Learn how Canadian historians can distort and misrepresent historical events of critical importance to First Nations.

Frequently recognized by the Tsilhqot’in for his extensive familiarity with both the oral tradition and the written record, Tom Swanky guides the reader through an analysis of the University of Victoria originated website “Klatsassin and the Chilcotin War.” And even includes new material about the Chilcotin War not available from any other source.


Based in part on its website “Klatsassin and the Chilcotin War,” the Great Unsolved Mysteries project won the 2008 Governor General’s Award for popularizing Canadian history and a MERLOT award from the California State University project on Multimedia Education Resources for Learning and Online Teaching.

It is disappointing, then, to find that “Klatsassin and the Chilcotin War,” makes no attempt at balance, objectivity or even accuracy.

Instead, it flagrantly disrespects the Tsilhqot’in perspective on events surrounding the war and buries its few Tsilhqot’in selections under a disproportionate barrage of unimportant detail.

Just as astounding, as this Review documents at length, the website disregards any standard of care for accuracy from even the written record.

Does the acclaim given to this flawed production reflect a willingness of academics to abandon all scholarly discipline on the Internet, or does it reflect an anti-­indigenous colonial legacy still alive and well at Canadian universities?

The website has won international acclaim.

But does it have a balanced perspective?

Website's settler sources:

Website's Tsilhqot'in sources:

Descriptions of the settlers:

Settlers who were victims: 30
Colonial leaders concerned with law and order: 12
Officials who participated in martyring the Chilcotin Chiefs: 0
Settlers abusing native women: 0
Unscrupulous trading partners alleged to have spread smallpox: 4
Settler-colonists who admitted introducing smallpox: 0
Settler-colonists claiming land illegally: 0
Land speculators spreading and benefitting from smallpox: 0

Descriptions of the Tsilhqot’in:

Murderers, possible murderers or accused of murder: 18
Tsilhqot’in warriors who killed settler-colonists in a war: 0
Tsilhqot’in victims, of war or smallpox: 0
Neutral Tsilhqot’in: perhaps, 1
Tsilhqot’in leaders concerned with preserving their system of governance: 0
Good Tsilhqot’in for helping the settler-colonists control “Bad Indians”: 10
Good Tsilhqot’in for implementing Tsilhqot’in policy: 0
Tsilhqot’in who resisted smallpox spreaders: 0

A note from the author.

“This website was invaluable to me while I was piecing together facts about the war in Tsilhqot’in territory between 1862 and 1865,” Tom says. “However, I concentrated on the documents and never paid any attention to its self-generated material. And when I needed to learn Tsilhqot’in information and perspectives, I went straight to Tsilhqot’in sources.”
“Then someone brought to my attention how bad and poorly informed were newspaper articles based on material from the website. Looking at it more closely, I realized that this part of the website is completely lacking in any standard of scholarship even so far as it concerns the written record. Then it unfairly buries the Tsilhqot’in perspective under falsehoods, neglect and disproportionate treatment. It is pure colonialism in modern dress. It is unacceptable.”
Discover more about Tom here.

A Missing Genocide and the Demonization of its Heroes

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