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The Kwanlin Dün First Nation Peoples of Whitehorse

Kwanlin is our Southern Tutchone name for the canyon that carries Chu Níikwän (Shining Waters) - the Yukon River into Whitehorse. Kwanlin means “water through the canyon” and references the jade-green water rushing through the tall basalt rock columns of what is now called Miles Canyon. Dün is our word for People.

The landscape of the Traditional Territory of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation is full of our origin histories. It tells of a time when glaciers and large lakes covered the area and speaks of how our people came to live here. This was the homeland of the original people of this place – the Tagish Kwan.

Our great grandparents saw tens of thousands of stampeders arrive during the 1898 gold rush and they participated in the establishment of new settlements including Whitehorse. Our grandparents saw many of our foot-trails merged into the Alaska Highway and other roadways during World War II. After the war our parents fought for our right to vote, hold land title and educate our own children. Building on the ideas of our forbears, we signed our Self-Government and Land Claims Final Agreements in 2005.

Kwanlin Dün First Nation is now the largest landowner in Whitehorse. As an urban Self-Governing Nation we are thriving, working with our neighbours to create a sustainable, healthy and culturally rich environment for our children and future generations.

Our home is alive with history and we invite you to share in its beauty!

The Ta’an Kwäch’än Council Peoples of Whitehorse

Greetings from the Ta’an Kwäch’än. We are the people of the big lake north of Whitehorse. We call it Ta’an Män – the famed “marge of Lake LeBarge” in Robert Service’s poem. We have lived beside its sparkling waters for countless generations. We remain a land-based people to this day. While our headquarters are in Whitehorse, some of our citizens live at the small Jackfish Bay village on the south end of the lake and nearby is Helen’s Fish Camp where we hold gatherings for our whole nation.

Our timeless connections to this region are being revealed in new ways as melting ice patches in the southern Yukon yield Ice Age artifacts. We participate in ongoing studies by scientists, connecting our oral traditions to the hunting implements exposed as glacial ice melts with rapidly warming temperatures. Beautifully crafted atlatl shafts, spear points and arrowheads provide concrete evidence of our ancestors’ skills and artistry. Their life as hunter-gatherers evolved as the landscape, animals and plants changed over time. Until the advent of the Klondike Gold Rush in the 1890s, our lifeways remained the same. We still continue to follow a seasonal round of activities rooted in time-tested and shared knowledge of places and resources. 

Today as a self-governing First Nation, we mix contemporary work with our traditional harvesting skills to make a living. We invest in businesses and service industries, and participate in joint management projects with government to protect heritage and wildlife. A Southern Tutchone Ta’an Dialect Language app is available for download on Google Play for Android devices; iPhone and iPad users can download it from the App Store. Enjoy your stay in Ta’an traditional territory.

Kwanlin looked pretty different then

My Daddy brought me and my brother up here to Kwanlin – this canyon – in 1939, in June month. It looked pretty different back then before the dam. I was about five years old. He tell us the story right here about people coming through way back in 1898, white people. They had to bring all their supplies – rice, flour and sugar in sacks. No stores back then. My Daddy talk to us in Southern Tutchone language. He was born at Fish Lake. We were cutting wood over by the railroad for George Ryder – wood for the steamboats and heating people’s homes in Whitehorse. - ljàyaà Tā.
Elder Louie Smith

I've seen many changes

I attended residential school for eight years but never forgot my language. Later I taught Southern Tutchone in schools. I’ve seen many changes in Whitehorse. In the 1940s there were wooden sidewalks, a few small stores, cafés, hotels, the Old Log Church, RCMP detachment, school and hospital. There weren’t many cars – mainly steamboats, dog teams, bush planes and the train. My grandfather, Frankie Jim, supplied wood for the steamboats. I learned our traditional ways from my grandparents at summer fish camps. I still teach children to catch and dry salmon, passing down our ways as they were passed on to me.
Nakhela, Hazel Bunbury Elder

