Glossary
 

Archaeologist
A scientist who studies the material remains of past cultures. Archaeologists dig in likely campsites and gathering places to uncover traces and tools of long-ago people.

“Depending on the climate of the centuries, the layers will take on different colours and thicknesses-from organic-rich brown sands to pale yellow wind-blown sands. These sands contain traces of the people who lived there throughout the past, and the job of the archaeologist is to sort through the clues sealed in the earth to discover how these people lived.”
from: Carcross/Tagish First Nation, Désdélé Méné The Archaeology of Annie Lake (written by Greg Hare and Sheila Greer).

Artifact
This is anything that someone made long ago. Old weapons, fish traps, containers, sewing tools and dishes are all artifacts.

Atlatl
An Aztec word for an early type of dart or spear thrower. Usually, this is a wooden or bone stick or board with a handgrip at one end and a spur or hook at the other end. By extending the length of the hunter's arm, the atlatl sends the dart much further with more force.

Awl
A tool with a tapering blade, usually bone or horn, used to punch holes for stitches in leather.

Babiche
Rawhide, cut in a spiral, to make a long strip. When these strips are shrunk under tension, they make very strong cords.

Catechist
A person who teaches the principles of religion.

Chilkat
One of three tribes of the Coastal Tlingit people. The other two were the Chilkoot and the Taku. Each group controlled one of the mountain passes into the Yukon interior.

Eulachon [yoo la kon]
Thalicthys pacificus. A small type of smelt also called "candlefish" because they contain so much natural oil that when dried, they could be burned like a candle. Eulachon oil was not only a food product but also a prized trade commodity. Also spelled “oolichan.”

First Nation
A term that came into common usage in the 1970s to replace the word “Indian,” which many people found offensive. “First Nations peoples” refers to the Indian people in Canada. Many Indian people have also adopted the term “First Nation” to replace the word “band” in the name of their community.
(Note: In the United States, the term “Native American” is often used instead of Indian.)

Indian Agent
A Canadian government official responsible for handling local First Nations or “Indian” affairs.

Intermarriage
Marriage between two different groups (such as the Coastal Tlingit people and the inland Athapaskans). This is often done to improve relations by creating closer family ties.

Linguistic map
A map that shows approximate boundaries of the areas lived in by peoples who speak different languages. In the Yukon, there are eight different native languages: Gwich’in, Hän, Northern Tutchone, Southern Tutchone, Upper Tanana, Tagish, Tlingit and Kaska.

Oral tradition
The process of passing on information by word of mouth from person to person and between generations. This was very important in preliterate cultures (before people developed writing systems).

Paleontologist
A scientist who studies fossils. A fossil is any evidence of ancient life (whether the remains themselves, or tracks, traces, impressions, burrows, droppings, etc.).

Sinew
A tendon or the fibrous cord that joins a muscle to a bone which is then split into strands to make a very strong thread.

Residential School
A type of boarding school, operated by churches in collaboration with the Canadian government, for First Nations and Inuit children from sparsely populated settlements.


Stampeder
One of the names given to gold seekers who headed north to the Klondike Gold Rush. Over the winter of 1897-98, thousands of people were in such a desperate hurry to find gold that their movements resembled a stampede.

Synod
An ecclesiastical (church) council that is summoned by the bishop, usually meeting every few years.