Puntzi Lake
Puntzi Lake, which was known by the name Benshee or the traditional name Bendziny, is located at the junction of Bentinck Arm and Bute Inlet Road, and approximately 60 kilometers west of Alexis Creek.1 In the summer months, Indigenous groups would move to various lakes in the area to fish and then to dry out the caught trout, whitefish, and suckers.2
Puntzi Lake was one of the main sites of the “Chilcotin Massacre.” A Tsilhqot'in man named Tahpit killed a settler by the name of William Manning at Puntzi Lake. Manning, although thought to be on good terms with the Tsilhqot'in had, in the years before, driven them off the land that he occupied.3 In the aftermath of the “massacre,” Governor Seymour sent three expeditions to capture the Tsilhqot'ins who were involved. The expeditions went to Alexandria, Bentinck Arm, and Bute Inlet and then to converge towards Banshee.4
On 10 August, after the “massacre,” the son of Tahpit traveled to Puntzi Lake in order to negotiate the voluntary surrender of Klatsassin, Telloot, and six others.5 During the contact period, Puntzi Lake saw exploitation and exploration go hand in hand, in which fur traders, and then settlers, took over the land Tsilhqot'in viewed as sacred. However, years later, the Vancouver Sun wrote that the Tsilhqot'in are one of the few native Indian groups in Canadian history to actually fight a war in defense of their territorial sovereignty.6 The recent decision in Tsilhqot'in v. British Columbia (2014) affirming Tsilhqot'in title over their land is a testament to their ability to control their traditional lands from settler encroachment.
  • 1. Kennedy to Cardwell, 8 October 1864, 10964, CO 305/23, 325.
  • 2. William J. Turkell, The Archive of Place: Unearthing the Pasts of the Chilcotin Plateau, (UBC Press, 2008), 109 and 116.
  • 3. Ibid., 180.
  • 4. Ibid., 181.
  • 5. Ibid., 183.
  • 6. Ibid., 13 and 57.
Mentions of this place in the documents