The mission of the First Nation Na Cho Nyak Dun’s Heritage Department is to preserve, protect and promote the traditional knowledge, culture, governance, language of the Northern Tutchone people.
The NND traditional territory is large and includes overlapping areas with the neighbouring First Nations including the Trondek Hwech’in, the Selkirk First Nation and the Gwitchin of Fort McPherson. NND has strong historical connections with these first nations and many of their citizens are direct descendants. Further, the cultural connections with the land and rivers and their resources is of extreme importance and must be guarded carefully so that future generations can continue to know their traditions, values and beliefs.
Language has the ability to permeate every part of life in the community. It can be in the workplace, at home, in the car or in the store and it can be used for business, entertainment and everyday life. There is no doubt the language we use is influential in who we are and how we think. What remains is how much we choose to use Northern Tutchone or English. FNNND is promoting the learning and use of language through several initiatives. These include:
– Instruction at the JV Clark school and the Daycare
– Adult language classes in the evenings
– The use of northern Tutchone on printed materials and documents
– First Voices website (provide link to website)
Currently the situation is that Northern Tutchone has fallen into disuse. We don’t use it because we don’t know it, and we don’t know it because there are no apparent benefits.
To re-awaken the language we have to teach it and make it a viable option and then we have to follow that with the motivation to learn and use the language.
Heritage Sites & Special Places
There are numerous buildings, sites and things that are important to the Na Cho Nyak Dun. As much as we would like to, we cannot save everything from the past so there is invariably a choice to be made often governed by available funding.
And there are further choices as to how a place is to be preserved. Do we save it “as is” or should we spend the money to fully restore it? And what do we do after it has been restored because there is always a cost involved with maintenance. Everything we use from buildings to clothes is a part of our “heritage” but there will be many community discussions yet to come on the choices yet to be made.
Over the winter, Heritage Department staff will be working closely with Lands Department staff, Elders and Citizens to develop plans for several of the places in our traditional territory. Many of the sites under consideration can be done, but a comprehensive plan must be undertaken first. It cannot be all done at once. That plan will inevitably begin with training since restoration is a specialized and lengthy process. It is possible that some smaller projects can be undertaken as “training” platforms before the larger projects are undertaken.
Some projects are already underway. For instance the Old Village has been cleared and a central facility built so that the site can at least be used. The Loon project is underway and it is anticipated that in a few years the vessel will once again be on the Mayo waterfront. Some trails have been assessed for reconstruction. We have also been collecting oral history information on Lansing Post to begin a plan for the site.
Oral Histories and Traditional Knowledge
NND staff have been working for many years to document oral histories and traditional for various purposes including land claims, place name documentation, Peel Watershed Land Use Planning process, Ddhaw Ghro Habitat Protection area, Devil’s Elbow Habitat Protection Area and other projects as required. This information exists in various forms in our collection and our staff is working closely with Lands Department staff to ensure that this information is documented and used according to our Traditional Knowledge Guidelines (Spring 2008). We continue to use this information for our purposes as well to contribute to other processes such as applications through YESAB, collaborative research and other partnerships.
Five Year Strategic Plan and Implementation Plan
In 2004, the First Nation of Na Cho Nyak Dun developed the Five Year Strategic Plan and Implementation Plan to guide the management of heritage and cultural resources in our traditional territory. While the preservation of these resources is important to the First Nation itself, a number of land claims obligations must be reviewed and met and are included.
This plan has been developed with direct involvement and consultation with the elders, chief, deputy chief, youth, and all interested community stakeholders. This is truly a community plan that will ensure that connections are not lost and it demonstrates a solid foundation for the future of NND’s culture and heritage.
This document outlines current heritage resources as well as the opportunities and challenges that need to be implemented. Also included is a heritage vision statement, goals, objectives and an implementation strategy.
Na Cho Nyak Dun Chief and Council, The Heritage Steering Committee, The Elders Council, youth, and Mayo community members all participated in consultation that took place from July to November 2004. With the information gathered it clearly shows the direction the whole community feels is important to keeping and sustaining for generations to come.
The objectives were:
– To consult with NND stakeholders and identify their heritage and cultural needs
– To review and assess other Yukon First Nation-owned cultural centre’s
– To identified specific heritage, cultural and language resources need to be protected and sustained
– To recommend a plan of action
– To identify possible location/funding
After numerous meetings and consultations with NND Citizens, it is evident that there is a great deal of support for Heritage activities within NND. Elders are very conscious that they are getting older and they want to find a way to pass on what they have learned in their lifetimes. And their lifetimes have been truly incredible as reflected in the changes they have seen. Some were born in the bush, lived a truly traditional lifestyle and then experienced everything from their first log cabin to computers. They have lived and used everything from moose hide boats to skidoos; they have seen the change from the use of their traditional language to radio, TV and CD’s. Not everything has been seen as positive change and they want to see a preservation of at least some of their old ways.
That preservation should certainly apply to language and Traditional Knowledge and many buildings and sites as well. NND needs guidelines and a Cultural Centre in which to house their Heritage.
It all needs to be done but invariably funding and time provide limits to what we would like to do. At the same time the elders are getting older and we are on the verge of losing their very valuable memories.
What NND is trying to preserve is a way of life, rather than a singular item such as language or site. All aspects of the old way of life are interdependent and none can survive alone. We can’t use language only in the classroom and preserving a single building in a village seems pointless. The Language and the Traditional Knowledge, the sites and buildings and artifacts all mean something when seen as an entire way of life and they should be preserved with their interdependent nature in mind.
Citizens are often hired to assist with various projects whether it to be provide background information about a specific place, provide translation services or being a boat driver. The Heritage & Culture Department strives to involve as many citizens as possible in all aspects of its work.
For more information about any of our projects and activities please contact us at 996-2265.
Lansing Heritage Site
Behind the Scenes
As we move forward as a modern First Nation, it’s important for us to document our stories and memories about mining and community history. In the central Yukon, mining is still active as well as reclamation activities. Both of these employ our people. We have partnered with various organizations to document the stories and views of our people and people in the industry, please follow the links for more information.
Behind the Scenes in Yukon Mining PDF
Stories collected in 2014/15. Full text with pictures from the presentation given by Gertie Saxinger in Mayo on October 4, 2015. (26 pages)
Behind the Scenes in Mayo and Mining PDF
Stories collected between June 2015 and March 2016 by Gertie Saxinger and Susa Gartler. Presentation given by Susa Gartler to community of Mayo in July 2016. (25 pages)
Applying for Beneficiary/Citizenship Form
Applying for FNNND Citizenship On Behalf Of A Minor Child Form
Consent to Transfer of an Adult Form
Consent to Transfer of a Minor Form
Access to Information Form
NND Citizenship Code draft
Amended Nacho Nyàk Dun Citizenship Code
Old Village Gathering 2013 Report
Aboriginal Day 2009 Photo Report
Heritage Manager – Telephone: (867) 996-2265, ext. 116
Karen Van Bibber
Enrollment Officer – Telephone: (867) 996-2265, ext. 115
Heritage Assistant – Telephone: (867) 996-2265, ext. 130
Language & Culture Coordinator – Telephone: (867) 996-2265, ext. 139