People of the Lakes

Vuntut National Park

Central to the existence of the Gwitchin in this region is their deep connection with both the Old Crow Flats and the Porcupine Caribou Herd. With an abundance of fish, plants and wildlife, the Old Crow Flats provide sustenance for the Gwitchin throughout the seasons. The caribou provide a dependable and plentiful source of food, clothing and shelter.

An enduring lifestyle

Old muskrat canoe
Old canoe once used while trapping muskrat

Until recent times the Gwitchin were nomadic, moving throughout the region to proven hunting and fishing territories, which varied depending on the season and the migration pattern of the caribou. The Gwitchin utilized technology such as spears, snares, traps and bows and arrows to harvest fish and wildlife.

After the arrival of the fur trade, trapping furbearers for income became part of the Gwitchin lifestyle and modern technology such as firearms forever changed the way people hunted. However, Gwitchin continued to depend on the land for most of their sustenance.

Seasonal rounds


In the summer and fall, salmon were caught and preserved as were different types of berries and edible plants, such as blueberries, cranberries, Labrador tea and rhubarb. Animals such as moose, muskrat, beaver, porcupine, rabbit, ptarmigan, ducks and geese were also an important part of the traditional diet.

Twice each year, in the spring and fall, the caribou would migrate through Vuntut Gwitchin territory and during these times caribou would be harvested in large numbers. Every part of the caribou would be used to provide food, clothing, shelter, tools and weapons for the Gwitchin.


Gwitchin on the land

Though no communities or year-round homes are located within the park, Vuntut Gwitchin citizens still use the area during the seasonal pursuit of traditional activities, such as hunting, fishing and trapping. These rights are guaranteed through the Vuntut Gwitchin Final Agreement in order to protect Vuntut Gwitchin culture.

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