Other First Nations
Our people were part of a vast trade network that included Gwich’in people to the north, Southern Tutchone in the Kluane area, Northern Tutchone further upriver and Tanana to the southwest.
People walked hundreds of miles over an extensive network of trails to trade and visit. The Hän
traded birch bark, red ochre, hides, clothing and salmon for the much sought after native copper, obsidian from southwestern Yukon, and dentalium shells from the Coast. Long before the first white traders steamed up the Yukon River, the Hän were already using kettles, beads, tobacco and tea obtained through this vast trade network. These relationships were strengthened by periodic gatherings, intermarriage, and opportunities to feast, dance and celebrate together. This tradition continued after the newcomers settled here, there are many stories of gatherings at Moosehide, particularly at Christmas and Easter.
In the 1970s, Yukon First Nations formed associations and came together to discuss then submit the now famous land claim document to Prime Minster Pierre Elliot Trudeau. The report, “Together Today for Our Children Tomorrow”, formed the basis for land claim negotiations which would extend over a generation. Through many changes of First Nations, federal and territorial governments, Yukon First Nations worked together to achieve an Umbrella Final Agreement in 1990, later followed by agreements with most of the individual First Nations.
In 2005, then Chief Darren Taylor discussed Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in relations with other Yukon First Nations:
"We’ve been really open and willing to share any information that we can to any First Nation if they request it. Other First Nations do the same thing with us … We’re doing a lot of things that are different and particularly in the heritage department. We’re in the forefront in the heritage area and, in retrospect, in some of the land-related matters. A lot of First Nations are really looking toward this First Nation and what we’re doing and what we’re accomplishing.
"The benefit of us pulling together is that we share information. We ensure that if there are any major economic development activities that are going to be happening in North Yukon, it ensures that it has the involvement of the various First Nations so that we’re all hearing the same message and government can’t say one thing to one government and one thing to another Yukon First Nation government. It’s basically to try to keep them accountable to the north and ensuring that what they do involves us."
As the fur trade grew and non-native traders and missionaries came into the country, the leaders of the Hän and neighbouring First Nations had to acquire new skills to understand and deal with these outsiders. Their abilities to bargain and trade stood them in good stead. When they were faced with a great inflow of outsiders setting up a new social order with a very different set of rules, they needed to learn about different concepts of owning and managing land and resources. As the resources of the land diminished, the chief spent more time negotiating with the newcomers to protect the interests of his people and access to the land.
Modern Relations with Other Governments
As a result of the long land claims process, we became skilled negotiators in this new context. Since achieving self-government, we now deal with other governments — be they federal, territorial, First Nations or local — on a government-to-government basis. If you are a government employee dealing with Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, we suggest that you review the website page entitled for Governments.
We have partnered with various businesses to operate several successful enterprises. Some of these relationships are with our economic development arm, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Trust /Chief Isaac Inc. To learn more about the Trust and its activities go here.
Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in Chief and Council recently approved the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Mining Mandate, a guide for mining and exploration companies doing business in our Traditional Territory. The guide, produced by citizens and government representatives on the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Mining Committee, establishes appropriate lines of communication and Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in's expectations when being engaged by resource-industry proponents.
To read the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Mining Mandate, click here. For more information, call the TH Natural Resources Director at (867) 993-7145.
If you are interested in partnering with us, we recommend you see the website section entitled If You Are … Industry.