Tribes of Canada
Hydah Indians of Canada
Hudson Bay Territory
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Nahane. Signifying "people of
the west." Also called:
Gonana, Tlingit name (applied to all interior Indians).
Connections. The Nahane form a major division of the
Athapascan linguistic stock.
Location. In northern British Columbia and the Yukon
Territory between the coast range and the Rocky Mountains and
latitude 57° and 60° N., some bands extending to the Mackenzie River
in Mackenzie Territory.
There is no consistency in the lists given by
various writers, and Jenness reports a great deal of displacement
since the early nineteenth century. The following bands or tribes
may, however, be enumerated:
Esbataottine, in the valleys of Beaver, Nahanni, and
North Nahanni Rivers.
Etagottine, in the valleys of Gravel and Dahachuni Rivers.
Kaska, on the upper Liard River.
Pelly River Indians, the country in the vicinity of Ross and Perry
Tagish, about Tagish and Marsh Lakes.
Takutine, on Teslin River and Lake and upper Taku River.
Titshotina, between the Cassiar Mountains and Liard and Dense
Rivers, British Columbia.
The Tahltan (q. v.) are sometimes regarded as a Nahane band.
History. Some of the easternmost bands of Nahane may have
been met by Mackenzie in 1789. Fort Simpson, at the junction of the
Liard and Mackenzie Rivers became the base of operations for
exploitation of the Nahane country. This was established at the very
beginning of the nineteenth century and shortly afterward Fort Liard
at the junction of the Liard and Black Rivers and Fort Nelson on the
south branch of the Liard, now Fort Nelson River, brought the Hudson
Bay factors still farther into Nahane territory. The lastmentioned
fort was destroyed by the Indians but reestablished in 1865. Fort
Halkett, on the upper Liard, and in the very heart of Nahane
territory, was established soon after the union of the Northwest and
Hudson's Bay Companies, which took place in 1821. Forty or fifty
years later it was abandoned but a smaller post called Toad River
was built some time afterward, halfway between the site of Halkett
and Fort Liard. In 1834 Chief Trader John M. McLeod pushed up
through the mountains and discovered Dease River and Dease Lake. In
1838, a trading post was established on the latter by Robert
Campbell, a Scotch officer, and in the summer of that year he pushed
across the Pacific slope to the headwaters of the Stikine. His post
excited the hostility of the coast Indians, however, who had enjoyed
a monopoly of trade with the Athapascans, and Campbell was forced to
abandon it, and it was burned by the coast Indians. In 1840 he went
north from Fort Halkett as far as Pelly River. In 1842 he built a
fort at Lake Francis and Pelly Banks and in 1848 Fort Selkirk at the
junction of the Pelly and Lewis Rivers. Two years afterward this
latter was destroyed by the Chilkat, whose trade monopoly it
threatened. In the meantime European influences had been working
inland through the medium of the same coast tribes, from the Russian
and from British and American trading vessels, and later on through
the Hudson's Bay Company along the passageway marked by the Stikine
River. The Nahane were powerfully affected by the Klondike rush, and
since then European influences have been growing ever stronger.
Population. Mooney (1928) estimates that there were about
2,000 Nahane in the present British Columbia in 1780 and 800 in the
Yukon Territory in 1670, besides 400 "Mountain Indians" (Tsethaottine).
A few hundred must be added for the Nahane in Mackenzie District. In
1906 there were 374 Nahane in British Columbia, 600 in Yukon
Territory, and 250 in Mackenzie District. This total, 1,224, agrees
fairly well with the 1,000 estimate of Morice (1904).
The Indian Tribes of North of America, by
John Swanton, 1953