Shaaw Tláa – also known as Kate Carmack – was an often overlooked but essential part of the prospecting group that kicked off the historic Klondike Gold Rush. Carmack was the rumoured discoverer of the first nugget of Yukon gold and became, for a time, the wealthiest Indigenous woman in America, but was nearly forgotten by the industry she had a central role in launching.
Carmack was nominated to the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame (CMHF) in October, almost two decades after the four male members of her prospecting party that made the discovery were recognized.
The induction, which places her on equal footing with the other four and acknowledges her as “instrumental” to the expedition’s success, comes as researchers aim to correct a trend of underrepresentation of the contributions of Indigenous women to Canada’s mining history.
In Deb Vanasse’s 2016 book, Wealth Woman: Kate Carmack and the Klondike Race for Gold, Carmack is described as an “exceptional and complex woman” who has come to represent the spirit of the historically excluded yet essential Indigenous women in Canada’s unruly West.
Shaaw Tláa, a member of the Tagish First Nation, was born in 1862. In the 1880s, after the man she had married and their child died from influenza, she and two family members – her brother Skookum Jim, and nephew Dawson Charlie – joined forces with white prospector George Carmack, and formed a group that packed, hunted and prospected together around the Forty Mile region of Yukon. Shaaw Tláa and George Carmack were married within the first year, and she changed her name to Kate.
For the rest of this article: http://magazine.cim.org/en/mining-lore/klondike-kate-en/