The Gwich'in or Gwitchin (formerly also called Kutchin ) are an Native American tribal group in the border area between Canada and Alaska and are linguistically and culturally part of the Alaska Athabasques and Northern Athabasks . French-Canadian voyageurs (fur traders) referred to them as Loucheux or Loucheaux ("Schielende", "Schieler" or "Schielauge"), while the British referred to them as Tukudh or Tukkuth , since the first Bible translation by Anglican missionaries in the dialect of the Dagoo Gwich'in / Dagudh Gwich'in / Tukudh Kutchin / Tukkuthkutchin / Upper Porcupine River Kutchin .
Other names of the Gwich'in (mostly just the name for a single group, which was then transferred to all the others) are: Kutcha Kutchin , Yukon Flats Kutchin , Fort Indians , Ik-kil-lin , Gilder , Itchali , It-ka- lya-ruin , Nuwukmiut , Itkpe'lit , It-ku'dlin , Lowland People , Na-Kotchpo-tschig-Kouttchin , O-til'-tin and Rat Indians .
They sometimes refer to themselves as Dinjii Zhuu (literally: "little people", meaning: "humble, humble people"), whereby they often understood all Indians by this term in order to distinguish them from the often hostile Yupik and Iñupiat Eskimo - from called them Ch'ineekaii - as well as later to be differentiated from the Europeans.
Linguistically and culturally they are very close to the Han (Hän Hwëch'in) , the Tutchone (Huč'an / Ku Dän) and Upper Tanana (Kohtʼiin), who also belong to the Alaska Athabascans , with northern Gwich'in bands from the Yupik and Iñupiat Eskimo have adopted some cultural techniques .
The approximately 9,000 Gwich'in today mostly live in 15 settlements and communities in the northeast and east of Interior Alaska , in the north of the Yukon and in the northwest of the Northwest Territories . Other Gwich'in live in three predominantly Koyukun (Hut'aane / Hotana) and a predominantly Han (Hän Hwëch'in) settlement in Alaska.
The Gwich'in once roamed the mountain and forest tundra of Alaska and Canada in the river basin of the Yukon River and its tributaries Birch Creek , Beaver Creek , Pelly River , Porcupine River and Chandalar River as well as in the river basin and delta of the Mackenzie River and its tributaries Arctic Red River , Peel River and Horn River . Large areas were also located north of the Arctic Circle and therefore included the open, tree-free tundra characterized by mosses and lichens . The Gwich'in therefore formed the furthest north living tribe of all Indians in North America .
In the north of their tribal area lived different groups of the Iñupiat (Alaska) and Inuvialuit Inuit (Yukon and Northwest Territories) Eskimo (Ch'ineekaii), in the east lived the regional tribal or. Dialect groups of the K'ahsho Got'ine (Hare (skin) Dene) and Shita Got'ine / Shúhtagot'ine (Mountain Dene) of the North Slavey (mostly east of the Anderson River and Mackenzie River), in the southeast the Northern Tutchone , in the south the closely related Han (Hän Hwëch'in) (Han Gwich'in), in the southwest the Tanacross and Tanana (Lower Tanana) / Middle Tanana of the Tanana Athabasques (Tanan Gwich'in) and in the west the Koyukon (Teetsii Gwich'in) .
Your eponymous language Gwich'in (Kutchin, Takudh, Tukudh, Loucheux) or Dinjii Zhu 'Ginjik belongs to the family of the Northern Athabaskan languages , there to the regional subgroup called Central Alaska-Yukon and forms together with the Hän (Häɬ goɬan) or Han (Hankutchin, Moosehide, Dawson, Gens du Fou, Han Gwich-in, Han-Kootchin) der Hän (Hän Hwëch'in) here again the linguistic subgroup Kutchin-Han . In general, a distinction is made between a western dialect group (mostly in Alaska) and an eastern dialect group (Yukon and Northwest Territories), each band or today settlement in turn having its own dialect. If most of the speakers were old and elderly, of whom only 40 spoke their mother tongue at home in 1998 and others stated that they mastered it, but did not speak actively, the number of native speakers or those who master them has increased through an intensive revitalization program Schools, which try to pass this on to the next generations, increased again. The language is spoken again today by around 400 tribesmen in the Northwest Territories and in the Yukon (western dialect group) and by around 300 other tribesmen in Alaska (eastern dialect group). Gwich'in (Dinjii Zhu 'Ginjik) has - along with other indigenous languages and Canadian English and Canadian French - the status of an official language in the Northwest Territories.
Associated tribes and clans
Once the Gwich'in nine separate divided regional bands that in several local groups were divided (local bands), which in turn of one or more matrilineal extended families existed. Each of these bands spoke their own dialect , but could understand each other. Each band referred to itself as Gwich'in ("people"; literally: "residents of an area") as well as including the name of the respective main village or river as a location for clear identification and demarcation from neighboring but different bands. For example, the Gwich'in designated along the Black River as Draan'jik Gwich'in ; The name is derived from the designation of the Black River as Draan'jik (and thus as a place) and from Gwich'in ("inhabitant of an area") as an indication that this is their tribal area, and literally means (" Inhabitants of the area along the Black River ") - is however mostly represented as (" People along the Black River "). (see the same: Haw'in / Hwëch'in with the Han and Huč'an / Ku Dän with the Tutchone ).
