COMMENTARY · 19th January 2013
At the present rate of mortality, not many months can elapse ‘ere the Northern Indians of this coast will exist only in story” The Daily British Colonist, June 21, 1862, p. 3All of the following material was compiled, by researching online. It is a collection of evidence to demonstrate beyond any reasonable doubt, the first settlers at Victoria, specifically the 'white' government targeted the Indians of the Sacred Circle for extermination. Reparations must be made, more than an apology is required. Their land must be returned, their cultures rebuilt, compensation extraordinaire is required. No Court on the globe could excuse such a horrific crime.After most of the northern tribes were forced from Victoria, the (Victoria) Daily Press published an editorial titled “The Indian Mortality.” It said in part: “... ‘What will they say in England?’ when it is known that an Indian population was fostered and encouraged round Victoria, until the small-pox was imported from San Francisco.
They, when the disease raged amongst them, when the unfortunate wretches were dying by scores, deserted by their own people, and left to perish in the midst of a Christian community that had fattened off them for four years - then the humanizing influence of our civilized Government comes in - not to remedy the evil that it had brought about - not to become the Good Samaritan, and endeavor to ameliorate the effects of the disease by medical exertion, but to drive these people away to death, and to disseminate the fell disease along the coast.
To send with them the destruction perhaps of the whole Indian race in the British Possessions on the Pacific ... . There is a dehumanizing fatuity about this treatment of the natives that is truly horrible ... How easy it would have been to have sent away the tribes when the disease was first noticed in the town, and if any of the Indians had taken the infection, to have had a place where they could have been attended to, some little distance from Victoria, until they recovered as they in all probability would have done with medical aid.
By this means the progress of the disease would at once been arrested, and the population saved from the horrible sights, and perhaps dangerous effects, of heaps of dead bodies putrifying [sic] in the summer’s sun, in the vicinity of town ... The authorities have commenced the work of extermination - let them keep it up ... . Never was there a more execrable Indian policy than ours” (Daily Press, June 17, 1862 in Boyd, p. 182-183, endnote 7). Read more about how Dr. Helmcken was not just the man in charge of withholding vaccinations to Indian peoples, but was also a government minister in charge of making the rules, by clicking here. He argued against protecting the Indians and in fact appears to have been the singular force in ensuring the small pox disease spread to all the northern Indian Tribes.
Further reading on vaccination vs innoculation, which the doctor would be fully aware of, likely more than all others. Here
And in the doctors own words Here MORE EXTRACTS FROM THE LINKSFull Knowledge of the Consequences
In June 1862, The Daily British Colonist, noting the devastation of the Indians up to that time, stated the obvious inevitable consequences of these escorted canoes. Referring to a group of Haida who recently departed Victoria, the newspaper wrote: “How have the mighty fallen! Four short years ago, numbering their braves by thousands, they were the scourge and terror of the coast; today, broken-spirited and effeminate, with scarce a corporal’s guard of warriors remaining alive, they are proceeding northward, bearing with them the seeds of a loathsome disease that will take root and bring both a plentiful crop of ruin and destruction to the friends who have remained at home. At the present rate of mortality, not many months can elapse ‘ere the Northern Indians of this coast will exist only in story”
(The Daily British Colonist, June 21, 1862, p. 3; Boyd, p. 173, 229). SPECIFICALLY TO DR HELMCKENDr. Helmcken and Others Oppose Action
Four days later, the nine-member House of Assembly, including Speaker Helmcken and Tolmie, met and considered the Governor’s proposal recommending a smallpox hospital and “compelling” all patients to be sent there. According to a newspaper account, Speaker Dr. Helmcken stated he was against a fully staffed hospital and against forcing all cases of smallpox to go there. The doctor expressed concern about the cost of establishing and operating the hospital and that it would interfere with the liberty of the patients. Helmcken went even further and chastised the Governor for being an alarmist about the disease.
The majority of the other members agreed with Mr. Helmcken. The members did vote to construct a “suitable building” near the present hospital for white smallpox patients, but did not require them to go. The Assembly also rejected the establishment of a quarantine for the same reasons - cost and restricting liberty. Apparently only one member, Mr. Burnaby, spoke out in favor of a fully staffed Smallpox Hospital and the quarantine. The newspaper account did not mention any discussion about what to do to prevent smallpox from infecting the Indians (The Daily British Colonist, March 28, 1862, April 1, 1862). This inaction of the Assembly and other government officials sealed the fate of nearly every group of Northwest Coast Indians
from Sitka to northern Vancouver Island and south into the Puget Sound area. Robert Boyd estimates that from April 1862 to about the end of year, more than 14,000 Indians died of smallpox and untold hundreds of survivors were disfigured for life. Boyd states unequivocally: "This [Indian] epidemic might have been avoided, and the Whites knew it”
(Boyd p 172).
