Project Canterbury

Metlakahtla and the North Pacific Mission of the Church Missionary Society

By Eugene Stock

London: Church Missionary House, 1880.

Chapter VII. Metlakahtla--Material Progress and Moral Influence

Metlakahtla is no hermit's cell in the wilderness, removed faraway from the haunts of men, and exerting no influence upon them. Rather is it a harbour of refuge, whose lights radiate forth into the darkness, inviting the bark in distress to seek its friendly shelter, and guiding even the passing vessel in its course. Very rapidly it acquired a recognized position of importance and influence as the centre--one might almost say the official centre--of all good work of every kind among the coast Indians.

The growth of the settlement naturally added greatly to the heavy burden of accumulated responsibilities which Mr. Duncan found himself compelled to undertake. He was lay pastor and missionary, treasurer, chief trader, clerk of the works, head schoolmaster, and the father and friend of the people. In addition to this the Colonial Government appointed him a magistrate, in order that he might have legal power to dispense justice, not only at the Christian settlement, but along the whole coast, wherever his influence extended. Thee village council and constables referred to in the report already quoted (p. 4) were a great assistance at Metlakahtla itself. But outside the settlement magisterial duties brought sometimes a heavy burden of anxiety and responsibility upon Mr. Duncan. In 1864, for instance, the authorities desired him to arrest a smuggling vessel, from which some of the tribes on the coast were obtaining spirits contrary to the law. He sent five of his Indians to arrest the smuggler, but they failed in the attempt; and not only so, but one of them was shot, and three others wounded. In the following year a shocking incident occurred. The Indian camps at that time were "deluged with fire-water," and Metlakahtla, because it stood alone against "the universal tide of disorder," was threatened with the vengeance of its heathen neighbours. A quantity of liquor was landed there by a party of Kitahmaht Indians for sale. It was at once seized. In revenge for this, they stole a little boy belonging to the village while he was on a fishing expedition with his parents. "Horrible to write, the poor little fellow was literally worried to death, being torn to pieces by the mouths of a set of cannibals at a great feast."

Nevertheless, Mr. Duncan's influence grew continually. In this very case its power was, exhibited in his successfully interposing to allay the exasperation of his people, and to prevent a war of extermination. Even the white traders in fire-water themselves were sometimes touched. The captain of one smuggling vessel, who was fined four hundred dollars by Mr. Duncan in virtue of his magisterial authority, "afterwards became one of his most active friends--a result partly due to the impression created by what he saw at Metlakahtla, and partly to the fact of Mr. Duncan having obtained restitution for him from the Indians at Fort Simpson for injuries done to his vessel."

The moral influence exercised by the Mission is most strikingly illustrated by an incident related by the Bishop of Columbia. In 1862, H.M.S. "Devastation" sailed up the coast seeking the three Indian murderers of the two white men: The Indians gave up two, but would not surrender the third. Two lives for two lives was their notion of equal justice. But as soon as the ship was out of sight, the murderer left his tribe, went to Metlakahtla, and gave himself up to Mr. Duncan. "Whatever you tell me to do," he said, "I will do. If you say I am to go on board the gun-ship when she comes again, I will go." Six months afterwards the "Devastation" again came up to Metlakahtla, and fired a gun to announce her arrival. The murderer heard it. Had his resolution broken down after so long an interval? He went straight to Mr. Duncan, and said, "What am I to do?" "You must come with me a prisoner." He went on board with the missionary, and delivered himself to the captain. "Thus," justly observed Bishop Hills, "what the ship of war with its guns and threats could not do for civilization, for protection of life, for justice, the simple character and influence of one missionary availed to accomplish." In due course this man was brought to trial for his crime, when it came out that he had been an unwilling participator, and he was pardoned. On his release he went back to Metlakahtla, and was baptized by the Bishop in 1866.

A similar and very interesting case occurred in 1872. Some years before, an Indian from a tribe living thirty miles off had come to Mr. Duncan, and with great emotion confessed himself a murderer, saying that having frequently attended the services, the burden of sin had become "too heavy for him to carry," and some Christian relatives had advised him to confess his crime and take the consequences. Mr. Duncan sent word to the Government at Victoria, but they thought it best not to prosecute the man for a crime which was not recent, and which had been done under the orders of a powerful chief who was still at large. No further steps, therefore, were taken. But at the beginning of 1872, a magistrate who was visiting at Fort Simpson detected two men who had been concerned in another murder, and the excitement caused by this led to further inquiry about the Metlakahtla man's crime, and to the arrest of both himself and his chief. The four Indians thus in custody made severally a full confession of both crimes to Mr. Duncan and the other magistrate, and they were sent to Victoria for trial. They were found guilty, and, on being called upon to reply, made most affecting speeches in court, acknowledging the sin, and their just liability to punishment. Sentence of death was ordered to be recorded, but on the recommendation of the judges, it was commuted to five years' imprisonment (not confinement) at Metlakahtla.

