Leaders

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. While the role of headman could be hereditary, this was not always so. The new leader was chosen according to his merits at the funeral potlatch of the late chief.

 

The Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in also relied on the knowledge and wisdom of their elders who shared practical knowledge as well as history and stories from ancient times. Where there was no written language, the memories and skills of the elders were a cultural resource to be treasured and preserved.

 

(Links: See the TH Interpretive Units Leadership and Chief Isaac for more information about individual early leaders.)

Chief Isaac at Moosehide.

Yukon Archives, Anglican Church of Canada, Diocese of Yukon fonds, 89/42, #746.