This book was put together thanks to the following participants who shared their stories: Frank Patterson, Betty Lucas, Jimmy Johnny, Walter Peter, Rose Lemieux, Catherine Germaine, the late Helen Buyck, Lena Malcolm, Donnie (Donald) Germaine, Bella Peter, Simon Mervyn, Nancy Hager and Margaret Ball.
All thirteen participants are First Nation of Nacho Nyäk Dun citizens and residents of the small town of Mayo, in the Yukon Territory. First Nation of Nacho Nyäk Dun is the name people gave themselves at the time of the land claims and Self-Government processes. Roughly translated it means ‘Big River People’. Before contact with Europeans, First Nations referred to themselves as Dän, meaning ‘people’. When a reference to this time is made the term Hude Dän, meaning ‘Old people’, is used.
The book is based on an oral history study conducted between 2015 and 2019. The main purpose of the study is to shed light on how Elders understand the influence of the extractive industry, settlers, and other mining related newcomers on their personal lives and the community in the present and the past. Their stories provide information of approximately one hundred years of interaction with and involvement in the mining industry. The time period covered in these accounts ranges from roughly 1915, the time of the relocation to the so-called ‘Old Village’ or ‘Dän Kų’, until life today.
Gold and silver mining on the Traditional Territory of the First Nation of Nacho Nyäk Dun brought along massive changes and was accompanied by the introduction of the colonial Indian affairs system, western style governance, and the Canadian residential school system. Elders’ memories of mining are therefore not separated from memories of loss, fear, and pain related to colonialism. This book also refers to the intimate relationship to nature – reflected in the photographs – and to concerns about environmental change and how to protect the land as the backbone of First Nation cultures.
oral history, First Nation, indigenous peoples, mining, Yukon Territory, Canada, social and environmental impacts from mining