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Yukon River: Heal and Purify

A First Nation recovers from cultural suppression

More on the Yukon River:
Yukon River:
Route of the Gold Rush

North to Alaska:
War brings a highway to the Yukon

Bonanza - The quest for Klondike gold

Staking a Claim:
A First Nation's right to the land

Cold Rush:
Stampede up the frozen Chilkoot Trail

Scaling Fish:
Salmon spawners get over a dam

Heal and Purify:
A First Nation recovers from cultural suppression

Spreading the Word:
Yukon storytelling tradition welcomes the world

Losing Track:
The White Pass and Yukon Route

Cradled by stunningly-beautiful lakes and mountains, Carcross is inhabited by the Carcross-Tagish First Nation.

The original Tagish residents were directly on the trade route of the coastal Tlingit and adopted many of the Tlingit social customs.

Formerly called Caribou Crossing, Carcross was a stopover for Gold Rush Stampeders at the turn of the century. Three of the Klondike gold discoverers were members of the Carcross-Tagish First Nation and are buried there.

First Nation residents in Carcross have unbreakable ties to the land and their own traditions. Sweat lodge ceremonies to heal and purify the spirit are held in Carcross. There is a summer camp for young people as well where they learn the skills of survival and communal living.

Carcross is on its way to becoming a healthy community, but some residents still battle social problems. The reasons are complex. Some adults in Carcross trace their difficulties to their childhood when they were taken from their homes and placed in church-run schools.

Church-run schools suppressed established, aboriginal cultures and languages. Traditional religious beliefs were replaced by European concepts that had nothing to do with aboriginal experience or spirituality. As a result, today, many in the Native population are struggling to retain their cultural integrity and pride.

Recently, the Carcross-Tagish First Nation demolished the local boarding school founded by the Anglican Church in 1901 and restored the land to its natural state.

The First Nations peoples anticipate with hope the negotiation of self-government agreements which would give them limited law-making powers over land use, hunting, trapping, fishing, business, culture, health care, education, and conflict resolution.

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