Gwich'in Traditional Knowledge Projects
Gwich'in local and traditional knowledge
has been used to identify management issues, plan research
and develop management plans. The long-term impacts on the northern
environment will be monitored by using local knowledge. Gwich'in
knowledge is used when developing wildlife management plans,
protected area strategies and land and water use permitting.
By recording Gwich'in traditional ecological knowledge we are
also helping to pass this knowledge on to the youth and future
Gwich'in Environmental Knowledge
GEKP Goals and Results
The GEKP is recording and
mapping Gwich'in Elders' knowledge. The local knowledge collected
is used to provide information about the area's ecosystems and
to produce more informed wildlife management plans, conservation
strategies, and land and water use licensing procedures.The GRRB
is making Gwich'in Traditional Knowledge easily accessible to
Board staff, community members and other researchers by developing
a database of all recorded information and by publishing books on
Gwich'in local ecological knowledge. The books and the database provides
a tool for educators in the area and other people interested in traditional
During workshops, community members said they wanted
their knowledge used to help manage their resources. In response,
the Gwich'in Renewable Resources Board (GRRB) has made the Gwich'in
Environmental Knowledge Project (GEKP) an important part of its
operation. Knowledge gathered by the project is used with other
information and research results to manage and conserve the resources
of the area.
Nanh' Kak Geenjit Gwich'in Ginjik and Gwìndòo
Nanh' Kak Geenjit Gwich'in Ginjik are books that highlight
elders' knowledge of species of wildlife in the western Arctic.
The books are based on more than 400 interviews conducted with
Gwich'in elders, hunters, fishers, trappers.
"This book helps us pass on the knowledge of many
elders and their stories. . . It helps us to pass on our 'words',
pass on a part of what is our culture, our future." (Mary
Kendi, Gwich'in Elder)"WWF has been expanding the work we are
doing in the Canadian Arctic and this report should prove to be
an interesting and valuable resource for us. . . It looks like
it will be a very special resource for many people and organizations."(Catherine
Merriman, World Wildlife Fund)"The Elders who have contributed
to this book have much to be proud of. Their words of wisdom and
experience are important, not only to the youth, but to all who
wish to keep our culture alive." (Don Morin, Premier, NWT)
GEKP Book 1 OUT of STOCK
Kak Geenjit Gwich'in Ginjik (Gwich'in Words About the Land). Gwich'in Elders.
1997. 8.5" x 11", paper cover, maps, illustrations (B&W), 212pp.
Price: $30.00 + shipping & handling*
GEKP Book II
Gwìndòo Nành' Kak Geenjit
Gwich'in Ginjik (More Gwich'in
Words About the Land). Gwich'in Elders. 2001. 8.5" x
11", paper cover, maps, photos (color), Elders biographies,
184pp. ISBN: 0-9682642-1-2.
Price: $35.00 + shipping & handling*
*Book Shipping Costs Canada & USA:
$7.50 per book International: $10.00 per book (note: please contact
us for multiple copies)
To utilize the
knowledge most effectively, the GRRB is developing a database
to encourage researchers and resource managers
in the Gwich'in Settlement Area to use and
explore the knowledge of elders. The database
organizes, summarizes and presents Gwich’in
traditional environmental knowledge in a
user friendly, easily accessible format.
The GRRB recently provided the RRC’s
with GEKP database on a compact disc (CD
ROM). The CD ROM can be used by the RRC’s
and anyone from the community who would like to obtain information
on local traditional knowledge about renewable resources in the
The Gwich'in Traditional Knowledge Policy, entitled Working with Gwich'in Traditional Knowledge in the Gwich'in Settlement Region, was drafted in preparation for increased oil and gas exploration and other development and research interests in the Region. It applies to the Gwich'in Tribal Council (GTC), GSCI and all Designated Gwich'in Organizations including the four community councils, Gwich'in Land Corporation and Gwich'in Settlement Corporation.
