Canadian Anthropology Society (CASCA)
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
This paper addresses the urgent need to understand perspectives of change, both societal and environmental, from indigenous viewpoints in Canada. It is based on one and a half years of research in Mayo and other parts of the Yukon Territory, including semi-structured, as well as partly narrative, interviews with First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun Elders. Their accounts tell of over one century of interaction and involvement with the extractive industry. The paper addresses the way First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun Elders experienced and make sense of several major shifts, from settling at the onset of galena ore extraction, to life in and relocation from ‘Dän Ku’ (Our Home) to the townsite of Mayo, to life and work in Elsa and Keno – the mining hills nearby, which are home today to one of Canada’s largest gold mine. The paper discusses contemporary concerns with the industry, such as increased access to and thus pressure on wildlife due to mining roads, pollution, economic benefits and local employment. Other related issues, which are structuring contemporary narratives of change are discussed, such as intergenerational tensions occurring due to the IT revolution. The paper considers the relevant question of how First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun Elders negotiate these changes, in order to incorporate them in a contemporary self-understanding. It emphasizes how the historical relationships among the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun, settlers, other beings and materials, and associated processes and discourses shape this particular environment today.