Canada’s newest circulating commemorative dollar coin offers a history lesson about the Yukon Gold Rush.
The popular narrative of the Klondike Gold Rush is well known: Keish (Skookum Jim Mason) and his partners discovered gold in Bonanza Creek; local prospectors became wealthy; adventurers with dreams of striking it rich poured into the Yukon Territory by the thousands; Dawson City became a legendary boomtown; fortunes were made and lost.
On the 125th anniversary of the discovery of gold in the Klondike, the Royal Canadian Mint issued the 2021 coin to remind Canadians that there is a more complete story to tell, “one that speaks to the impact on the Indigenous people who have inhabited the land for millennia,” it said, in a press release. “Their displacement, the disruption of their culture and traditional ways of life and the damage on the environment are also legacies of the ‘last great gold rush’, as is the resilience of the Yukon First Nations who are reclaiming their traditional territory and who remain strong stewards and leaders in the Yukon today.”
“As central as the Klondike Gold Rush is to the Yukon’s fame and history, its portrayal has often been one-sided and reductive,” said Sandy Silver, premier of the Yukon. “The incorporation of the Carcross/Tagish and Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nations perspectives in the design and spirit of this coin represents a meaningful step in acknowledging a truth long missing from the Gold Rush story.”