The Great Darkening


Based on survivor accounts, native elders from across British Columbia have long taught that the devastating smallpox epidemics that swept B.C. in 1862/63 were artificially created. Natives died by the tens of thousands in only one year. Several native nations lost more than 70 percent of their whole number.

Natives believed that the settler community under Gov. James Douglas intended to kill them in order to impose British institutions without treaties and to seize control of their resources without paying.

This period closed with B.C. martyring “The Chilcotin Chiefs” at a mass hanging in 1864. The Tsilhqot’in had confronted settlers found spreading smallpox and executed some under their laws. They also had killed 14 settlers to prevent the introduction of smallpox at Bute Inlet.

In The Great Darkening, preparing for a documentary, Shawn Swanky has created a dramatic narrative from archival records and local traditions that allow the audience to hear the Tsilhqot’in War Leader, settlers, officials and newspapers describe in their own words what happened.

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This product is available in Paperback and E-book formats (PDF or ePub 3).

  • Paperback: English, 66 pages.
  • PDF: English (4.6MB), 86 pages, viewable on any computer or E-book reader tablet.
  • ePub 3: English (3.9MB), 86 pages, compatible with iBooks on iPad and other ePub readers that support ePub 3 publications.

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PDF, ePub 3, Paperback


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