History & Culture

The history and cultures of Yukon-Charley Rivers are as rich and varied as the landscape which has supported them through time. Stone tool remnants give us hazy clues about the earliest prehistoric hunters that roamed the uplands. Early photographs and journals provide a glimpse into the world of the Han Gwich'in Athapascans just before the gold rush. From there one can start to explore the lives of those who followed in their tracks and made a new life along the rivers; the miners, geologists, soldiers, trappers, explorers, and homesteaders that have moved into and through the region over the past hundred or more years. These histories are still being explored; still being recorded, told, and made anew.

This place has a colorful past. Numerous people have passed through the upper Yukon River region and left their histories to be interpreted. Some have stayed and continue to build those histories. The following pages will allow you to explore some aspects of these people; their lives and livelihoods, their ways and customs, their trials and tribulations.

Three Tanana Athapascans near modern day Eagle Village, circa 1885.


People have been a part of the Upper Yukon River region and surrounding uplands for thousands of years and people remain an integral part of this landscape today.

Christopher "Phonograph" Nelson's cabin at the base of Nation Bluff.


As people have passed through this landscape they left their marks on the places the inhabited. Some are mere shadows of the past, visible only to the trained eye; others are more imposing, commanding one's attention. Some of these places simply say "home."

Isaac Juneby discussing life at Snare Creek during the excavation of his childhood home in 2009.


Stories are the threads that people have woven into the tapestry of the past. Each is unique and worthy of telling, yet it is in their connectedness that we come to see the whole picture.

A 4000 year old stone projectile point collected from test excavations at Slaven's Roadhouse on the Yukon River.


Museum collections allow us to learn about the stories of people who are lost to time. They also tell us stories of the landscape that persists, but cannot speak for itself. They document moments in time and so, are of timeless importance.

Archaeologists working in the mountains of Yukon-Charley Rivers

NPS/Greg Kinman


Learn more about Alaska's ancient history and rich cultural traditions

Staff archaeologist documenting a prehistoric archaeology site in the Yukon-Tanana uplands.


Without preservation we would not have these stories to tell. For left to themselves, the people and places, objects and tales, would disappear into the depths of time. We do what we can to secure them for those yet to come.


Related Yukon-Charley Rivers History Content

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    Tags: history

    Last updated: November 18, 2022

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