No. 170.
Mr. West to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

Sir: With reference to previous correspondence on the subject, I have the honor to inclose to you herewith a further approved report of a committee of the privy council of Canada in connection with the case of lynching in British Columbia, which the Marquis of Lansdowne has requested me to communicate to you.

I have, &c.,


Certified copy of a report of a committee of the honorable the privy council, approved by his excellency the Governor-General in council on the 2d June, 1884.

The committee of the privy council have had before them a memorandum dated 19th May, 1884, from the right honorable the superintendent general of Indian affairs, inclosing copies of communications, under date 21st March and 29th April last, from the Indian superintendent at Victoria, British Columbia (the original of which had gone astray en route from British Columbia), relative to the murder of an Indian boy of fifteen years of age, near Sumass, in British Columbia, by a mob from the American side of the boundary line.

The superintendent-general of Indian affairs observes that, under date 3d April last, your excellency was moved to transmit copies of a dispatch from the lieutenant-governor, and of a report of the attorney-general of British Columbia, upon this subject, to Her Majesty’s minister at Washington, and he, the minister, recommends the transmission of the accompanying papers also in connection therewith.

The committee respectfully advise that your excellency be moved to transmit copies of the accompanying papers, bearing upon the subject above referred to, to Her Majesty’s minister at Washington, to be submitted to the honorable the Secretary of State of the United States.

Clerk Privy Council, Canada.

[J. W. Powell, Indian superintendent, to the honorable the superintendent-general of Indian affairs, Ottawa.]

Sir: Referring to your letter of the 8th instant, No. 12061 advising me that my letter of the 21st ultimo, 223 L, has not been received at Ottawa, I have the honor to send herewith copy of my letter above mentioned, with accompanying inclosures.

I have, &c.,


Sir: I have the honor to inclose copy of a letter from Mr. Agent McTiernan, relative to an outrage committed on an Indian boy of fifteen years of age, near Sumass (within British territory), by a mob from the American side of the boundary line, [Page 248] with a statement from the representatives of several Indian bands who had met in order to take some action in the matter.

It appears that a person named Bell was murdered by some party or parties unknown, near Nooksachk.

The Indian boy was arrested on suspicion, and, whilst in the hands of the constable at Sumass, was seized by an armed mob from the United States territory and summarily executed.

I considered it proper to bring the matter to the notice of the lieutenant-governor in council, and beg to forward a copy of my letter relating thereto to the provincial secretary.

Meantime, as it is important to show the Indians, who are not only deserving of sympathy but of redress for their painful grievance, I should be glad to have your further direction in the matter.

I have, &c.,

Indian Superintendent.

Sir: I have the honor to inclose you, by request of 127 Indians, the statement they made to me at a meeting they held at Squehalo on Monday and Tuesday last to consider the action of some Americans who came to Sumass and took an Indian boy named Lewey, fifteen years old, and lynched him. I had great trouble, for the time they were in council, to restrain them from going in a body across the boundary line to Nooksachk and taking the first white man they met and taking him to the spot where the Indian boy was hanged and treating him in the same manner.

The Indians were fully prepared for a start at any moment they got the word from their headmen.

I had been very lucky to be there in time to prevent them from going. There was a delegation from every band on the Fraser River from Yale to Langley at the meeing. They were burning with anger. They are positively under the impression that a white man named Heisterman, telegraph operator at Nooksachk, murdered Bell, and then organized a mob and led them across the Sumass to lynch the Indian boy, so as to screen his own guilt. I succeeded in sending them all back to their homes, promising them that Her Majesty’s Government would look after the matter and would bring the parties to justice if they could, possibly be found.

I hope you will be good enough to write me a letter on the subject that will be pleasing to them, which I may read to them at their next meeting, which will be early in May.

I have, &c.,

Indian Agent.

We are very glad that you came to see us at this time. We wish to let you know the sickness of our hearts occasioned by the outrage committed on us by a mob of Americans who had come to Sumass and took an innocent Indian boy fifteen years of age and, without, five minutes’ warning, lynched him to the next tree they met.

We want you to take the few words we have to say down on paper and send it to Superintendent Powell. He always has been our good friend. We know he will be grieved at what the white men have done to us. Because we are Indians they have done so.

We are all unanimous that we are fully justified in going immediately, in very large numbers, across the boundary lice, and take the first white men we meet and bring them to the very spot where they hung the Indian and treat them in the same manner. We hope you will agree with our decision. There are a good many of our men here present who objected to letting you know anything about their intention until it was all over, but the majority of us decided to tell you everything and take your advice. We request that Dr. Powell will let the Government at Ottawa know how sick our hearts are.

From what you have just said to us last evening we feel some consolation, and we all promise you that we will go back to our homes and leave the matter at present in the hands of the Dominion Government.

We hope you will meet us again about the 1st of May.

Sir: The above is the statement made by the Indians to me, after two days’ long speechifying among themselves on the lynching of Lewey.

Indian Agent.
[Page 249]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose copy of a letter from Mr. P. McTiernan, Indian agent at Eraser River, relative to the outrage committed by some white men who came across the boundary line to Sumass and forcibly took an Indian boy of this province, aged only fifteen years, from the custody of a constable and hung him, and also the statement of a number of chiefs, representatives from various tribes on the Eraser, who, by arrangement, bad met to consider the best means of obtaining justice.

The Eraser River Indians are not only industrious and progressive, but have been a law-abiding people, and it is of great importance to show them that the Government will take vigorous measures to redress their grievances and punish wrong-doing,

If the impression they now have, that the boy who was sacrificed to a mob was innocent of the crime with which he was charged, be correct, the injury which has been inflicted upon them is all the more painful and deserving of the sympathy and attention of the authorities.

May I ask if you will have the goodness to bring this complaint to the notice of the lieutenant-governor in council, and to acquaint me in due course, for the information of the Indians, of the steps taken in regard to the same?

I have, &c.,


Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of yours of the 21st instant, and accompanying papers, referring to the recent lamentable outrage committed at Sumass presumably by a mob from the adjacent United States territory.

In reply I have to say that no time was lost by this Government in bringing the matter to the notice of the authorities at Ottawa, by whom, as you are doubtless-aware, proceedings can alone be taken.

This Government is deeply impressed with the importance, from every point of view, of adopting energetic measures for the punishment of the perpetrators of that outrage, and I may be permitted to express the hope that you will, by making strong representations to the head of the Indian Department at Ottawa, assist in moving the Dominion Government to energetic action.

I have, &c.,

Provincial Secretary.