Historic Gwich'in Bands from West to East:
- Di'hąįį Gwich'in / Di'haii Gwich'in / Upper Koyukuk River Kutchin ("people who live furthest downstream"; lived in the tundra along the Colville River north of the Arctic Circle in northern Alaska to the Upper Koyukuk River in the Forest tundra in the south, were expelled from their homeland by the Nunamiut Iñupiat in the middle of the 19th century , followed by Neets'ąįį Gwich'in, who lived to the southeast , now: Venetie (Vįįhtąįį), Alaska)
- Neets'ąįį Gwich'in / Neets'it / Natsikutchin / Chandalar River Kutchin ("residents of the north side [of the Yukon River]"; lived on the north bank of the Yukon River (Yukon - "large river") and in the river basin of the Chandalar River (T 'eedriinjik) eastwards to the Sheenjek River ; today: Arctic Village (Vashrąįį K'ǫǫ) and Venetie and some in Fort Yukon, Alaska)
- Dendu Gwich'in / Deenduu / Dendoo Gwich'in / Birch Creek Kutchin ("People in the foothills of the Tanana Hills and White Mountains " literally "residents of the other side [south side of the Yukon River], ie residents of Birch Creek", lived mostly on the south bank of the Yukon River as well as in the river area of Birch Creek (K'iidòotinjik) and Beaver Creek (Tsèenjik) , also called Ishenzhik Gwich'in - "residents of Birch Creek", own designation: Tsatet'aich'in - "residents of the confluent Streams, ie Birch Creek, Beaver Creek, their tributaries and the wetlands "; today: Birch Creek (Denduu) as well as some in Fort Yukon, Alaska)
- Gwichaa Gwich'in / Yukon Flats Kutchin (“People of the Yukon Flats (Yukon Plains) ” or “Fort Yukon People”, lived in the Yukon Flats on both sides of the Yukon River up to the confluence of the Yukon River (Yuukon - “large river”) and Porcupine River (Ch'ôonjik); today: Fort Yukon (Gwicyaa Zhee / Gwichyaa Zheh - "House in the Yukon Flats (Yukon Plains)"), Circle and Beaver, Alaska)
- Draan'jik Gwich'in / Tranjikutchin / Black River Kutchin ("people along the Black River (Draan'jik) ", lived east of the Gwichaa Gwich'in / Yukon Flats Kutchin in the river basin of the Black River (Draan'jik - "provisions store along of the river ") and the Salmon Fork River; today: Chalkyitsik (Jałgiitsik) and some in Fort Yukon, Alaska)
- Van Tat Gwich'in / Vuntut / Vantee Gwitchin / Crow River Kutchin ("People in the midst of the lakes (the Old Crow Flats)" or "Old Crow Flats people", lived along the Bluefish River (Shriijaa Njik) and along the Middle Porcupine River ( Ch'ôonjik) and the Old Crow River (Chyahnjik) as well as in the approx. 6,170 km² Old Crow Flats (Old Crow Plains) , 75 km north of the Arctic Circle and 110 km south of the Beaufort Sea , which isboundedby the Richardson Mountains in the east, the British and Barns Ranges in the north, the Davidson Mountains in the west and the Crow Mountains in the south-west are almost enclosed, and are characterized by more than 2000 small lakes , ponds and swamps and therefore by the Gwich'in Van Tat ("many lakes" , derived from Van = "lake", Tat = "many"); today: Old Crow (Van Tat), Yukon), traditional camps of the Van Tat Gwich'in (some were later developed into trading posts and permanent settlements) were Rampart House (Gindèhchìk, abandoned as a settlement in 1947), Schaeffer Lake (K ' ìi Zhìt, at Schaeffer Creek (Neetaii)), Crow River (Chyahnjik) and Crow Flats (Van Tat). - sometimes referred to as Middle Porcupine River Kutchin .
- Dagoo Gwich'in / Dagudh Gwich'in / Tukudh Kutchin / Tukkuthkutchin / Upper Porcupine River Kutchin ("People in the area of the ptarmigan" or "[Upper] Porcupine River people") lived east and south of the Van Tat Gwich'in mostly in the mountainous region along the Upper Porcupine River (Ch'ôonjik), the Whitestone River (Sheihveenjik) , the Fishing Branch River (Ni'iinlii Njik), Driftwood River (Troo Chòo Njik), the Miner River (Ch'inèetsii Njik), the Bell River (Chii Vee Njik) , the Eagle River (Ch'izhìn Njik) to the Blackstone River (Tth'oh zraii njik) and the upper reaches of the Ogilvie River (Gwazhàl Njik) , both headwaters of the Peel River (Teetl'it njik), including of the western Upper Peel River basin, traditional camps of the Dagoo Gwich'in (some were later developed into trading posts and permanent settlements) were LaPierre House (Zheh Gwatsàl - "small house", on the Bell River, about 120 km west of Old Crow ), Whitestone Village (Chuu Tl'it), Johnson Creek Village (Kâachik, literally: “Win settlement ") and Driftwood Village (Troo Chòo Njik, at its mouth), fishing grounds were large lakes such as Whitefish Lake (Ch'ihilii Chìk, east of the Porcupine River and south of the Bell River) and Porcupine Lake (Ch'ijuulaii) , joined the Van Tat and Teetł'it Gwich'in after an epidemic and the decimation of caribou herds in the 1950s; today: Old Crow (Van Tat), Yukon and Fort McPherson, Northwest Territories)
- Teetł'it Gwich'in / Teetl'it Zheh Gwich'in / Tatlitkutchin / Peel River Kutchin ("People on the upper reaches of the Peel River (Teetl'it njik) " or "Fort McPherson people", lived in the mountains and river valleys on the upper course the Peel River and its tributaries - on the Blackstone River (Tth'oh zraii njik), Hart River , Wind River , Bonnet Plume River and Snake River (Gyûû dazhoo njik / Gyuu dazhoo njik) - downstream including the Trail River and Stoney Creeks to traditional trading post Teetl'it Zheh (Fort McPherson) ; today: Fort McPherson, Northwest Territories)
- Gwichyaa Gwich'in / Kutchakutchin / Yukon Flats Kutchin ("People of the Yukon Flats (Yukon Plains)" or "People of the Arctic Red River", easternmost Gwich'in Band, lived from the Yukon Flats eastwards along the river basins of the Arctic Red River ( Tsiigèhnjik) , the Mackenzie River (Nagwichoonjik) , the Travaillant River (Khaii Luk Tshik) ("(mouth of) winter fish creek") and the Tree River (Dachan choo gëhnjik) ; today: Tsiigehtchic (formerly: Arctic Red River), Northwest Territories as well as Fort Yukon and Venetie, Alaska) - these were also incorrectly referred to as Nakotchokutchin / Mackenzie Flats Kutchin , as they lived in the delta of the Mackenzie River (Nagwichoonjik) ("large, open land flowing through").
