Keish

Keish

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Keish

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Keish (c. 1855 – July 11, 1916), better known by his English name Skookum Jim Mason, was a Canadian native part of the Tagish First Nation in what became the Yukon Territory of Canada. He was born close to Bennett Lake. Skookum Jim Mason was born to a Tahltan woman in the Telegraph Creek area, which under matrilineal society made him Tahltan. He lived in Carcross, Yukon, Canada.

In the mid 1880s, he worked as a packer over the Chilkoot Pass carrying supplies for miners, where he earned his Skookum nickname because of his extraordinary strength. Skookum means "strong", "big" and "reliable" in the Chinook Jargon and regional English as used in the Pacific Northwest.

He assisted William Ogilvie in his explorations of the upper Yukon. He also showed members of the expedition the way over the White Pass. Keish is today credited with making the gold discovery that led to the Klondike Gold Rush, although it was originally attributed to George Carmack, his brother-in-law. It is also possible that the discovery was made by Keish's sister Shaaw Tláa (Kate Carmack).

Carmack described Skookum Jim as:<blockquote>“straight as a gun barrel, powerfully built with strong sloping shoulders, tapering…downwards to the waist, like a keystone. He was known as the best hunter and trapper on the river, in fact he was a super-specimen of the northern Indian” (Skookum Jim Oral History Project-...
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