Indigenous “Bear Dogs” of Northwestern Canada

By Grant Keddie Indigenous hunting dogs have gone through enormous changes in northern British Columbia and surrounding regions in the 19th and early 20tth centuries. They were subject to large-scale interbreeding and replacement with European dogs. A focus of attention has often separated out the discussion of northern hunting dogs under varieties called “Tahltan bear dogs” or “Hare bear dogs”. The breeding of Tahltan bear dogs by non-Indigenous owners, and their brief recognition by the Canadian Kennel Club, has given dogs identified by this name prominence in the literature. It is important to know when and from whom information about bear dogs was collected. Here I will present the earliest observations by non-indigenous people, the ethnographic writings acquired from Indigenous … Continue reading “Indigenous “Bear Dogs” of Northwestern Canada”

Transfer of the Famous Kwah’s Dagger to the Nak’azdli People

Post Script, to article on Kwah’s Dagger. Transfer of the Famous Kwah’s Dagger to the Nak’azdli People. Grant Keddie. 2012. The Royal British Columbia Museum, had in its stewardship a famous dagger associated with the story of a prominent Nak’azdli First Nation, from the Fort St. James area of Northern B.C., known as Chief Kwah. I assisted the Nak’adzli Band and Parks Canada in a successful submission to the Monuments Board of Canada to have Chief Kwah recognized as a National Historic Figure. The story of the dagger is interwoven with the history of Sir James Douglas, K.C.B., the second Governor of the Colony of Vancouver Island and the first Governor of the Mainland Colony of British Columbia. The dagger … Continue reading “Transfer of the Famous Kwah’s Dagger to the Nak’azdli People”

Mistaken Indigenous Wool Dogs

By Grant Keddie. June 3, 2023. Introduction It has occasionally been assumed that photographs of small white dogs with Indigenous people or on Indigenous reserves in late 19th and early 20th century are “wool dogs”. This is not likely the case as these dogs had become extinct as a physical type before this time period. The dog images referred to above do not fit specific characteristics of the wool dogs and are most likely one of several varieties of small white dogs introduced from Europe as far back as the 1850s. See Appendix 1 for the images and commentary on dogs suggested as wool dogs. In 19th century British Columbia non-Indigenous dogs were brought here by explorers, gold miners, surveyors, … Continue reading “Mistaken Indigenous Wool Dogs”

Chief Kwah

2005. By Grant Keddie INTRODUCTION Kwah was a famous nobleman in the history of the Nak’azdli people of Stuart Lake in central British Columbia. Many of Kwah’s descendants continue to live in the region today. According to oral histories of the Nak’azdli First Nation, Kwah was the first person in the region to own an iron dagger. Kwah and his dagger figure prominently in a number of significant historical events, particularly in a story surrounding events in the life of a young man named James Douglas – who later became the governor of the Colony of Vancouver Island and the Colony of British Columbia. The events surrounding Kwah’s dagger forced the movement of Douglas to Fort Vancouver on the Columbia River. This move led to … Continue reading “Chief Kwah”