"So," wrote Mr. Duncan six months afterwards, "they are now with us, and all behaving very well. The proud chief has become very docile and happy, and he and all declare it their intention to remain at Metlakahtla till death. Several of the foremost Christians make it their duty occasionally to visit them, and instruct and encourage them. Thus can God bring good out of evil."

The charge of the Chief Justice, Sir Matthew Begbie, at this trial is a most remarkable document, and must be printed here in extenso. Had the white man always treated the red man in such a spirit, what results might we not have seen. [Admiral Prevost writes to us respecting another judge in the colony--'Some time ago a right minded judge, beloved and respected, both by Indians and white men, had to settle a dispute between two persons--as to the equal division of some land. In the presence of both he selected one to go and measure the land, so as to divide it into two equal portions, at the same time telling him (the one sent) the other would have the first choice when he had made the division Of course, the division was made as fairly as it could be.']

Charge of the Chief Justice.



"Many years ago there were some poor white men on the sea. Men on the sea are always in danger from the wind and the waves, but these men trusted in God, who rules the winds and waves, and they were not afraid. Neither were they afraid of the men whom they might meet, for they did not intend to hurt anybody, and they were ready to do good. And, indeed, if the white men intended to do harm to the Indians, the whites could destroy them off the face of the earth. The whites could send up one man-of-war, which could easily, and without landing a man, destroy all their houses and canoes and property, and drive them naked and helpless into the woods to starve. No canoe could venture to go fishing. In one year the white men could destroy all the Indians on the coast without losing a man. One of our cannon could swallow up all the muskets of your tribe.

"Now these poor white men on the sea met with some Indians. The Indians said they were hungry, and the white men gave them bread. Was that the act of a friend or an enemy? Then, when the Indians saw that the white men were good and confiding, and saw a little bread, and a saw and some tools, and a musket and a pistol, the devil came to them and said, 'Kill these white men, do not stop because they gave you bread when you were hungry; kill them, and take the saw and the musket and the bread.' These things the devil put on his hook with which he was fishing for the souls of the Indians, as men put a small fish on a hook to catch salmon and halibut. And the Indians listened to the voice of the devil, and slew these men, who were not fighting, nor had either they or the Indians declared war or anger at all. They slew these men while the bread of charity was still in their mouths. This is treachery and murder. All people hate murder, all people seek to have revenge for murder. This is the law among Indians also. If a white man kill an Indian, the Indians desire that white man to be put to death. Now my people come to me and ask for satisfaction. The law among the whites is that they cannot have revenge unless I permit it. Now my people come and ask me for revenge. But many snows have fallen upon this blood, and they hide it from my sight. Many snows have fallen also on my head; my head is very white, and I have seen many things. When the head is white, the heart ought to be prudent and moderate. I will not therefore take the lives of these Indians now before me, though they are all in my hand, and if I close it, it will strangle them all. My head is white, but my hand is strong, and my heart is not weak. If I punish them less than by killing them, it is not because I am weak, nor because I am afraid. But I want to do good to these Indians. What good would their lives do me! Their lives are of no use to me to take at present. But I wish to preserve their lives, and to change their lives. I wish to change their hearts, and to let them see that our laws are good and our hearts are good, and that we do not kill, even when we have a right to kill, and when we have the power to kill. There is a rock at Metlakatlah, and a rock at Victoria, upon which their old canoe has split. Now I offer them a new canoe. When men are sailing in an old broken canoe, and have with difficulty got to shore, and made a small camp, if anybody offer them a fine new canoe with which to continue the voyage of life, they should accept the offer gladly. Now there is a much better canoe, as they may see, at Metlakatlah. I wish them to sail in such a canoe for the future, and to adopt a better rule of life, and a better law of religion. They must at present go back to prison until I speak with the other great chiefs of my people, and see what is best for them to be done. I shall try and persuade the other chiefs to send them away to Metlakatlah, to do what Mr. Duncan shall tell them, and to live as they shall direct. And so long as they live well and quietly, and learn and labour truly to get their own living, I shall not remember the blood which they have spilt.

