The Contenders

The five people who make up the list of “contenders” were quite different from each other. Three were First Nations, and two were not. Four were Canadians, and one was an American. Four were men, and one was a woman. Their nationality, their race, and their gender are all factors to be taken into consideration as you evaluate the documents supporting their claim to being the real discoverer. Details of each person are given in the “Contenders” section. They were all there on that day, and any one of them could have found the gold. One (George Carmack) was an American, three (Skookum Jim, Kate Carmack, and Dawson Charley) were First Nations, and one was a woman (Kate Carmack). One of the Contenders was a Canadian (Robert Henderson), but he wasn’t even there when the gold was discovered; the basis of his claim is the fact that he pointed the way to Bonanza Creek. They all have backers in their claim to be the discoverer. Are these claims based on historical fact or on modern social and political beliefs? In attempting to solve the mystery, the students must take into consideration the gender, the race, and the nationality of each contender, because these contexts will help you understand, and evaluate, the evidence behind each claim. The time period matters too: you might want to consider the era in which claim was brought forward.


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