Writer resents implication that she ignored native history

Esther Darlington MacDonald responds to Barbara Hendricks' letter from last week.

Re Barbara Hendricks letter to The Journal about my article on Dorothy and Sybil Parke.

Dear Editor

I am well aware of the history of the native peoples of this area.

I have worked for two native bands: Bonaparte and Cooks’ Ferry. I have books in my library that have been useful to me for many years, including James Teit’s magnificent histories, as well as many other books outlining, with superb photographs, the rich culture of the native peoples’ of B.C. I have immersed myself in native culture both in the north and south Cariboo for many years.

I heartily resent the implication that my not mentioning the native history of the region is an omission of bias.

The article focused on the two women, obviously. That was the gist of the article. And does it really matter whether Dorothy went by train to All Hallowes, or by stagecoach?  I am also well aware that the railroad was built at the time that Dorothy attended All Hallowes. In one interview, she mentioned to me that a troop train passed the station at Yale during the First World War, and the girls of All Hallowes were standing on the station platform. The whistles and shouts from the troops had been a source of embarrassment.

When a journalist describes the land as ‘empty’, she does not mean ‘empty’ in the literal sense of the word. Of course there were people in the Hat Creek Valley: I have interviewed some of them. I meant empty, in the sense that, for the time, the Upper Hat Creek Valley was isolated. Horse and wagon were in common use for years. I like the word, empty. That is, sans hot dog stands, big box stores, the kind of stuff we consider the results of progress.

And I am well aware that the Upper Hat Creek Valley was the habitation of native Indians for thousands of years. I’ve mentioned the fact in numerous articles, both in The Journal, and other publications.

And never have I ever used the words, ‘uncivilized and wild’ pertaining to native Indians. That was quite a stretch, Barbara, inferring that my lack of mention of the habitation of natives meant that I considered them with the terms you have used. I think an apology is in order.

About that little log school at the foot of 20 Mile hill, that Barbara mentions – Jim Baker attended that school. And as she pointed out, so did other kids from the ranches thereabouts. Yet, Barbara writes, “No children living along Loon Lake ever attended this school to my knowledge.” Jim Baker lived with his parents on the Loon Lake road for years.

Jim even took us over the original road that Barbara mentioned, over the mountain. It was the only way you could get into the Loon Lake valley. Jim told me there was no road along Loon Lake at the time he went to that log school. He took the route Barbara mentions.

You know, I don’t mind when readers pick up some detail that I’ve neglected or decided not to include in the numerous articles published over the past 40 years. But when other motives are implied, that is going a stretch too far.

Esther Darlington MacDonald


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