Canada issues dollar for Klondike Gold Rush anniversary
- Published: Sep 27, 2021, 9 AM
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.”
Vancouver artist Jori van der Linde designed the reverse of the Yukon dollar. It depicts the four people credited with the discovery of gold on Rabbit Creek that started the Klondike Gold Rush in August 1896: Keish (Skookum Jim Mason), Káa Goox (Dawson Charlie), Shaaw Tláa (Kate Carmack) and her husband, George Carmack.
On a hillside appears an image representing the Moosehide Gathering place, where the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation relocated when it was displaced by the influx of gold rushers. It has come to symbolize the community’s experience.
While the Klondike Gold Rush transformed Yukon’s development and the Canadian economy as a whole, the flood of prospectors and adventurers forever altered the land, uprooting and repressing the traditional ways of living of the Indigenous peoples who lived in the area for millennia prior to the arrival of settlers.
Indigenous communities living in what became Yukon still grapple with this legacy today.
In all, 2 million colorful versions and 1 million plain versions of the coin are being issued. Colorful coins show the Moosehide Gathering place icon in red.
The obverse features the Queen Elizabeth II effigy designed by Susanna Blunt.
Collector coins around the same theme are also available, at www.mint.ca.
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