agencies given to the denomination of Friends, and has been found to work most advantageously. All agencies and superintendences not so disposed of were given to officers of the army. The Act of Congress reducing the army renders army officers ineligible for civil positions. Indian agencies being civil offices, I determined to give all the agencies to such religious denominations as had heretofore established Missionaries among the Indians, and, perhaps, to some other denominations who would undertake the work on the same terms—i.e., as a Missionary work. The Societies selected are allowed to name their own agents, subject to the approval of the Executive, and are expected to watch over them and aid them as Missionaries, to Christianize and civilize the Indian, and to train him in the arts of peace. The Government watches over the official acts of these agents, and requires of them as strict an accountability as if they were appointed in any other manner. I entertain the confident hope that the policy now pursued will, in a few years, bring all the Indians upon reservations, where they will live in houses, have school-houses and churches, and will be pursuing peaceful and self-sustaining avocations, and where they may be visited by the law-abiding white man with the same impunity that he now visits the civilized white settlements. I call your special attention to the Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs for full information on this subject.
I am sorry to say that without government assistance we shall be compelled to break up some of our Mission work. Having been in England some months incessantly labouring to obtain support, I have only partially succeeded, and am about to return under the painful necessity of contracting instead of enlarging, as I had hoped, the important work of native improvements.
I have the honor to be My Lord
Your obedient servant
G. Columbia

The Rt Hble
The Earl of Kimberley
H.M. S. of State for the Colonies
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Meade
I can only suggest that a copy should be sent to Lord Lisgar as the care &c of the Indians will be a matter for the General Government to deal with—& that the Bishop should be told this has been done & that be should on his return to B Columbia communicate with Lord Lisgar.
CC 2 June
I do not see what more we can do now. Proceed as Mr Cox suggests.
RM 2/6
Yes. The £100 for Indians appears indecently small, but probably the Colonial Government could make out that they expend a good deal upon them in various branches of expenditure from which they derive advantage in common with the white population.
RGWH June 2/71
Write as proposed.
K June 3/71
Other documents included in the file
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Meade to Bishop of Columbia, 6 June 1871, advising him to communicate with Lisgar about his concerns.
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Draft reply, Kimberley to Lisgar, Canada, No. 436, 6 June 1871.