Chief Jim Boss laid the foundation for First Nation land claims almost 100 years before the first agreements were signed in the Yukon.
Boss was born in 1857, and was the hereditary Chief of the Ta’an Kwäch’än. In the late 1800s, he recognized that the influx of people — as a result of the Klondike Gold Rush — was significantly impacting Yukon First Nations and their way of life.
In 1900 and 1902, Boss wrote to the Yukon Commissioner and the Superintendent General of Indian Affairs requesting compensation for his people’s loss of land and hunting grounds.
These letters are now recognized as the first attempt to secure a land claim for Yukon First Nations. Chief Boss was an influential advocate for his people until his death in 1950.
“...the Indians are unable to subsist as they were formerly able to do... He [Jim Boss] says ‘tell the King very hard we want something for our Indians because they take our land and our game.’”
From a letter Jim Boss wrote through lawyer T.W. Jackson to the Superintendent General of Indian Affairs, dated January 13, 1902