Alaska Native Heritage at Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve

Three men stand by a river
Prospecting Trip in Alaska, 1883 Charlie, chief of what is known as Charlie's Band; 1600 miles up the Yukon River Charles Farciot.

Edward Schieffelin's

"If you are a subsistence person, you have to utilize what is available around you…Subsistence means your ability to survive in this harsh climate with what you've got." - Issac Juneby, Han elder from Eagle Village, 2010

For thousands of years Alaska's indigenous people traveled extensively over the Upper Yukon River region and surrounding uplands living through their hunting, fishing, and gathering activities. These ancestors of the Han Athabascans eventually settled in the area. Within Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, Alaska Natives continue to maintain traditional connections to the land through their subsistence activities (Subsistence: A Meaningful, Ongoing Connection to the Land - Yukon - Charley Rivers National Preserve (U.S. National Park Service) (

Today’s local preserve users are busy all year round, with nature's bounty providing sustenance for families living in the surrounding areas. Both Alaska Natives and local rural users rely on fish and wildlife including moose, caribou, lynx, marten, and wolf, as well as and other wild resources. Living so far from major population centers makes these seasonal harvests important not only to put food on the table but also as a means of maintaining a relationship with the land and traditional ways.

Learn about a former village site, the historic home of Chief Charley and his Han Gwich'in Athabaskan followers (Before the Flood: Unearthing a Historic Han Gwich'in Athabaskan Village - Yukon - Charley Rivers National Preserve (U.S. National Park Service) (

Read about Fishwheels on the Yukon River (Fishwheels on the Yukon - Yukon - Charley Rivers National Preserve (U.S. National Park Service) (

Hear from Louise Paul and Ruth Ridley, Han Athabascan elders, about their subsistence lifestyles and efforts to preserve the Native Han language - Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve Project Jukebox interviews (Project Jukebox | Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program (

Visit the park website at: Yukon - Charley Rivers National Preserve (U.S. National Park Service) (

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    Last updated: November 2, 2021