The rivers, creeks, lakes, ponds and wetlands of our homeland are habitat for a variety of fish, waterfowl and animals. They nourish us, the land, and many kinds of creatures.
Our traditional territory centres on a portion of one of the great rivers of the world. The Yukon River (Chu kon dëk in Hän) flows over 3300 km through the Yukon Territory and Alaska before emptying into the Bering Sea. Its immense drainage area of approximately 847,000 square km makes it the fourth largest river basin in North America. Several creek and river valleys provide access to the high country and hunting and trapping areas north and south of the Yukon River. Some of the more important are the Fortymile (Ch’èdà dëk), the Twelve Mile or Chandindu, the Klondike (Tr’ondëk), Stewart and the White River.
(Click here to link to story about “Yukon River Hydrology”.)
Waterways can be obstacles to be crossed or travel corridors which we floated using a variety of watercraft. In summer we camped at the mouths of many creeks and rivers during the two annual salmon runs. From there we travelled up creek and river valleys to hunt, trap and access territory farther inland.
The hydropower from these waterways became critically important to the placer mining industry and resulted in the modifications of many waterways and valleys.
At the North Fork pass in Tombstone Territorial Park, a continental divide runs through the northern portion of our homeland. This marks a dividing point between North Klondike River that runs south and west into the Yukon River and the Blackstone River that flows north and west into the Peel and then the Mackenzie Rivers.
An autumn view of Tr’ochëk at the confluence of the Klondike and Yukon rivers.