What follows is an account, transcribed from an oral history, of the events of the war between the Tsimshian and the Haida of May 1835. Compare this with this journal kept at Fort Simpson during the war.
>From Swanton, 1905, Annual Report to the Smithstonian American Ethnology.

Fights between the Tsimshian and Haida and amoung the Northern Haida (Kaigani). [Told by Richard of the Middle-giti'ns]

The Skidegate peole went once to trade at Port Simpson1 in sixty canoes. The Pebble-town-people2 also went there. And they traded with dry halibut. They lived outside. There a Tsimshian, who was with a white man, came to them. Sticks were given aroung to them (the Haida). And afterward her took the sticks back again. They planned to destroy them during the winter. That is why they counted them.

A women of the Giti'ns-servants3 named Bufflehead4 sold dry halibut to the wife of Lgiax.5 She said it was too small and she wanted to exchange it for more. Bufflehead then refused to give her more in exchange. And they threw the dry halibut at Bufflehead. She then threw the dry halibut in the face of Lgiax's daughter, and she went home crying.

Someone shouted, and I went out. They were throwing stones at each other. They gave each other a thorough stoning. By and by they stopped. And some time afterward a gun went off. Some one shouted: "they killed so-and-so". Some time after that another gun went off. Some time afterward a gun went off. Another was shot. Then it stopped for a while. When evening came they began to shoot at us. All through the night they shot at the Skidegate people. During all that time they shouted out [the name of the person shot.] I was then without a gun, and I borrowed one. I held it and two cartridge boxes. They shot at the sail houses on the beach in which we lived. Ther was nothing behind which we could shelter ourselves. Then I dug a hole for myself in the sand and lay in it.

I then shot at some one who lay benind a log and was shooting, back from the sea. I shot off his hat. When I shot at him again I shot his gun away from him. He then ran away.

A hill lay behind us, from which they were shooting at us. I also began to shoot at those. They also ran away. After they had shot at us for five nights they stopped for a while.

Then the Tsimshian came to dance. They wanted to make peace because we killed Lgiax's nephew. We also enslaved two women who were walking seaward from the town. By and by they started to dance. We then gave them some property. After this had gone on for a while they made the following arrangements. They said that we might go with them to Laq!ala'm. And we said that we would give them more property. We thought then that it was alright, and we went to our canoes. While a part of the provisions lay on shore the Tsimshian took the provisions. We then got into our canoes. I pushed my canoe off with the many which were there. When the canoes got away two remained. I then ran toward the fort at Port Simpson. There was yet a crowd of Skidegate people there.

And, while I stood there, two canoes with the dancers7 in them were still there. Then the Tsimshian pursued. They shot into the canoes, pulled themselves close alongside, and in a short time the canoes drifted along empty. Then, when the two that were there started off, I ran down from in front of Port Simpson house. I jumped into the stern. Then the two dancers7 [in their canoes] paddled backward. I took a gun and shot them both. At that time I scared them. Those who first went off took their property. A south wind was blowing. Canoes drifted off empty.

They then shot much at us from Laq!ala'm. There was no gun in my canoe. After that they again shot at us. We then fled. During all that time the Tsimshian pursued us. That was a great disaster, thought the story of it sounds well enough. They pursued us far out to sea. I was in my wife's canoe.

When they got far out at sea they returned. They enslaved very many of the Skidegate people.

Then they (the Skidigate people) landed at L!g.a'odana-i8, At that time a heavy rain set in. They called "The-rain-upon-the-skins-of-dead-bodies". And, when daylight came, I built a big fire. Then the wounded sat around the fire. On the following day when we started off, a man of Those-born-at-House-point9 was angry, because, he said, we went off first. Then he and I were going to shoot each other. They held us apart. And they went away.

And on the next day they stood crying in front of L!g.a'odaina-i8. The Pebble- town people did not cry, however, because all of them escaped. Fifty canoe loads were destroyed. The weather was bad. And, while they lay there, the one who had quarreled with me came to me and pulled his canoe alongside ours. He then made peace with me. He gave me whisky. And, after we had sent food through the fire to those who had been unable to escape, we spent the night in our canoes. We remained awake. We were afraid. We thought that they might pursue us again. And when day broke we went away. About noon they sailed over to Skidegate. They laid the blame on Bufflehead, who had escaped. They then asked her for property. He was about to make a potlatch. Her husband was named Lul'g.ot10. Then they began to give away property. His house pole lay there for good. He gave the town all his property. Some time afterward Gudiqa'yinao's father came back. They had been unable to get away from Port Simpson house, whence they came. Before he could ask for blood money the Giti'ns-servants came there, with paddles on their shoulders. They said that they had come to go to war for him.