The paper remarked on the consequences of the authorities' intentional refusal to act to vaccinate and quarantine the Indians: “Were it likely that the disease would only spread among the Indians, there might be those among us like our authorities who would rest undisturbed, content that the small-pox is a fit successor to the moral ulcer that has festered at our doors. ... [But] chances are that the pestilence will spread among our white population [because] ... [t]he Indians have free access to the town day and night. They line our streets, fill the pit in our theatre, are found at nearly every open door ... in the town; and are even employed as servants in our dwellings, and in the culinary departments of our restaurants and hotels”
(The Daily British Colonist, April 28, 1862, p. 2). In the doctors own words;"Hyder [Haida] women and men came in flocks, to go away ruined forever, Indians from the North West coast met with the same fate, from which they have never and never will recover. In process of time Chinese women came and they in some measure took the business of the local Indians, Haidas, Chimpsehans [Tsimshians] and so forth and to end the matter the small pox and local demands drove them home in their own canoes, and hundred perished on their way to their own country. I may say here they nearly every Indian attacked with small pox died, whether he was taken care of in the Indian small pox hospital or not, and it was also said whether he had been vaccinated or not.
I do not believe the last assertion because the Songish [Songhees] Indians kept comparatively free from the disease and many of them at various times had been successfully vaccinated by me, arm to arm."
Has the prevailing attitude changed much today?
Allowing and continuing to name anything in Victoria, the Capital of BC, after this man (ie Helmcken Road General Hospital, Helmcken Memorial in Clearwater) is akin to naming things in Germany after Dr. Joseph Mengele. Did he know better, or was it intentional? From Wikipedia;He was hired aboard the Hudson's Bay Company's Prince Rupert as a ship's surgeon on its 1847 voyage to York Factory, Rupert's Land. After completing his certification at Guy's Hospital, he travelled to India and China. He had intended to join the Navy, but was persuaded instead to join the HBC in 1849 as a physician and clerk on to be stationed on Vancouver Island. On the long voyage, smallpox broke out aboard ship, but Helmcken handled the situation ably, and only a single life was lost.
Hmmmm, one can only wonder. Consider this - His success in preventing the spread of smallpox among the whites on the ship was 15 years prior to his failure to take measures to stop the spread of the disease among the Sacred Circle natives. Only one conclusion can be had - His intention, and the government he was the 'speaker' for - had but one intention. EXTERMINATION - GENOCIDE IF YOU DO NOT HAVE THE PATIENCE OR TIME TO FOLLOW LINKS - HERE IS MORE WHICH PRECEEDS OUR INDICTMENT OF DR HELMCKENThe Smallpox Vaccine
The other preventive was a smallpox vaccine. It was discovered in England in 1798 and first used in the Puget Sound area in 1837. On March 18, 1862, when The Daily British Colonist published confirmation of smallpox in Victoria, the paper made the following statement:
“[W]e advise our citizens ... to proceed at once to a physician and undergo vaccination ... from the loathsome disease ...” (The Daily British Colonist, March 18, 1862, p. 3).
Between March 18 and April 1, 1862, The Daily British Colonist reiterated to the citizens of Victoria at least five times the importance of getting vaccinated. The paper estimated that by April 1, one-half of the “resident Victorians” were vaccinated. In 1862, Victoria, the largest town north of the Columbia River, had a white population of from 2,500 to 5,000. The nearby Indian population was about the same size. There were probably at least 2,000 Northern Indians (who lived along the coast from northern Vancouver Island to Alaska) camping on the outskirts of Victoria, plus at least 1,600 local Indians who lived nearby.
Initially no demands were made to vaccinate these local groups. By March 27, 1862, Dr. John Helmcken (1824-1920), Hudson's Bay Company physician, had vaccinated about 30 local resident Songhees Indians, who constituted less than 1 percent of the nearby natives. The Songhees Were Saved
On April 1, 1862, 18 days after the Brother Jonathan departed, the first reports were published of an Indian, who lived in town, with smallpox. The Victoria authorities and residents did not react. As the virus spread it would be more than two weeks before the local newspapers reported local Indians receiving additional vaccines. On April 16, Dr. Helmcken vaccinated another 30 Indians. By April 25, The Daily British Colonist reported that since the outbreak Dr. Helmcken had vaccinated “over 500 natives” (April 26, 1862, p. 3).
