The Carcross/Tagish First Nation (C/TFN)
The Carcross/Tagish First Nation (C/TFN) is located in the town of Carcross. The original inhabitants of this area are the Tagish people who belong to the Tagish linguistic grouping of the Athapaskan language family. The area also became the home of Tlingit traders from Southeast Alaska who were venturing into the interior of the Yukon for trade purposes, perhaps for 200 to 300 years prior to contact in the Yukon. Today many of the Carcross/Tagish First Nation people are descendants of both Tagish and Tlingit. As of January 2006, the Carcross/Tagish First Nation is a Self-Governing First Nation. (Source)
Champagne and Aishihik First Nations or CAFN
The Shadhäla, Äshèyi yè kwädän (Champagne and Aishihik First Nations or CAFN) is a self-governing First Nation located in the Yukon Territory and northwest British Columbia, Canada.
The Shadhäla, Äshèyi yè kwädän (CAFN) homeland is a land of kwata (forests), dhal (mountains), taga (rivers), man (lakes) and tan shį (glaciers), with spectacular scenery and diverse resources and cultural riches. The land has offered mbat (food), ur (clothing) and kų (house, shelter) to CAFN ancestors for many generations.
The Champagne and Aishihik people and government are named after two historic settlements: Shadhäla (Champagne), located on the Dezadeash River; and Äshèyi (Aishihik), at the headwaters of the Alsek River drainage. Champagne and Aishihik Dän (people) also lived throughout the region in other villages including Kloo Lake, Klukshu, Canyon, Shäwshe and Hutchi.
CAFN has more than 1,200 Dän (people) and is one of the largest of the 14 Yukon First Nations. The CAFN Traditional Territory spans 41,000 square kilometers in total (29,000 in the Yukon and 12,000 in British Columbia). The eastern edge of CAFN’s Traditional Territory lies in the Yukon River watershed, while the larger, westerly portion lies in the Alsek River watershed which flows into the Gulf of Alaska. Much of Kluane National Park and Reserve and all of Tatshenshini-Alsek Park (BC) are part of CAFN’s Traditional Territory.
Today, the CAFN’s main government offices are located in Haines Junction, in addition to a busy office in the territorial capital of Whitehorse. (Source)
The First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun
The First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun represents the most northerly community of the Northern Tutchone language and culture group. In the Northern Tutchone language the Stewart River is called Na Cho Nyak, meaning Big River. The First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun resides in the community of Mayo, Yukon, and a town that had its beginnings during the boom years of the silver mines in the area. First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun’s Traditional Territory covers 162,456 square kilometers of land, that being 131,599 km2 in the Yukon and 30,857 km2 in NWT.
Historically, the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun lived and trapped throughout the area surrounding Mayo. In early times, the ancestors of the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun lived off the land, using the rich supply of game animals, fish, birds, and numerous plants for food and for medicinal purposes. Their lifestyle required traveling throughout the First Nation’s traditional territory at various times of the year, for hunting, fishing, and gathering food to survive.
The First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun is culturally affiliated with the Northern Tutchone people of the Pelly Selkirk, and the Carmacks Little Salmon First Nations. These three First Nations form the Northern Tutchone Tribal Council, an organization which deals with matters and issues that affect all three First Nations. The First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun represents the most northerly community of the Northern Tutchone language and culture group. Some of the members of the First nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun trace their ancestry to the Gwitchin people of Northern Yukon and the Mackenzie people of Eastern Yukon.
The First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun is culturally affiliated with the Northern Tutchone people of the Selkirk First Nation and the Little Salmon and Carmacks First Nation. During these times, the Northern Tutchone dictated the terms of exchanges with their foreign trading partners. The oral history of the Na-Cho Nyak Dun also reveals early contact and trade relationships with explorers and traders coming into the area.
The 19th century brought dramatic changes to Yukon First Nations. The First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun readily accepted these new challenges. In 1915, Reverend Julius Kendi arrived at Fraser Falls, where many people of the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun were drying fish. Reverend Kendi was a Native catechist of the Anglican faith, from the Peel River district. Reverend Kendi asked the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun to decide on a site where they could establish their own Village. The decision was made to locate two miles below the Village of Mayo on the banks of the Stewart River. Albert Tom was the traditional chief at Village on the Stewart River for 55 years. The area is now known as “The Old Village”.
