A gathering at Moosehide celebrating the Hän language and culture was held for the first time in years last weekend.
The gathering, hosted by the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation, took place from July 28 to 31.
This was the 15th Moosehide Gathering since 1993. The gathering was held every two years, but hasn’t gone forward since 2018 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The gathering was first envisioned as a celebration of the Hän way of life held at the Moosehide Village site, a few kilometres downriver from Dawson City, that has been occupied since the late 1800s.
According to the gathering program provided to attendees, the first Moosehide Gathering served as a way of reclaiming parts of the Hän culture lost during the gold rush years. As tens of thousands of gold seekers flooded the Klondike valley and his people moved to Moosehide from their traditional fish camp at the confluence of the Yukon and Klondike Rivers, Chief Isaac entrusted relatives across the border in Alaska with the preservation of traditional songs and dances. Prior to the first Moosehide Gathering, a group of Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in people travelled to Tanacross in Alaska to begin learning the lost songs and dances.
“The Moosehide Gathering is an important cultural event for our Nation and allows our citizens a chance to visit with Yukoners, friends and to re-connect with family — an important part of our First Nations culture. With COVID-19 still posing challenges, we are limiting the scope of the event, but we know anyone who makes it downriver will experience and enjoy the hospitality that has defined our people for thousands of years,” said Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Hähké/Chief Roberta Joseph prior to the gathering.
The 2022 gathering featured feasts, dancing and daytime events offering knowledge about language and culture. One of these on Saturday included a yoga workshop with poses bearing the Hän names for Yukon animals. A market was set up for artisans to sell their wares and workshops taught drum making, hide stretching, caribou hair tufting and porcupine quillwork among other traditional crafts.
Crowds in the hundreds watched stage performances by singers and dancers hailing from the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation, Selkirk First Nation, Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation and others.
The gathering was made possible by dozens of volunteers who cooked, served the feasts, staffed information booths and piloted the boats ferrying guests from Dawson City to Moosehide.
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