Apparently, the doctor distributed most of his vaccine to the Songhees, a local tribe that resided near Victoria. Soon after smallpox symptoms emerged at the Northern Indian encampment, the Songhees departed their Vancouver Island village(s) en masse to a nearby island in Haro Strait. Because of the vaccinations and the tribe’s self-imposed quarantine, the Songhees survived the epidemic with few deaths (Boyd, 176, 177, 183). Was There a Shortage of Vaccine?
It is unknown how large a supply of the smallpox vaccine was kept at Victoria. Boyd states that the vaccine was “available, though in short supply” (Boyd, p. 172). Possibly there was a shortage of vaccine when the smallpox epidemic started.
According to Boyd, Anglican missionary Alexander Garrett stated in his Reminiscences that there was not enough vaccine “within seven hundred miles to go around” (Boyd p 178-9).
Still, during the entire run of the epidemic The Daily British Colonist did not mention a vaccine shortage at any time. On the contrary, during the last half of March, after the first smallpox case was discovered, the paper mentioned numerous times the availability of the vaccine. In mid-June, about when the Indian epidemic along the coast reached its height, The Daily British Colonist (June 14, 1862) asked why “our philanthropists”
and “missionaries” had not started “vaccinating the poor wretches” in mid-April?
If there was a vaccine shortage, it was just temporary. Apparently, by May 1, 1862, at the latest, there was plenty of vaccine to go around. During the first half of May 1862, Father Leon Fouquet, a Catholic Missionary, reportedly vaccinated 3,400 Indians along the lower Fraser River. At the same time, other missions along both sides of the Strait of Georgia and in Puget Sound received supplies to vaccinate nearby tribes people. The ravages of the epidemic bypassed these vaccinated groups (The Daily British Colonist, March 18, 26, 27, 28, 1862, April 1, 1862, June 14, 1862; Boyd, p. 183-184). The Epidemic Could Have Been Stopped
In the spring of 1862, the government body that administered authority over Victoria was the House of Assembly of the Colony of Vancouver Island (in 1866 Vancouver Island merged with the mainland colony of British Columbia). The town of Victoria had not incorporated, so had no town council and no mayor. At least two members of the House of Assembly, along with the Governor of the Colony, undoubtedly were aware of the obvious consequences of not immunizing the Indians, and not placing them under quarantine.
In 1862, Dr. William Tolmie (1812-1886) and Dr. John Helmcken were both legislators in the Vancouver Island Assembly, Helmcken serving as Speaker, one of the highest elected positions in the Colony. The Hudson's Bay Co. hired William Tolmie in 1833 and John Helmcken in 1850 as physicians.
In 1837, reports reached Fort Vancouver of smallpox in northern British Columbia. Before the disease reached Puget Sound, Hudson's Bay Co. dispatched Tolmie to vaccinate the Indians near Fort Nisqually. By mid-July 1837, he had inoculated all the women and children and probably most of the men. In 1853 Tolmie again helped vaccinate "large numbers" of Indians near Fort Nisqually during a smallpox epidemic centered along Washington Territory's Pacific coast (Boyd, 170). John Helmcken also served as HBC physician for a number of years, and then continued in private practice until he retired in 1910. They were both well aware of the issues surrounding smallpox. Governor James Douglas Proposes Action
Shortly after the smallpox outbreak, James Douglas, the Governor of the Colony of Vancouver Island, submitted a proposal to the House of Assembly regarding smallpox. James Douglas had arrived on the coast in 1826 and was familiar with two previous Indian epidemics on the coast (1836-37 smallpox and 1847-48 measles). In his March 27, 1862 proposal to the Assembly he noted that because “several cases” of smallpox had occurred it “is desirable that instant measures should be adopted to prevent the spread of the infection ...” and “strongly recommended” that the House immediately appropriate funds to build a hospital in a isolated location for all cases of smallpox (Journal of the Colonial Legislatures ... vol. 2, p. 350). Dr. Helmcken and Others Oppose Action Continued above following the same heading
The Sacred Circle - The Northern Tribes Helmcken had a hand in the extermination of. The Haida, Haisla, Tsimshian, Tlingit, Tahltan, Nisga'a, Gitxsan and Wet'suwet'en.