"The prisoners themselves may see that our law is a better law than theirs. For two whole days I have been sitting here listening to the voice of my people, complaining of murders and of violence, and of robbery and oppression. Whoever has suffered, he comes freely and complains to me. Now the prisoners have been in court all this time, and they have seen Indians accused, and Chinamen, but they have seen no white man accused.

"Yet there are some bad white men, who would, perhaps, steal or commit violence, if they were not afraid. They are afraid of our law, which fills me and gives me strength, so that if I fall on a man I break him to pieces. But even bad white men, through fear, are restrained. Now, therefore, I think that it will much more restrain Indians who are inclined to do evil, and support and guide those who are inclined to do well.

"If the other chiefs listen to my voice, and the prisoners behave well at Metlakatlah, it shall be well. But if they do that which is wrong, my anger will burn up again very fiercely, and it will melt the snows which cover the blood of the men whom they have killed, and I shall see the blood and be very angry, and will burn them all up in my anger.

"Let them cease to believe in sorcerers, who have now no strength since Christianity is established. Let them become Christians, and so their hearts will be made really and permanently good."

A touching illustration of the reputation of Metlakahtla, as a refuge for the suffering and oppressed, occurs in a letter of Mr. Duncan's, dated March, 1876:--

"A poor slave woman, still young in years, who had been stolen away when a child, and carried to distant tribes in Alaska territory, where she had suffered many cruelties, fled from her oppressors last summer, and, though ill at the time, took to the sea in a canoe all alone, and determined to reached Metlakahtla or perish in the attempt. On her way (and she had upwards of one hundred and fifty miles to travel), she was seen and taken by a party of Port Simpson Indians, who would no doubt have been glad to hand her back to her pursuers for gain, but on hearing of her case, I demanded her freedom, and finally she was received into a Christian family here, and tenderly cared for. Both the man and his wife who received her into their home had themselves been slaves years ago. They understood her language, sympathised deeply with her, and laboured hard to impart to her the knowledge of the Saviour of sinners. After about three months her cruel master with his party came here to recapture her, but they had to return home unsuccessful. In three months more her strength succumbed to the disease which had been brought on her by cruelty and hardship. She was a great sufferer during the last few weeks of her life, but she died expressing her faith in the Saviour, and rejoicing that she had been led here to end her days."

Once during the twenty-three years which have passed away since the North Pacific Mission, as it is now called, was begun, has Mr. Duncan come back to his mother country; and this visit may most conveniently be noticed now. He was only absent a year. He left Metlakahtla, took the long journey home, stayed six months, and went all the way back again to Victoria, within the year 1870. During his brief stay in England, he chiefly occupied his time in learning various trades, and purchasing machinery, etc., for the settlement. He went to Yarmouth purposely to learn rope-making and twine-spinning; at another place he acquired the art of weaving: at a third, that of brush-making; at a fourth, "the gamut of each instrument in a band of twenty-one instruments." On his way back he stayed two or three months at Victoria, arranging with the Government for the allotment of reserve lands to the Indians of the settlement, which they might clear, enclose, and cultivate for themselves. The Governor entered warmly into his plans, and presented $500 himself to the Mission, to be laid out in village improvements. At length he set sail again, and on February 27th, 1871, landed once more at Metlakahtla. His reception must be related in his own words.--

"The steamer in which I was conveyed over the last 600 miles of my journey had on board a crowd of miners, bound for the newly-discovered gold-fields of Omineca, in the interior of British Columbia. These had to be landed at the mouth of the Skeena River, about ten miles before we came to Metlakahtla. It was Sunday afternoon when we arrived at the landing, and though the weather was very stormy--snowing and blowing hard--yet I could scarcely restrain myself from attempting to finish the remaining ten miles of my voyage in a canoe, and thus take my people by surprise, and be able to join them in their evening service. After due reflection, however, I decided to remain in the steamer, and go in her to Metlakahtla on the morrow. In the meantime, the news of my arrival travelled to Metlakahtla, and on the following morning a large canoe arrived from thence to fetch me home. The happy crew, whose hearts seemed brim full of joy at seeing me back, gave me a very warm welcome. I at once decided to leave my luggage and the steamer, and proceed at once to Metlakahtla with my Indian friends, who assured me that the village was in a great state of excitement at the prospect of my return. We were favoured with a strong, fair wind, and with two sails up we dashed along merrily through a boiling sea. I now felt I was indeed homeward bound. My happy friends, having nothing to do but to watch the sails and sit still, could give free vent to their long pent-up feelings, and so they poured out one piece of news after another in rapid succession, and without any regard to order, or the changes their reports produced upon my feelings: thus we had good and bad, solemn and frivolous news, all mixed indiscriminately.

