A new request is submitted to make the Klondike a World Heritage Site, with the indigenous experience of the Gold Rush at the center.
“It is important for Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in citizens to have their stories told honestly and sincerely. For me, Tr’ondëk-Klondike recognizes the challenges we have endured as a people, but also the strength of our people in the face of these life changing events. Today we are leaders in our community and our grandchildren can be proud of the direction we are taking, ”said Deb Nagano, co-chair of the Nominating Advisory Committee, in a statement.
“We are confident that the revised nomination, which places greater emphasis on the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Nation, underscores the unique ability of the Tr’ondëk-Klondike to tell the greater story of colonization and its impacts, as well as the resilience of indigenous peoples, “she said.
The nomination was submitted by Canada to the World Heritage Center in February and will now be evaluated by experts. A decision is expected in early 2022 after an 18-month assessment process.
The proposed Tr’ondëk-Klondike World Heritage Site focuses on the colonization that took place in the Dawson area before and after the Klondike Gold Rush in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
There are eight special cultural sites that tell the story of the Tr’ondëk Hwëchin experience with European settlers, including Fort Reliance; Ch’ëdähdëk (Forty Mile); Ch’ëdähdëk Tth’än K’et (Dënezhu cemetery); Fort Cudahy and Fort Constantine; Tr’ochëk; Dawson City; Jëjik Dhä Dënezhu Kek’it (moose skin village); and Tthe Zra ̧y Kek’it (black city).
The applicants claim that the site is both a unique place and also a reflection of how European colonization affected many indigenous peoples around the world over a period of 500 years.
The request is the second Klondike heritage proposal
A different proposal was considered in 2004, but withdrawn after committee comments. The original proposal included the Klondike Gold Rush’s journey to the coast, including parts of the United States, and received comments that the focus on industrial activity was not aligned with the special designation.
“Our criterion was to represent a significant period of time. We viewed colonialism as a compelled global event that happened for 500 years. Tr’ondëk-Klondike tells a pretty clear story from an Indigenous perspective through the sites we have, ”said project manager Lee Whalen, who is a heritage officer in the Tr’ondëk Hwëch ‘government. in.
“It always focuses on the Gold Rush, because it is one of the most significant events in the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in territory, isn’t it?” It influences everything afterwards. So that’s definitely part of history, ”he said.
Whalen said it’s not unusual for sites to be taken down and reworked before they end up on the list.
The UNESCO World Heritage List recognizes 1,121 different sites around the world, including the four parks covering Wrangell-St. Elias Mountain Range, SGang Gwaay Village on Haida Gwaii, Nahanni National Park and Wood Buffalo National Park.
World Heritage designation does not affect treaties or mineral rights, and none of the nominated sites are actively exploited. The promoters hope this will enrich existing tourism opportunities and attract visitors interested in heritage tourism.
“It’s a good project for everyone. There are benefits to the community, but it feels good to be able to work together on a story and get to a point where we are all sitting at the table, understanding each other and talking at the same level of an event. ”Said Whalen.
“Then, of course, there’s the international prestige – being on the Pyramids and Great Wall list of China and Easter Island – I think there’s part of that involved as well.
Contact Haley Ritchie at [email protected]
Yukon First Nations