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Yukon River: Staking a Claim

A First Nation's right to the land

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

Most of the descendants of the Yukon's original inhabitants prefer to call themselves "First Nations" because the term is a reminder of their ownership rights to the land they have lived on for thousands of years.

Most of the 500 residents of Carmacks, 175 kilometres downstream from Whitehorse, are First Nations people. They are eager to see the settlement of Yukon First Nations land claims in the territory so that their ancestral rights will be recognized. The Canadian government has promised that about eight per cent of Yukon land will be returned to the stewardship of its aboriginal peoples.

Before the frenzy of the Gold Rush at the turn of the century, Carmacks was an ancestral campsite on an important trade route, heavily travelled by the Kutchin from the north and the interior and by the Tlingits from the coast.

The arrival of Europeans goods and tools brought change to the traditional lifeways of the people.

The site was named Carmacks when the non-aboriginal fur trader George Washington Carmack built a cabin there. Carmack was one of the three prospectors who staked the claim on Bonanza Creek that ignited the gold rush.

For a while, Carmacks was a busy fuel stop for Yukon riverboats. In the mid-twentieth century, when the Klondike Highway was completed, the old Carmacks campsite once again became a welcome service stop for travellers.

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