Chief Issac's mittens. The mitts are beautifully beaded in floral patterns, fur trim and fringes. Originally they would have been beaded with the chief's name, 'CHIEF ISAAC', but the beading has since unraveled. They are impressive as they are beautiful and elaborate. One can tell that they were made for a very important and affluent person. Women prided themselves on making nice garments for their loved ones and esteemed members of the community. Unfortunately the seamstress who made these mittens remains unknown and there is no museum record stating the maker's name. The mittens are beaded so elaborately, they may have been made for special occasions instead of everyday use.
Chief Isaac was a very influential leader of the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in 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 could 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 location of the subsequent settlement Lousetown, which was a prominent fishing area for his people.
He is said to have trusted 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 frenzy of the times they did not heed his message. 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 continue to inspire the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in.
Dawson City Museum, Dawson City