JULY 11, 1916


Keish was born in 1855 in Tagish, near Lake Bennett, Yukon. His father was Tlingit; his mother, Tagish. As a young man he worked as a packer on the Chilkoot Trail. Keish got the nickname Skookum (strong) Jim, for hauling loads of over 100 pounds. On the trail, he met George Carmack who would become a friend, prospecting partner, and brother-in-law. [He married Keish’s sister, Shaaw Tláa (AKA Kate Carmack)]. Skookum, Carmack & Keish’s cousin, Dawson Charlie, began prospecting in 1888. In August of 1896, Keish, the Carmacks, and Dawson Charlie discovered gold on Rabbit (Bonanza) Creek and worked what would be known as Discovery Claim, collectively earning nearly one million dollars. This began the Klondike Gold Rush. After the strike, Keish built a home in Carcross, Yukon Territory.  He spent winters trapping and hunting; summers prospecting for gold. In later years, Keish developed a Trust that went to his people. 

Source: “Keish (Skookum Jim Mason),” National Park Service. Retrieved 12/24/2021, Keish (Skookum Jim Mason) (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)
Photo: Joseph Duclos Dawson (1863-1917), 1898. Public Domain.  Source: Int. Havester / Library and Archives Canada under the reproduction reference number C-025640 and under the MIKAN ID number 3358565.

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