A critical thinking challenge for students, ages 16-18
On August 16, 1896, four people — an American miner, a First Nations man, his sister, and their nephew — were looking for gold on a creek that flowed into the Klondike River a few kilometres east of the present town of Dawson, Yukon. One of them — no one is sure which one it was — looked into the waters of the creek and saw something glittering. A rock was turned over and there it was: gold as “thick as cheese” in the cracks between the rocks and stones. Dancing for joy, they realized they had found the rich deposit of gold that men and women had been seeking for more than twenty years in this northwestern corner of Canada.
Ever since that day, controversy has swirled around the question of who deserves the credit for making the discovery. The mystery does not lie in the fact that no one has any idea who made it. There are several candidates, each with some claim to being the discoverer. The real challenge is to decide how much credit various individuals deserve for making this great discovery.
In this MysteryQuest, you are invited to determine what credit, if any, three individuals should share for the discovery of gold in the Klondike. Though a number of small deposits of gold had been discovered in the early 1870s, the “mother lode” remained undiscovered until August 16, 1896. On that day, a major discovery was made: enough gold to fill an empty shotgun shell. Although five people are often identified with the discovery, we will focus on three of the “contenders”:
- George Carmack, an American;
- Skookum Jim, a member of the Tagish First Nation;
- Robert Henderson, a Canadian.
Before deciding how much credit each of these individuals deserves, you will need to learn more about the Gold Rush and the people involved in the discovery. After exploring factors to consider when assigning credit for an accomplishment, you will locate evidence from historical documents to identify the contributions made by the three individuals. You will then use a pie chart to illustrate the amount of credit each individual deserves to receive for his part in the discovery of gold.