Some time afterward a great many Masset people went to trade. They came to GyinxAngi'g11 family. They say that there were sixty canoes. After they had been there for a while they started off. And, after they had traded, a Tsimshian shot at the canoes. The bullet then struck the canoe of a man of Point-town family12 named X.A'na.

His son then seized a gun and shot into a crowd standing on shore. And he shot one down. They at once shot after them. They immediately started off. The Tsimshian chased them. They made them upset by shooting. They also destroyed them. They took them also for slaves. They also enslaved many of the Rotten- house people13.

At that time they destroyed a canoe at Laxane'st14 out of which two men and a woman escaped. Many nights afterward, when some persons came there for wood, they got away in their canoes. And in them they came across. They were saved. Those in Port Simpson house who could not escape were afterward presented with a canoe by the Iron People, 15 who let them escape. Those also got home. Then, too, it was not a good time.

Gitqona-i's father went to Masset, and give families16 banded together and began to drink sea water. During the whole time they practiced how they would fight. A cartridge box then caught fire, and a man was burned.

After they had drunk sea water for six nights they set out to war in ten canoes. And, when they reached the mainland, some stopped at Q!ado17. After they had looked for enemies on the opposite side as well; [they saw] two canoes go out from Siwa'lins18 after salmon.

They quickly pulled toward them. They shot the man in the stern, so that he fell over into the water, after which they closed with the canoes. When they ran into them to fight they upset them. They even struck them in the sea. Gi'tg.ax.i'lina killed three people at that time. The Tsimshian killed his wife, of whom he was very fond. Four persons were in the canoe. They also destroyed two canoe loads which were farther off.

After they had watched for a while longer [they saw] three more canoes sailing along. They killed all the people in those. They took the heads of them all. After they had watched for some time longer two canoes came with sockeyes. They went out also to those people and killed them. On that day they destroyed seven canoes. On that day they killed twenty-eight people. They enslaved one brave man of the Tsimshian.

The Masset people were then happy. They went off singing songs of victory. And they came to Masset singing songs of victory, for they had made accounts even. But the Skidegate people did not come out even.

But Gi'tg.ax.i'lina's canoe was unfinished. When he had finished it he brought over to his brothers-in-law belonging to the Sand-town people.20 When he came they, to, raised their canoes. He also went with them. The Sand-town people went in four canoes.

They began to watch Tc!kAlq!ed'i21. After they had watched for a while four Tsimshian canoes came there. They then shot at them. They made them upset, and they enslaved six women. They killed many men. There Gitg.ax.ilina got some slaves. He gave them to his brothers-in-law. Afterward they went home happy. They sang songs of victory as they came to GAsa'n.

Three days later news came to GAsa'n that one of the Ya'das22 had been killed at Howkan23. The Ya'das then went to Howkan to fight, and killed six people there. And afterward the Town-of-Te!a'al people also went to fight at GAsa'n. There they also killed many of the Ya'das. They then began to war upon each other. In all that time many were killed on both sides.

Some time afterward some of the Town-of Te!a'a went to visit one of their people who had married in Masset. After they had stayed there for a while and were on the way home many of them upset. A chief named Voice-at-evening was drowned. In the winter his nephews went for his grave post. When it was almost finished the Ya'das came there to fight and killed five of the Town-of-Te!a'al people. The grave post lay there for good.

They at once began fighting again. Where ever they met they killed one another. They killed each other during many years. They did not make peace with each other. Some are still bad to one another.

When the Sqoa'ladas on the west coast heard that they had killed Gitku'30 they also went to war. The killed many of the Cod-people. They also enslaved one of them.

After that one of the Sz.adji'gual-la'nas31 in Masset, named Kiltc!an, invited the people. Ane he had a dance. He pulled out ten slaves he owned in a string (holding each other's hands). After they had taken home food one of the Middle- giti'ns32 named Lne'k!i, shot one of the Cod-people in the arm from between the houses. Upon this his two younger grothers acted as if they were drunk. The killed there a chief, Ga'la. He belonged to the Ya'gun-gitina'-a33 He did not die at once. He died afterward. His entire family shot at once at the house of the Cod-people. They killed two persons.

