Governor Douglas in 1861 directed Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works, Colonel R.C. Moody to mark out Indian Reserves throughout the colony. In a letter, dated March 5, 1861, to Colonel Moody, Douglas’ secretary wrote:
“I am directed by His Excellency the Governor to request that you will take measures so soon as may be practicable, for making out distinctly the sites of proposed towns and the Indian Reserves throughout the Colony.
The extent of Indian Reserves to be defined as they may be severally pointed out by the Natives themselves.”
The next day, Moody directed William Cox, Assistant Commissioner of Lands to mark out distinctly all the Indian reserves in his district, which included Kamloops. On October 31, 1862, Cox forwarded to Moody records of four Indian Reserves, including the reserve situated at Kamloops, shown on a sketch, and described as follows:
Situated at Kamloops, and extends along the North River, east side, for about 6 miles and along the Thompson River to the east for about 12 miles more or less, running back to the mountains in both cases.
The soil in some places is of the best description and the pasture excellent. Agreeably timbered with Pine and Willow.
Cox posted a notice that no person was to encroach on the reserve, which he set aside, nor cut timber on the reserve. The notice revealed that stakes were put in place and other notices defining the boundaries of the reserve were also posted. The land was not legally surveyed at this time, but a sketch was drawn by Cox and forwarded to Moody.
After Douglas’ retirement, Joseph Trutch, the new Commissioner of Lands and Works became involved. Discontent had been expressed by various white settlers with the size of, among others, the Kamloops reserve. Trutch recommended that someone be authorized:
“To ascertain as exactly as practicable what lands are claimed by Indians. What lands have been authoritatively reserved and assured to the various tribes, and to what extent such Reserves can be modified with the concurrence of the Indians interested in them-either with or without money or other equivalent.”
On May 29, 1866, the Colonel Secretary H.M. Ball wrote to Joseph Trutch (Commissioner of Lands & Works) advising him that he should call an assembly of the Indians at Kamloops to settle the limits of the Reserves. Trutch was authorized to offer remuneration, up to $500, “in the shape of presents, to such Indians as feel reluctant or refuse to relinquish any of the land which they imagine they are entitled to as a Reserve.”
In essence, Ball was directing Trutch to call a “surrender” meeting of the Kamloops Indian Band. The record is clear that no surrender meeting was ever convened, nor compensation paid to the Kamloops Indian Band. The lands were surveyed, the reserve reduced and a notice published in the B.C. Gazette on October 6, 1866, advising that the Kamloops reserve was three miles square.
The Band never accepted the cut-off of the lands and despite efforts to compel the Government to reinstate the original reserve, the Band has been unsuccessful to date.
What have we done lately?
(Government Processes and inaction)
In 1988, our Band submitted our evidence of our Specific Claim to the Federal Government. This submission was under review by the Federal Government for almost 13 years. In August 2001, our Band received a letter from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), advising us that the Federal Government’s preliminary position was that our claim is rejected. The letter also made some suggestions to our Band for alternative avenues to pursue, including more research or a submission to the Indian Claim Commission.
After carefully weighing our options, we decided to pursue a remedy that has never been tried before. We decided to take the lead in finding the detailed information necessary to develop our own plan to resolve our claim. We know that our claim is valid. It is one thing to say give us back our land and another more complicated issue to say here’s how you can do it.