One known as the richest Indian woman in America, Kate Carmack, first called Shaaw Tláa, played a pivotal role in the rush for Klondike gold. She was vilified. She was romanticized. Her forthcoming biography, Wealth Woman, is the first popular rendering of the Klondike Gold Rush from the perspective of those who were there first, the indigenous people of Alaska and the Yukon.
Of a small, isolated Athabascan Indian tribe, Shaaw Tláa was given in marriage to prospector George Carmack, who renamed her Kate. During a decade of wandering with her husband, Kate met nearly every key figure in gold rush history. On an expedition up the Klondike River in 1896, her brother Skookum Jim, accompanied by her nephew and her husband, discovered the gold that set off one of the biggest stampedes in history. Four years later, George Carmack abandoned Kate at a California ranch, where she had to fight for her wealth, her family, her reputation, and her survival.
Through a fortuitous combination of correspondence, legal proceedings, ethnographic study, and the generosity of Kate’s Tagish relatives, the story of Kate Carmack can finally be told.