Like many aboriginal peoples, the Southern Tutchone do not have a history of a written language. In recent years scholars have adapted a way in which to write the language using Western scripts and Latin characters. However, for millennia the history of the Southern Tutchone has been passed down orally through one generation to the next.
A Place in the Universe
Oral history serves many purposes giving people a reference to their place in the universe, the knowledge of their rights to the land and their family histories. According to the Southern Tutchone oral tradition in the beginning the world was in chaos and was “cleaned-up” by Ts’ürk’i(Crow) and Äsùya (Beaverman). The balance of world was set in motion at that time continuing to today. Some important life questions such as: Who are we? Where do we come from? What do we do? are answered through the oral history custom.
The Land Tells Us the Meaning of the Word
The tradition of passing the knowledge like place names and stories of those locations would ensure that people knew of hunting and fishing grounds, where the best berries and medicines were grown, even if they had never been to that place before. Also, knowing how people in different families were related would ensure that marriage among blood relatives didn’t occur. The passing down of knowledge through generations would ensure that “teachings” were adhered too, life lessons were being carried out and the language, culture and traditions of the Southern Tutchone would remain unbroken and throughout the generations.