This Gwich'in Tribal Council policy designates GSCI as the organization responsible for its implementation and is accompanied by Guidelines and a Research Agreement Framework. The policy aims to ensure that the collection, use and dissemination of Gwich'in Traditional Knowledge is conducted ethically and acknowledges and respects the Gwich'in as its holders. Although still in draft form, it is meant to guide all traditional knowledge research in the Gwich'in Settlement Region (GSR). The Research Agreement Framework sets out the terms of any agreement negotiated between a Gwich'in organization and researchers, in accordance with the policy and guidelines.
Researchers interested in conducting TK research in the GSR are asked to fill out the Research Agreement Framework and e-mail, mail or fax it to the GSCI offices in Tsiigehtchic and Yellowknife.
Gwich’in Traditional Knowledge: Bluenose West Caribou
The Gwich'in Knowledge of Bluenose West Caribou report is based on information provided in recent interviews, as well as information in the GSCI’s digital archives, including two Gwich’in Environmental Knowledge Project transcripts from the mid-1990s which were recently extracted from an old database by the GSCI. The report was reviewed in community verification sessions.
View Gwich'in Knowledge of Bluenose West Caribou Report
Gwich’in Traditional Knowledge: Nèhtrùh (Wolverine)
The GSCI and GRRB conducted a study to gather and present Gwich’in traditional knowledge of
wolverine. This study involved searching the digital archives of GSCI for relevant primary and secondary data, and conducting 12 traditional knowledge interviews with Gwich’in hunters and Elders. Verification sessions were also conducted to review the final report.
There is a stable but low population of wolverine in the Gwich’in Settlement Area and surrounding regions which are encountered by Gwich’in living in Inuvik, Aklavik, Fort McPherson, and Tsiigehtchic. The Western population of wolverines includes the Gwich’in Settlement Area. The species is classified as being of “Special Concern” by the Federal Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), as their population is sensitive to habitat fragmentation and encroachment of human activities, has a low reproductive rate, and requires large tracts of secure habitat to maintain populations.
View Gwich’in Traditional Knowledge: Nèhtrùh (Wolverine) Report
Gwich’in Knowledge of Grizzly Bears
The GSCI and GRRB conducted a study to gather and present Gwich’in Traditional Knowledge of grizzly bears. There is a now-stable population of grizzly bears in the Gwich’in Settlement Area and surrounding regions which are encountered by Gwich’in living in Inuvik, Aklavik, Fort McPherson, and Tsiigehtchic. The Canadian population is classified as Special Concern by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), as their population is sensitive to development (such as mining and road-building) and cumulative impacts due to low reproductive rates and poor conditions in parts of their natural range. The study involved searching the digital archives of GSCI for relevant primary and secondary data, and conducting 13 traditional knowledge interviews with Gwich’in hunters and Elders. Verification sessions were also conducted to review the final report.
View Gwich'in Knowledge of Grizzly Bears Report
Rat River Dolly Varden Char Traditional Knowledge Project (2010)
The Gwich'in Social & Cultural Institute (GSCI) conducted interviews and prepared a report on Rat River Dolly Varden char TK to aid in the development of the Integrated Fisheries Management Plan.
View Rat River Dolly Varden Char Report
Gwich’in Traditional Knowledge: Woodland Caribou, Boreal Caribou
The Gwich’in Renewable Resources Board (GRRB) and the Gwich’in Social and Cultural Institute (GSCI) collaborated on a study to gather and report on Gwich’in Traditional Knowledge of Boreal Woodland Caribou. There is a stable population of woodland caribou in the Gwich’in Settlement Area and surrounding regions. However, the Canadian population is classified as threatened under the federal Species at Risk Act. Environment Canada supported the project in order to integrate Traditional Knowledge in the recovery planning process for boreal woodland caribou.
