Missionaries and Misery
Bishop G. Hills
Bishop George Hills also wrote about the epidemic. By the time the Bishop first visited the northerners’ camp, smallpox had been raging there for nearly a month. He reported that twenty people had already died and there were, "eleven more cases in various stages of the disease."9 However, it does not appear that the missionaries were willing to extend their kindness to everyone. Hills noted on May 7th that when he visited the smallpox hospital, "two women had been forced out through some superstitious feeling, and were likely to die."
On May 9th, while visiting the various camps Hills remarked, "I have never witnessed such horrible scenes of death, misery, filth, and suffering before. It seemed as if heathens had death and misery more terrible than Christian people... Besides small-pox, many were suffering from misspent lives and violence. They seemed handed over to judgment."
That same day, Hills asked the authorities for assistance. However, it seems that he never received the requested help. On May 30th Hills and Garrett visited the Haida camp at Ogden Point and Hills commented:
Altogether, the terrible disease, the filth, the misery, the dead, the dying, the indifference, the selfishness, presented an awful scene; and one could not help being convinced that all the miseries and sorrows of human nature are manifold worse among heathens in the Kingdom of Satan than in their alleviated and hopeful form in the Kingdom of Christ.
It is clear from these passages that the missionaries saw the epidemic as the fault of the Native peoples themselves--smallpox appeared to have been visited on the Indians as a punishment for their lives of "treachery."
Once everyone at the camp was either dead or had fled, Garrett and Hills torched the camp and left for the interior where they followed the disease with vaccine. Hills commented, "we felt it of importance to give the Indians the benefit of vaccination... The scene was very striking, as Indians of all ages were grouped around with one arm bare, waiting for their turn... The readiness with which these tribes trust us and yield to our advice, is a great proof of their confidence in us..."10 It seems more likely that the people had seen and heard of the ravages of smallpox and were willing to do almost anything to avoid getting the disease themselves.