The First Nation has been very active in the Land Claims movement since its beginnings in 1973. Members of the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun were instrumental in helping to guide the Council of Yukon First Nations and its member First Nations during the critical times ending in the 1984 breakdown of negotiations and rejection of the agreements. Two of the crucial issues were the absence of self-government and the extinguishment of aboriginal rights. These two important elements, self-government and the retention of aboriginal rights on settlement lands, were eventually included in the 1993 agreements.
The First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun today has a membership of 602. As a self-governing First Nation, the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun has the ability to make laws on behalf of their citizens and their lands. Under the land claims agreement, the First Nation now owns 4,739.68 square kilometers of settlement lands and has received in compensation $14,554,654 for which a trust has been established. The First Nation has been actively involved in affairs of the Mayo community, attempting to promote a better, healthier lifestyle for its future generations and a strong economy based on its rich natural resources. (Source)
Kluane First Nation
Growing from the shores of Kluane Lake in all directions is Ä sì Keyi, (My Grandfather’s Country) a boreal forest nation, that stretches to the Ruby and Nisling mountain ranges to the northeast and the St. Elias Mountains to the southwest.
The Kluane Lake area is the traditional territory of the Lù’àn Män Ku Dän, the Kluane Lake People. The majority of the First Nation people from this area identify themselves as descendants of Southern Tutchone speakers and follow a matriarchal moiety system of two clans, Khanjet (Crow Clan) or Ägunda(WolfClan). Other ancestors of the Kluane First Nation came from nations such as the Tlingit, Upper Tanana and Northern Tutchone. (Source)
Kwanlin Dün First Nation
Linguistically, the Kwanlin Dün are affiliated with the Southern Tutchone Tribal Council. The Kwanlin Dün include people of Southern Tutchone, Tagish and Tlingit descent. A large part of the Kwanlin Dün citizens live in the Whitehorse area, with the balance dispersed throughout Canada, the U.S. (predominantly Alaska) and abroad.
The waterway now called Miles Canyon through to the Whitehorse Rapids was well known to generations of First Nations people. Our ancestors called the area Kwanlin, which means “running water through canyon” in Southern Tutchone.
Scarcely recognized today is the fact that for centuries, before the influx of recent adventurers, the headwaters of the Yukon River were home for the Tagish Kwan, and a regular meeting place for people of other first nations who came to trade with them, including the Tlingit, Kaska, Han, Gwich’in and Tutchone.
In 1900, life changed forever with the building of Whitehorse. Our people still made much of their living on the land but they now came to the new town to trade fur and find work. Usually, they continued to live where they always had, along the waterfront.
In 1900, at the height of the Klondike Gold Rush, Chief Jim Boss (Kishxóot) of the Ta’an Kwäch’än recognized that his people needed protection for their land and hunting grounds in the wake of a growing non-aboriginal population. Chief Boss petitioned the Commissioner of the Yukon, William Ogilvie, for a 1,600 acre reserve at Ta’an Män, which he had already surveyed. Instead, a reserve of only 320 acres was granted. Not satisfied with this outcome, in 1902 Chief Boss wrote to the Department of Indian Affairs in Ottawa, demanding that over-hunting by newcomers be controlled and that his people be compensated for lost land and the impacts on wildlife. This letter contained his famous quote “Tell the King very hard we want something for our Indians, because they take our land and our game”. The only response Chief Boss received was that the police would protect his people and their land. The exchange of these letters represents the first attempt at land claims negotiations by a Yukon First Nation.
For the next 70 year, the federal government ignored similar pleas from Yukon First Nations. During that time the first inhabitants were repeatedly displaced from land they had used and occupied for centuries, with neither consultation nor compensation.
In 1956, the Department of Indian Affairs unilaterally decided there were too many Indian bands in the Yukon Territory and, for administrative purposes, joined six bands into three. This brought about the amalgamation of the indigenous people between Marsh Lake and Lake Laberge who, for various reasons, had migrated into the larger Whitehorse area. Thus, the Department of Indian Affairs created the Whitehorse Indian Band, known today as the Kwanlin Dün First Nation.
n 1972, a contingent of Yukon elders, led by the late Elijah Smith, a Kwanlin Dün elder, presented Prime Minister Pierre E. Trudeau with a document called Together Today for Our Children Tomorrow. At the core of their message was a clear statement: “without land, Indian people have no soul – no life, no identity – no purpose”. Thus began a Yukon land claims process that still continues to this day.
