Kâachik What was life like at Kâachik ?

A cabin/cache at Kâachik in the summer of 2000

Kâachik is a habitation and winter village site on the upper Porcupine River ( Ch’oodèenjik ). Upper Ch’oodèenjik is the traditional lands of the Dagoo Gwich’in, now dispersed and living primarily among the Vuntut and Teetl’it Gwich’in [of Old Crow and Fort McPherson respectively]. The high country of the upper Porcupine is the home to moose, fine fur-bearers, beaver, caribou on their winter ranges in some locations, grizzly bears and remote salmon runs. Gwich’in—Dagoo, Vuntut and others—long used the area and established villages such as Kâachik and Chuutl’it (Whitestone Village) on some of the tributary rivers. For a time, traders had stores at the latter location as well as at Zheh Gwatsal (LaPierre House) on the Bell River. Ultimately, in the mid-twentieth century, upper Ch’oodèenjik was ‘cleaned out’ of furbearers and food species, due to the great trapping pressure (due to influx of Gwich’in and non-Gwich’in trappers and the alleged use of strychnine by white trappers), which forced the Dagoo to disperse amongst neighbouring Gwich’in groups such as Van Tat . The area continues to be used, particularly for hunting moose, and many Gwich’in travel up Ch’oodèenjik to the old villages when the water is high in the spring. They have monitored the return of wildlife in their former homes.

The stories here are from members of the primary extended family that lived at Kâachik —the Charlie/Tetlichi family—as well as others who lived there sporadically or nearby at Chuutl’it (the Nukon family). They describe the area, making a living there, the social world, changes in ways of making a living, and the joys and difficulties of life at Kâachik . Throughout the stories reflect the positive attributes of life at Kâachik and their love for the place and the life there.

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