"On sighting the village, in accordance with a preconcerted arrangement, a flag was hoisted over our canoe, as a signal to the villagers that I was on board. Very soon we could discern quite a number of flags flying over the village, and the Indians hurrying towards the place of landing. Before we reached the beach large crowds had assembled to greet me. On my stepping out of the canoe, bang went a cannon, and when fairly on my feet bang went another. Then some of the principal people stepped away from the groups, and came forward, hats off, and saluted me very warmly. On my advancing, the corps of constables discharged their muskets, then all hats were doffed, and a general rush to seize my hand ensued. I was now hemmed in with the crowds of solemn faces, many exhibiting intense emotion, and eyes glistening with tears of joy. In struggling my way to the Mission house, I had nearly overlooked the schoolchildren. The dear little ones had been posted in order on one side, and were all standing in mute expectation of a recognition. I patted a few on the head, and then with feelings almost overcome, I pressed my way to my house. How sweet it was to find myself again in my own little room, and sweeter still to thank God for all His preserving care over me. As numbers of the people were pressing into and crowding my house, I ordered the church bell to be rung. At once they hurried to the church, and when I entered it was full. Such a sight! After a few minutes silence we joined in thanksgiving to God, after which I addressed the assembly for about twenty minutes. This concluded, I set off, accompanied by several leading Christian men to visit the sick and the very aged, whom I was told were anxiously begging to see me. The scenes that followed were very affecting. Many assured me that they had constantly prayed to God to be spared to see me once again, and God had answered their prayers and revived their hearts, after much weeping. On finishing my visit I made up doses of medicine for several of the sick, and then sat down for a little refreshment. Again my house becoming crowded, I sat down with about fifty for a general talk. I gave them the special messages from Christian friends which I had down in my note book, told them how much we were prayed for by many Christians in England, and scanned over the principal events of my voyage and doings in England. We sat till midnight, but even then the village was lighted up, and the people all waiting to hear from the favoured fifty what I had communicated. Many did not go to bed at all, but sat up all night talking over what they had heard.

"Such is a brief account of my reception at Metlakahtla. I could not but reflect how different this to the reception I had among the same people in 1857. Then they were all superstitiously afraid of me, and regarded with dread suspicion my every act It was with feelings of fear or contempt they approached me to hear God's word, and when I prayed amongst them I prayed alone, none understood, none responded. Now how things have changed! Love has taken the place of fear, and light the place of darkness, and hundreds are intelligently able and devoutly willing to join me in prayer and praise to Almighty God. To God be all the praise and glory. Amen"

The troubles and difficulties on the coast, which so often added to Mr. Duncan's burdens, were not always the fault of the Indians. As often as not they were due to the recklessness of unscrupulous and drunken white men. In 1872, a party going up to the gold mines on the Skeena River burned an Indian village. This brought the Governor of British Columbia, J. W. Trutch, Esq., up the coast with two ships of war, the "Scout" and the "Boxer." A deputation of Tsimsheans Christians was sent to propitiate the injured tribe, and invite them to meet the Governor at Metlakahtla; and there, as on common ground which both parties could trust, peace was solemnly made, the Government paying six hundred dollars as compensation.

On this occasion the Governor laid the first stone of a new church, upon which Mr. Duncan and the Indians alike had set their hearts, as a visible crown of the work. The ceremony took place on August 6th, in the presence of the whole community and of the officers of the ships. But laying the stone was one thing; building the church was another. The Governor and Captain Cator saw lying on the ground huge timbers to be used in its erection, but how these were to be reared up was not apparent. Very kindly they gave Mr. Duncan a quantity of ropes, blocks, etc., but even then they sailed away in considerable scepticism as to the possibility of unskilled red men raising a large and lofty church. In January, 1874, Mr. Duncan wrote:--

"The massive timbers for framing, which Governor Trutch and Captain Cator, of H. M. S. 'Scout,' saw on the ground last year, and doubted of our ability to raise, are, I am happy to say, now fixed, and fixed well, in their places, and all by Indian labour. Especially am I thankful to report that, though the work is attended with no little danger, particularly to inexperienced hands, as we all are, yet have we hitherto been graciously preserved from all accidents.

