Teetl’it Zheh, meaning “people of the head waters”, are a dene people who live in the Mackenzie Delta in the Northwest Territories. The Teetl’it Gwich’in people live(d) a nomadic lifestyle making their living off of the land. They hunt big and small game, pick berries, and use plants for medicine. The porcupine caribou serve as a vital resource for the Gwich’in People. The caribou provide food, medicine, hides for clothing and shelter, and bone tools that allow(ed) people to survive in the harsh environments.

Today, there are more resources and the Gwich’in still strive for wealth and stability in the traditional and economical state in modern society. We are working towards language revitalization, cultural healing and reconciliation.

Here you will find stories that have led up to where we stand today and define who we are as Gwich’in people.

Treaty Signing Story

In 1921 Teetl’it Gwich’in signed the Treaty that we live as a part of today. On July 28th, 1921, Fort McPherson where Treaty 11 was signed to the Teetl’it Gwich’in people. On behalf of the Teetl’it Gwich’in Chief Julius Salu and Johnny Kyikavichik (Kay) signed the Treaty, with H.A. Conroy, the royal commissioner present in 1921, he set up tables and chairs in a large tent that was set up on the sandbar at Fort McPherson with a flag set in front of the tent. The treaty was signed for hunting, funding for education, assistance for agricultural activities, trapping and fishing equipment, and some annuities.

The Lost Patrol

The Lost Patrol is story the Teetl’it Gwich’in know and understand. It has been told many times by many different people. The story of the Lost Patrol speaks to the fundamental truths of the Land and its people. By telling and retelling the story of the Lost Patrol the Teetl’it Gwich’in take part in the history of the Land and the relationships between people that remain.

1970 Centennial Canoe Race

In 1970 there was a 6 man canoe race that started in Fort Providence and finished in Inuvik.  The race was to celebrate the NWT’s Centennial year. There were 10 teams who participated, Fort McPherson, Aklavik, Inuvik, Fort Providence, Alberta, Yukon, Fort Good Hope, Yellowknife, Dettah and Arctic Red River.  The teams traveled 1,126 miles down the Mackenzie River to Inuvik. At each community along the Mackenzie River, the teams would compete in long distance (30, 40 and 50 miles) and short sprint style races (10 and 15 miles).  It was 17 days of grueling paddling and the Fort McPherson team finished 1st place.