The front page of the Klondike Sun, April 5, 2017.
Tr'ochëk - Dawson City - Canada
In April 2017 I completed a six-week Artist in Residency with the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture in Dawson City, Yukon. My proposal was based on an idea to volunteer with the local newspaper, the Klondike Sun. Although a few photos were published in the bi-monthly, my time in the Yukon led to a comparatively independent exploration of the community. The following is the resulting photo essay.
The Town of the City of Dawson (official name), with a current population of 1300, became a base for the Klondike Gold Rush during the 19th century, with about 40,000 people coming to the area. By 1899, Dawson had become the largest city west of Winnipeg and north of San Francisco. The Hän-speaking Indigenous population, with its important settlement of Tr'ochëk, a fishing camp at the confluence of the Klondike and Yukon Rivers where Dawson City lies today, was displaced by the sudden influx of thousands of outsiders. Under the leadership of Chief Isaac the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in moved five kilometers downriver to Moosehide Village, in many ways to protect its people and their way of life from the outsiders.
Thanks to a land claim agreement signed with the federal government in 1998, today the Dawson and the surrounding Klondike area, are partly administered by the self-governing Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation. According to Dawson City’s UNESCO application for National Heritage Site status, nowhere in the so-called New World, do Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples work together as well as they do in Dawson City.
Gold mining and Tourism continue to be major contributors to the local economy. Both are active in the warmer months with 60,000 visitors coming to the area. Despite its long, cold and dark winters, Dawson City remains a vibrant community attracting artists and those with a sense of adventure who often come for a visit but end up staying permanently.
Remote and small, Dawson City is endlessly complex with a diverse community of transplants and those who were born in the Yukon. The town is proud of its rich culture, arts scene, and constant stream of community events. Without glazing over a darker colonial past, many in the community actively work with and within the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation to reconcile, educate, and support the Hän language, and the First Nation's culture, traditions, and way of living on the land.
Tommy Taylor looks upriver along the Yukon River towards Dawson City.
A view of Dawson City from Mooshide Slide, an ancient landslide that figures in Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in oral history.
Cultural Education Liaison Coordinator with Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in First Nation, Ashley Bower-Bramadat, on the Yukon River following an ice-fishing program for school children.
Heavy machinery operators remove snow just before the spring thaw.
Children cheer on racers at the starting line for the Percy De Wolfe Memorial Mail Race, an international dog sled race from Dawson City to Eagle, Alaska and back.
First place winning snow sculpture carved for one of the dozens of events during the annual spring Thaw di Gras Spring Carnival.
Dawson City Mayor Wayne Potoroka before the start of a hockey tournament at the Dawson City Arena.
Joanne Farr, left, and Norma Blanchard, right, show the collapsable octagonal picnic benches they built as part of their Introduction to Carpentry class for members of the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in First Nation.
The Percy De Wolfe Memorial Mail Race trophy at the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture's Odd Fellows Hall, during a banquet following the race.
Terance Shada, who identifies as Hän but not Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in, at home playing a drum on which he painted a depiction of humanity.
A mannequin display in a section of the Dawson City Museum covering some of the history and culture of Hän-speaking First Nations people in the region.
Faux flowers in a window at St. Barnabas Church in Moosehide Village, a Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in Heritage Site five kilometers downriver from Dawson City.
A minnow tattooed on the arm of a Dawsonite.
Artist Dan Brown Hozjan works on a mural in a house in North Dawson.
Carol, who moved to Dawson about 30 years ago, playfully burns a marshmallow bunny while celebrating her 55th birthday surrounded by friends at The Pit.
Bill Donaldson, known as "Caveman Bill", sits on his bed inside the cave he has lived in for 21 years.
Rock on the way to Mooshide Village along the banks of the Yukon River.
Jackie Olson out on the land during a willow-picking excursion for a Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in First Nation project called Weaving Voices.
Two ravens in the fenced in compost depository at the Quigley Landfill.
James Brown, musician and electrician, at the Quigley Landfill construction site waste pile.
Renovations on the exterior of The Bunk House ahead of high tourist season.
Terance Shada poses with his shovel on Sixth Avenue.
A young boy plays goalie in an alleyway next to Peggy's Tavern.
A man opens the door to the Dredge Bucket BBQ.
Benny and Trace during their Funky Laundry Hour session on CFYT 106.9, the community radio station.
Visitor Jen MacLeod does the "Sourtoe Cocktail" at the Downtown Hotel.
Protect the Peel supporter Elder Roy Johnson at Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in's Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre, watching a live feed from the Supreme Court of Canada's hearing on the Peel Watershed land use plan case.
Filmmaker Dan Sokolowski at home after the launch of the 2017 Dawson City International Short Film Festival.
Thaw Di Gras fireworks on the banks of the Yukon River.
The illuminated window of a residence on Harper Street.
An alleyway off of Princess Street.
Moonlight illuminating the confluence; where the Klondike and Yukon Rivers meet in Dawson.
Tomáš Kubínek, or the "Miracle Man", performs a stunt at the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture's Odd Hall Ballroom.
Petro Express gas station by night.