Wolf Art by Lawrence Dean Charlie

Caribou Art by Lawrence Dean Charlie

Diniizhoo Cultural Technology Camp

Images by: Shirleen Smith - Copyright © VGFN

Diniizhoo Panorama

July 2007 - The Vuntut Gwitchin Government Heritage Department is running the pilot year of the Van Tat Gwich'in Cultural Technology Project. This is a four-year project with the objective to research Vuntut Gwitchin cultural technology, for example: making tools, playing games, sewing, cache making, dwelling construction, marriages, social gatherings and how these things were taught to the next generation. Some of the technologies used long ago in the time of our ancestors were stone tools, caribou antler tools, caribou leg bone tools, adzes, and bows and arrows. Games that were played include Gwich'in Football, Stick and Hoop, Mitten Game. The project is not restricted to ancient technology and includes researching contemporary adaptations such as steel knives, axes, cooking pots, nails.

The cultural technology camp included people of all ages; Elders, youth and middle aged. The participants traveled by new technology, helicopter, to Diniizhoo, also known as Potato Hill or Game Mountain. Diniizhoo is a long ago gathering place for the Gwich'in from the NWT and Alaska who joined the Vuntut Gwitchin at this important site to socialize, trade and play traditional games.

Elder John Joe Kaye teaching about cultural technologies in the past. This gathering of people from all directions enabled the people to meet with their relatives, make new friends, feast, dance and tell stories. It was a happy occasion and the people would all go back to their villages with renewed strength and knowledge, carrying on with their busy lives till the next gathering. Diniizhoo is situated north west of Old Crow, at the edge of Crow Flats and very near the Alaska/Yukon border.

Thanks to the participants and the funders who made the first year of the Van Tat Gwich'in Cultural Technology Project such a success.

Photo Gallery

Discovering rock cache at Potato Hill. Looking at the remains of a moss house at Berry Creek. Youth learning how to make caribou hoof rattles. The traditional Gwitchin game of Stick Pull. Frances Bruce and Shirleen Smith competing at Stick Pull. Playing the mitten game Ray LeBlanc demonstrating how to make sharp blades out of obsidian rock by fracturing it with a heavy rock. As a result, the piece of obsidian was sharp enough to cut through caribou babiche. Mary Jane Moses with Diniizhoo in the background. Camp at Diniizhoo in the evening. Enjoying the afternoon at Thomas Creek Caribou Fence. Playing keep-away the game Irwin Linklater demonstrating how to make a deadfall. Elder Charlie Thomas at Diniizhoo throwing a spear into the ring. Enjoying the afternoon at Thomas Creek Caribou Fence.