Cultural Landscapes, Past and Present, and the South Yukon Ice Patches
Keywords:First Nations, self-government, land claims, partnerships, Tutchone, Tagish, Tlingit, heritage, history, intangible heritage, social context, caribou, hunting, subsistence, artifacts, precontact land use, cultural landscapes
South Yukon First Nations governments are partners in the Yukon Ice Patch Project investigating the mountaintop snow and ice patches where ancient hunting artifacts are being recovered. Heritage programs operated by these governments, which coordinate their citizens’ engagement in these activities, emphasize intangible cultural heritage. They view the project as an opportunity to strengthen culture, enhance citizens’ understanding of their history, and express First Nations values regarding cultural resources. As the primary mammal subsistence species for south Yukon Indian people is now moose, the ice patch discoveries highlight the historical role of caribou in their culture and increase awareness of the environmental history of their homelands. The cultural landscape concept is used to frame the present indigenous involvement in the Yukon ice patch investigations, as well as the past use of these unique landscape features and ancient land-use patterns. The Yukon Ice Patch Project reflects the contemporary context of the territory, where indigenous governments are actively involved in managing and interpreting their cultural heritage.