Liard First Nations

Location

The nomadic Kaska are primarily located in between the Coastal and Rocky Mountain ranges of southeastern Yukon and northern British Columbia in Canada.

Language

The Kaska speak the Athabascan language. They are related to the Tahltan and Tagish Athabascan, once known collectively as Nahani. One source also states (Handbook of Indians of Canada, F.W. Hodge, 1968) that the Nahanni was comprised of the Achetotena (Etchareottine) and the Dahotena (Etagottine) tribes.

History

According to one Michael G. Johnson (The Native Tribes of North America, 1994), “continuous contact with whites began in the 1820’s with the establishment of a Hudson’s Bay post on the Liard River followed by increasing intrusion by miners and freelance traders and trappers. In 1969 there were 533 Kaska in the Liard River Band near lower post and Watson Lake.” It is unlikely that these were the only natives in the area since the people do not consider themselves members of a specific “tribe” as such. Ethnographers typically define Alaskan and Canadian Native Americans by linguistic category for this reason. There are, however, two types of clan designations as “matrilineal moieties” known as the Raven (crow) and Wolf in English.

Daily Life

The Kaska were “primarily caribou hunters and lived in temporary dwellings such as tepees or huts made of poles and brush, or sometimes in summer, simple lean-tos. Transport was by (birch-bark) canoe, snowshoe and toboggan” (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1985). The Kaska believe in the powers of animal spirits and the practices of medicine men. Reincarnation is also a facet. Sub-arctic societies or composite bands are large enough for distinct personality features to be seen as reincarnations of people in the groups past.