"The Indians are delighted with the appearance the building has already assumed, and you may gather from the amount of their contributions (L176) how much they appreciate the work. They propose again subscribing during the coming spring, and I only wish our Christian friends in England could witness the exciting scene of a contributing day, with how much joy the poor people come forward and cast down their blanket or blankets, gun, shirt, or elk skin, upon the general pile 'to help in building the house of God.'"

By the end of that year the church was finished, and on Christmas Day it was opened for the service of God. "We had indeed," wrote Mr. Duncan, "a great struggle to finish it by that time--the tower and spire presenting very difficult and dangerous work for our unskilled hands--yet, by God's protecting care, we completed the work without a single accident. Over seven hundred Indians were present at our opening services. Could it be that this concourse of well-dressed people, in their new and beautiful church, but a few years ago made up the fiendish assemblies at Fort Simpson! Could it be that those voices, now engaged in solemn prayer and thrilling songs of praise to Almighty God, are the very voices I once heard yelling and whooping at heathen orgies on dismal winter nights!"

The progress in building operations and the secular affairs of the settlement generally at this time are succinctly described in an official Report, prepared by Mr. Duncan, and presented to the Minister of the Interior of the Dominion of Canada, in May, 1875. The occasion of this important document being drawn up was the occurrence of some conflict of opinion between the Provincial Government of British Columbia at Victoria and the Dominion Government of Ottawa, respecting the Indian Land Question. The same thorny problems that have so often given trouble in South Africa and New Zealand had presented themselves, and the local authorities at Victoria were anxious that the liberal treatment of the Indians on the coast, which had marked their own dealings with them while the Colony was independent of Canada, should be still pursued now that British Columbia was incorporated in the Dominion Confederation. But even the liberal plans of the Victoria Government had, to a large extent, failed in their object of ameliorating the Indians, and Metlakahtla still remained almost the only example of success upon the coast. To us it is, of course, obvious that the cause of this success was simply its being based on the foundation of Christian teaching and Christian life; and Mr. Duncan made no secret of this in his Report. He gave a description of the Indians as he found them, and a full narrative of the Mission from the first. That part of the Report, however, it is needless to print here. It only recapitulates what we have already told in greater detail. The opening and closing paragraphs we subjoin:--

Report presented by Mr. W. Duncan to the Government of Canada.

"From a copy of statutes which I lately received from the Indian Commissioner, British Columbia, I learn that changes in the management of Indian affairs are about to be inaugurated in that province. It is in anticipation of these changes that I feel prompted to address to you this present letter, my object being to place before you the origin and growth of the Indian settlement at Metlakahtla, and from these facts thus brought out to deduce a policy, or at least certain principles of action, which I am anxious to commend to the Government in the treatment of all the Indian tribes in that part of the Dominion."

[Here follows a history of the Mission.]

"We number now about 750 souls, and, according to the testimony of several medical men, who have had opportunities of judging, form the healthiest and strongest Indian community on the coast.

"Next, as to our progress in law and order. It is in this aspect to the outward observer, perhaps more than in any other, that our advancement appears both real and striking. From a great number of lawless and hostile hordes has been gathered out and established one of the most law-abiding and peace-loving communities in the province. What to the most sanguine minds seemed at least a generation of time distant has been brought about in a few years. The isolated germ of a Christian community gathered strength year by year, while every opposing force in the vicinity gradually weakened and at last succumbed. The law has triumphed. The liquor-selling vessels have long since ceased their traffic. The Indians who took up the trade with their canoes have also been stopped. Drunkenness, or even liquor-drinking, over a very large district are now things of the past. The rushing to Victoria has subsided into rare and legitimate visits, and peace, order, and security reign in all the country round.

"The local means which have been instrumental in bringing about these salutary changes were--First, we called out a corps of Native constables, and afterwards selected, irrespective of rank, twelve older men of good character to act as Native Council, and with these we have deliberated upon every matter affecting the welfare of our settlement. The Council has no pay, but only a badge of office, worn on stated occasions. The constables, in addition to a simple uniform, receive a small remuneration when on duty.

