Skip Navigation

Local Culture


 Native Alaskans living within and near the Yukon Flats are primarily Gwich'in Athabascan Indians. Until fairly recent times, Athabascans were highly mobile people, moving in family groups throughout a home territory. Following contact with Europeans, Athabascans started settling in more permanent villages that evolved around trading posts and, primarily, newly constructed schools.

Subsistence activities are central to Athabascan social and cultural values. Athabascans follow a pattern of subsistence activities that reflect the seasonal cycle of harvestable resources. Subsistence links Native peoples with the animal resources and lands upon which they depend. Subsistence also links each village, in many ways, with its past. Young hunters learn skills and animal lore from their elders-older, experienced hunters (Berger, 1985). Athabascans believe that the act of physically harvesting their food is intrinsically related to other aspects of their world. They see threats to subsistence as threats to their cultural survival (Case and Voluck, 2002). For many Athabascans, subsistence embodies the truths that give meaning to human life-enabling “. . . Native peoples to feel at one with their ancestors, at home in the present, and confident of the future” (Berger, 1985, p. 55).

Residents of the following seven villages, located within or near the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge, use Yukon Flats resources for subsistence: Beaver, Birch Creek, Chalkyitsik, Circle, Fort Yukon, Stevens Village, and Venetie These villages, as well as the Native regional corporation, Doyon Ltd., own land within the Yukon Flats Refuge. These lands were conveyed to the Native peoples under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). Approximately 2.5 million acres of land within the refuge boundaries are in Native ownership. Native residents of the seven villages are also represented by a non-profit organization known as the Tanana Chiefs Council.

References:
Berger, T.R. 1985. Village Journey: The Report of the Alaska Native Review Commission. Hill and Wang, New York. 202pp.

Case, D.S. and D.A. Voluck. 2002. Alaska Natives and American Laws, 2nd Edition. University of Alaska Press, Fairbanks. 515 pp.

Further Reading:
Fast, P.A. 2002. Northern Athabascan Survival: Women, Community, & the Future. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln and London. 304pp.

Fredson, J. and E. Sapir. 1982 (reprinted 1995). Hàa Googwandak (Stories Told by John Fredson to Edward Sapir), edited by K. Peter and J. McGary.

Joseph, D.S. 1997. Fishcamp. Maverick Publications, Bend, Oregon. 143pp.

Langdon, S.J. 1993. The Native People of Alaska. Greatland Graphics, Anchorage. 96pp.

McClanahan, A.J. 2001. Growing up Native in Alaska. Todd Communications

Mishler, C. (ed). 1995 (reprint 2001). Neerihiinjìk: We Traveled From Place to Place: Johnny Sarah Hàa Googwandak: The Gwich'in Stories of Johnny and Sarah Frank .

Mishler, C. and W.E. Simeone. 2004 (scheduled). Han, People of the River. University of Alaska Press, Fairbanks.

Mitchell, D.C. 2003 (reissue). Sold American. University of Alaska Press, Fairbanks.

Mitchell, D.C. 2002 (reissue). Take My Land, Take My Life. University of Alaska Press, Fairbanks.

Nelson, R.K. 1986. Hunters of the Northern Forest. University of Chicago Press, Chicago. 303pp.

Peter, K. 2001. Khhékwaii Zheh Gwiich'in: Living in the Chief's House.

Peter, K. 1992. Neets'áíí Gwiindaii (Living in the Chandalar Country), retranslated by Adeline Raboff.

Ross, K. 2000. Environmental Conflict in Alaska. University of Colorado Press, Boulder. 382pp.
 
Last Updated: Jun 04, 2013
Return to main navigation