This is the fourth in a five part series featuring the Lost Stories Project.
By Keith Thor Carlson
The same week that a mob of torch-carrying white supremists marched through Charlottesville Virginia protesting the removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee a group of Indigenous and settler Canadians gathered in Hope BC to celebrate the erection of a cedar memorial pole commemorating the Stó:lõ boys who had been kidnapped during the 1858 Fraser River gold rush. Carved by Chief Terry Horne, the work depicted a Stó:lõ father and his son reaching for one another, but their hands not quite connecting. The pole was a work of commemorative public art, part of the Lost Stories Project. The creation of Terry Horne’s carving and the story that it tells are at the heart of Sandra Bonner Pederson’s film, Kidnapped Stó:lõ Boys.
According to obscure records in the colonial archives, the Stó:lõ boy depicted in Horne’s carving was but one of the “great many” who had been kidnapped by “vicious white men” (American miners) and taken to California. The father’s name was Sokolowictz. He tried repeatedly over four years to secure his son’s rescue and repatriation. Ultimately these efforts were in vain. The boy died in the custody of his kidnapper, and today he remains buried in the Sacramento pioneer cemetery under the name Charley Crum – the moniker assigned him by his abductor George Crum. Sokolowictz’s fate is unknown, but Indigenous oral traditions recorded forty years after the kidnappings shed light on the ways the kidnappings affected families. One Stó:lõ father is described as having searched frantically in the woods for his kidnapped son only to die of grief a few days later. Continue reading