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Daniel Williams Harmon Visits Babine Lake, January 1812

On January 20th, 1812 Daniel Williams Harmon of the North West Company became the first European to record their visit to Babine Lake and almost certainly the first European to set foot among the Babine villages.  Harmon’s observations were necessarily superficial, limited to what he saw and was able to understand through his interpreters.  Between the numbers that Harmon himself observed and the information he garnered from discussions with the Babine, the population around the lake was well over 2000.  Harmon’s observations also revealed that the Babine had a healthy trade relationship with the Gitksan to their west and that this tied them into an extensive trade network linked to the coast.  He commented on the great hospitality that he was shown by his Babine hosts throughout his stay on the lake.  Harmon’s journal is the earliest recorded glimpse into the lives of the ancestors of the Lake Babine Nation and he found a people who were hospitable, well off with many different goods, and well-connected  to economic networks. His journal entry for 20 January 1812 reads:

On the 17th Inst. I accompanied by Mr. McDougall & twelve of our People and also two Carriers, set off for the Nate-ote-tains Lands a Tribe who never had any intercourse with White People & after searching hard Seven Days generally upon Lakes we arrived at their first Village whose inhabitants were not a little surprised and alarmed to see People among them of so different complexion from themselves.  As their Village stands on the border of a long Lake they perceived us at a considerable distance & came out to meet us (Men & Women) armed some with Bows & Arrow & other with Axes or Clubs &c.  However they did not attempt to do us the least injury, but they made many savage gestures, as if in defyance.  But after we told them we had not come to war upon them, but to bring them such articles as they stood in need of, in exchange for their Furs we ever after were treated with much respect and great hospitality.  The Day following we proceeded further on and during our jaunt saw four others of their Villages and at all of which we were well received for at the second we found the two Indians who last Summer came to our Fort therefore they were not much surprised to see us among them, for I had promised the two that I would in the course of this Winter pay them a visit to see their Country &c. and they now gave us some account of the White People who came up the large River as they had done before when at the Fort last Summer and to convince us that what they had said was true they showed us many articles, which they barter from their Neighbours the Atenas who purchase them directly from the white people which were Guns, Cloth, Blankets, Axes and cast Iron Pots &c.  At the five Villages we visited we might have seen two thousand Souls , who are well made and appeared healthy, but they like the other Carriers subsist principally on Salmon & other small Fish.  Their cloathing was much the same as that of the Carriers.  They let me have vessels curiously and ingeniously wrought of the smaller Roots of a Species of the Pine Tree, and are made into different shapes and sizes, some like that of an open Kettle, which serves to put water &c. in—and they also let me have a Blanket or a Rug which was manufactured by the Atenas, of the wool of the Sheep that are numerous in the Mountains of their Country.  They told us that we saw but a small part of the Nate-ote-tains for added they “we are a numerous Tribe.” They have a dialect peculiar to themselves, yet the most of them speak the tongue spoken by the Carriers. 



Daniel Williams Harmon Visits Babine Lake, January 1812

On January 20th, 1812 Daniel Williams Harmon of the North West Company became the first European to record their visit to Babine Lake.

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The Establishment of Fort Kilmaurs, October 1822

In October of 1822 Hudson’s Bay Company Trader William Brown cleared the portage between Stuart and Babine Lakes landed on present day Old Fort as the location for the HBC post in ‘Babine Country’.

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The Balhats are Prohibited, 1884

In 1884 the Indian Act was amended to prevent First Nations people from practicing many elements for their culture.

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The First Indian Agent, 1889

In 1889 the area around the upper Skeena centred on Hazelton was designated the Babine Agency.  Indian Agent R. E. Loring was sent to oversee all of the First Nations people in that area.

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The Barricades are Removed, October 1904

The first round of the several year dispute that led up to the creation of the Lake Babine Barricade treaty happened in October of 1904

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Rotten Nets are Provided, Fall 1905

In the fall of 1905 fisheries officers brought nets for the Babine to use, but they were so rotten they tore rather than holding the fish.

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The Barricades are Protected and the Treaty is Made, 1906

After nearly starving the winter before due to the rotten nets that the fisheries officers had supplied, the Babine people rebuilt the weir in the summer of 1906.

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The Amalgamation of Old Fort and Fort Babine Indian Bands, 1957

Until 1957 Old Fort and Fort Babine were considered separate nations.

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