Old Crow, Yukon Territory, Canada -- Home of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation
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Looking at Old Crow from the Porcupine River: Photo by Christian Roux
Old Crow is 128 km (80 miles) north of the Arctic Circle along the Porcupine River.

Old Crow became part of my heart before I had even been there. While I was searching for information on "Gwich'in" and "Athabascan"* fiddling, fate had me land on the website for Old Crow in Canada -- a place 80 miles north of the arctic circle, in isolation without any roads going in. The more I read about the Gwich'in in Old Crow from their website, the more I wanted to know. I called an Alaskan Gwich'in fiddler, Bill Stevens, he sent me a copy of The Crooked Stovepipe, a book about Athabascan fiddling which was written by a man who had spent a lot of time in Old Crow and around Gwich'in. I was absolutely enchanted with the fiddling customs and potlaches.. Soon I was overcome with an urge to visit.

So off I went to Old Crow. Aside from music and meeting people, I wasn't sure what I would learn, but I came away with an intensely personal perspective on Gwich'in culture, including the relationship with the caribou, and with the land, and traditions.

The Vuntut Gwitchin have modernized many aspects of daily life, but it is more of a supplement to the traditional culture which is dominant -- a culture which they are fighting to preserve. The traditional ways have prevailed for 24,000 years.

The elders are actively involved in the archival of their stories and traditions and the language is still being taught in school, along with English.

blue bullet *Athabascan=language group of First People in Alaska and NW Canada 
blue bullet Gwich'in=language (Gwich'in Athapaskan) 
   
blue bullet Race=First Nation (first/aboriginal people)
blue bullet Nation=Gwich'in ("Caribou People"; "people";"dweller of")
blue bullet Band=Vuntut Gwitchin (meaning "People of the Lakes")
blue bullet VGFN=Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation

The Vuntut Gwitchin are part of the Gwich'in Nation which includes 19 communities across Alaska, Yukon and NWT. According to archaeological evidence, the Old Crow area might be the site of the earliest human occupation in North America. The record of people in the area can be traced back about 24,000 years. The community of Old Crow became a year-round settlement in the 1950s with the building of a school and store.


The Gwich'in nation bands of Alaska, the Yukon, and the Northwest Territories

Alaska

Arctic Village (Vashraii K'oo)
Neets'aii Gwich'in, "residents of the north side"

Birch Creek (Denduu)
Dendu Gwich'in, "foothill mountain people"

Chalkyitsik ("fish hooking place")
Draan'jik Gwich'in, "Black River Indians"

Circle (Dan Zhit Haainlaii)
Danzhit Hanlaih Gwich'in, "water flowing out of the mountains"

Fort Yukon (Gwichyaa Zhee)
Gwich'yaa Gwich'in, "people of the flats"

Venetie (Viihtaii)
Gwichyaa Gwich'in, "people of the flats"

Not official?
Eagle (Village)
Stevens Village
Beaver
Canyon Village
Christian

Yukon Territory

Old Crow (Vuntee Gwich'in)
Vuntut Gwitchin, "people of the lakes".

Northwest Territories

Fort McPherson (Teetl'it Zheh)
Teetl'it Gwich'in, "people of the head waters"

Arctic Red River (Tsiigehtchic)
Gwichya Gwich'in, "people of the flats". .

Aklavik
Edhiitat Gwich'in, "delta people"

Inuvik
Nihtat Gwich'in, "mixed nations"

Fifteen villages and small towns scattered across northeast Alaska and northwest Canada are the home of approximately 7,000 Gwich'in - the most northernly location of all Indian nations.*


Official Website

Athabascan Fiddling

Bill Stevens, Athabascan Fiddler

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blue bulletAbout this website  

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Old Crow's Official Website

Websites about Old Crow
blue bullet Old Crow site (Yukon Territories)
blue bullet Old Crow site (Taiga Net)
blue bullet Old Crow site (Industry Canada)
blue bullet Old Crow photos  (Yukoninfo.com)
blue bullet Robert Alexie's photo albums


Other Old Crow info on the web
blue bullet Yukon College at Old Crow
blue bullet RCMP (police)
blue bullet UFOs!
blue bullet School burns down


Maps of Gwich'in Lands
blue bullet Map of the Gwichin Territory in Alaska
blue bullet Map of Athabascan Territories in the Yukon
blue bullet Map of the Alaskan Arctic
blue bullet Map of the upper Yukon River
blue bullet Map of the territory of the Koyukon and neighboring people in Alaska
blue bullet Map of the Athabaskan Cultures of Alaska


Book:
blue bullet "The Land Still Speaks: Gwitchin Words About Life in Dempster Country" — Erin Sherry and Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation


Video:
blue bullet "Imprints of Our Ancestors: Diich'anjoo Gookai' Deek'it"  (at Global Visions Film Festival)


Music:
blue bullet Athabascan Fiddling and Gwitchin Fiddlers
blue bullet Bill Stevens
blue bullet "Fiddleheads thrive in Old Crow"
blue bullet Traditional Gwich'in Music
Heard on a video clip featuring traditional clothing.


Audio:
blue bullet Red River Jig (mp3)


Radio:
blue bullet CHON FM - Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon


Language:
blue bullet Old Crow dialect Gwich'in language lessons
blue bullet Peel River dialect Gwich'in language lessons
blue bullet Gwich'in story books


Gwich'in Culture:
blue bullet Overview of cultural and spiritul history



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