Often these nine bands are also listed as follows (with varying names): Dihai (Upper Koyukuk River Kutchin), Kutcha (Yukon Flats Kutchin), Natsit (Chandalar River Kutchin), Tennuth (Birch Creek Kutchin), Tranjik (Black River Kutchin) and Vunta (Crow River Kutchin) in Alaska and the Nakotcho (Mackenzie Flats Kutchin), Takkuth / Tukkuth (Upper Porcupine River Kutchin) and Tatlit (Peel River Kutchin) in Yukon and Northwest Territories in Canada.
In order to be able to distinguish the different dialect speaking bands of the Gwichaa Gwich'in and Gwichyaa Gwich'in / Kutchakutchin , both of whom call themselves "People of the Yukon Flats", the former often call themselves Gwichyaa Zhee Gwich'in "People of." Fort Yukon ”and the latter“ People on the Arctic Red River (Tsiigèhnjik) ”.
During the colonization and the fur trade , new Gwich'in bands had formed around the established trading posts and partially settled, other smaller bands or local groups were again wiped out by introduced epidemics , the survivors either joined neighboring bands or formed new regional bands; recently, several Gwich'in bands were forcibly settled in a settlement by the Canadian and American governments.
Defunct Gwich'in bands:
- K'iitł'it Gwich'in / K'iitl'it / Ketlit Kutchin / Keet la Koo chin ("People of K'iitł'it, ie from the Upper Koyukuk River and Anaktuvuk Pass " - were called Yeedi by neighboring Gwich'in 'Gwich'in Nąįį - "people who live downstream", joined the Di'hąįį Gwich'in / Di'haii Gwich'in , later as part , after two loss-making battles against Nunamiut Iñupiat and Koyukon and an outbreak of scarlet fever this then the Neets'ąįį Gwich'in ; today: Venetie, Alaska, some can also be found under the Draan'jik Gwich'in / Tranjikutchin and Van Tat Gwich'in - there are descendants in Stevens Village, Alaska - they identify but today as Koyukon)
- Tatsa Gwich'in / Tatsakutchin (probably identical with the Dendu Gwich'in , own name: Tsatet'aich'in - "Inhabitants of the confluent brooks, ie Birch Creek, Beaver Creek, their tributaries and the marshland", sometimes as a local group of the Gwichyaa Gwich'in / Kutchakutchin , lived on both sides of the Yukon up to the mouth of the Tanana River in the area of today's Rampart, Alaska)
- Shoo Draanjik (probably a local group of the Draan'jik Gwich'in / Tranjikutchin )
- Tennuth Gwich'in / Tennuthkutchin / Birch Creek Kutchin ("People along the Birch Creek ", a tributary of the Yukon in Alaska, from the Dendu Gwich'in / Deenduu / Dendoo Gwich'in who later lived here as Gwit'ee Gwich'in ( "People living under"); today possibly some descendants among the Dendu Gwich'in / Deenduu / Dendoo Gwich'in in Birch Creek, Alaska)
Newly formed / formed Gwich'in bands:
- Danzhit Hanlaih Gwich'in ("people where the water flows from the mountains", originally one or more local groups of the Gwichaa Gwich'in / Yukon Flats Kutchin , who settled here and developed a separate identity; today: Circle (Danzhit Khaiinląįį ), Alaska)
- Edhiitat Gwich'in / Ehdii Tat Gwich'in ("People in the Mackenzie River Delta "; today: Aklavik, Northwest Territories)
- Nihtat Gwich'in ("mixed peoples", an amalgamation of several Gwich'in bands; today: Inuvik, Northwest Territories)
Often, as are Edhiitat Gwich'in / Gwich'in Ehdii fact, both today Nihtat Gwich'in and the / Edhiitat Gwich'in Ehdii fact Gwich'in designated as their dialect a mixture of dialects of Teetł'it Gwich'in and Gwichyaa Gwich'in is.
Athabaskan peoples incorrectly grouped as Gwich'in Bands :
The linguistically closely related Hän (Hän Hwëch'in) living in the south were usually referred to as Hankutchin in older specialist literature (derived from the Gwich'in word hangʷičʼin or Han Gwich'in - "people along the river, ie the Yukon River" ) and thus often mistakenly regarded as a band of Gwich'in; however, they are to be distinguished from these and see themselves as related but separate ethnic groups .
The same applies to the Tutchone (Huč'an / Ku Dän), which is also often referred to as Tutchonekutchin in older sources .
In addition, under the respective Gwich'in names Teetsii Gwich'in ("people in the shade, ie the dense forests") are the Koyukon (Hut'aane / Hotana) and Tanan Gwich'in ("people along the Tanana River (Tanan Gwinjik ) “ ) To understand the Tanana Athabasques (Kokht'ana / Koxt'een / Kohtʼiin) named after the river .
Social grouping in Gwich'in clans:
Three large clans, including one with a lower status, can be distinguished. The Nantsaii , literally “the first in the country”, and Chits'aa, “the helpers”, dominate the clan system. The third clan, the Tenjeraatsaii, the “untouchables” or “independents”, is inferior to them. This third clan takes in everyone who got married within their clan, which is considered a taboo break. In addition, there are all those who do not belong to any clan. Children of non-Gwich'in also belong to him, but the non-tribe parent remains outside the clan system.
The Gwich'in have lived in today's residential area for more than 10,000 years. In the northeast of the Gates of the Arctic National Park in Alaska , at the Putu Site , 11,000 year old traces of human presence were found. There may be older traces, but they are controversial. Gallagher Flint Station, also northeast of the park, is around 10,500 years old. The so-called Northern Archaic people are the first residents who can be assigned to a narrower cultural area. They appeared around 4,500 BC. They are already considered an Indian culture based on fish and caribou.