For ten days and nights they fought in the town. No one had a fire. No one had water. When the chief's wives, thinking that they would not touch them, went for water the Ya'gyn-gitina'-i smashed their buckets with stones, and they returned. At the end of ten days the Ya'gun-gitina'i suggested making peace. They stopped shooting at the house. By and by the old man, their uncle, came behind town singing catastrophe songs. He belonged to the Cod-people. After he had sung for a while he made a good speech: "Chiefs, my brothers in-law, the war trail and the feather trail came out together at Na'ii'n-djawa in the middle of the town. I went up by the war trail. I came out upon the feather trail. "What town is this? What town is this?" "Chief, my son, this is the town of Ga'la, your father. You started up on the war trail which comes out in the middle of your father's town. You fathers were troubled34 about you. You came out upon the feather trail." He also spake so: "is it my father's town? Is it indeed my father's town? [I thought it was] some other."35

They started to dance. After they had been for two days in the woods, they were called toward the house. They came then and stood in a line in front of the house. They had their guns ready. Presently the Ya'gun-gigitna'-i stood in lines opposite. They struck each other with their guns. They struck each other with their knives.

By and by the Cod-people bicked up two chiefs [of the Ya'gun-gitina'-i].36 There was a great crowd of people. They picked them up and laid them upon a bed of feathers in the rear part of the house. Then two slaves were tendered as blood money to Those-born-at Ya'gun.37 And they refused them. They afterward tendered them two more. Those they refused also.

Then Tc!a'nut said: "Do I ask four slaves of you? My uncle is worth ten slaves and four hundred blankets. I will not dance." There were many in the house. They did not pay any attention to the bad words that he gave them.38

By and by the Middle-giti'ns bedan rapping on the front of the house. They presently went in and got the dancers. They took them up. They then brought them into the house of the Middle-giti-ns because they started the trouble.39 They brought these in [to give to them property]. They (the Middle-giti'ns] gave them the four slaves. They also gave them a great qauantity of property. They (the Ya'gun-gitina'-i) began to dance in the house at once. At that time the Giti'ns40 also gave property to them. It reached beyond their expectations. After they had danced for four nights the Cod-people came and got them. They also gave them six slaves as blood money. And they washed theikr faces and began to dance. Then the Skitg.a'oqao,41 Middle-giti'ns, and Cod-people bave them more property. They gave them seven hundred blankets.

Then Te!a'nut married his uncle's wife, and they made him take his uncle's place. And, when he kept staying away from his wife, the Middle-giti'ns talked roughly to him. After they had spoken to him for a while they told him to leave the house.

But on the next day his wife had him call in his friends. He called in all the Eagles. After he had given them all kinds of food, and evening was come, they left him. On the next day he called in the Ravens. After he had fed them for a while it was evening, and they went home. On the day after that he again called in the Eagles. After those had gone home he again called in the Ravens. When eighty boxes of grease and berries had been used up he invited the Eagles to ten more, and they assigned while in the house the work on his uncle's grave post.42

They went to get it. After they had been four days away they came home. My father carved the grave post at once. It was finished. He then raised it, and the potlatch was over. He gave away four hundred blankets, and slaves with them. They gave my father slaves adn twenty blankets, for carving the grave post.

After that Tc!a'nut quarreled with his younger brother. He asked him then why he had not evened accounts at the time when they killed his uncle. And his younger brother make him ashamed. On that night he shot one of the Cod-people through the smoke hole. Again they shot each other. After two days had passed they stopped fighting. And they gave a lot of property for [the one killed]. They make them feel good then.


1. The word used here, Laq!ala'm, is properly applied to the tongue of land running out to the modern Indian town.

2. Meaning the people of all the families of Te!a'al.

3. The Giti'ns'-servants, or Gitingi'djats, were a division of the Gitin's of Skidegate of low social rank. They formerly occupied a village called K!il, "peninsula" in Shingle bay, from which circumstance they came to have close relations with the Food-giving-town people.

