It is probable that Bill Edwards was a slave of the Makah of Cape Flattery who paid a trading visit to Fort Victoria in 1846. Finlayson recorded that on 17 July, 1846 “13 canoes of Cape Flatteries [Makah Indians] arrived” among whom was an American sailor, a “deserter” who “appears to have conformed to the habits” of the Makah traders, “in short as a hired servant.” Slavery among Coastal tribes operated within a prestige and wealth economy, derived through the acquisition of war captives, deserters or shipwrecked sailors. It appears that Bill Edwards lived among the Makah for a year or more, as Finlayson recorded that Edwards’ “partner . . . [is] now in the family way.” When the Makah departed from Fort Victoria on 19 July Edwards chose to remain behind, “conceal[ing] himself until they left.” In February of the following year Edwards sought to leave the fort aboard the American brigantine Henry. Finlayson’s record for 16 February, 1847, notes: “this morning [Bill Edwards] solicited & obtained leave to join his countrymen.” Edwards’ countrymen were present enough along coastal regions hunting for whales, and trading at Neah Bay (Cape Flattery).