"As our settlement increased, and our work in the interests of peace became more extended, I have increased the two Native forces year by year until they now number over sixty men, and include several chiefs. And further, in order to utilize these forces, and have every settler under proper surveillance, I have divided all the male community into ten companies, each company having an equal number of constables and councilmen, who act as guides and monitors.

"Again, in order to enlist the energies of our younger men for the public weal, I have organized a fire brigade of six companies and ten to each company. These, I trust, will prove of real service to the new town which is about to be built. And here I would acknowledge with thankfulness the prompt help which has occasionally reached us from the Provincial Government, and without which, of course, our local machinery would have proved altogether inadequate for all emergencies.

"Lastly, as to our material and social progress. This, too, is already encouraging, but by no means so complete as we hope to see it. The slow progress of the Indians in this cause cannot be matter for wonder when we consider--first, Their ignorance and inaptitude to find out for themselves any fresh and permanent modes of industry; secondly, Their want of capital, owing to which civilization may tend to the impoverishment of the Indians by calling for an increased outlay in their expenses without augmenting their income. Having these facts before me, I have endeavoured to help and guide the males under my influence to fresh modes of industry, and though our success has not been very great, it is at least encouraging.

"Our first work of a secular kind was to establish a village store; for, having left Fort Simpson, we soon felt the want of supplies. I may here explain the Hudson's Bay Company refused to establish a shop in our midst, and I feared to encourage the trading schooners to come to us, as they invariably carried intoxicating liquor for sale, so we determined to keep the village trade in our own hands and appropriate the profits to the public works of our settlement.

"To this end we first purchased a schooner, one-third of the money being given by the Governor, Sir James Douglas. The schooner took down the products of our industry to Victoria, and returned laden with goods for our store, proving a pecuniary success and a capital training for the Indians who were employed.

"After some years the Hudson's Bay Company were willing to carry our freight on their steamer, so we sold the schooner, and I refunded to the Government account a proportionate part of the sale money.

"The managing of our village trade, principally by Indians, has given me much anxiety, and exposed me to much slander and abuse from white traders; but seeing the good results from my efforts in this way to our settlement I have kept on, and feel loath to give it up till I can hand it over entirely into the hands of the Natives.

"The first profits of our trade I spent in building a large market-house and court-house. The market-house was to shelter and accommodate all those visiting us from other tribes, and for this purpose we found it to be of great advantage. We were thus enabled to keep strange Indians from impeding our social progress, having them under better surveillance during their stay, and rendering them more accessible to Christian instruction. The other works for public advantage to which we have severally applied the monies resulting from our village trade, along with the contributions of friends of the Mission, are road-making, building a saw-mill, blacksmith's shop, soap-house, and large carpenters' shops and work-sheds. For the last two years we have been engaged erecting entirely by Indian labour a new church capable of holding 1,200 people. This we completed so far as to be able to use it about five months ago.

"The finishing we hope to do this summer, and when complete we expect we shall have spent altogether about 8,000 dollars. Of this sum the Indians of the settlement contributed over 800 dollars. We have now going up a school-house, 60 by 27, which will be paid for out of the trade profits, with the exception of 200 dollars sent us by the Indian Commissioner.

"Our latest undertaking is the building of a massive sea-wall round the village. The Indians contribute the material, and I pay for the labour of putting it up.

"This brings me to mention a few particulars relative to the greatest of all our undertakings in building, viz., that of a new town of some 200 houses. It was hardly to be expected that the plan of our village and the first houses erected at Metlakahtla would prove satisfactory to us as we advanced in civilization. The people were then in a transition state, and I had to be content to see houses go up only a little improvement upon their old style of building; but about five years ago they began to be dissatisfied with their houses, and I then succeeded in persuading them to cease putting up fresh buildings until we should all agree upon the right model for a dwelling-house and a better plan of a town site. It has taken all this time to educate them up to a really substantial plan for both, but-I am happy to say that after much discussion we are now agreed. The old village is to be pulled down and a new town built up. I have already surveyed the land, and drawn out a map showing town lots, which the Indians highly approve. The lots are 60 by 120, and on each will be erected a double house. One hundred such lots are already taken, and builders have begun to work. As the new houses are to be substantial and commodious buildings, and beyond their means to build without aid, I have pledged myself to assist them to the amount of 50 dollars each single house, which will, I anticipate, be sufficient to purchase nails, windows, and whatever else they must import, as well as pay the workmen at the saw-mill for sawing their lumber. Thus the Indians will only be required to bring their own logs to the mill and find the labour to erect their houses.

