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A Historical Timeline of Indigenous Peoples in British Columbia (Content Adapted from BC Teachers' Federation)

By lsahara
  • Jan 1, 1490


    Aboriginal settlements with increasinglycomplex cultures exist in all areas ofBritish Columbia
  • Jan 1, 1492

    Portugese Seize

    ...Portugese Corte Real seizes 50
    Aboriginals, perhaps Micmac, from the
    Canadian Maritimes and sells them for
    slaves in Lisbon, and a French ship brings
    seven Aboriginal France as
    curiosities...three Aboriginal men, hawks,
    and an eagle are taken to England for
    display...” (Kehoe: 1981, p. 228)
  • Period: Jan 1, 1492 to

    Selected times and events important in the history of Aboriginal peoples in British Columbia

  • The Royal Proclamation

    The Royal Proclamation of 1763 is issued
    by King George III. The proclamation
    recognizes Aboriginal tribes as owning
    their lands under British sovereignty in
    North America. The Crown must sign
    treaties with individual Aboriginal nations
    before acquiring lands for European
    settlement. (TFN)
  • Captain Cook lands on the coast

    Captain Cook lands on the coast of BC
    and claims the land for Britain.
  • George Vancouver

    George Vancouver makes contact with
  • Vancouver Island is established as a British colony

    Vancouver Island is established as a British
    colony. The crown grants the land to the
    Hudson’s Bay Company, which becomes
    effectively wedded to the Crown. (TFN)
  • The Douglas Treaties

    James Douglas makes a series of 14 land
    purchases from Aboriginal peoples. The
    Douglas Treaties cover approximately 576
    square kilometres of land on Vancouver
    Island. Aboriginal peoples are paid in
    blankets and promised the rights to hunt
    on unsettled lands and to carry on fisheries
    “as formerly.” A policy is set to allow no
    more than 10 acres of reserve land per
    Aboriginal family—settlers are allowed
    320 acres.
  • BC declared colony of Britain

    Mainland of BC is declared a colony of
  • New Westminister, capital of BC

    New Westminster becomes the first
    capital of BC.
  • Smallpox epidemic

    Smallpox epidemic ravages Aboriginal
    people in BC. Haida lost up to 80% of their kin.
    Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan lose 30%. Smallpox spreads from Bella Coola to Nagwuntl’oo. 1/3 of the
    people die.“I myself saw the graves of perhaps 500 Aboriginals. Two white men went and gathered the blankets of the dead which had been thrown away in the bush, and were therefore infested with smallpox, which they sold out again to the Aboriginal people causing a second
    visitation of the plague(Morice p.317),
  • Tsilhkot’en Bands Declare War

    Tsilhkot’en bands declare war on the white invaders for the spread of smallpox (The Chilcotin War). They kill 13 survey
    workers and another three packers near Nimpo Lake. Soldiers representing the Colonial government take eight Tsilhkot’en prisoners and bring them to Quesnel BC. As a result, five Tsilhkot’en are executed by hanging (Birchwater) and (Morice, 1978, p. 320).
  • BNA Act

    British North American Act (BNA) creates
    Canada, giving jurisdiction of lands and
    resources to the provinces. The federal
    government becomes responsible for
    Aboriginal people. (TFN)
  • BC joins Confederation

    British Columbia joins Confederation. (TFN)
  • Indian Act Becomes Law

    Indian Act becomes law. The act
    consolidates all previous Indian
    legislation, defines Indian status,
    and gives the superintendent general
    administrative powers over many aspects
    of Indian life.
  • Canada Interferes with Fishing

    Canadian government interferes with
    Aboriginal fishing rights by prohibiting
    the use of nets in freshwater and by
    making a distinction between food and
    commercial fishing. (TFN)
  • Indian Act Amendment

    An amendment to the Indian Act prohibits
    the potlatch and the sundance. The first
    conviction under the law comes in 1890,
    and it is enforced on a large scale in the
    1920s. The law is rescinded in 1951.
  • Federal Fisheries Act

    The Federal Fisheries Act, prohibits
    Aboriginal people from selling fish or
    owning fishing licences. Aboriginals who
    work for fish companies are paid five
    cents per fish; whites are paid ten cents a
    fish (Monet et al.).
  • Residential School System

    Assimilation of Aboriginal people of
    Canada continues through the residential
    school system. The superintendent of
    Aboriginal Affairs makes clear the federal
    government’s intent to destroy Aboriginal
    language and lifeways.
  • Treaty 8

    Treaty 8 is signed with the Beaver, Cree,
    and Dene Indians located in the Peace
    River District of the province.
  • -1913 Native Nation Delegations

    Delegations from several Native nations
    travel to Victoria, Ottawa, and London,
    England, regarding land rights.
  • Royal Commission Recommendation

    The federal and provincial governments
    agree that a Royal commission should
    re-examine the size of every reserve.
  • McKenna-McBride Commission

    The McKenna-McBride Commission is
    established to address the question of
    Indian reserves. Hereditary chiefs insist
    on talking about their territories and
    reject the idea of reserves. Reserve lands
    are downsized, becoming known as “cutoff
    lands.” (TFN)
  • Allied Tribes of BC

    Aboriginal groups of British Columbia form
    Allied Tribes of BC to pursue Aboriginal
    rights. (TFN)
  • McKenna-McBride implemented

    McKenna-McBride recommendation is