The Northern Tutchone people, now known as the Selkirk First Nation, led a
nomadic lifestyle of hunting and fishing spent in groups of one or two families.
At certain times of year
the small groups came together for special occasions like feasts and
potlatches (a memorial ceremony held a year or two after a personís death),
and seasonal festivals.
Traditionally hospitable people, the Northern Tutchone frequently welcomed
other First Nation communities to their land. Trade attracted these native
groups to Fort Selkirk and intermarriages amongst different First Nations people
The Northern Tutchone people see their traditional territory as much more
than an inanimate landscape. It is a land of memories, and over the millennia
the Northern Tutchone developed names for every lake, trail, hill, mountain and
river in the area. Often these names signify a legend or an event.
As Europeans began to explore the area in the 19th century, some
of them were little interested with First Nation names. Men such as Robert
Campbell and Lt. Frederick Schwatka tended to rename the places they visited and
printed those new names on early maps. The renaming of the Northern Tutchone
homeland has resulted in the loss of some of the oral history of the area.
Recently, work has been undertaken to unearth and re-establish traditional
Northern Tutchone placenames. Through the consultation of elders, the original
names have been recorded and certain places have been returned to their original
First Nations names.
Despite the fact that Fort Selkirk has not been an active community since the
early 1950's the First Nations perception of Fort Selkirk as a living community
has survived through the joint efforts of the Yukon Heritage Branch and Selkirk
First Nation members who interpret, manage and maintain Fort Selkirk.