In 1988, after many years of being displaced, Kwanlin Dün First Nation moved to its present site west of the Alaska Highway, on land intended for a subdivision adjacent to a pipeline that was never constructed.
After many decades of negotiating, Kwanlin Dün First Nation signed its Final Agreement and Self-Governing Agreement, which became part of Canada’s constitution, and came into effect on April 1, 2005. On this day, Kwanlin Dün officially became the tenth self-governing Yukon first Nation.
Since settling the Self-Government Agreements, the Kwanlin Dün have operated and negotiated with the Federal and territorial and all other governments as a self-governing First Nation government.
Kwanlin Dün has a diverse population and is located in the most populated area of the Yukon. The land claim agreements KDFN has negotiated with the Government of Canada and Government of Yukon contain many provisions that reflect the First Nation’s unique circumstances. (Source)
Liard First Nation
Liard First Nation is one of five distinct Kaska Dena communities located in Southeast Yukon and Northeastern British Columbia. Two Yukon First Nations – the Ross River Dena Council and Liard First Nation – are part of the Kaska family.
The people of Liard First Nation inhabit a broad area in the southeastern Yukon and live predominantly in and around the present-day town of Watson Lake.
The current population of Liard First Nation is approximately 1,400 members.
Dene Zā́géʼ (the Kaska language) is the language of Liard First Nation and other Kaska nations of southeastern Yukon and northeastern British Columbia. Currently, there are approximately 100 fluent speakers of the Kaska language living throughout the Kaska territory, speaking a range of regional dialects of the language.
Despite the separation of Kaska people imposed by the Indian Act and the present-day provincial and territorial borders separating Kaska families, Liard First Nation is on a path toward nationhood.
The Liard First Nation main administration and executive offices are located in Watson Lake, Yukon.
Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation
Carmacks became an important stopping point for the many steamboats that travelled down the Yukon River between Whitehorse and Dawson City. However, the area around what is now the present day Carmacks was always used by the First Nation People for: Fishing and Hunting in the summer and fall. Carmacks was not a spot that the First Nation People lived at on a yearly basis although they were very familiar with the area and used it yearly.
The People of Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation use to live at Little Salmon Village, which is located about 35 kilometers from Carmacks on the Campbell highway. The First Nation People re-located to the community of Carmacks after the T&D Store moved from Little Salmon and the Coal Mine opened. Little Salmon is still used widely today for traditional activities, and is a respected spot within the First Nation Traditional Territory.
The Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation is one of the 14 First Nations in Yukon, and has a membership of 670 citizens. The First Nation holds elections for their One Chief and Six Councillors every four years, these numbers included on the Chief and council is one elder and one youth member: these council members are selected by their respective councils. The Chief and Council are responsible for the development and governance of the First Nation; and they report to the General Assembly (all citizens). A General Assembly is held on an annually to inform citizens of what is happening in the Governance office.
The Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation uses Clan Moieties of the Wolf and Crow and they are a Matriarchal people; the children follow the clan of the Mother and Grandmother.
The Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation people are part of the Northern Tutchone language and cultural grouping and therefore are closely affiliated with the First Nations of: Mayo – Nacho Nyak Dun First Nation and Pelly Crossing – Selkirk First Nation. The three First Nations are formally associated through the Northern Tutchone Tribal Council, an organization which takes responsibility for some programs and services that have a common interest and concern to all three First Nations.
The Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation became self-governing in July, 1997. The registered population of First Nation members is numbered at approximately 500, of whom half live outside the community. With self-government the First Nation has the ability to make laws on its lands and on behalf of its citizens, and also has the option of taking over the delivery of programs and services for its membership. (Source)
Ross River Dena Council
The Ross River Dena Council is a First Nation in the eastern Yukon Territory in Canada. Its main centre is in Ross River, Yukon at the junction of the Campbell Highway and the Canol Road, near the confluence of the Pelly River and the Ross River. The language originally spoken by the people of this First Nation was mainly Kaska, although a number of the First Nation’s citizens are Slavey speakers. The First Nation has approximately 55o registered members. (Source)
Selkirk First Nation
Long ago, the people of the Selkirk First Nation were known as the Hucha Hudan people, meaning Flatland People. The reason for the Flatland name was because of the landscape in Fort Selkirk, where the land is flat on both sides of the river. Although the modern world has made its footprint in our lives, we still rely heavily on the land for survival.