Things to do in Whitehorse

Yúk’e Arts Market

Yúk’e Arts Market

Indigenous Peoples Day

Indigenous Peoples Day

June 21, 2024

Adäka Cultural Festival

Adäka Cultural Festival

June 28, 2024 - July 01, 2024

Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre

Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre

Yukon Water Bike Rental

Yukon Water Bike Rental

June - August / Starting from $27

Brew Tour

Brew Tour

$105 per person

Whitehorse City Surrounds Tour

Whitehorse City Surrounds Tour

$58.00 per person

Carcross/Southern Lakes Tour

Carcross/Southern Lakes Tour

Year-round / $155.00 per person

Miles Canyon Tour

Miles Canyon Tour

May - October / $35 per person

Yukon Wildlife Preserve and/or Takhini Hot Springs

Yukon Wildlife Preserve and/or Takhini Hot Springs

Year-round / Starting from $38.35 per person

Who Let the Dogs Out Visit

Who Let the Dogs Out Visit

$55 per person

Artists in Whitehorse

Photo of Blake Lepine

Blake Lepine

Photo of Gertie Tom

Gertie Tom

Photo of Sharron Vittrekwa

Sharon Vittrekwa

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Calvin Morberg

Photo of Karen Bien

Karen Bien

Photo of George Roberts

George Roberts

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Copper Caribou

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Randi Nelson

Points of interest in Whitehorse

  1. Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre - Immerse yourself in our culture through exhibits, photography, tours, music and arts programs year-round. Located on a parcel of our settlement lands on the Chu Níikwän (Yukon River) in downtown Whitehorse.
  2. Walking Trails - Explore the many Kwanlin (Miles Canyon) trails and downtown waterfront paths, either on your own or with interpretive guides in summer, to experience the birds, flowers and stories of our land.
  3. Whitehorse Hydro Dam And Fish Ladder - See salmon migrating from the Pacific Ocean bypass the dam using the longest wooden fish ladder in the world. Interpretive displays explain their life cycle, the cultural importance of their annual return home, and our commitment to their survival.
  4. Blue Feather Music Festival - Soar along with Indigenous performers from the Yukon and around the world at this vibrant fall festival, founded and organized by our citizens and youth. bluefeathermusic.ca
  5. Kwanlin Koyote Crosscountry Ski Trails - Go for a winter ski on groomed trails, just minutes from downtown. Kwanlin Dün youth built and maintain the Kwanlin Koyote ski trail as part of the Mt. McIntyre cross-country ski trail network.
  6. Lake Laberge - Camp by the crystal-clear waters of Ta’an Män. Turn in at the Lake Laberge campground sign (Km 225 Klondike Highway) for stunning views of the lake. Fish for lake trout, inconnu, grayling and pike from shore at the campground or by boat around Nju Shäw (Richtofen Island) in the centre of the lake. Be cautious on our big lake – fierce winds blow up suddenly.
  7. Fox Lake - Take advantage of this lake’s early freeze-up to access prime ice-fishing spots, or enjoy summer canoeing, boating and fishing on one of Yukon’s most popular recreational lakes.
  8. Summer Activities - Hike around Ta’an Män, taking in all that is around you. Our people lived on food from nature for thousands of years. Try your hand at foraging for berries and dozens of edible plants. A word of caution: always identify a plant before eating, and consume in small quantities to test for allergic reactions.
  9. Thirty Mile River - Launch your canoe for the adventure of a lifetime on this Canadian Heritage River. You’ll be carried along on its fast-flowing currents past many relics of bygone days. Pull out at Carmacks after a few days, or paddle and drift all the way to Dawson City.
  10. Winter Activities - Bring your snowshoes or cross-country skis for fast-paced adventures on the vast expanses of Ta’an Män. Keep watch for signs indicating Ta’an Kwäch’än Settlement Land and enjoy your time here.

The Yukon First Nations Culture and Tourism Association (YFNCT) is a non-profit, stakeholder-based organization that is committed to growing and promoting vibrant and sustainable arts/culture and tourism sectors.

Yukon First Nations Culture and Tourism Association
1-1109 Front Street (White Pass Building)
Whitehorse, Yukon Y1A-5G4

Phone 867.667.7698

Email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)