b. 1843
d. 1869-07-24
Also known as Tshuanahusset, as “Tom” in court records, and as “Dick” in the Daily British Colonist, Ich-yst-a-tis was a member of the Hul'qumi'num-speaking Penelakut people and lived in a village located on the Chemainus River.1 Ich-yst-a-tis was born c. 1843, and was noted to have a brother and a wife.2 He was known to sell salmon and deer to the settlers living on xwənen'əč (Salt Spring Island).3
On April 7, 1869, Ich-yst-a-tis was arrested for the 1868 murder of William Robinson, an African-American settler on Salt Spring Island, and held in the Victoria Gaol until his execution on July 24, 1869.4 During his trial, from June 2–3, Ich-yst-a-tis was found guilty of murdering Robinson before an all-White jury; however, Ich-yst-a-tis's guilt has been challenged by historians who have re-examined the evidence presented and withheld during the trial.5
Although three African-American men were murder on Salt Spring Island, from 1868-9, only Robinson's murder was “solved;” but, all of the murders were blamed on [Indigenous] people, fuelling indiscriminate suspicions toward, and contempt for, Indigenous peoples.6 For instance, the Daily British Colonist asserted that it is well known that the perpetrators of all the robberies and murders, except Dick, are at large on the Island, and that (threats of) violence ought to be used against the Indian camps as to make examples of these uncivilized wretches [who threaten] a general massacre of the settlers.7
Mentions of this person in the documents
People in this document

Robinson, William

Places in this document

Chemainus River

Saltspring Island