Lake Babine Nation Lake Babine Nation Lake Babine Nation Lake Babine Nation Lake Babine Nation Lake Babine Nation Lake Babine Nation Lake Babine Nation Lake Babine Nation

History Timeline Lake Babine Nation

  • The Babine people lived along the shores of Babine Lake and down the Babine River.
  • The fish weirs belonged to the clans and it was the responsibility of the chiefs to allocate individual sites. The chiefs did not practice ownership over the resources but a stewardship to take care of their members.
  • Prior to contact with the Europeans, they
  • Capture and use of salmon played a central role in the lives of the Lake Babine people. The Babine people dried or smoked the sockeye in vast quantities.
  • The oral histories say that all the lands and resources were effectively managed by the chiefs of the four matrilineal clans of the Lake Babine Nation
  • 1763 the Royal Proclamation decrees that Indian people should not be disturbed in their use and enjoyment of the land.
  • Hudson's Bay note that they have been trading salmon with the Babine's since 1811
  • Daniel Harmon first enters the territory in 1812
  • 1822 HBC established Fort Kilmaur(Old Fort) with hopes of profiting from salmon trade
  • Fort Conolly was established in 1826 on Bear Lake bringing HBC right into the edge of Tsimsian Territory
  • 1836 HBC moves to Fort Babine to be closer to the salmon runs
  • HBC remains in Fort Babine until 1971, what use to be the store remains in Widat
  • 1845 Father Nobili noted as first priest to visit Fort Babine
  • 1850 Indian lands were given special status and given protection in the Indian Act. Indian lands were designated as being held in trust by the crown and free from taxation.
  • 1868 The government begins to establish reserves by surveyor Peter O'Reilly
  • 1870 first consulted Indian Act, Federal Government has power to make laws over Indians, control membership and reserves.
  • 1884 sees amendments to the Indian Act prohibiting the Balhats or Indian dance.
  • 1883 Father Morice first came in contact with the Carriers, and began to gather information immediately
  • 1884 Potlatch is banned, and the priests were to monitor, as Fort Babine was isolated, the Babines took their potlatching underground
  • 1885 Father Morice created the Carrier Syllabary Carrier Language
  • 1889 The arrival of R.E. Loring, first Indian Agent for the newly established Babine Agency. An agency was created in the upper Skeena located in Hazelton known as the Babine Agency
  • 1891 O'Reilly goes to Babine to allot reserves set aside 4.384 acres of land for the Babines spread over 9 reserves.
  • March 26, 1891 O'Reilly writes to Victoria in completion of sketches of 12 reserves; 1-5 for Hagwilget, 7-12 for the Babines
  • 1901 Province of BC asked for a reduction in size of the existing reserves
  • Four or five new canneries were scheduled to open on mouth of the Skeena River. The canneries needed a secure supply of fish and they believed that the weirs on the Babine River threatened that supply.
  • With the development of processing corporations, the government of Canada introduced regulations that restricted certain fishing and processing activities in the name of protecting the salmon from over fishing and habitat degradation. They appointed local Fishery officials and designated the power of the Canadian state to secure their supply of fish.
  • Peter Wallace of Wallace Brothers Packing Co. wrote to his members of Parliament that the Indians had no sense of salmon conservation. This suggestion is untrue but the fisheries department felt that they had plenty of justification for eliminating the Babine barricades
  • On October 15th 1904, Hans Helgesen, a fishery officer, made his visit of inspection to Babine Lake.
  • About seven miles down the river, he found two huge barricades, a half a mile apart, in full swing for fishing where crowds of Indians could be seen on the banks
  • The overseer, like most non-Indian people who encountered Indian fishing sites for the first time, could barely contain his wonderment at the ingenious technology.
  • Helgesen remarked sarcastically that it was amazing that any salmon left the Skeena system given such fishing practice
  • Helgesen was sure that the Babines were destroying all the salmon. He did not realize that they had a system.
