Canadian History Questions
Answer question based on the book attached (HCP, pp. 299-320.)
Main Theme: What happens when two cultures “encounter” each other in ‘place’? What are the central notions of progress that are reflected in the attitudes and beliefs of Newcomers? What is the result of the interaction between a people of place (ie: indigenous peoples and nations) and a people conditioned by the notions of Progress (ie: miners and settler society)? How are natural resources understood by both groups?
Content: You should read all of the content found in the side tabs and primary documents (all of them) as found under the main tabs of “Context”, “Contenders”, and “Aftermath”.
Questions to Consider:
1. What was the Klondike Gold Rush? How did it represent the ‘age of progress’? How did the notion of a ‘base precious metal’ that is “found” (ie: discovered) in “nature” represent some notions of progress (ie: remember the ‘origins’ in the Railway Trilogy)? Do you think the Klondike Gold Rush was an idea, an event, or an opportunity (or all three)? Who could access this wealth (ie: ‘white’ males who could stake a claim) that appeared to be ‘free for the taking’?
2. How did the miners and other newcomers view the land and people of the Yukon? How did the concept of a “virgin land” (ie: idea that land was unproductive or under utilized) provide legitimacy for their utilitarian approach to land and exploitative treatment of people? How did the miner’s and newcomer’s understanding of their place (ie: did they consider themselves to be permanent residents or temporary workers?) and their role (ie: get in, strike it rich, and get out) shape their attitudes and perceptions? What specific evidence can you cite to support your analysis?
3. How did First Nation’s view the land and the mining activity? Are you able to spot the diverse and dynamic ways in which First Nations responded to this massive influx of outsiders? What were some of the strategies that First Nations used to respond to the Gold Rush (ie: partners, participants, withdrawal)? The Yukon is a First Nation’s homeland so can you identify the ways some viewed the Gold Rush as an economic opportunity (ie: an extension of the fur trade), while some First Nations thought of it as a threat to their way of life (ie: disease, alcohol, mistreatment)? In what ways did First Nations try to lessen the impact of the Gold Rush? Do you recognize the indigenous diplomacy of the “custom of the country” (ie: intermarriage) at work in this history?
4. How would you characterize or describe the relationship between First Nations and Newcomers? If you just look at the surface of this UCM, who is acting and shaping history? Who is presumed to have agency? Does it make a difference to your interpretation of the Klondike Gold Rush if you look for and recognize two diverse and dynamic societies that are interacting? Is it possible to understand different kinds of ‘agency’, one that is disruptive, often violent, and imposing and another that is adaptive, diplomatic and hospitable? How does this approach to history change the overall story line of “progress”?
5. What is the role of Race, Nationalism and Gender in this history? Why was the ‘discovery’ of gold (ie: Who, specifically, started the rush?) so important to Canada’s nationhood? Why do you think it was so important that a “Canadian” man (ie: Henderson) get credit for the Gold Rush’s origin? How did this conclusion satisfy the needs of a nation that desperately wanted to be characterized as ‘progressive’ and ‘modern’? If we recognized an indigenous woman (ie: Kate) as being the one who discovered gold in the Klondike, how would this change the narrative of this important event in Canada’s formation as a nation?