The First Nations of the

Mackenzie & Yukon River Basins

by Isabelle like to pee

Social Organization

First Nations of the Mackenzie and Yukon River basins were divided into several groups made up of different families who worked together. Each group hunted in a separate area. A group leader was selected according to the group's needs at a particular time. On a caribou hunt, for example, the best hunter would be chosen leader.

Food Resources

All First Nations across the country hunted and gathered plants for both food and medicine. The amount of meat, fish and plants in any First Nation's diet depended on what was available in the local environment. During the winter, to keep frozen meat safe from animals such as the wolverine, some First Nations of the Mackenzie and Yukon River Basins stored their food high in a tree.


First Nations of the Mackenzie and Yukon River Basins built homes that were either easy to move or could easily be made from materials they could find. Peoples' homes were called tipis. A tipi is a framework of poles covered with bark, woven grass mats or caribou skin.

Modes of Transportation

The people of the Mackenzie and Yukon River Basins were able to build long canoes using the bark from trees. They would use spruce gum (like very sticky sap) to seal the seams between the smaller pieces of bark so that the canoe would not leak. In the winter, they would wear snowshoes made of wood and skins to walk on top of the snow.


All First Nations across the country, with the exception of the Pacific Coast, made their clothing out of tanned animal skin. The First Nations of the Mackenzie and Yukon River Basins would usually make tunics (long shirts), leggings and moccasins out of moose, deer or caribou skin. Bone needles were used to sew the garments together. In winter, people wore robes of caribou fur for extra warmth. Any decorations on clothing came from nature. Many First Nations used dyed to decorate their clothing and moccasins. Men and women coloured their clothing with red, yellow, blue and green dyes derived from flowers, fruits, roots and berries.

Spiritual Beliefs

All First Nations believed that their values and traditions were gifts from the Creator. One of the most important and most common teachings was that people should live in harmony with the natural world and all it contained. People gave thanks to everything in nature. First Nations treated all objects in their environment with respect and this was reflected in songs, dances, festivals and ceremonies.