Our citizenship population is approximately 671 and growing every year. About 40% of the citizens reside in Pelly Crossing while the other 60% live elsewhere in the Yukon and across Canada.
Through our rich history, culture and traditions, we, the Selkirk people, are striving to become a self-sufficient First Nation. Since the beginning of time, our people have used our land for healing, nurturing and guidance. Our footsteps today still walk alongside our ancestors in practicing our traditional lifestyles and will continue for generations to come.
The Northern Tutchone people have their own way of social organization, which is known as the clan system. There are two clans: Wolf and Crow. Clan membership is based on the mother, which means a child belongs to its mother’s clan. Whatever clan a person was born into, this is the clan that they will have throughout their lives. The clans represent who we are, our connection to other families and our connections to our environment.
The Northern Tutchone people’s society was based on the concept of the group – emphasis was not placed on the individual but the community as a whole.
Elders were, and continue to be, the threads of our community, holding it together. Their roles are an extensive list of responsibilities that assist in the safekeeping of the traditional cultural ways.
Elders hold knowledge and are our history keepers.
The Selkirk First Nation Government and people reside in the rural community of Pelly Crossing, the halfway point between the Yukon’s capital, Whitehorse and the infamous Dawson City. Originally, the Selkirk people lived in Fort Selkirk where they used to go by the Hucha Hudan name. In the early days, the Selkirk people had a trading relationship with the Coastal Tlingit and would meet to trade during the summer fish camps on the site where Fort Selkirk was to be built by the Hudson’s Bay Company.
After the fur-trading fort was built, the Selkirk people settled there on a more permanent basis, continuing to trap, fish, hunt and gather year-round in their traditional areas. The construction of the Klondike Highway changed everything and soon our people moved to Minto and later on, settled in Pelly Crossing and other communities.
Today, Fort Selkirk is an important heritage site and is co-managed by the Selkirk First Nation and the Government of Yukon. Pelly Crossing remains alongside the beautiful Pelly River and is an ever expanding and developing community. (Source: http://www.selkirkfn.com/about/our-people/ ; http://www.selkirkfn.com/about/our-community/ )
Ta’an Kwäch’än First Nation
The Ta’an Kwäch’än take their name from Tàa’an Män (Lake Laberge) in the heart of their traditional territory. Their ancestral lands extended north to Hootalinqua at the confluence of the Yukon and Teslin Rivers, south to Marsh Lake, west to White Bank Village at the confluence of the Takhini and Little Rivers, and east to Winter Crossing on the Teslin River.
In 1900, at the height of the Klondike Gold Rush, Chief Jim Boss (Kishxóot) of the Ta’an Kwäch’än recognized that his people needed protection for their land and hunting grounds in the wake of a growing non-aboriginal population. Chief Boss petitioned the Commissioner of the Yukon, William Ogilvie, for a 1,600 acre reserve at Tàa’an Män, which he had already surveyed. Instead, a reserve of only 320 acres was granted.
Not satisfied with the outcome, in 1902 Chief Boss, with the help of a lawyer, wrote to the Superintendent General of the Department of Indian Affairs in Ottawa, demanding that over-hunting by newcomers be controlled and that his people be compensated for lost land and the impacts on wildlife. This letter contained his famous quote “Tell the King very hard we want something for our Indians, because they take our land and our game”. The only response Chief Boss received was that the police would protect his people and their land.
In retrospect, the exchange of letters represents the first attempt at land claims negotiations in the Yukon and, during the early decades of the 20th century, Chief Boss remained one of the most influential and outspoken leaders of Yukon Indian people.
In 1956, the Department of Indian Affairs unilaterally decided that there were too many Indian bands in the Yukon Territory and, for administrative purposes, joined six bands into three. For one, this brought about the amalgamation of the indigenous people living between Marsh Lake and Lake Laberge who, for various reasons, had migrated into the larger Whitehorse area. Here, the Department of Indian Affairs created the Whitehorse Indian Band, known today as the Kwanlin Dün First Nation.