Around 2200 BC The tools changed, the arctic culture of small tools prevailed, or there was an immigration, possibly Eskimos. It was not, like the previous culture, a pure mainland culture, but also shows signs of a coastal culture, and could therefore with the around 3000 BC. Beginning of the immigration of Eskimo groups. It reached east to Greenland. The last complex of this arctic culture was the Ipiutak complex , which extended until around AD 500.
Numerous stories contain fragments from the distant past of the tribes in clauses. They often begin with “In the old days” (Deenaadai) and continue “when all people could talk to animals and all animals could talk to people”. The spiritual world of the Gwich'in does not need a god because all things and living beings have a spirit. The Inupiat (in Gwich'in: Ch'ineekaii) from the Kobuk River were considered outstanding shamans . Such Dinjii Dazhan were in high regard, had contact with supernatural powers, were able to influence the behavior of prey, and had healing powers and knowledge.
European explorers and fur traders
Alexander Mackenzie was probably the first European to meet the Gwich'in in 1789 on his voyage of discovery to the Beaufort Sea . They were divided into nine tribes at that time. He added the name "Quarrellers" to them. The later fur traders, who spoke partly French, partly English and belonged to the North West Company , called them “Squinters”, “Squinteye” or “Loucheux”, meaning “Schieler” or “Schielauge”.
The actual fur trade began in 1806 with the establishment of Fort Good Hope , at the mouth of the Bluefish River (Shriijaa Njik) , but this post was moved downstream before 1811; However, the new settlement was no longer in Gwich'in territory, but now on land of a regional group of the North Slavey , who wanted the post in their vicinity due to the promising trade - as well as to protect against enemy Eskimos and Gwich'in. To this fact we owe insights into a society that is still comparatively little influenced by Europeans. Trade initially brought Europeans and Indians into contact. The Indians mainly exchanged beaver and mink fur for blue and white pearls and metal objects. The pearls were so popular that they took their furs back with them in 1814 when there weren't enough of them in the fort. In the summer of 1823 the fort moved further downstream, this time against the resistance of various regional groups of the North Slavey - here the Hare (skin) Dene (K'ahsho Got'ine) and the Great Bear Lake Dene (Sahtú Got'ine) on the Great Bear Lake . For fear of the Eskimos, the head of the fort suggested the Hare (skin) Dene (K'ahsho Got'ine) and “Loucheux” (Gwich'in) in the summer of 1827, the fort again near the rapids, at least further away by the "Esquimeaux" (Eskimo) to build. It was then moved to a peninsula between Jackfish Creek and the east bank of the Mackenzie River. It was the company's northernmost trading post and is now also known as the Charter Community of K'asho Got'ine after the North Slavey resident here .
In 1823 a trading chief (chief who controlled trade contacts between Europeans and Indian groups) led the Gwich'in Indian trappers, whom the men of the trading company called "Barbue", possibly derived from the French term for "bearded" . It wasn't until two years later that he reappeared with 1,500 muskrats and offered his support on John Franklin's second polar expedition. With 20,000 muskrats and 2,000 mink , the Gwich'in and the Hare (skin) Dene (K'ahsho Got'ine), who lived further south, brought three-quarters and one-third of the province's total yield, respectively. Beavers and lynxes, on the other hand, came exclusively from groups further south of the South Slavey around Fort Simpson (Líídlîî Køç) (at the confluence of the Mackenzie and Liard Rivers) and around Fort Liard (Echaot'įe Kų́ę́) (at the confluence of the Petitot River into the Liard River ).
The northernmost fort depended on the meat supply of the Gwich'in. They supplied around 10,000 pounds of fresh and 3,500 pounds of dried meat, 1,000 caribou tongues and 3,000 fish in 1826 alone. In return, they received iron goods such as knives, axes, needles, picks, etc., as well as hats, belts, hoods, blankets, trousers, combs, but also rifles, ammunition and gunpowder. The Gwich'in were evidently not dependent on the British and French, because they also traded with the Russians in the West through intermediaries.
George Simpson, governor of the Northern Department , recognized the weakness of his position. The Gwich'in mainly wanted white pearls, a kind of fashion item that they could do without if necessary, and were not dependent on the North West Company for that . However, he had failed to realize that the Gwich'in now used pearls as a kind of money and medium of exchange, and did so for decades. In any case, he had a more tangible dependence in mind.
In 1826 and 1827 there were fights with Barbue's neighbors who lived in the "Lower Loucheux's Lands". The cause was in his family. Out of jealousy, his son had shot his wife, who was the daughter of the chief of that area, who in turn wanted to avenge his daughter's death. Barbues tribe was probably "Upper Loucheux" or the Nakotchokutchin / Mackenzie Flats Kutchin (an important local group of the Gwichyaa Gwich'in / Kutchakutchin / Yukon Flats Kutchin , one of the historically nine regional bands of the Gwich'in). With them and their neighbors, the eldest son usually followed the father as leader of the tribe. This leadership role also applied to the fur trade. Nevertheless, the company's fur traders claimed a say in who was allowed to trade with them.
The Gwichyaa Gwich'in / Kutchakutchin / Yukon Flats Kutchin appeared as the easternmost band of the Gwich'in apparently as a middleman for Gwich'in who lived further away, other Indian tribes as well as Ch'ineekaii (Inuit) and were able to successfully establish a trade monopoly, especially the Bringing the coveted muskrat trade in the Upper Mackenzie Delta (then a no man's land between Gwich'in and Inuit) under their control. However, this increasingly led to permanent conflicts with neighboring Gwich'in as well as bands of the Athabascans and in particular with the Ch'ineekaii (Inuit) , which intensified with the introduction of rifles by European traders. In the spring of 1826, the latter apparently carried out a kind of punitive expedition with 60 canoes and numerous small boats. There were more than 500 men on the canoes alone, which were manned by 8 to 9 men. Without the guns of the fur traders, the Gwichyaa Gwich'in would hardly have been able to keep the Inuit (Ch'ineekaii) from having direct access to the fort and its riches. So they defended their monopoly by force of arms until around 1850, when they were decimated by epidemics.
