In 2016, Tr'ondëk Hwëch’in’s vision was to “maintain our relationship to the land, preserve our heritage & culture, empower our people, and utilize land and resources within our Traditional Territory in a sustainable way that creates opportunities and prosperity for citizens.” Since Tr'ondëk Hwëch’in became self-governing in 1998, they have gradually taken on more responsibilities so they can provide more programs and services that meet these needs. As of 2018, Tr'ondëk Hwëch’in has 10 departments that serve Tr'ondëk Hwëch’in citizens.
One of these departments, the Heritage department, does extensive work with Elders, Tr'ondëk Hwëch’in citizens, the Education department, researchers, and organizations such as the Yukon Native Language Centre to tell the story of the Tr'ondëk Hwëch’in and to revitalize our language and culture. Thanks to Elders, the Hän language workers, and the Education department, they have programs such as Aboriginal Headstart, and Hän language and culture is a part of the curriculum at Robert Service School.
Bonus fact: the Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre, another branch of the Heritage department, is also celebrating its 20th anniversary this year! The Dänojà Zho (Long Time Ago House) teaches visitors about Tr'ondëk Hwëch’in through guided tours, displays, and performances—but we also get to enjoy the Zho with workshops, performances, events, and funny stories from Sammy and Jamie on Radio Zho!
To finish off our fact #20, we’ll leave you with this powerful quote from a play written and first performed in 1996 by seven Tr'ondëk Hwëch’in women: Margaret Kormendy, Debbie Nagano, Freda Roberts, Edith Fraser, Jackie Olson, Michelle Olson, and Kyrie Nagano. The play deals with how we were separated from land and culture and the devastation that disease, residential school, and alcoholism caused. But it also tells how we drew strength from our traditions to heal and revitalize our culture when our drum and songs were returned.
“Raven, you must fly away with our songs, dances, stories, and drums and store them where they can be protected until there comes a time when we can share them with pride and honesty… a time when we have found our power.” – Beat of the Drum