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People of the Lakes

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In Old Crow on February 9, 2010, a history of the Vuntut Gwitchin based on 10 years of community research was launched. “People of the Lakes ~ Stories of Our Van Tat Gwich’in Elders/ Googwandak Nakhwach’anjoo Van Tat Gwich’in” was inspired by the Vuntut Gwitchin Elders and Vuntut Gwitchin Heritage Committee, who directed the oral history research and subsequent production of the book. Significantly, the book is co-authored by Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation and long-term community researcher anthropologist Shirleen Smith. The University of Alberta Press published the book with care, attention to detail and dedication, and the community is very proud of the excellent final product. Co-author Shirleen Smith shepherded the book through the long publishing process and represented the direction of the Heritage Committee. Vuntut Gwitchin Chief Joe Linklater wrote the Foreword to the book, and his words will inspire his people and non-Gwich'in readers by his depth of understanding and appreciation for the knowledge of his Elders.

At the book launch, the immense contribution of the Elders who shared their stories was recognized by a gift of a commemorative photo album showcasing the Elders and their land. These albums were presented to each Elder who contributed to the book, or to a representative of their family in the case of Elders who have passed on.

List of Elders Acknowledged and Family Members Presented to:

Elders: Presented to:
Charlie and Ellen Abel Marion Schafer
Sarah Abel Laurence Lord
Peter and Martha Benjamin Martha Benjamin
Robert Sr. and Ellen Bruce Ellen Bruce
Alfred and Helen Charlie Alfred Charlie
Charlie Peter and Fanny Charlie Fanny Charlie
Lazarus and Mary Charlie Hugh Charlie
Martha John Charlie Allan Benjamin
Harold and Clara Frost Freddy Frost
Donald and Alice Frost Donald Frost
Stephen Sr. and Ethel Frost Stephen Frost Sr.
Bella Greenland Bella Greenland
Dolly Josie Nancy Flett
Edith Josie Tammy Josie
Peter Josie Peter Josie
Eliza Ben Kassi Norma Kassi
Paul Ben and Mary Kassi Mabel Tetlichi
John Joe and Sarah Kaye John Joe Kaye
Big Joe and Myra Kaye Joel Peter
John and Martha Kendi Randal Kendi
Tabitha Kyikavichik and Joseph Peter Michael Peter
Charlie and Emily Linklater Joe Linklater
Archie and Effie Linklater Norman Linklater
Irwin Linklater Irwin Linklater
Pete and Annie Lord Irene Lord
Neil MacDonald Jimmy Linklater
Jane Montgomery Jane Montgomery
John Moses Adeline Charlie
Mary Jane Moses Mary Jane Moses
Chief Peter and Myra Moses Georgie Moses
Joe and Hannah Netro Hannah Netro
Mary Netro Florence Netro
Stanley Njootli Sr. Stanley Njootli Sr.
Grafton Njootli Nellie Njootli
Dick and Marion Nukon Dick Nukon
Kenneth and Annie Nukon Henry Nukon
Abraham and Mary Peter Jeffrey Peter
Marion Schafer Marion Schafer
Sarah Simon Susie Look
Charlie and Jesse Thomas Willie Thomas
Lydia Thomas Randal Francis
Mary Thomas Lena Josie
Andrew Tizya Ida Tizya
Old Peter and Clara (Linklater) Tizya Erika Tizya
Moses and Martha Tizya John Joseph Kaye
Peter Tizya Clara Tizya
Mary Tizya Mary Tizya

Gwichin genealogist Tracy Rispin and Photographers Roy Hall, Beth-Ann Exham, Father Jean-Marie Mouchet, Nina Raginsky, Shirleen Smith, Graham Baird and Pat Arey were also recognized for their contributions with a gift of an album. Other family members wanting to purchase a copy of this album can contact Dorothy Frost at the John Tizya Centre (867) 966-3233 to sign up. Cost will be around $70, depending on how many copies are printed.

The Vuntut Gwitchin Government chose to publish their history through an academic publisher rather than simply printing (self-publishing) the book in order to ensure that it is recognized by all readers – the general public, academics, and Vuntut Gwitchin alike – as an authoritative account of Vuntut Gwitchin history, and a book of the quality expected by the Elders who wanted their history available for their children and the world to read.

The book consists of: Forward, Preface, Acknowledgements, Introduction, Long Ago Stories, The First Generation (19th Century), The Second Generation (early 20th Century), The Oral History of Today (VG Commentary on Past, Present and Future), Notes, Glossary, Bibliography, Index. 391 pages. Around 250 colour photographs.

‘People of the Lakes’ is available for purchase from U of A Press, in Old Crow at the John Tizya Centre and at Mac’s Fireweed in Whitehorse. Retail price is $34.99. Note: The Modern Gwich’in spelling system is used throughout the book in order to be consistent with the Gwich’in instruction at Chief Zzeh Gittlit School.

Links and Awards:
Mary Jane’s speech
Elders photo album text
Canadian Historical Associationh
Alberta Book Publishing Awards shortlist
Tom Fairly award
Book of the year
Interview with Mary Jane
Canada's history book review

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