The GSCI and the GRRB conducted 20 interviews with holders of Gwich’in traditional knowledge and searched the digital archives of GSCI for relevant primary and secondary data to obtain TK about general observations, special significance, physical description, distribution, habitat, population size and trend, limiting factors and threats, and health of the woodland caribou. Gwich’in hunters have in-depth knowledge about boreal woodland caribou which they generously shared in the interviews.
All recorded interviews were transcribed for use in reporting. Interviewees also recorded geographic information about caribou sightings and hunting areas on maps, which were digitized. Study results and maps are presented in a detailed report. The report was verified in workshops in Aklavik, Inuvik, Fort McPherson, and Tsiigehtchic and provided to Environment Canada.
View Woodland Caribou, Boreal Population Report
The Community - Land Relationship Project
aims to ensure that traditional management
guidelines are developed, included, and allowed
to contribute to resource management in the
GSA. Community workshops are also help to
discuss traditional and current management
methods. Topics of discussions include (but
not limited to)
- How the Gwich'in have traditionally managed wildlife,
fishery and forestry resources;
- Procedures of incorporating Traditional Knowledge
(TK) into environmental assessment;
- Recommendations on how traditional community
management and monitoring can be incorporated into environmental
Community-Land (CKP) Report
Community-Based Ecological Monitoring
The Board joins the effort of the Arctic Borderlands Ecological
Knowledge Co-op to
record, synthesize and communicate local knowledge about the environment.
Each year, the Community-Based Ecological Monitoring Program hires
local people to interview community members about their concerns and
observations of fish, berries, caribou, unusual animal sightings, weather
conditions and other aspect of the environment.
on Travaillant Lake & System
Local Knowledge of Fish & Habitats
in Travaillant Lake System
Local knowledge regarding fish and fish habitat was gathered
to provide information about fish distribution, movement and
habitat use, and ecological characteristics, of lakes and streams
in the Travaillant Lake (Khaki luk) system. The study
involved Phase I where all previously recorded traditional knowledge
was investigated and Phase II which involved interviewing community
members from Tsiigehtchic and Inuvik.
Local Knowledge of Fish/Habitats in Travaillant Lake
Traditional Knowledge Interviews
on Travaillant Lake Fish Movement
In 2002, the Board conducted
a study on fish movement in Travaillant Lake. The study involved
interviewing Gwich'in members from Tsiigehtchic and area.
The goal of the study was to find out where fish were moving
to and if they traveled into the Mackenzie River.
View TK Study
on Fish Movement in Travaillant Lake
Rat River Biodiversity,
Cultural and Historical Assessment
In 1999 the Board conducted
a biodiversity and cultural assessment (traditional
and historical use) of the Rat River watershed
after the four Gwich'in communities of Fort McPherson,
Aklavik, Tsiigehtchic and Inuvik identified it
as a proposed protected area for its wildlife
and cultural significance.
The Rat River watershed
area has been used for centuries as an important
harvesting area and travel route. Along with
many cultural sites, numerous camps also exist
along the lower Rat River. Fishing, hunting,
trapping and berry picking are still carried-out
today. The study also identified the area as
home to hundreds of species of plants, fish,
mammals and birds.
Rat River Biodiversity, Cultural & Historical Assessment
The Gwich'in Social and Cultural Institute initiated an ethnobotany
study to collect information on the use of plants for traditional
medicine and other uses. The board provides funding for the study,
and will use the information to build on the traditional knowledge
that has been collected through other projects.
Traditional Knowledge of Fish Resources of Nagwichoonjik and Tsiigehnjik
In 2006-2007, the GRRB conducted a traditional knowledge study of the fish resources in the Mackenzie River (Nagwichoonjik) and the Arctic Red River (Tsiigehnjik). Interviews were conducted with knowledgeable past and present harvesters to record their knowledge. A community workshop was also held to verify the information.
Thompson, A. and Millar, N. 2007. Traditional knowledge of fish migration and spawning patterns in Tsiigehnjik (Arctic Red River) and Nagwichoonjik (Mackenzie River), Northwest Territories. Gwich'in Renewable Resources Board Report 07-01.