Native Village
Youth and Education news

Volume 1, January 2012

17th-century Chinese coin found in Yukon
Condensed by Native Village

The ancient Chinese coin sheds some light on pre-Gold Rush history in Yukon.

Ecofor Consulting archeologist Kirby Booker made the find of a lifetime when she dug up the coin.Yukon: Archeologists have unearthed a coin more than 300 years old near Carmacks. The coin provides a link between 17th-century China, Russian traders and First Nations people.

The Chinese coin helps fill in the blanks on some pre-Gold Rush history.

 A team from Ecofor Consulting Ltd. was doing the heritage impact assessment for a proposed mining road.

"I was less than a metre from our archeologist Kirby Booker when she turned over the first shovel of topsoil and I caught sight of something dangling from the turf. It was the coin — the neatest discovery I've ever been part of,” said James Mooney.

Mooney believes there’s a logical explanation for how the coin arrived deep into the Yukon interior.

“The first documented accounts of foreigners getting into Tlingit territory were in the mid-1700s. Russian traders [were] coming in and they were collecting sea otter pelts and some of the inland furs, and they would trade things like glass beads, silks and coins,” he said.

Heritage Canada says the coin was minted between 1667 - 1671. It adds further evidence to the belief that the Chinese market connected with Yukon First Nations through Russian and coastal Tlingit trade.

This trade may possibly have started as early as the 15th century.

While the coins are more common along the coast, this is the 3rd ancient coin found in Yukon. One was found in the Kwanlin Dun region this past summer. It was dated between 1724 - 1735. An even older coin found in 1993 by Beaver Creek was dated between 1403-1424.

The most recent find will be held with the Yukon archeological collection. Mooney and his team are recommending the road builders avoid the site and that further study be done there.

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