4. The Buffel duck. (Charitonetta albeola, Linnaeus).

5. The head chief at Port Simpson.

6. The Hudson Bay Company's stockaded inclosure.

7. Those who had come to procure blood compensation for Lgiax's nephew.

8. The last camping place before heading to the Queen Charlette islands.

9. See "Story of the House-point families" notes.

10. This was one of the names of the chief of the Seaward-sqoa'ladas.

11. Given by Professor Boas, from Tsimshian sources, as Byina angyi'ek "people of the mosquito place."

12. This family is said to have been so named because they occupied a row of houses which ran out on a point. They are supposed to have occupied a similar position at Rose spit, with which tradition connects them much more plausibly. They afterward lived at the mouth of Hi-ellen river and in the Masset inlet.

13. One of the subdivisions of the Giti'ns of Skidegate. So called from a house that they once owned which the chief did not have property enough to replace until it rotted very badly. There were several of these at Masset.

14. A long island south of Massett.

15. That is, the white people.

16. These were the Skitg.a'oqao, the middle Giti'ns of Ya'gun river, the Inlet-rear-town people (G.ao-se.!an'lnag'-i) and the Point-town people.

17. In Metlakatla harbor.

18. A creek into which very many sockeye salmon run.

19. Written by the whites Kasaan, the northernmost Haida town, situate on the east coast of Prince of Wales island.

20. From "Story of the Food-giving Town People", There were two families of this name reputed to have come form the same stem. One occupied many towns on the southeastern coast of Moresby island, but is now almost extinct. The other settled first at T!e', on the northwest coast of Graham island, and subsequently emigrated to Kasaan, Alaska, where their descendants still live. They are supposed to have received their name from having occupied the row of houses in Sqe'na next the beach.

21. A narrow passage near the entrance of Nass inlet.

22. An important subdivision of the StA'stas family living at this time mainly at GAsa'n.

23. The largest Haida town in Alaska, owned by the Town-of-Tc!a'al people.

24. A Raven family at Masset. Formerly they lived near Hippa island.

25. A Raven family of considerable importance which formerly lived between Rennell sound and Hippa island. They afterward moved to Tc!a'al, and from their into Skidegate.

26. A Raven family at Masset. Formerly they lived near Hippa island.

27. One of the chief Haida towns in ancient times. It stood on the north coast of Graham island, opposite North island, and was owned by the StA'stas, an Eagle family of great importants. The name is thought to signify "Where the trail comes out".

28. The principal town on the west coast of Graham island. It stood just south of Port Lewis and was owned by the West-coast-rear-town people. The name is thought to mean "slaughter village".

29. A Eagle family that is supposed ot be a branch of the Tcets-gitAna'-i. Their town was, as stated QAn, which has a beautiful situation and a fine harbor just inside the mouth of Naden harbor.

30. The circumstances of his death are not related.

31. See the story of "A raid on the Tlingit" An Eagle family at Masset. It was formerly regarded as one of the low rank, but the head of that family is now chief of Masset.

32. See the notes to the story "A raid on the Tlingit".

33. The Masset people not mention any family under this name, but the Sagui'gitAna'-i (Upper-giti'ns) are probaly intended. They once had a town at the mouth of Yagun river.

34. More often "are troubled about" is expressed by the word gutxisg.alA'ng.an, different from that used here, which is naigu'lgAn.

35. The speaker affects not to have known that the town in which he has been fighting is that belonging to his father's people. He goes up into the forest by the war trail - that is, fighting - gand comes out upon the feather trail - that is, peace.

36. When peace was made, one man from each side was generally taken up and borne around upon the shoulders of his opponents. He was called the "deer". The order seems to have been somewhat different in this case, two men being taken from only one side. It was evidently considered that only that family had a grievance.

37. A synonym for Ga'gun-gitAna'i.

38. The bargaining is broken off at this point by the coming of the Middle- giti'ns, and is resumed later when the Cod-people gave six slaves.

39. It will be remembered that the trouble was started by a man of the Middle-giti'ns shooting one of the Cod-people in the arm.

40. The Giti'ns of Masset, as teh name might imply, seems to have been the largest Eagle family. There were two principle divisions of this - the Maman-river-giti'ns and the River-Sqadji'ns-giti'ns, named from the streams flowing into the head of Masset inlet, on which they camped.

41. Or Eggs-of-Ski'tg.ao. This was the leading Raven family in Masset, and formerly they owned that town.

42. He and his friends, the Eagles, assigned work to the opposite clan, the Ravens. A man's opposites always took care of his funeral.

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