The Native inhabitants of the regions north of the 60th parallel had been asking for treaty recognition since the 1870s, a period during which the government had been anxious to negotiate treaties with Plains tribes in order to clear the way for settlers and the railroad. The North, however, was widely regarded as a place where few non-Native settlers would be attracted and that had little potential for commercial development. The Canadian government was reluctant to engage in expensive treaty settlement for such an area, but the discovery of gold on Bonanza Creek in the Yukon Territory quickly changed the existing circumstances. The Tagish Indian discoverers of the gold, Skookum Jim and Dawson Charlie, along with non-Native prospector George Carmack, could have had little notion of how disruptive the ensuing rush of gold-fevered southerners would become to the way of life of their people and to others in the area. As conflict increased between Natives and the non-Native prospectors whose log rafts destroyed Native fishing weirs and whose very presence led to overcrowding of village sites and pressure on game resources, the Canadian government responded by increasing the numbers of policemen in the area to 300. The government also decided to enter into treaty negotiations.

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