History Channel’s “Deadman’s Curse” is about more than finding gold. For Don Froese and his daughter Taylor Starr – two explorers from the Seabird Island community – the epic journey is also about good medicine and closure.
“Adam was the one who came to us,” Starr said. “He thought it would be a cool story we might want to be a part of.”
Froese described it as being “gently brought along” the journey.
“Deadman’s Curse” follows four explorers – Chilliwack mountaineer Adam Palmer, prospector Kru Williams, Froese and Starr – as they search for Slumach’s gold. The legend goes there is a “place deposit” of gold in the Pitt Lake area that is worth untold millions, and a Katzie First Nations man by the name of Slumach was the only one who knew of its location.
Slumach was convicted of killing a man named Louis Bee in the early 1890s. Before he was hanged, he is said to have delivered a curse:
“Nika memloose, mine memloose”, roughly translated from Chinook as “when I die, the mine dies.”
Starr is the great-great-niece of Slumach. She’s determined to sort fact from fiction when it comes to who Slumach was.
“(Deadman’s Curse) has a personal connection to me,” Starr said. “I’m diving into who (Slumach) was and why his name was portrayed the way it was as well as what he found. I want closure for Slumach and finally put to rest who he was and why he did the things he did.”
Froese said he brings not only his life skills to the table but also traditional stories and knowledge.
“As an elder from Seabird, I’ve been connected to the land and nature all my life,” Froese said. “I’m a hunter, a fisherman…I don’t survive (in nature), I live in nature.”
Froese said Slumach’s lawyer did him no favours, and that lack of proper legal representation was certainly a factor that led to his death.
“Slumach didn’t have a very good lawyer back in the day,” he said. “He didn’t have the chance to express what happened to him with LouisBee. Basically, the door was slammed in his face. So, our part of the journey is finding the truth, and the truth has many layers. It’s not going to be a simple answer, and I think this is portrayed in the show.”
As the series delves deeper into its first season, both Starr and Froese have enjoyed watching the series back so far.
“We were super excited about episode 1,” Starr said. “I think it sort of set the table for all the other episodes going forward, which I think can be challenging but it was a job well done.”
Both Froese and Starr took representing Seabird Island on an international stage in stride.
“We just take it one step at a time, one day at a time,” Froese said. “Taylor and I don’t make a big deal about it; we just live and breathe it. I think our life and the way it comes out in ‘Deadman’s Curse’ is true to form. I think the world needs some down-to-heart good medicine, and I think that’s what the show provides.”
The journey to Slumach’s gold is fraught with danger; between 30 and 50 people have gone missing during the search.
“We are very aware of the curse he put on the lost mine,” Froese said. “I think that’s something Taylor and I have talked about quite a bit. It’s not so much a human curse; it’s the result of when you don’t respect nature. Our teachings are to be respectful and to make sure every step we take is not in the spirit of greed.”
“Deadman’s Curse” sees the explorers brave the elements and journey along some of the most spectacular and remote landscapes B.C. has to offer. Froese said he hopes those who watch the series find good medicine in addition to entertainment.
“You get to see these beautiful locations, places in the wilderness where humans don’t go anymore,” he added. “It’s healing to hearts and minds. A lot of people are hurting right now. One of the reasons I enjoy this journey is it’s good medicine.”
Starr said aside from the plethora of biting insects, being out in nature is a major highlight for her.
“With some of the locations we’ve been in, it’s been amazing to go out there and spend time out there,” she added.
“I agree with Taylor,” Froese said. “I’ll never get tired of being in nature. I think as we get older we need to keep listening to that voice of nature, like our elders say. It provides us with a content spirit. I am very, very grateful to this day at my stage of life to continue to walk like this.”
Despite the challenges a journey like this entails, Froese said working with the team who produces “Deadman’s Curse” has been a blessing.
“We’re blessed with a great team and an amazing production company,” Froese said. “Everybody is of the same mind going forward to find the truth and sharing with the world these moments and experiences.”
Will the team from “Deadman’s Curse” ever find the legendary gold? While it may not be the final destination for some of the explorers, Froese said it’s bound to happen.
“I think if we do find gold, it’s going to cross our path,” Froese said. “We can’t go the places we’re going and not bump into something, and that something might be the colour gold.”
“Deadman’s Curse” is on History Channel every Sunday at 10 p.m. EST/PST.