Coat

Coat

Moosehide leather coat constructed in the style of a "cowboy" leather jacket

V yoke across the back, leather tie front closure, short stand-up collar, and wrist cuffs. The coat is decorated with bead work and leather fringe. The fringe runs along the top shoulder line from collar to sleeve, around upper sleeves at shoulder seam, borders the bottom of the V yoke, and across the forearm extending from the elbow to forearm front. A decorative line of sequined piping runs along the top border of the forearm fringe. The front closure has a vertical panel on each side made of hide. These panels have decorative bead work, and are stitched to the front on one side only creating a flap. Strips of hide cut with pinking shears face light side out, to decorate the seams at the top and bottom of collar, upper wrist, and along the front panels. The yoke and each side of the front closure are overlaid with appliqué embroidered with beads.

The story of this coat is an interesting one. On June 30 1978 Marjorie Jeanne Duncan from Portland Oregon wrote a letter to the "Tourist Information and Bureau of Indian Affairs" describing a trip to Dawson in approximately 1926. She explains how she, at that time was M. J. Beaver, and her grandmother, Nellie E. Capper, traveled from Chicago to Dawson. The duration of their stay in Dawson was about a week, during this time they met Chief Isaac and his wife.

The grandmother purchased a "buckskin beaded jacket" of his. Mrs. Duncan believes that Chief Isaac and his wife wanted her to have the jacket as well "out of friendship". Chief Isaac autographed the jacket on the inside back. Mrs. Duncan said that over the years many collectors have tried to buy this from her, but she could never sell it because of the sentimental attachment to her grandmother, their trip to the Yukon and Alaska, and the friendship of Chief Isaac. At this time she wanted the jacket to come back to the Dawson, to a museum or to a family member. The coat eventually went to Joy McDiarmid, and is currently on loan to the Dawson City Museum.

Chief Isaac was a very influential leader of the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in, the people located in the area around Dawson. He was the chief prior to the Klondike Gold Rush until the time of his death in 1932. Chief Isaac is remembered as a strong charismatic leader. He was credited with foreseeing that his people would lose much of their culture as they were increasingly influenced by missionaries and non-Native society. He was instrumental in moving the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in to Moosehide, a few kilometers from Dawson so that the influx of miners and prospectors would not corrupt his people. He worked with government and church officials to move the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in to Moosehide after they were displaced from Tr'ochëk, the area that became known as Lousetown, a prominent fishing area for his people.

He is said to have entrusted many stories to Alaskan people for safe keeping. Some of these stories had to be relearned years later. He was respected by the people of Dawson although in the age of manifest destiny they did not heed his message. Diligently, he reminded Dawsonites that their prosperity came at the expense of his people, by taking First Nations land, driving away game and dispersing his people. During his life, Chief Isaac experienced profound changes and worked hard to ensure his people's survival. The strength, wisdom and spirit of Chief Isaac continues to inspire the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in.

Institution

Dawson City Museum, Dawson City

Accession Number

1999.365.1

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