The Gwich’in people live in a vast area extending from northeast Alaska in the U.S. to the northern Yukon and Northwest Territories in Canada. Oral tradition indicates that the Gwich’in have occupied this area since time immemorial or, according to conventional belief, for as long as 20,000 years.
The Gwich’in life and culture have traditionally been based on the Porcupine Caribou herd, the people’s main source of food, tools, and clothing. Fish and other animals supplement their diet.
The Gwich’in practised a nomadic lifestyle until the 1870’s, when fur traders came into the area to establish forts and trading posts that later became settlements. Approximately 9,000 Gwich’in currently make their home in communities in Alaska, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories.