From July 28 to 31 the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation will welcome everyone to their traditional territory.
The First Nation is hosting the 13th biennial Moosehide Gathering, taking place at Moosehide Village, which is located 3 km downriver from Dawson City by boat, or 4.5 km by forest trail. Entry and camping is free.
During the weekend festivities, there will be performances, guest speakers, feasts, dancing, drumming, singing and more.
“The gathering represents what a traditional potlatch would be,” says Roberta Joseph, chief of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in.
“The Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in held many large potlatches with lots of people attending. This was told to us by the elders who helped regain our songs and culture. There was lots of singing and celebration. It means a lot to me and to our people.”
Joseph goes on to say that an event such as this represents a part of a strong culture.
“These gatherings are a part of our identity,” she says. “They allow us to share our culture with ourselves and others. It gives us a sense of our traditional knowledge and law in terms of how to carry out a potlatch of this magnitude.”
Eryn Foster, coordinator of the gathering, is working closely with Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in partners to plan and program the events and activities that take place at Moosehide.
“It’s an incredible endeavour,” she says. “It’s very important to their community and people. I’m excited and honoured to help coordinate.”
After the opening ceremonies, prayer, welcome from chief and other leaders of the First Nation and Dawson on Thursday night, the weekend will be filled with music, games for kids and youth, and performances by dancers, drummers and singers from the Yukon, Alaska and as far away as Vancouver.
Workshops such as fish scale art and sheep horn spoon making will be offered during the day. There will also be plenty of crafts and artwork for sale.
In addition, up to 1,000 people will be fed each night at the community feasts taking place Thursday, Friday and Saturday. That’s approximately 3,000 people over the course of the weekend.
Foster says they’ve hired a cook to prep and make all the food, including traditional meals like stew and bannock.
“We are sourcing local farmers for vegetables, and have received generous support and donations from individuals, the community, businesses and corporations,” she says.
There are over 300 volunteers to help with all aspects of the gathering, including the Canadian Rangers, and private individuals who will offer boat rides over the weekend between Dawson City and the village.
With a large number of expected participants, Foster emphasizes that trying to stay green is a priority.
“We encourage everyone to bring their own potlatch bag containing dishes, cutlery, cups, etc. with them,” she says.
As potable water must also be transported from town, everyone is also encouraged to bring their own water to drink.
Foster first attended Moosehide Gathering in 1994 and is amazed at how much it has grown.
“The First Nation of this community is reclaiming their culture and interest in traditional music, dance and art,” she says. “This gathering educates, inspires and creates an awareness of culture and traditional practices. It also gives a space for youth to have a place to participate in continuing to practice their traditional culture.”
For more information call 1-844-993-7100 ext. 205 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.