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The Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in and the Great Upheaval: Mining, Colonialism, and Environmental Change in the Klondike, 1890-1940

  • Author / Creator
    Green, Heather
  • This study examines the colonial history of gold mining in the Klondike region of the central Yukon from 1890 to 1940. The Klondike Gold Rush marked the beginning of major transition in the lives of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in that lasted well into the 20th century. Mining worked to reorganize and disassemble the local Klondike environment through both placer mining and industrial dredge mining. Along with direct environmental impacts, gold mining had indirect impacts such creating competition for resources and conflicts over access to resources, and the emergence of a new industrial economy to the Yukon.
    Throughout this period the state imposed southern colonial bureaucracies and administration in the Yukon that favoured colonial ideologies and practises of land use over local Indigenous practises that led to the displacement and relocation of Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in peoples from previously used areas. State imposition often clashed with colonial authority on the ground, creating a complicated history of colonization of environment and humans in the Yukon. This study also examines the various ways in which Indigenous Yukoners shaped the structure of colonialism in the Yukon through a variety of responses.
    It argues that the Klondike Gold Rush began a pattern of long-term systemic alienation of Yukon First Nations from traditionally used resources and areas; in part this resulted from the physical impacts that mining had on the environment of the central Yukon, but Indigenous displacement also resulted from the role of colonial bureaucracies and state extension into the Klondike. The colonial structure of the Yukon was complicated and contested, creating conflicts between colonizers over how best to administer to the realities of the Yukon; it was also shaped by the responses and contributions of Indigenous Yukoners who frequently challenged their loss of access to resources and the outside imposed changes mining brought to their lives.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2018
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/R3DN40B80
  • License
    Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.