The Department of Cultural Heritage at the Gwich’in Tribal Council recently produced a compilation DVD ‘Yi’eenoo Dai’ Gugwandak - Gwich’in Legends’. Drawn from a regional Gwich’in legends workshop held in Aklavik, Northwest Territories in January 2010, elders from the four Gwich’in communities (Fort McPherson, Tsiigehtchic, Aklavik and Inuvik) recalled legends in the Gwich’in language that were told to them by their parents and grandparents.
Produced by the Gwich’in Tribal Council in association with the Native Communications Society of the NWT (NCS), and Pido Productions, the DVD is offered as an original Gwich’in language production with English subtitles. Audience at the workshop included elders and youth, translators, GTC staff and Board, Life Skills program students and residents of Aklavik, and features stories by Joanne Snowshoe, Emma Kay, Sarah Jerome, Ruth Carroll, John Norbert, Mabel English, Mary Kendi, Liz Hansen, Elizabeth Colin, Noel Andre and Dorothy Alexie.
“Preservation of both our language and our stories is a vital part of our Gwich’in identity”, says Bobbie Jo Greenland-Morgan, Grand Chief/President of the Gwich’in Tribal Council. “As technology has progressed, it is important for us to recognize and preserve the legends that our elders pass down to us through oral history. I am proud that this project was spearheaded by our Cultural Heritage department and combined a practical workshop with language preservation. Some of the elders featured have passed on, but their valuable words and wisdom remain with us”.