The Europeans had also recognized their dependency on the Gwichyaa Gwich'in and tried by setting up trading posts further west in the middle of the Gwich'in territory to involve other bands in the trade and to eliminate the former as middlemen and monopolists. In Fort Good Hope they had already met another Gwich'in band that came here regularly to trade: the Teetł'it Gwich'in / Teetl'it Zheh Gwich'in / Peel River Kutchin . They reported the abundance of hunting in their area and asked for a trading post to be set up.
Therefore, the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) first built the trading post Peel River House in the Gwich'in village of Zheh gwajatin (later Fort McPherson ) in its territory in 1840 , which was moved about 6 km downstream after a flood in 1848 and at Gwich'in village of Chii Tsal Dik rebuilt as a trading post and fort. In 1848 LaPierre House (Zheh Gwatsàl, on the Bell River, approx. 120 km west of Old Crow) in the area of the Dagoo Gwich'in / Dagudh Gwich'in / Tukudh Kutchin / Tukkuthkutchin / Upper Porcupine River Kutchin and Fort Yukon (Gwicyaa Zhee / Gwichyaa Zheh, at the confluence of the Yukon River and Porcupine River) in the area of the Gwichaa Gwich'in / Yukon Flats Kutchin . In addition, Rampart House (Gindèhchìk) was built in the area of Van Tat Gwich'in / Vuntut / Vantee Gwitchin / Crow River Kutchin . Soon, however, there were rivalries among these Gwich'in bands and the Teetł'it Gwich'in , who now had their own trading post as requested , had to experience that the Gwichaa Gwich'in / Yukon Flats Kutchin , who lived further west, acted as intermediaries wanted to create a trade monopoly themselves between both Russians and British. The Teetł'it Gwich'in had previously been able to control the fur trade of the Upper Yukon, since at that time the only post - Fort Good Hope - was closer to their territory than that of the bands living further west, so they had with the establishment of Fort Yukon lost this advantage. In addition, due to its good location, Fort Yukon developed into a central trading post, which the Teetł'it Gwich'in could not tolerate and so there were several fatal clashes between them and the Gwichaa Gwich'in / Yukon Flats Kutchin . Soon, however, the latter had gained the upper hand, soon gave up hunting, undertook trading ventures with neighboring bands (which kept them from direct trade) and thereby developed into the politically and militarily dominant band in the Yukon Flats. They also dictated the trade with the employees of the Hudson's Bay Company according to their ideas: if the British did not get the desired quantity or quality of goods for their skins and goods from the British, they threatened to sell them to the Russians (since the fort up to Alaska Purchase of 1867 belonged to Russia ) - or worse, starving or starving the fort, knowing that the crew relied on food deliveries from the Gwich'in. Other Gwich'in bands threatened / controlled the trade with the Europeans on their own terms (but the Chipewyan or Cree, who are active in the fur trade, did this too ).
But there was another source of conflict between Gwich'in and Eskimos. When the caribou headed north early in the year, the Eskimos cut off the Gwich'in from the giant herd. These in turn asked for more rifles in the fort, but there weren't enough, so that the Indians suffered from hunger. The fort couldn't help either. This, in turn, was due to the fact that the company had relied on the Indians' debts at Mackenzie, debts that they were supposed to offset by deliveries of fur. But soon there were too many furs and prices fell. So fewer goods came to the north. The fort even had problems getting food itself, especially since the traders did not understand anything about the region's wildlife. Barbue's tribe was in dire straits. When he and 30 of his men appeared in front of the fort, an epidemic had raged among them, which had also killed his son-in-law. Barbue fell ill, but soon recovered.
For fear of the Eskimos, the head of the fort suggested the Hare (skin) Dene (K'ahsho Got'ine) and “Loucheux” (Gwich'in) in the summer of 1827, the fort again near the rapids, at least further away by the "Esquimeaux" (Eskimo) to build.
In 1828 Barbue fell ill again and came to the fort on July 2nd. But he died on July 21st, although shamans ( Dinjii Dazhan - "people with magic" or "magical people") tried to save him several times . There were rumors of sorcery, but also of the loss of spirit and that he had been pelted with bad medicine. Usually a shaman tried to get the disease out of the body by biting, blowing, or sucking. Other healing methods were also widespread, such as bloodletting, whereby a very special method was tried out on the chief: he was placed in a pit on moss-covered, hot stones and four fires were lit, which were only put out when the patient could no longer stand it . The old man, suffering from shortness of breath and insomnia, was able to sleep now, but this did not save his life. He died two days later.
Nevertheless, one should not underestimate the healing techniques of the Gwich'in. As recently as the 1890s, it was reported that a shattered kneecap was successfully sutured without infection. Plants with healing properties were known to the Gwich'in and saved the lives of many, including Europeans.
Although the shamans got rich at first because they were given gifts for their healing, which had to be requested more and more frequently, they also failed more and more often due to the invincible diseases measles , flu and especially smallpox . So many Gwich'in turned to apparently stronger powers, especially Christianity.
In the 1850s, the first missionaries, Catholic and Episcopalian, appeared in the Gwich'in area. The deacons Hudson Stuck , Alexander Hunter Murray, William Loola and Albert Tritt were the main protagonists. The Tukudh Bible was based on the King James Bible . Written in a specially created font, this font was later replaced by a more stringent proposal by Bill Schneider. To this day, the chiefs are also the priests, such as David Salmon from Chalkyitsik or Trimble Gilbert from Arctic Village.
The Church of England's first missionary was Rev. William West Kirkby, who came to Fort Yukon in 1861. When he returned to the area in 1862 and visited Fort Simpson, he met his colleague Rev. Robert McDonald. The future archdeacon of Mackenzie River and translator of the prayer book in Tukudh-Kutchin had his headquarters in St. Matthew's Mission, on the Peel River. He developed a syllabary for the Indian language. In 1873 his A Selection from the Book of Common Prayer appeared in the written language.
Not much has changed in the dependence on the Porcupine caribou herd. There is also fishing and casual work. Therefore, the Gwich'in have been resisting attempts to extract oil in their area since 2005. This is especially true for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge .
