Historical Timeline

Animal Interactions

The Gwich'in have been around since time immemorial and their legends depict this. The first set of legends begin during the time that only animals were interacting and communicating with one another. The legends that reflect this time are:

  • Raven and Loon
  • Woodpecker and Whiskey Jack
  • A Loche Story
  • Grizzly, Raven and Red Fox
  • Boreal Chickadee and Old Age
  • Rabbit and Porcupine Stories

Note: List provided by Alestine Andre. GSCI is currently working on a DVD project that will include 16 legends told in Gwich'in with English sub-titles.

Animals and Humans Interact and Communicate

The second set of legends depict the time animals and humans begin interacting with one another. The legends that reflect this time are:

  • Raven's Beak
  • Caribou and Humans Trading Places
  • The Blind Man and the Loon
  • Atachuukaii's Journey to the Delta.

Note: List provided by Alestine Andre. GSCI is currently working on a DVD project that will include 16 legends told in Gwich'in with English sub-titles.

Human Beings

The third set of legends includes only human beings. The legends that reflect this time are:

  • The Boy in the Moon
  • Shildii
  • Atachuukaii and his Older Brother
  • An Abandoned Woman

Note: List provided by Alestine Andre. GSCI is currently working on a DVD project that will include 16 legends told in Gwich'in with English sub-titles.

Stories

The last set are not legends but more recent stories that most Gwich'in are familiar with. The stories that reflect this are:

  • Bushman Steals Woman
  • Bushman Story

Note: List provided by Alestine Andre. GSCI is currently working on a DVD project that will include 16 legends told in Gwich'in with English sub-titles.

Early Gwich'in Groups

There were nine groups of Gwich'in that occupied the areas of Alaska to the Northwest Territories (current names of area). They were the:

  • Dihaii Gwich'in (the far people-Alaska)
  • Neets'aii Gwich'in (Chandalar River People - Arctic Village/Venetie)
  • Dendoo Gwich'in (Birch Creek People)
  • Gwichaa Gwich'in (Yukon Flats People - Ft. Yukon, Circle & Beaver)
  • Draanjik Gwich'in (Black River People - Chalkyitsik)
  • Vuntut Gwich'in (Crow Flats People - Old Crow)
  • Dagudh Gwich'in (Upper Porcupine River People - Ft. McPherson, Old Crow & Dawson)
  • Teetlit Gwich'in (Peel River People - Ft. McPherson)
  • Gwichya Gwich'in  (Arctic Red River/MacKenzie River People - Tsiigehtshik)

Excerpt taken from: Gwichya Gwich'in Googwandak

Cultural Events

The Gwich'in have always gathered to feast, dance & play games. The earliest of these stories were held at the Flats as early as ts'ii deii days (see Gwichya Gwich'in Googwandak). To this day, Gwich'in people still love to gather and the most popular site to gather now is at the Midway Lake Music Festival held in the mountains above Fort McPherson.


Painting c. 1845 by Alexander Hunter Murray
Photo Credit: Robert A. Alexie Jr.

Traditionally, Arctic Red River was the gathering site where the Gwich'in danced, visited and took part in summer social activities.