  • Mr. Helgesen informed Chief Atio that he was sent by the Government to destroy and remove all barricades, Officer Helgesen explained the Fishery Laws and Regulation to Chief Atio
  • Chief Atio told Helgesen that the Indians had an indisputable right for all the time in the past to fish and wished to know to what extent the government was willing to provide for the Babines if they complied.
  • They were threatened with jail, so the men proceeded to take the weirs down.
  • At a meeting held later with the Babine Indians and Helgesen, the Indians stated that they should be compensated for the loss of the weirs.
  • Helgesen agreed to the conditions set out by the Babine Indians in return for the destruction of the weirs. He agreed they would be paid $600.00 for the work of the removal and that the orphans and widows would receive rations and nets would be distributed to all.
  • In the autumn of 1905, Helgesen and three fish guardians were sent to the Babine River to enforce the weir prohibition.
  • They brought with them nets supplied by Skeena River canners. The nets were distributed in exchange for the Babine Indian's cooperation but noted that the nets were old web.
  • The nets supplied by Helgesen were too rotten to catch salmon for the winter storage. Consequently the following winter, the Indians nearly starved and had no bait for their traps.
  • The Babine people attempted to build the barricade to do their gathering for the winter, the fish Guardians came to remove the weir on August 23, 1906.
  • When the guardians started to dismantle the barricade the community defended it. The guardians reported women armed themselves with clubs that was used on Norrie and Wells.
  • When two fish guardians went into the river the women pushed them under the water and sat on the fish warden playing with him.
  • The fish wardens sent back a report that Babine people were uprising and asked for a militia of a hundred to be sent to the community. Warrants were issued for the men from Babine.
  • Father Coccola talked to the Babine Indians and upon his pleading, nine Indian surrendered and were jailed on September 26, 1906.
  • Father Coccola started to negotiate for the chiefs to make a trip to Ottawa to negotiate with DMF and DIA senior officials in late September 1906
  • They took the first boat down the Skeena connecting with the C.P.R. Steamer coming from Alaska.
  • On October 20, 1906, the Babine Chiefs arrived in Ottawa.
  • Father Coccola, Chief Tszak Williams and Chief Big George negotiated the Barricade Treaty in Ottawa in 1905. The chiefs negotiated the treaty regarding the removal of the weirs, in exchange for agreeing to use nets and not to rebuild the Barricade. The government made a promise to supply the people with farm equipments nets and a school among other items
  • 1913 The Royal Commission is established, a hearing in Hazelton sees Chief William and Chief George testify where they make it clear that the resources were inadequate and wanting more lands with protection.
  • The economy for the Babine Indian shifted from reliance on salmon to trapping, the fur trade and the wage labour.
  • Although nets were a poor substitute for weirs, the Babine Indians remained active fishers and came to rely on other tools such as boats.
  • 1919 the Fort Babine Church is built on Lot #26
  • 1920 RCMP make first presence in North
  • 1923 Trapline registry established by BC
  • 1923 sees the Lejac Residential School built, one of 130 boarding schools for FN children that operated from 1874 - 1996 (named after Father Jean-Marie Lejacq)
  • 1924 The elected system was established, most significant is the efforts to destroy the traditional governance and replacing it with the Band Council
  • 1927 Government prohibits Indian from land claims discussions. Offences resulted in fine or jail.
  • 1932 Old Fort church was built
  • 1943 Fr. Coccola dies in Smithers
  • 1960 Tachet Church is built
  • 1955 In May a letter was sent from W.S. Arneil to Indian Affairs proposing that Pendleton Bay be established as Indian Reserve
  • 1956 In September a joint meeting is held between Fort Babine and Old Fort for the amalgamation of the 2 Bands, which was completed in Dec of 1956 to what is now know as Lake Babine Nation.
  • 1960 – 1967 People lived in Pendleton Bay since the mid 1940's, Indian Agents lobbied to have the Indians moved from the Lake to what is now known as Woyenne, a 30 acre parcel of land was purchased from the Burns Lake Band, the move was completed in the summer of 1967