The territories of these Nations next to a Map of BC and Alaska
A map of the territories as distributed by the BC Government
When the rivers are highlighted - the major ones, the Stikine, Nass and Skeena, along with the tributaries extended to include Haida Gwaii, the spirits of the ancestors return an image demanding truth
WHY ARE ALL OF CANADAS MEDIA IGNORING OUR INDIANS
Comment by Merv Ritchie on 20th January 2013
The Cree, the Sioux, the Apache and the Iroquois have nothing to do with the descendents of Demalahamid, Temlaham. Nor does; the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC), the AFN (Assembly of First Nations), the Idle No More Movement or Attawapiskat Chief, Teresa Spence.
None represent the Tsimshian, the Gitxsan, the Haisla or the Tahltan. It would be difficult to find anyone in Ottawa, Indian or otherwise, speaking for any of the Nations of Northwest BC, the Sacred Circle.
Indians living elsewhere in Canada, or anywhere else in BC outside of the Northwest, have virtually nothing in common with Damelahamid.
The Northwest Coast was, and is, an identity all to itself. The first explorers and traders, followed by the missionaries, all described these people as having a unique, but similar 'Tsimshian' language. This unifying tongue is still spoken and taught today.
The general population, except for those living directly in Northwest BC, reference the totem culture only with the Haida Indian and Haida Gwaii; the islands most still call the Queen Charlottes. Almost none know of the peoples residing on the land west of the Omineca Mountain range through to the Pacific Ocean; the people of Damelahamid.
Most do not even know where the Nisga'a territory is yet there has been a signed modern day treaty for twelve years.
The area is so remote if you were to ask residents of B.C. about a lava bed from a volcano anywhere nearby, 99 percent would laugh and excuse this as a ridiculousness notion. This stands true even for some living within 100 miles of the Nisga'a Lava Memorial fields.
As this location is a full eight hour drive east-northeast of Prince George, remote is almost an understatement. The highway into the territory is named the Highway of Tears after the numerous accounts of missing and murdered women from the Nations of Damelahamid along this often deserted stretch of road. To add to the tragedy for these people it was primarily the women of the Sacred Circle who were taken off the streets of Vancouver by Willie Pickton to be murdered on his Pig Farm, Piggies Palace.
It is difficult to unite in common purpose as the wounds are still raw, the emotions still at the surface, less than a generation has passed since some lived without roads or electricity. Yes, even in BC, Canada, not 30 years ago some tribes had no direct link or contact routes. It was only 150 years ago when this region was even entered to explore.
Maybe this is why the Tsimshian, Haisla, Gitxsan, Wet'suwet'en, Tlingit, Haida, Tahltan and Nisga'a are ignored; as long as no one knows this special place exists their territories can still be quietly stolen.
It is specifically about these peoples lands the Canadian Government passed its recent legislation, Bills C38 and C45. They did this to justify their continued assault which began with the deliberate genocide of these peoples by germ warfare. The Canadian government wishes to conduct a final solution on these people for the Mining and Petroleum industries.
While the Cree, Sioux, Apache, Iroquois, with the AFN, the UBCIC and others achieve media prominence, the Sacred Circle genocide and social dysfunction continues.
Still today these people are relegated to the shadows, their tragedies ignored. While Indians across Canada stand up and demand recognition for the harm done over the course of the last 300 to 400 years, the harm in the Sacred Circle is so fresh it remains difficult for the surviving elders to speak of it. Those who had their children abducted, their villages burned, their daughters raped and murdered, are still alive living with the pain right now.
It remains an ongoing tragedy which the efforts of the Idle No More movement east of the Ominica Mountain Range does not come close to addressing. The genocide continues today. These are not; Cree, Sioux, Apache or Iroquois. They are the people of Demalahamid, Temlaham. They are the; Nisga'a, Tahltan, Gitxsan, Wet'suwet'en, Haisla, Haida, Tlingit and the Tsimshian. The once most respected and admired traders in the Pacific Northwest. A unique totem culture based strictly on a Matriarchal, Matrilineal hierarchy with government structures based on feasting and decency. Something the British and Canadian governments abhorred and continue to destroy today.
The only reference to address the source of the women in the recently released Government report on the missing and murdered women from the Vancouver Downtown Eastside, was encouraging a transit bus system along the highway of tears. These women were the potential authority, the matriarchs. A bus? The government offers these women who had their children ripped from their arms, their communities burned, their ancestors graves disturbed, a bus?