"As our mill is small, and our means limited, we do not expect to complete all our buildings in less than three years, but when completed we trust to show to the Natives around a real model town, and hope it will stimulate them to follow in our steps.

"Having thus very briefly sketched an outline of the history of Metlakahtla, it remains for me to say that whatever of moral or material progress the Indians there have made, they owe it all to the hold which religious truth has obtained over their hearts and consciences. It is only because they have felt the inspiring influence of the Gospel that they have aspired to a higher degree of social life, and are exerting themselves to obtain it.

"Our church and schools (both Sunday and day schools) are well and eagerly attended. The appearance of our large Native congregation in their new church is a thrilling and heart-gladdening sight.

"Quite a number of intelligent Natives are devoting themselves gratuitously to evangelistic work among their brethren, and with much success. We have two Native teachers in the day-school and one Native evangelist, also over twenty Sunday-school teachers employed in the Mission, and thus this little settlement, under God's blessing, bids fair to become at no very distant day a happy and thriving Christian home."

Accompanying this Report, there was a paper of practical suggestions for the provision and administration of Reserve Lands for the several tribes. These were embodied in an official Memorandum, drawn up by the Attorney General of the Province, which concluded with these words:--

"The undersigned has the honour to recommend that the above suggestions be adopted, and that if this Memorandum be approved, His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor be respectfully requested to forward a copy thereof, and of the Minute of Council referring thereto, to the Dominion Government, for their consideration and assent; and he further recommends that another copy be sent to the Dominion Government, for transmission to the Right Honourable the Secretary of State for the Colonies.


"Victoria, 17th August, 1875."

The Lieutenant-Governor in Council adopted the following Minute:--

"Copy of a Report of a Committee of the Honourable the Executive Council, approved by His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor, on the 18th day of August, 1875.

"The Committee of Council concur with the statements and recommendations contained in the Memorandum of the Honourable the Attorney-General, on the subject of Indian affairs, dated 17th August, 1875, and advise that it be adopted as the expression of the views of this Government as to the best method of bringing about a settlement of the Indian Land Question.

"(Certified) W. J. ARMSTRONG, Clerk of the Executive Council."

The next thing was to secure the adoption of the scheme by the Government of Canada; and with this view Mr. Duncan undertook the long journey across the continent to Ottawa. The Hon. D. Laird, Minister of the Interior, gave the most attentive hearing to his representations, and also made him a donation of 1,000 dollars towards the work at Metlakahtla; and on May 10th, 1876, Mr. Duncan wrote, "I am glad to inform you that the terms set forth in the Report have been adopted (with a small modification or two) by the Dominion Government, and so the dead-lock about the land question seems in a fair way of being removed."

Mr. Duncan's well-timed interposition in this matter was not the least of the many services God has enabled him to render to the Indian population of British Columbia.

About the same time, the Provincial Government gave another proof of its confidence in the Mission, by appointing one of the Christian Tsimsheans of Metlakahtla head constable of the district, with a salary of 350 dollars per annum.

Year by year the Metlakahtla community has continued to increase, by the admission to its privileges of new settlers. New Year's-day is especially the time for enrolling them. A general meeting of the adult males of the village is held, and before them all each applicant for leave to join their body has to stand up and declare his adhesion to the rules. He thus cuts himself off from all heathen customs, and "places himself under Christian instruction" (to use the Tinnevelly term [In Tinnevelly, the progress of Christianity has been mainly due to the adhesion of whole villages at a time to the Christian community. These adherents cannot be called "converts," and the phrase used of them is that they "place themselves under Christian instruction." Subsequently they become candidates for baptism, and many of them ultimately prove to be true converts.]). He probably knows something of the Gospel from Christian Indians he has met at the fisheries or elsewhere, and thus is already, to some extent, prepared for the teaching he will now regularly receive. In course of time--such is the frequent experience at Metlakahtla--his conduct and demeanour give evidence of a work of grace in his heart; he becomes a catechumen, and, after a due period of probation, is admitted by baptism, not only into the community, but into the Church. On the New Year's-day of 1875, no less than one hundred new comers were registered, and the number has frequently been not much short of that.

Project Canterbury