d. 1856
Tathlasut was a First Nations man of the Saumina Tribe from the Cowichan Valley. In August of 1856 he was accused of attempting to murder Thomas Williams, a British subject living on Vancouver Island.1 Tathlasut shot Williams because, [Williams] had seduced, or attempted to seduce, his bride-to-be, and this was probably a lawful response to a gross insult, especially by someone from a different nation.2 The issue was brought to the attention of Governor James Douglas, who advised that Tathlasut be captured and tried for his crime. With the help of Vice Admiral Bruce, Douglas entered the Cowichan Valley and captured Tathlasut.3 He was tried and convicted for the attempted murder of Thomas Williams and hanged on the same day. Douglas stated, no attempt was made, except a feeble effort, by some of his personal friends, to rescue the prisoner.4 Douglas regarded the trial as legitimate; however, for reasons unknown, the natives did not regard the capture, trial and punishment with the same measure of acceptance as the authorities.5 He further remarked, the Native who shot Williams, felt assured of escaping with impunity… Our demand for the surrender of the criminal… were answered by a rush to arms… a tumultuous assemblage of the Tribe in a warlike array.6 Douglas worried that the native tribes may attempt to respond to the trial with further violence, and requested that Bruce's forces stay in the region until September of 1856.7 However, there would be no further conflict. Douglas justified his military response to the incident by comparing it to recent Native uprisings in New Zealand and Africa.8 Douglas later argued he, resort[ed] to prompt and decisive measures of punishments [to keep] the Native Tribes of this colony kept in a proper state of subordination.9
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