3558. Vancouvers Isld
[…] from
Sir John Pelly
(Hudsons Bay Co)

Extract of a Letter from James Douglas Esqre to Archibald Barclay Esqre Secretary of the Hudsons Bay Company dated Fort Victoria Decr 22. 1850. __
Documents enclosed with the main document (transcribed)
"I am sorry to inform you that the Sanitch and Cowetchen tribes have lately manifested an unusual degree of ill feeling, towards the Colony, in consequence of the seizure of a run-away slave, a Cowetchin by birth, who is accused of being an accomplice in the murder of the three seamen, who were so cruelly put to death loast summer by the Indians of "Neweete". He was apprehended at this place, under a warrant from the Governor and lately sent in irons to Fort Rupert for identification. I have heard from a trusty Agent who enjoys the confidence of these tribes, that the Sanitch Chief who is also related to the slave in question, made two journeys to the Cowetchin Camp for the purpose of inducing them to unite with his people in an attack upon the Whites. His plan was to attack and drive in our dairy people and stockherds who are scattered over the plains, and afterwards to slaughter the stock. The Cowetchins however ⎯ would not join in the confederacy and the plan has been for the present laid aside. The Sanitch Chief has not visited the Fort lately; but I shall take the first opportunity of speaking to him on the subject
Though that storm has passed over without injury to the Settlement we may not always be so fortunate; sound policy would suggest the necessity of unwearied vigilance, in watching the conduct and movements of our savage neighbours, who though friendly and respectful in their deportment, are the mere creatures of impulse, and may be easily driven by real or imaginary wrongs into the commissionManuscript imagecommission of the wildest excesses. By knowing their designs in time, serious disturbances may often be prevented, by good advice alone, a course more consistent with the dictates of humanity and more conducive to the best interests of the Colony, than appeals to the sword, by which the Company would moreover be involved in an endless train of expenses.
Governor Blanshard thinks that twenty men would be sufficient to settle any hostile difference with the Indians of Vancouver's Island; but my opinion on that subject is very different, and I need only refer to the example of the Cayuse War, undertaken by the provisional Government of Oregon, against tribes of Indians much more domesticated than those of Vancouver's Island, and without the same advantages of a mountainous country, as a proof of the uncertain issue of such contests.
They had 500 men in the field and the expense of one campaign came to about Four Hundred Thousand Dollars, yet not one object for which the war had been undertaken was gained.
The punishment of the murderers was afterward accomplished by negotiation alone.
For my own part I am decidedly opposed to Indian Wars, as desperate remedies which should never be resorted to, until all other means of settlement have been tried in vain.
As a precautionary measure, which circumstances will sooner or later render indispensable, I would strongly recommend to the Governor and Committee, that several small settlements should be formed on the borders of the Fur Trade Reserve as a protection against the depredations of Indians andManuscript imageand to keep the Cattle from straying into the forest and becoming unmanageably wild. Six of these settlements consisting of ten men each, would for the present suffice for those purposes. To employ hired servants in forming these settlements would put the Company to a very heavy expense as the Wages alone of 60 men, would amount to £1200 per Annum, besides their food.
Their labour would not be of much value, as in those circumstances, dispersed over a large extent of Country, they must necessarily be left in a great measure to themselves and could not be kept under strict controul.
I would therefore recommend the Company's retiring servants for such settlements, allowing to each individual an allotment of 20 Acres of land as an encouragement to settle. It would take 1200 Acres to form the 60 allotments, and that could be found in patches, so isolated by unimprovable tracts of Country as to be adapted only for Cotters fields.
The advantages of this plan are obvious; it would give protection at the smallest possible expense, add greatly to the value of the Reserve, give a supply of labourers to the Colony, furnish an effective militia, and finally, as a means of providing for so many of the Company's labouring Servants, become a very popular measure.
However briefly and inadequately I may have explained my views this is a measure in which I feel a most lively interest, and most earnestly recommend to the consideration of the Committee, equally on account of its other merits, and as being a cheap method of forming and maintaining a most efficient protective force."