ERROR: Macro old_Breadcrumb is missing! Century-old remains of convicts executed during Yukon Gold Rush buried
The Canadian Press
DAWSON CITY, Yn - Four people executed for murder during the Yukon's Klondike Gold Rush more than a century ago will be buried this weekend.
The remains were discovered during excavation work last November at a new waste water treatment plant in Dawson City.
Two sets of remains have since been identified as Dawson and Jim Nantuck, members of what is now the Carcross Tagish First Nation in southern Yukon.
A third set of remains was identified as Edward Henderson, who was hanged for murdering a companion, while the fourth set of remains has yet to be identified.
The Nantucks were hanged in August 1899 for killing prosecutor William Meehan in a case still seen by many First Nations as an injustice.
According to the book Strange Things Done: Murder in Yukon History, there are differing versions of the murder.
According to the court, American prospectors Meehan and Christian Fox were camped near the mouth of the M’Clintock River when they were approached by the Nantuck brothers for food. The prospectors gave some to the four brothers.
The Nantuck brothers set up camp nearby for about a week and the two groups were on friendly terms.
But when the pair set off down the river, shots were fired from the bank and both prospectors were hit. Fox survived, but Meehan died.
The Nantuck brothers, the youngest of whom was only about 15, were tried for murder and sentenced to hang, however Frank and Joe died of tuberculosis in jail before their execution date.
The First Nations' account of the death is drastically different from the version heard at their trial, suggesting the murder was revenge for the poisoning deaths of two aboriginal people.
According to the First Nations' oral history, a female elder found or was given a white powder that she believed was baking power or flour. Instead, it was likely arsenic, which was used in gold refining. An old man and boy died after consuming the food she prepared with the powder.
It has been suggested that the prospectors were chosen as representatives of the white people responsible for the incident, and were shot in retaliation.
As many as 11 men were hanged for murder during the territory's Gold Rush, when tens of thousands of fortune-seekers flooded into the Yukon from all over North America. The Nantucks' trial was the first murder trial.
Edward Henderson, an American prospector, was sentenced to death for shooting a companion during a heated argument. (CKRW-The Canadian Press)
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