Han of Canada: Culture and Language of the Tribe

The history of every country is very interesting and exciting as all nations have their peculiarities and distinguishing features. Following the history of any country it is amusing to follow the citizens’ change, their collaboration with other nations, and so on. Native people have usually inhabited the land till the particular period, when strangers come and become assimilated to the native people, till they are not considered strangers anymore. The Han is the native tribe in Canada, which was the main inhabitants of Canada, had its own culture and language.

The Han tribe inhabited the territory of both sides of Alaska, which is also called Yukon border. Later, Yukon became the territory of Canada, in 1898. The territory, which was occupied by the Han, was numerous, along the Yukon River from modern Circle City territory to the mouth of the Sixtymile River. It was about 50 miles above Dawson City, Yukon Territory. Modern descendants of the Han tribe now occupy the territory of Eagle Village. The core moment of the inhabitant of the land by non-Native population was the Klondike gold rush in the same 1898. The change of the population, its compound and the level of its economical affair was significant. This was the time, when the whole social and economical structure has changed (Simeone, 2007, p.313).

The main occupation of the Han people was hunting, so it may be concluded that the territory they occupied was full of forests and other greenery, which feed people. The tribe inhabited the land hear river, and the landscapes near it were magnificent. The lakes and valleys, small hills and roads of the territory excite by its beauty, and watching the pictures of Yukon, the feeling of pristine environment takes up the attention (Simeone, 2007, p. 319).

The language, which the tribe spoke, was Han. It is still spoken “on the Yukon River by perhaps 7% in Eagle, Alaska and 8% in adjacent Dawson in Canada” (Mithun, 2001, p. 575). The language is not just oral, there is great deal of written text, especially stories, in Han (Mithun, 2001, p. 575). The Han language belongs to the Northern languages group, and was rather distributed till the middle of the XIX century, but then its popularity began to fall, and people turned to Canadian English or French (Mithun, 2001, p. 361).

Considering the lifestyle of the Han people, it is significant to notice that the main occupation of men was fishing and hunting. Salmon, moose and caribou were the main products that not only served as food for the tribe, but also were sold. Their whole life was centered on fishing and hunting, while women’s task was to cook and care about children (Chandonnet , 2005, p. 53).

One of the most exciting facts in the life of the Han tribe was the gold rush in 1898. This was the core time when the structured life of the tribe has changed. First of all the economical and social parts of life became different. The opinion that their life became better is wrong. Being the majority before, Han became minority, they had to struggle for their food. When newcomers had left, the Han stayed with “a residue of disease, dependency and alcoholism” (Simeone, 2007, p.313).

So, the Han tribe is the native population of Alaska and Canada, whose life was structured and weighed till the newcomers occupied their land with the desire to find gold. The Han people still live on the territory of Canada and Alaska, but their number is small.


Chandonnet, A. (2005). Gold Rush Grub: From Turpentine Stew to Hoochinoo. University of Alaska Press, Alaska.

Mithun, M. (2001).The languages of native North America. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Simeone, W. S. (2007). “People of the river: the subsistence economy of the Han, Athabaskan people of the Upper Yukon River.” in International handbook of research on indigenous entrepreneurship by Dana, L. P. & Anderson, R. B. Edward Elgar Publishing, New York.

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