2017 Fish & Wildlife Calendar
Hi! If you are on this page, you followed one of the QR codes in the Board’s 2017 Fish and Wildlife Calendar. Thank you for supporting the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board, the primary instrument of fish and wildlife management in the territory as identified in Chapter 16 of the Yukon First Nations Final Agreements.
Correction: For those of you with copies of our calendar, Discovery Day should be MONDAY AUGUST 21, not August 14. We sincerely apologize for the oversight. We will be sending out reminders to RRCs and other organizations that have helped us get the calendars out to the Yukon public. Thank you!
“Half the village would be out in the meadow”:
The Story of The Black Gopher
The Arctic Ground Squirrel, also known as the gopher, are a common sight both along Yukon roadways and out on the land. These little guys may be small, but they have a mighty history!
Gophers have been a highly prized food source for many First Nations communities across the Yukon, especially in the spring when they emerge from their dens, fat from a winter of hibernation.
Ron Chambers, from Champagne and Aishihik First Nations, remembers during his childhood that “half the village of Burwash would be out in the meadow”, setting up camps where gophers were caught to feed many families.
Gophers were high on the food chain for people to eat, and they were also a valued trade item among West Coast people. Gophers skin blankets and robes were traded by inland Yukon First Nations to coastal Tlingit, and having a gopher skin robe was considered a great honour. Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi (Long Ago Person Found), who lived some time between 1670 and 1800 AD, was found with a robe made from about 95 gopher skins.
The black gopher is particularly special – they are a unique population that have high amounts of colour (melanin) in their fur, making them darker than the rest of their family. Black gopher skins made beautiful and rare additions to the robes and blankets that were traditionally made for trading and ceremonies.
Today, the gopher is sometimes considered to be a pest or annoyance, especially for drivers on the highways through the Yukon. Highlighting the cultural importance of animals like the gopher, and the unique existence of the black gopher, helps to bring back the appreciation of all wildlife in the Yukon. Our youth today, and generations to come, need to know these stories in order to feel connected to the land and wildlife that are so important to all of us.
Kwä̀nä̀schis – Thank you
This story was written with advice and support from Ron Chambers, a citizen of Champagne and Aishihik First Nations and vice-Chair of the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board.