Native America Tribal Nation Mini-lesson: Gwich’in

Posted By PowWow Articles November 29th, 2018 Last Updated on: January 19th, 2022

Every day this month in honor of Native American Heritage Month, we are learning about a Tribal nation.

These are fun mini-lessons that I get to share with my followers, and will also be sharing a few of them here on the powwows website.


The Gwich'in people live in subarctic conditions in North East Alaska and North West Canada.

A friend of mine Tania Larsson is Gwich'in and helped me with today's mini lesson.


We're going to delve into this nations culture and traditions.

One of the most important things to Gwich'in people are the caribou. 

They even refer to themselves as “Caribou People.”

Their lives literally depend on and revolve around the herds.

Did you know that a can of soup out in Yukon territories is close to $9.00??

Could you imagine trying to feed a family on store bought food when the prices run that high? That's why hunting and fishing are not just cultural ways, it's survival!

Temperatures in the winter can drop as low as -33 degrees F. The Northwest Territories signed a land claim agreement in 1992, and began a 23 year gathering of stories and information to hand to generations to come!

“Because of the self government agreement, the GTC set up the Gwich'in Social and Cultural Institute in the Northwestern territories with the mandate to ‘Document, preserve and promote Gwich'in culture, language traditional knowledge and values.' It ran for 23 years and did amazingly. Collecting knowledge I wouldn't have been able to access. They wrote many books on our culture and collected many stories from elders which are so valuable today.” -Tania Larsson

Another form of knowledge that has been handed down among the Dene people are Hand Games.

I have many friends who participate in Hand Games Championships and I would love to go some day.

I have attached a video below that shows the Hand Games I refer to.

Thanks for coming to learn about the Gwich'in culture!

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