"The ancestors of contemporary Kaska were already using guns and steel tools supplied by Tlingit traders whrn Robert Campbell and other white traders arrived."


Yukon Native Language Centre


At the turn of the 19th century, Kaska people maintained extensive trade networks, trading with other inland peoples and with European traders through Tlingit and Tahltan intermediaries. In turn, these intermediaries traded with the Hudson's Bay Company along the Pacific coast and the Russian American Company, as Alaska was. aRussian colony until 1867.

Settlers did not reach this area until the early 19th century. Beginning in the 1820s, the Hudson's Bay Company and other traders established post at several locations in the Dease Lake and Liard River drainage.

The discovery of gold on the Stikine River in 1861, and in the Cassiar area soon afterward, brought prospectors, traders and others into the area. The region's rugged geography and treacherous rivers made access difficult, and trading post struggled to survive. Post opened and closed, some lasted only a year or two. some changed their names, owners and even locations.

With the arrival of the fur trade, land use patterns changed as the Kaska increased their focus on trapping fur bearing animals. People tended to visit the trading post once a year to meet and share information. the posts led to new social connections with trading partners, but also disrupted longstanding Indigenous trade relationships.


Shifting Trade

Kaska people traded wherever it was most convenient and where they could get the best prices for their furs. When Fort Halkett was established in 1829 on the Liard River, the Kaska, sekani and Slavey people began to trade their furs there. The Kaska also traded at other post in the area, such as McDame. In the early 20th century, when post were established at Pelly Banks and Ross River, the Kaska travelled north to trade there.

Most post have been closed and abandoned, but Lower Post, established around 1872, remains a community. It earned its name from being situated lower than, or downstream from, McDame Post.