THE SMALLPOX WAR AGAINST THE HAIDA
Including Francis Poole’s “Trail of Blood”
This presentation reviews the circumstances under which British agents first displaced Haida authority for the purpose of colonizing Haida Gwaii. The review focuses on the written record as it reflects on traditions such as The Story of Bones Bay, in which Knowledge Keepers hold that Gov Douglas oversaw the intentional distribution of smallpox during 1862/63 as a means for overcoming Haida and other native resistance to British rule. The review focusses, too, on the career of Francis Poole, the first colonist on Haida Gwaii, to show that Poole’s memoir, Queen Charlotte Islands, is a complete fantasy designed to conceal Poole’s role as a foot soldier in delivering Douglas’ smallpox policy and to insulate his superiors from blame. In the result, immigrants who came to Haida Gwaii subsequently in good faith were left unadvised of the dishonour behind the legacy in which the Crown was inviting them to partake and of the need for healing relations with their Haida hosts.
Join Dr Tom Swanky live November 3 via Zoom or tune into the Council of the Haida Nation’s Facebook live at 1:30PM or 7PM. Ask your questions live. Dr Tom Swanky, JD, is a life-long student of political philosophy (ancient, modern and non-western), the use of power, Canadian government, and the transition from Indigenous Sovereignty to the imposition of British institutions on the Pacific shelf.