Mackenzie River

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Vihtr’ii Tshik

Before the fur trade brought steel axes and fire arms to the area, the Gwich’in depended for their survival on tools made from stone, wood and bone. It was here at the mouth of the Thunder River that people came to quarry stone to make such tools and weapons as scrapers, knives and arrowheads. It was one of many places that were critical to people’s survival on the land. According to Gwich’in oral history and archaeological research, the Gwich’in, Slavey and Siglit (now known as Inuvialuit), all came here to quarry stone for tools for hundreds, and perhaps thousands of years.


Khaii Luk Tshik

The mouth of this creek is one of the major trailheads for the route between the Mackenzie River and the large interior lake Khaii Luk (Travaillant Lake), an important fish lake for the Gwichya Gwich’in. In the days when schooners were used along the Mackenzie River, Gabe Andre remembers his father taking his schooner out of the river here in the fall using a capstan and storing it over the winter on higher ground up the creek, out of reach of spring ice moving on the Mackenzie River. Dale Clark’s father, Wm.


Dachan Choo Gę̀hnjik

This has long been known as a good fishing area and people have camped here for many generations. Oral history indicates that a fish trap for grayling was used about 30 miles up the river. Historically, Bill McNeely was the first person to establish a permanent camp near the mouth of the river. In 1942, Hyacinthe Andre decided to settle down in one place with his family and he purchased McNeely’s camp for $100. Hyacinthe continued to hunt, fish and trap from here.


Old Arctic Red (a.k.a.Teetshik Goghaa) OR Zheh Gwishik

This place was where the Old Arctic Red River site was located. Annie Norbert recalls her mother saying that this place used to be "crowded with a bunch of tents." People used to come here and stay for about one month dancing, feasting, gambling and enjoying one another's company after a long winter. This place was also good for fishing because of a notable eddy in front of the site. The Roman Catholic Church built a small mission here in 1868. The mission was moved to the present location of Tsiigehtchic in the 1890s.



This place is located about ten miles downstream from the community of Tsiigehtchic and is the gateway to the Mackenzie Delta. This is where the Mackenzie River opens up for a distance of almost three miles and separates into the East Channel, Middle Channel and the main channel. In the summer, this wide expanse of water is subject to high winds causing large waves and making travel by boat through this area treacherous. According to Hyacinthe and Gabe Andre, the Arctic Ocean used to extend as far south as Point Separation.



There used to be a small town here in the 1920s and 1930s. Billy Phillips (Tommy Wright's grandfather) and his wife Jane Enoch Phillips, had a small trading post here from 1927 to 1939. Enoch Moses (Jane Phillips' father), Peter Enoch (Jane Phillips' brother) and their families, also stayed here. Enoch Moses moved to the Delta from Old Crow as a young man. Peter Enoch and his wife Ruth had many sons and daughters including Alex Moses. When Alex's father died and his mother married Jim Greenland, he became known as Alex Greenland.


Eltyin Jeł K’it

This creek only has jackfish in it, hence its name. Joe Bernard had a cabin near the mouth of this creek on the eastern side. His cabin was originally owned by Fred Norris, who moved the cabin by barge from the Middle Channel to here upon the request of Joe Bernard about 30 years ago. The cabin was still standing and being used in 1994. It belongs now to Joe Bernard’s son, Albert Jerome. Other people who lived in this area included Peter Enoch, Edward Nazon and Earl Marander, a white trapper.


Nichìitsìi Diniinlee OR Chìitsìi Diniinlee

This place was one of the main summer gathering places and fish camps for the Gwichya Gwich'in in the Mackenzie Delta in historic times. People came in early June after the ratting (muskrat) season, and stayed until August in order to fish. In the early 1900's, several families also stayed here year round because it was a good place for hunting in the spring, fishing in the summer, and trapping in the winter. Old Fabien Coyen, Paul Niditchie and John Tsal each had cabins here. Other people who stayed here included: Pascal Baptiste, Pierre Tazzie, and Fred Cardinal.


Knut Lang's Camp

This place is located at the foot of the Richardson Mountains and is named after Knut Lang who had a fur trading post here ca. 1936-64. Mr. Lang was originally from Denmark and moved to the Aklavik area in 1928 to trap. Aklavik elder Annie B. Gordon described him as a tall, strong man who was highly regarded by the local people because of his generous and kind nature. In 1957, he was elected as a member to the NWT Council and remained on council until his death in 1964. Most of the cabins at the camp date from the time of Mr. Lang’s trading post.



This name refers to a prominent mountain located southwest of the present-day community of Aklavik. There are many stories associated with this mountain including one about the legendary Gwich’in cultural hero Atachuukaii who was known as a great traveller and adventurer. The area around Chigwaazraii i has long been used by the Ehdiitat Gwich’in in Aklavik for berry picking, fishing and hunting caribou, moose, and Dall’s sheep.



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