In 1999 the Gwich'in Council International was founded to represent the cross-border nation of the Gwich'in as a unit in the Arctic Council , of which they are one of six permanent members. The council represents the six Gwich'in parishes of Arctic Village, Chalkyitsik, Fort Yukon, Birtch, Circle and Venetie, two bodies of the tribe, the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, which in turn represents the Vuntut Gwitchin Old Crow, and the Gwich'in Tribal Council representing four municipalities in the Beaufort Delta area in the Northwest Territories. There are contacts with the Arctic Athabaskan Council (AAC) and the Council of Yukon First Nations .
In 2000 and 2001, 24 elderly tribe members (elders) were interviewed to record their knowledge of the traditional way of life.
The northernmost Indians are hit particularly hard by climate change . The thawing of the permafrost leads to major changes in the landscape: the soils erode , slide on slopes and the dry peat becomes ideal food for devastating tundra fires. The faster thawing of the glaciers and greater amounts of rain lead to frequent flooding in the river valleys where most of the Gwich'in villages are located. In 2009 alone, around 20 villages were flooded. All of this also has drastic effects on the animal world, so that u. a. the migration routes of the vital salmon on which the 60 or so villages in the Yukon region depend are disrupted.
The best-known representative of her people is the writer Velma Wallis , born in 1960, who has impressively described the traditional life of her ancestors in various stories. Cross-country skiers Roseanne Allen and twin sisters Shirley and Sharon Firth also belong to this tribe.
Today's tribes, First Nations and bands of the Gwich'in
The Gwich'in living in Canada are now organized as First Nations or as bands or tribes (tribes) recognized by the Canadian state under the Indian Act . Gwich'in living in Alaska are now organized in so-called Alaska Native tribal entities (tribes) or Alaska Villages . Similar to the Canadian Inuit and First Nations, who are recognized as their own peoples, the indigenous peoples of Alaska are treated differently in some legal areas than the federally recognized tribes of the Indians in the rest of the USA . All Gwich'in congregations joined forces in 1999 to form the Gwich'in Council International to represent the Gwich'in Nation in the USA and Canada as a cross-border entity in the Arctic Council (forum for balancing interests between Arctic countries and indigenous peoples), in which As one of the six umbrella organizations of the indigenous people of the Arctic, they have a guaranteed right to participate as so-called permanent participants. The chairmanship of the Gwich'in Council International changes every two years between Yukon and Alaska, the vice chairman always comes from Alaska. All information regarding the number of tribe members of the Canadian Gwich'in First Nations follow the information of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (AANDC) (as of June 2015).
The six Gwich'in tribal entities (tribes) or native villages of the Yukon Flats are politically represented vis-à-vis the US government by the Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments (CATG) , which consists of a total of ten Alaska Villages: Arctic Village, Birch Creek, Canyon Village, Chalkyitsik, Circle, Fort Yukon and Venetie (all Gwich'in) as well as Beaver, Rampart and Stevens (mostly Koyukon with some Gwich'in and Inupiat Eskimo). All of these settlements or CPD 's are located in the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area , which has the lowest population density of any district in the United States with an area of approximately 382,810 km² (larger than Germany ) and a population of 5,588 with 0.0173 inhabitants / km² . Since the Indian Reorganization Act valid in the USA provides that the respective indigenous communities must be represented vis-à-vis the government by an elected tribal council - consisting of a chief and his advisors (councilors) - the CATG Board of Directors consists of the ten elected chiefs of the Villages represented together. They are also members of the Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC) , a regional association of all Alaska Athabascans (with the exception of the Ahtna and Dena'ina).
Arctic Village (Vashrąįį K'ǫǫ) at the east fork of the Chandalar River (T'eedriinjik) around 160 km north of Fort Yukon (Gwicyaa Zhee / Gwichyaa Zheh) is now home to the local Neets'ąįį Gwich'in / Chandalar River Kutchin ("Residents of the north side"). These traditionally lived as nomadic hunters and gatherers until the 1950s and continue tooperate largely subsistence farming to this day- together with the Native Village of Venetie, they are represented by the Venetie Tribal Government .
In the Native Village of Venetie (Vįįhtąįį) on the north bank of the Chandalar River (T'eedriinjik) around 70 km northwest of Fort Yukon (Gwicyaa Zhee / Gwichyaa Zheh), today mostly Neets'ąįį Gwich'in / Chandalar River Kutchin ("Inhabitants of the North side ") and some descendants of the Di'hąįį Gwich'in / Upper Koyukuk River Kutchin (" people who live furthest downstream ") and Gwichyaa Gwich'in / Yukon Flats Kutchin and K'iitł'it Gwich'in / Ketlit Kutchin (“People of K'iitł'it, ie from the Upper Koyukuk River and Anaktuvuk Pass ”), but the latter have lost their separate identities. The families of the tribe also operate largely seasonal subsistence farming - together with the Arctic Village, it is represented by the Venetie Tribal Government .
In addition, the following settlements are mostly still used seasonally by Gwich'in of the Venetie Tribal Government : Canyon Village (Łąįį Tree Zhee), Christian Village and Sheenjak Village.
The Birch Creek Tribe is now located in the eponymous Birch Creek (Tiheetsit'sai - "place where the waters meet") (now mostly called Deenduu) on the banks of Birch Creek , approx. 42 km southwest of Fort Yukon (Gwicyaa Zhee / Gwichyaa Zheh) located; it consists largely of descendants of the Dendu Gwich'in / Birch Creek Kutchin ("people in the foothills of the Tanana Hills and White Mountains ") and the Tennuth Gwich'in / Birch Creek Kutchin ("people along the Birch Creek"), which is both bands may be one and the same group and their names are just different spelling variants.
Chalkyitsik Village (Jałgiitsik - "place of the fish hook") is located on the north bank of the Black River (Draan'jik) about 80 km northeast of Fort Yukon (Gwicyaa Zhee / Gwichyaa Zheh) and is the home of the Draan'jik Gwich'in / Black River Kutchin ("People along the Black River (Draan'jik)"). They used to live as semi-nomads with winter villages on the upper reaches and summer villages on the lower reaches of the Black River; in spite of their settlement, they still live for the most part - like some sub-arctic and arctic peoples as well - from subsistence farming.
