Chief Hunter Jack

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Chief Hunter Jack (died 1905) was a 19th-century chief of the Lakes Lillooet (today's N'quatqua and Seton Lake bands). His name in St'at'imcets, the Lillooet language, is cited in one source as In-Kick-Tee.

A celebrated guide-outfitter, his hunting territory was the basin of the Bridge River above its Big Canyon, a region which had been the focus of a brutal war the Lillooet and Chilcotin peoples earlier in the 19th century. According to tradition it was Hunter Jack who negotiated an end to this war in 1845, learning the Chilcotin language to achieve this end; it may also have been him who led the last battle against the Chilcotins at a location named "many roots", believed to at a place known as Graveyard Valley just over the divide between the Bridge and Chilcotin River basins.

As guide-outfitter he had many prominent clients including British Rear-Admiral Michael Culme-Seymour, who on their hunting expedition had gestured over the broad basin of the upper Bridge River and said "Jack, you are the hyas tyee (king) of all this country" and afterwards sent Jack a Royal Navy officer's uniform,. Jack took the admiral at his word and became the effective ruler of that region (although as chief of the Lakes Lillooet by tradition he already was the ruler of the area in question). His protégé as hunting guide was W.G.C. "Billy" Manson, Métis grandson of HBC Chief Trader Donald Manson, whose own sons would continue to work the hunting territory into the 20th century.

Jack's control over the Bridge River was unofficial but very real. He would choose which prospectors he would allow into the area and at other times chasing out large parties of Italians and Chinese which had penetrated the difficult-to-get-to upper valley in search of gold. Somewhere in the upper Bridge River Country, perhaps up Tyaughton Creek - it is believed - he had his own extremely rich placer find - so rich that at potlatches at Shalalth he would dispense handfuls of nuggets to band members and guests alike. As the prospecting population grew in the Bridge River Jack also operated a fresh fish business to supply the miners with food, and also ran a ferry over the Bridge River from which he could monitor the comings and goings of everyone in the valley.

Jack died in what official records describe as a "boating accident" on Seton Lake, where he is supposed to have fallen as he stepped from his boat "hitting his head on an oarlock". St'at'imc and others in the region contend that Jack was murdered by men seeking to force from him the secret of his hidden gold mine (which remains lost today).

He was succeeded as chief of the N'quatqua or Anderson Lake Band of the St'at'imc by his son Thomas Jack, who led an unsuccessful campaign for redress for the gold of the Bridge River Country (40 million ounces of gold from the Bralorne mine alone).

References[edit]

  • Green, Lewis, The Great Years - Gold Mining in the Bridge River Valley, Tricouni Press, Vancouver and Gordon Soules Publishing, West Vancouver, 2000. ISBN
  • de Hullu, Emma, Bridge River Gold,. Bralorne Pioneer Community Club, Bralorne BC 1967
  • Edwards, Irene, Short Portage to Lillooet, self-published 1977
  • Drake-Terry, Joanne, The Same As Yesterday: The Lillooet Chronicle and the Theft of Their Lands and Resources, Lillooet Tribal Council, Lillooet BC 1989.