On 14 February 1987, the Ta’an Kwäch’än re-established themselves as a distinct First Nation. The Council for Yukon Indians (now the Council of Yukon First Nations) recognized the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council in 1987, followed by the Department of Indian Affairs in 1998.
Linguistically, the Ta’an Kwäch’än are affiliated with the Southern Tutchone Tribal Council. The Ta’an Kwäch’än comprise people of Southern Tutchone, Tagish and Tlingit descent. Approximately 50 per cent of the Ta’an Kwäch’än citizens now live in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, with the balance disbursed throughout the rest of Canada, in the United States of America (mostly Alaska), and abroad.
Negotiating a comprehensive land claim with the governments of Canada and Yukon, the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council signed its final and self-government agreements on 13 January 2002 and became a self-governing First Nation on 1 April 2002. Under its land claim, the Ta’an Kwäch’än traditional territory covers approximately 12,079 sq km, of which 796 sq km are designated as settlement lands.
The Government of the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council, in accordance with its Constitution, is comprised of the General Assembly, the Board of Directors, the Elders Council, the Youth Council and the Judicial Council. Ta’an Kwäch’än citizens elect a Chief and Deputy-Chief every three years. The headquarters of the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council are located in the City of Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. (Source)
Teslin Tlingit Council
Teslin Tlingit Council (TTC) is a self-governing First Nation based in Teslin in Southern Yukon Territory. Teslin Tlingit people have shared ancestry with the coastal Tlingit people of Southeast Alaska and the Inland Tlingit people of Taku River First Nation and Carcross-Tagish First Nation.
There are five Teslin Tlingit Clans , which play a central role in TTC’s government structure. The administrative branch of TTC consists of eight Departments, which provide programs and services for TTC’s Citizens. (Source)
Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation
The Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in are a Yukon First Nation based in Dawson City. The citizenship of roughly 1,100 includes descendants of the Hän-speaking people, who have lived along the Yukon River for millennia, and a diverse mix of families descended from Gwich’in, Northern Tutchone and other language groups.
Yukon First Nations set the land-claims process in motion during the 1970s. Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in began negotiating their individual land claim in 1991. The Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Final Agreement was signed on July 16, 1998, and came into effect on September 15, 1998.
The Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in government ensures a strong and healthy future for citizens while maintaining connections to traditional knowledge and the land. The First Nation is governed by an elected Chief and four councillors, who rely on direction from the Elders’ Council, a body comprising all Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in people aged 55 and over. The General Assembly—all voting-age citizens—gather at least once a year to pass extraordinary resolutions, approve legislation and provide direction to political leaders. (Source)
Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation
We are the Vuntut Gwitchin of the North Yukon, with boundless pride in our ancient cultural heritage and ancestral homelands. We exercise our inherent right to self government, to take the responsibility for the general welfare of our citizens, and to provide for the good government of our communities, lands and resources. (Source)
White River First Nation
The White River First Nation (WRFN) is a First Nation in the western Yukon Territory in Canada. Its main population centre is Beaver Creek, Yukon. The language originally spoken by the contemporary membership of the White River First Nation were the Athabaskan languages of Upper Tanana, whose traditional territory extends from the Slims River into neighbouring Alaska, and Northern Tutchone, whose traditional territories included the lower Stewart River and the area south of the Yukon River on the White and Donjek River drainages. Closely related through traditional marriages between various local bands, these two language groups were merged by the Canadian government into a single White River Indian Band in the early 1950s for administrative convenience. In 1961 the White River Band was amalgamated by the Canadian government with the Southern Tutchone speaking members of the Burwash Band at Burwash on Kluane Lake as the Kluane Band (subsequently the Kluane Tribal Brotherhood and then the Kluane Tribal Council). In 1990, the Kluane Tribal Council split its membership into the Kluane First Nation, centered in Burwash, and the White River First Nation, centered in Beaver Creek. The White River First Nation participated in negotiations for a land claims agreement and had reached a memorandum of understanding on most issues, but the parties were not able to reach a final agreement to put forward to ratification by WRFN citizens. The Federal Government mandate to negotiate land claims in the Yukon expired on March 31, 2005 and on April 1 the Federal Government announced that discussions with the WRFN “will no longer involve the possibility of concluding land claim and self-government agreements” and will instead focus “on how best to advance the interest of White River under the provisions of the Indian Act.” (Source)