As with most other Yukon First Nations people, the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in were led by a headman or chief. This person had many responsibilities, the main ones being to ensure that his people were well fed and cared for while being a responsible steward for the land upon which all depended. Usually this person was an outstanding hunter who decided where his people would go to obtain food throughout the year. The chief often handled trade transactions, settled disputes and handled local justice.
The Moosehide community elected a seven-member council in 1921. Elders recall that the council handled local governance and disputes while criminal matters were handled by the Mounted Police and the courts in Dawson. The council set a curfew for children and women visiting Dawson, ensured that the sick and elderly were provided with firewood and water, mediated family disputes and made certain that school age children attended Moosehide Day School.
Our ancestors developed methods for making decisions on behalf of all, living with one another harmoniously and dealing with people from other groups. The newcomers imposed their own systems of governance upon our people. After many decades of negotiation, our people have now attained self-government.
Dawson Indian Band
From the late 1940s on, people began moving to Dawson to be closer to jobs. This was a difficult time for our people. They had few resources to deal with inadequate housing, children being taken away to residential schools, and various health and social ills. The federal department of Indian Affairs organized us as a band under the Indian Act and renamed us the Dawson Indian Band.
When we ratified the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Land Claim Agreement in 1998, we also signed a separate Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Self-Government Agreement. This document formally recognizes our right to govern ourselves and play a leading role in managing activities within our traditional territory.
Today the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in look to many people for leadership ...