The Circle Native Community (Danzhit Khaiinląįį) is located in the village of the same name on the south bank (or left bank) of the Yukon River and is located on the southwestern edge of the Yukon Flats and is now home to the Gwich'in Band, which was only newly formed because of their settlement there Danzhit Hanlaih Gwich'in ("People where the water flows from the mountains").
Fort Yukon (Gwicyaa Zhee / Gwichyaa Zheh) - "House in the Yukon Flats (Yukon Plains)" at the confluence of the Yukon River (Yuukon - "big river") and Porcupine River (Ch'ôonjik) , is the home of the Gwichyaa Zhee Gwich 'in ("People of Fort Yukon") - formerly called The Native Village of Fort Yukon -, which largely consist of descendants of the Gwichaa Gwich'in / Yukon Flats Kutchin ("People of the Yukon Flats (Yukon Plains) ") and some newcomers Neets'ąįį Gwich'in / Chandalar River Kutchin ("residents of the north side"), Dendu Gwich'in / Birch Creek Kutchin ("people in the foothills of the Tanana Hills and White Mountains"), Draan'jik Gwich'in / Black River Kutchin ("People along the Black River (Draan'jik)") and Gwichyaa Gwich'in / Yukon Flats Kutchin (not identical to the Gwichaa Gwich'in ). In November 2009, 424 people were counted among them.
not officially counting as Gwich'in Villages (but with descendants of them):
In Beaver Village (Koyukon: Ts'aahudaaneekk'onh Denh , Gwich'in: Hughuntahoonee 'onh Dinh) on the north bank of the Yukon River, mostly Athabasks live with Gwichaa Gwich'in / Yukon Flats Kutchin ("People of the Yukon Flats (Yukon plains) “) And Koyukon ancestors as well as Iñupiat Eskimo. Today, seasonal subsistence farming is still an important source of livelihood.
Located in Rampart Village (Koyukon: Dleł Taaneets) on the south bank of the Yukon River, today mostly Koyukon and some descendants of the Tatsa Gwich'in / Tatsakutchin live .
In the Native Village of Stevens (Koyukon: Dinyea or Denyeet - "mouth of the canyon") - located in the middle of the Yukon Flats - today mostly Koyukon and descendants of the K'iitł'it Gwich'in / Ketlit Kutchin ("People of K ' iitł'it, ie from the Upper Koyukuk River and Anaktuvuk Pass ”), the latter also identifying themselves today as Koyukon.
Gwich'in in the Yukon and Northwest Territories
The Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation consists of descendants of the Van Tat Gwich'in / Crow River Kutchin ("people in the midst of the lakes (the Old Crow Flats)") as well as some Dagudh Gwich'in / Upper Porcupine River Kutchin and is the only Gwich ' in First Nation in the Yukon Territory. The main place of residence is Old Crow (Teechik, today: Van Tat) below the confluence of the Old Crow River (Chyahnjik) in the Porcupine River (Ch'ôonjik) and with 128 km north of the Arctic Circle at the same time the northernmost community in Yukon. The name of the main town, Old Crow, is derived from the chief Deetru 'K'avihdik ("Crow May I Walk"), in whose honor the river, the plains and the settlement were named. Some also currently live in the CPD Eagle Village near the town of Eagle (in Häɬ goɬan: Tthee T'äwdlenn), which is, however, mostly inhabited by Han (Hän Hwëch'in) (who are incorrectly known as Hankutchin as a band of the Gwich'in were considered). Today, according to the AANDC, there are 543 tribe members, 240 of whom are still living on the reservation.
The four Gwich'in First Nations or bands along the Mackenzie River and its delta in the Northwest Territory are politically represented vis-à-vis the Canadian government by the Gwich'in Tribal Council (GCI) in negotiations on land claims. In addition, the organization promotes international contacts around the Arctic , as well as cultural initiatives.
The Aklavik First Nation (official name) or the Ehdiitat Gwich'in Council (own name) lives in the hamlet (Hamlet) called Aklavik ( Uummarmiutun Inuvialuktun : "Place of the Grizzly") on the Peel Channel in the Mackenzie Delta in the Inuvik region , approx. 100 km south of the Beaufort Sea , a once important trading post for Siglit Inuit and Gwich'in, where both peoples met or fought. The Gwich'in living in Aklavik are descendants of the Edhiitat Gwich'in / Ehdii Tat Gwich'in ("people in the Mackenzie River Delta "), who today mostly - together with the Uummarmiutun Inuit who are also resident here - try their traditional semi-nomadic life with a seasonal one Maintain subsistence farming. They live far more from tourists who are attracted by the delta, but also by the Richardson Mountains . Aklavik was the administrative center for the western Arctic before this role was taken over by the newly built Inuvik in the 1950s. Today, according to AANDC, the First Nation has 430 tribal members, 260 of whom live in the settlement.
The Tetlit Gwich'in Council in Fort McPherson (Teet'lit Zheh) ("At the head of the water") on the east bank of the Peel River (Teetl'it njik) , approx. 187 km south of Inuvik, currently has 1,429 tribal members (of which 938 living in Fort McPherson) the largest First Nation in the Northwest Territory and descendants of the Teetł'it Gwich'in / Teetl'it Zheh Gwich'in / Peel River Kutchin ("People on the upper reaches of the Peel River (Teetl'it njik)" ). First the Peel River House trading post was established in the Gwich'in village of Zheh gwajatin and renamed in 1840 after Murdoch McPherson of the Hudson's Bay Company at Fort McPherson . After a flood, it was moved 6 km downstream in 1848 and rebuilt as a trading post and fort at Gwich'in village of Chii Tsal Dik . Today the First Nation still lives mainly from hunting, trapping, fishing and tourism. On July 26, 1921, Chief Julius Salu signed a treaty with the Canadian government. In the same place, the Teel'it Zheh signed the Gwich'in Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement on April 22, 1992 , and in 1999 the tribal council was founded, which has numerous rights of a local authority in the Beaufort Delta Area (Gwich'in together with Inuvialuit).
