The search for food required the Northern Tutchone to lead a highly mobile
existence. Each year brought a routine that was known intimately to the Northern
Tutchone. In spring, hunting and trapping was the main activity. In summer,
people gathered along the rivers to catch and dry salmon. Later, in autumn, the
focus was once again hunting primarily for caching food for the long, hard
winter. During winter small groups would ice-fish and make frequent trips to
their caches. It is estimated that an individual hunter may have covered an area
as large as 2500 square kilometres in a given year.
The Northern Tutchone’s nomadic existence required a form of traditional
technology that was both functional and portable. Thus, the most important
survival element was the knowledge possessed by the Northern Tutchone. For
example, when attempting to capture fish and game, people relied more on
ingenuity than strength. The deadfalls, snares, fish traps and nets used were
all devices that needed only periodic checking, rather than constant attention.
Traditionally, the Northern Tutchone depended entirely upon the land for all
the resources (animals, plants, stones, earth and water) they needed to survive.
Nothing was wasted, as a valuable use was found for almost everything harvested
in nature. Shelter was no different. Northern Tutchone needed housing materials
that were portable and easy to put up. Depending on the time of year and the
location, different types of shelters were needed. Using all types of materials
at hand, the Northern Tutchone constructed accommodation capable of withstanding
the harsh Yukon conditions.