Native-American attacks on foreign shipping in the Pacific-Northwest

May 2019
218
Earth
Has there been much written on indigenous maritime raids/warfare against foreign shipping in the Pacific Northwest? It certainly happened; nations like the Haida and Tlingit were renowned for their seafaring and did not just limit their attacks to other indigenous craft, but went after European and Euro-American ships too.

From wikipedia: Haida people - Wikipedia

Like other groups on the Northwest Coast, the Haida defended themselves with fortifications, including palisades, trapdoors and platforms. They took to water in large ocean-going canoes, each created from a single Western red cedar tree, and big enough to accommodate as many as 60 paddlers. The aggressive tribe were particularly feared in sea battles, although they did respect rules of engagement in their conflicts. The Haida developed effective weapons for boat-based battle, including a special system of stone rings weighing 18 to 23 kg (40 to 51 lb) which could destroy an enemy's dugout canoe and be reused after the attacker pulled it back with the attached cedar bark rope. The Haida took captives from defeated enemies. Between 1780 and 1830, the Haida turned their aggression towards European and American traders. Among the half-dozen ships the tribe captured were the Eleanor and the Susan Sturgis. The tribe made use of the weapons they so acquired, using cannons and canoe-mounted swivel guns.
From this website: Civilization.ca - Haida - Haida villages - Warfare

The florescence of warfare was undoubtedly accelerated in the half century from 1780 to 1830, when the Haida had no effective enemies except the many European and American traders on their shores who would rather trade than fight. During this period, the Haida successfully captured more than half a dozen ships. One was the ship Eleanora, taken by chiefs of the village of Skungwai (or Ninstints) in retaliation for the maltreatment Chief Koyah had received from its captain. An even more spectacular event was the capture of the ship Susan Sturgis by Chief Wiah of Masset and the rescue of its crew by Albert Edward Edenshaw. In such conflicts, the Haida quickly learned the newcomers' fighting tactics, which they used to good effect in subsequent battles, as Jacob Brink notes:

As early as 1795, a British trading ship fired its cannons at a village in the central part of the archipelago because some of the crew had been killed by the inhabitants, and the survivors had to put hastily to sea when the Indians fired back at them. They found out later that the Indians had used a cannon and ammunition pilfered from an American Schooner a few years earlier.

Swivel guns were added to many Haida war canoes, although initially the recoil on discharge caused the hulls of many craft to split.
It would be interesting if there were any books or scholarly articles written on Northwest indigenous raids on foreign shipping, and their use of captured arms like cannons and swivel guns.
 
Oct 2016
1,174
Merryland
thanks for posting this
I had never heard about
I wonder how much marine traffic there was in that part of the world before the 20th century
 
May 2019
218
Earth
I wonder how much marine traffic there was in that part of the world before the 20th century
Oh, quite a lot. The maritime fur trade brought all sorts of Russian, British, and American ships to that region. They would trade for furs on the northwest coast and then sail across the Pacific to Canton (in China) to sell them. It used to be a big business, until the fur-bearing animals in that region were pushed to edge of extinction.

Wikipedia has a decent overview of the maritime fur trade if you're interested: Maritime fur trade - Wikipedia

One book I can recommend on the subject: Otter Skins, Boston Ships, and China Goods: The Maritime Fur Trade of the Northwest Coast, 1785-1841: James R. Gibson: 9780295971698: Amazon.com: Books
 
Apr 2010
1,046
evergreen state, USA
I have a paperback reprint that has an account of the capture of a fur trading ship, buried away in one of my boxes of books (I have a tiny apartment now and no room to expand). The sole survivor was the ship's young blacksmith whom the Indians found useful and let live. The rest of the crew were killed. This took place on Vancouver Island. The survivor eventually got back to his home, Boston I think, and wrote about his adventure. He had a child by his Indian wife. I think that story is in the following book: "Captured by the Indians: 15 Firsthand Accounts, 1750-1870". Dover Publications, 1961, 378 pp.
 
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