Chief Joe Alphonse, tribal chairman of the Tsilhqot’in Nation is pictured at Farwell Canyon, B.C. Friday, Oct. 24, 2014. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)

Chief Joe Alphonse, tribal chairman of the Tsilhqot’in Nation is pictured at Farwell Canyon, B.C. Friday, Oct. 24, 2014. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)

Tsilhqot’in Nation honours war chiefs with virtual celebration

Current chiefs provide video messages on Lhats’asʔin Memorial Day

The Tsilhqot’in Nation has a lot to be thankful for, said Tl’etinqox (Anaham) Chief Joe Alphonse.

Since 1999, the Tsilhqot’in Nation has marked Lhats’as?in Memorial Day each Oct. 26 by recognizing it as a Nation holiday encouraging members to honor their war chiefs who gave them the strength to continue fighting for what is right.

In a virtual celebration commemorating Lhats’as?in Memorial Day this year Alphonse credited their six Tsilhqot’in war chiefs as paving the way for the Nation to claim Aboriginal land title more than 150 years following their wrongful hangings.

“Things aren’t perfect in this world but we do the best we can as much as we can, and incorporate a lot of those values into today’s modern world,” he said, noting of recent challenges stemming from alcohol and drugs including fentanyl which has resulted in overdose deaths.

“That’s why we pass this on to our younger people so that they don’t end up in that same place.”

The hanged chiefs —Chief Lhats’as?in, Chief Biyil, Chief Tellot, Chief Tahpitt, Chief Chayses and Chief Ahan paid the ultimate price in protecting their lands, women and children when a road crew entered the territory without the permission of Tsilhqot’in leadership, Alphonse said.

Prior to killing most of the men making up the camp of the road crew, the Tsilhqot’in war chiefs had witnessed small pox decimate thousands of their people who were on the brink of starvation.

After accepting an invitation to meet with colonial leaders to discuss terms of peace, the chiefs were betrayed, arrested, convicted and later hanged.

“It is the fight that our ancestors left for us to keep fighting, and I think that’s very important for industry and government to realize that we’re still here,” said Tl’esqox (Toosey) Chief Francis Laceese.

“Until all levels of government and industry understand the genocide will continue until they return everything back to us so that our people can continue on with their lives and live that traditional life with our language, our culture and our traditions, and we need that traditional food to survive.”

Read More: Tsilhqot’in Nation and New Westminster become sister communities

Five of the chiefs were hanged in Quesnel, just north of the city’s hospital, on Oct. 26, 1864 with the sixth chief executed in New Westminster the following year.

“We were told that we wouldn’t win and that we would lose,” Xeni Gwet’in Chief Jimmy Lulua said of their Supreme Court challenge seeking Aboriginal land title.

“But the Chilcotin leaders pushed forward simply like our war chiefs regardless of if they were going to lose or not. They still fought for the right thing, and this time we won.”

Do you have a comment about this story? email:

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


Just Posted

Lake City Secondary School Grade 7 Outdoor Education students Geordi Wonnacott (from left), Brody Brook, James Wilker, Ali Calabrese and Kaitlyn Brown explore a burned area at the top end of the trails at Bull Mountain Ski Area last year as part of the Williams Lake Cross Country Ski Club’s ski school program. (Martin Kruus photo)
Ski school glides to successful year at Bull Mountain

Avah Akeson, also in grade seven, said that just having the opportunity to ski was really fun

Staff-Sgt. Svend Nielsen, with the 100 Mile House RCMP. (Melissa Smalley - 100 Mile Free Press)
14-year-old boy killed in serious ATV crash near 100 Mile House

Youth was travelling with a group of peers when the incident occurred Friday

100 Mile RCMP dealing with serious accident at Highway 97 near 103 Mile (file photo)
Man, in distress, arrested after altercation with RCMP members in Lone Butte

The man is currently at the hospital with no pending charges

Scout Island Nature Centre. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
LETTER: Scout Island causeway important riparian habitat

We appreciate this opportunity to clarify how Scout Island Nature Centre lands is managed

North Okanagan business Hytec Kohler set up a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Spallumcheen plant Friday, May 14. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
More than half of eligible adults in Interior Health vaccinated

Over 365,000 vaccine doses have been administered throughout the Interior Health region

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Chilliwack’s Kile Brown, performing as drag queen Hailey Adler, dances and lip syncs in front of hundreds of people during the inaugural Chilliwack Pride Barbecue at the Neighbourhood Learning Centre on Aug. 24, 2019. Monday, May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of May 16 to 22

International Day Against Homophobia, Talk Like Yoda Day, Sea Monkey Day all coming up this week

Bradley Priestap in an undated photo provided to the media some time in 2012 by the London Police Service.
Serial sex-offender acquitted of duct tape possession in B.C. provincial court

Ontario sex offender on long-term supervision order was found with one of many ‘rape kit’ items

Rich Coleman, who was responsible for the gaming file off and on from 2001 to 2013, was recalled after his initial testimony to the Cullen Commission last month. (Screenshot)
Coleman questioned over $460K transaction at River Rock during B.C. casinos inquiry

The longtime former Langley MLA was asked about 2011 interview on BC Almanac program

Steven Shearer, <em>Untitled. </em>(Dennis Ha/Courtesy of Steven Shearer)
Vancouver photographer’s billboards taken down after complaints about being ‘disturbing’

‘Context is everything’ when it comes to understanding these images, says visual art professor Catherine Heard

Trina Hunt's remains were found in the Hope area on March 29. Her family is asking the public to think back to the weekend prior to when she went missing. (Photo courtesy of IHIT.)
Cousin of missing woman found in Hope says she won’t have closure until death is solved

Trina Hunt’s family urges Hope residents to check dashcam, photos to help find her killer

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Restrictions will lift once 75% of Canadians get 1 shot and 20% are fully immunized, feds say

Federal health officials are laying out their vision of what life could look like after most Canadians are vaccinated against COVID-19

Most Read