The systemic tragedy continues as the government leaders continue to claim there is no money, even for the bus. It seems alright, still today, to not only rape pillage and plunder the land and resources, but also the people.
Dr. Helmcken has a street named after him.
Comment by Janice Robinson on 20th January 2013
That street is in the west end of Vancouver.
Anyways, I wonder whether or not the uneducated Indians currently sitting on regional band councils ever bother to educate themselves about the history of our Tsimshian nation. It does not seem to be the case, as it is so easy for them to be led around by their brown noses by the likes of Gordon Campbell, Roger Harris, Mr. Stipdonk, Gerald Wesley, and other non-Tsimshian gold-diggers. These guys know that there's tons of money to be made dealing with the white man's Indian problem. They have all become a chapter in the sordid history of my people.
I was educated in public schools, and was blessed to also attend the University of British Columbia. The only thing taught in public school about First Nations people in Canada was the names of all the Indian Nations, and how the white "explorers" came in contact with us. That was it.
It was only when I reached university that I was able to access this knowledge about our histories. Dr. Arthur Ray did the bulk of his research mining the actual records of the Hudson Bay Company. Dr. Ray was an excellent teacher, and respected all Indian nations in Canada. He taught the history of Canada at UBC. I also learned more about my people by taking specific courses in Anthropology as well. I never missed a class.
I think all Tsimshian band council members should have at least a Bachelors degree. Especially "chief" councillors. Their lack of education is deplorable, and people suffer from their nutty and dysfunctional decisions. They are selling us all right down the river, and getting fat and happy doing it.
And, it looks like there will be no end to this sordid story. Many Tsimshan reserves have been taken over by large, uneducated, unroyal families through years of social engineering. On my reserve, 90% of the band council, and most employees of the band can be found on ONE family geneology chart. They call themselves the 681'ers. And, there's no shame to their game. You do not have to be Tsimshian to be on our band council......you just have to be related. Last year, I had to endure a Tahltan Indian (married to a Bolton/Roberts) tell me that I "Can get the hell off this reserve, and don't f*&ken come back!" He's on the council, and his name stands for chief councillor in the upcoming election! Who the hell does he think I am? He is also uneducated.
Dr. Helmcken would have felt right at home in a band council meeting here, because no one knows who he was, nor the tragedies he facilitated among B.C. Indians.
To those running for election to band councils who have graduated grade 12, I say: Get your brown noses out of the butt ahead of you, forget about running for band council, and get your arse back to school! You'll do no good here. Get educated so you know what the heck is going on! If you really knew, that smile on your face would fall off.
The Mindset Never Changes
Comment by Chris George on 19th January 2013
Notice that it is the cost that seems to be his paramount concern. Truly nothing has changed in 150 years. Still it is the cost that people are concerned with. The cost of medicine. The cost of food. The cost of a roof overhead. And still, as you say, the elected stand and support the bullies who use the goad of starvation and the whip of homelessness, not just on the indigenous, but on their own people in order to shave a few points off of the labour bill from their extractive and exploitative industry on the land.
Social change is coming, but it is glacially slow. Political change, from within the system, seems to be a non-starter. There is hope, in the form of the Greens, but it remains to be seen if they will be immune to the lure of power, once they are there. IdleNoMore represents the most hope I have seen in my 50 years in this province. I fear that the critical mass of non-racist, non-colonial, non-television watching humanity in this province simply is not large enough to support this movement in solidarity. Perhaps once the blood starts to flow they will find their voice.
We are all indigenous now, and the sooner the settlers in this province wake up, the sooner we can get on with the difficult business of building a truly democratic society, a much more humane society than this one. I have children and they deserve better than this mess.
Just like today with Harper and former BC Premier Campbell
Comment by Merv Ritchie on 19th January 2013
Considering this following newspaper account;
Speaker Dr. Helmcken stated he was against a fully staffed hospital and against forcing all cases of smallpox to go there. The doctor expressed concern about the cost of establishing and operating the hospital and that it would interfere with the liberty of the patients. Helmcken went even further and chastised the Governor for being an alarmist about the disease. The majority of the other members agreed with Mr. Helmcken.
Think Bill C48, C35, BC Rail, HST, BC Hydro and so much more. The elected cowards stand and support the bullies. Helmcken was the bully even Governor Douglas couldn't stop. Just like today, no different than yesterday, people like Harper and Campbell, Bully's, thrive among weak representatives.
When will people rise together and determine it is time?