This website contains primary and secondary documents—newspapers, government reports, and other material—that deal with the gold rush. However, many of these documents, especially the secondary ones, put the question of who discovered the gold into context, rather than answering it directly. It is in fact not easy to find the answer to this mystery, partly because the scholars and commentators of our day have brought perspectives to the question based on factors such as gender, race, authority, oral tradition, and nationality.
When you read the primary and secondary documents you will need to bear in mind the perspectives and attitudes of the people who wrote them. Who is likely to favour George Carmack’s claim to be the discoverer, or Robert Henderson’s? Which people or group backs Skookum Jim’s or Kate Carmack’s case, and why? Also consider the period during which one candidate for the honour or another was favoured. Was there a favoured candidate during the Gold Rush? Did a candidate fall out of favour? Why?
This section contains essays written in 2006 to highlight the strengths of the cases of people who may have discovered Klondike gold. Their interpretations are based on the same evidence as yours, since they used the same documents, as well as the oral traditions, that appear here. You will find that they come to very different conclusions. You have the advantage over most readers of history because you can test the interpretations against the evidence, and you can critically evaluate the interpretations based on your own conclusions.
The Interpretations section is password-protected. Teachers may apply for the password from the teachers section of this site. Your teacher may or may not choose to give you the password.