The Gwichya Gwich'in Nation (official name) or Gwichya Gwich'in Council (own name) live today in the Charter Community of Tsiigehtchic (formerly: Arctic Red River) at the confluence of the Mackenzie River (Nagwichoonjik) and the Arctic Red River (Tsiigèhnjik ) ("Iron River") in the Inuvik region. Tsiigehtchic means in Gwich'in about "at the mouth of the iron river, ie the Arctic Red River", this designation as well as the English could refer to the iron ores and minerals found in the river sediment of the Arctic Red River. They are descendants of the Gwichyaa Gwich'in / Kutchakutchin / Yukon Flats Kutchin ("people of the Yukon Flats (Yukon plains)") - who were also incorrectly referred to as Nakotchokutchin / Mackenzie Flats Kutchin (however, this name probably comes from another Gwich'in Band that expressed that Gwichyaa Gwich'in also lived in the delta of the Mackenzie River (Nagwichoonjik). Today the First Nation has 469 tribe members, of whom 133 still live in the settlement.
The Inuvik Native or Inuvik Nation (official name) or the Nihtat Gwich'in Council (own name) are descendants of the Nihtat Gwich'in ("mixed races "), whose name can be traced back to the fact that several different Gwich'in bands were forced to consider oneself politically as a band and to settle in a common settlement. They now live in Inuvik on the East Channel of the Mackenzie River, 120 km south of the Arctic Ocean and 200 km north of the Arctic Circle. Inuvik was rebuilt by the Canadian federal government in the 1950s to replace Aklavik, which was repeatedly a victim of spring floods and offered no space to expand the settlement. Today the First Nation has 599 tribal members, of whom only 195 live in Inuvik.
- Alestine Andre / Alan Fehr: Gwich'in Ethnobotany: Plants Used by the Gwich'in for Food, Medicine, Shelter and Tools , Tsiigehtchic, North West Territories: Gwich'in Social and Cultural Institute 2001, ISBN 1-896337-04-X
- Asen Balikci : Vunta Kutchin Social Change: A Study of the People of the Old Crow, Yukon Territory , Ottawa: Northern Co-ordination and Research Center, Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources 1963
- Kate C. Duncan / Eunice Carney: The Kutchin Beadwork Tradition , University of Alaska Press, 1998, ISBN 978-0-912006-88-8
- Michael K. Heine: Gwichya Gwich'in Googwandak: The History and Stories of the Gwichya Gwich'i; As Told by the Elders of Tsiigehtchic , Tsiigehtchic: Gwich'in Social and Cultural Institute 2001, ISBN 1-896337-05-8
- Richard E. Morlan: The Cadzow Lake Site (MjVi-1): A Multi-Component Historic Kutchin Camp , Ottawa: Archaeological Survey of Canada, National Museum of Man, National Museums of Canada 1972
- Richard K. Nelson: Hunters of the Northern Forest: Designs for Survival Among the Alaskan Kutchin , Chicago: University of Chicago Press 1973, ISBN 1-57805-114-2
- Cornelius Osgood: Contributions to the Ethnography of the Kutchin , New Haven: Yale University Press 1936, ISBN 978-0-87536-522-0
- Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments
- Tanana Chiefs Conference
- Gwich'n Tribal Council
- Gwich'in Council International
- Porcupine caribou herd map (PDF; 671 kB)
- Vuntut Gwitchin web site (Yukon)
- Gwichyaa Zhee Gwich'in
- Alaska Native Language Archive of the University of Alaska at Fairbanks ; here z. B. Books by Virginia Alexander, called Ginny, including a dictionary Gwich'in to English Dictionary
- from the article Kutchin from the Indian Wiki.
- Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Biological Sampling of Nonsalmon Fish Species in the Yukon Flats Region, Alaska - Ethnohistoric Summary of the Denduu and Gwichyaa Gwich '
- www.alaskool.org - Indigenous Languages and Peoples of Alaska
- Council of Yukon First Nations - Yukon Language Map
- Omniglot Gwich'in
- Alaska Native Place Names
- Talking Alaska Reflections on the Native languages of Alaska - Win some, lose some
- Some historians and anthropologists believe that this band was wiped out by a scarlet fever epidemic in the 1880s
- Plunge Into Vuntut Gwitchin Waters - Gwitchin Vocabulary
- OLD CROW FLATS (Van Tat K'atr'anahtii) Special Management Area ( Memento of the original from September 24, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.
- Van Tat Gwich'in cultural technology Project Year Three: Dagoo
- Gwich'in Social & Cultural Institute - Gwich'in Place Name Map ( Memento of the original from March 4, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.
- Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Center (PWNHC) - Traditional Gwich'in Place Names
- Alaska Native Knowledge Network - Preliminary Study of the Western Gwich'in Bands
- Cultural History of the Yukon Flats ( Memento of the original from June 14, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.
- The following from: Shepard Krech III, The Death of Barbue, a Kutchin Trading Chief, in: Arctic 35/2 (1962) 429-437.
- The Episcopal Church report can be found here (PDF, 2 MB): A moral choice for the United States. The Human Rights Implications for the Gwich'in of Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Ed. Gwich'in Steering Committee, The Episcopal Church 2005 ( Memento of the original from May 9, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. .
- Life Histories of Elders ( Memento of the original from March 2, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. .
- "We Are Having a Hard Time Surviving" Gwich'in Elder Sarah James on How Climate Change Is Altering Life in the Alaskan Arctic , Democracy Now, December 8, 2009
- Tribal Council Detail - GWICH'IN TRIBAL COUNCIL
- Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, Registered Population
- According to the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, First Nation Profiles, Gwichya Gwich'in ( Memento of the original from July 6, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.
- Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Biological Sampling of Nonsalmon Fish Species in the Yukon Flats Region, Alaska
- Presentation of the proposed Teetl'it Gwich'in National Historic Site to the Peel Watershed Planning Commission - Fort McPherson –June 9, 2005 ( Memento of the original from March 4, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and still Not checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.