Fort Selkirk has been visited by the Northern Tutchone people for
thousands of years. For a short period in the mid-19th century and from 1889
onward, the First Nation has shared the site with European traders, missionaries
and settlers. As the two cultures came into contact they became increasingly
dependent on one another. The Northern Tutchone adapted readily to new
technologies brought by the white man, while the European newcomers relied on
aboriginal people to teach them the means of survival on the land.
There were negative aspects to the relationship between the Northern Tutchone
and the white inhabitants of Fort Selkirk. People of the First Nation, in
particular, suffered with social change, epidemics, and game depletion.
Nevertheless, the two groups became linked through work, crises such as forest
fires, and sometimes marriage. Fort Selkirk provides an historic example that
difference doesn’t necessarily mean separation or conflict, but diversity.
Since 1982 members of the Selkirk First Nation and the Heritage Branch of the
Yukon Government have worked together to preserve and maintain the townsite. In
1990, these two groups agreed on a plan to protect and manage the site for the
benefit of all Yukoners. The Fort Selkirk Management Plan recognizes the
area as a living cultural site and as part of the Selkirk First Nation homeland.
Today the fruits of joint efforts past and present are being reaped. Each
summer a small, government and First Nation funded, work crew made up of members
of the Selkirk First Nation return to the town to maintain and restore Fort
Selkirk to its past beauty.