Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in Heritage Sites

Welcome to Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in Heritage Sites, an online resource dedicated to exploring our history and culture.

Black City: Beringia

The Blackstone Uplands were once part of the mammoth steppe of Beringia.

The Blackstone Uplands were once part of the mammoth steppe of Beringia.

Midnight Arts
The Treeline Emerald dragonfly (<em>Somatachlora sahlbergi</em>), named for its bright blue-green eyes, only exists in Beringia.

The Treeline Emerald dragonfly (Somatachlora sahlbergi), named for its bright blue-green eyes, only exists in Beringia.

Robert A. Cannings, Royal BC Museum
One of the plant species endemic to, or only found in Beringia is the Ogilvie Draba (<em>Draba ogilviensis</em>).

One of the plant species endemic to, or only found in Beringia is the Ogilvie Draba (Draba ogilviensis).

Robert Frisch
Hudson’s Bay Company trader and artist, Alexander Hunter Murray, made this painting of a Gwich’in family on the move about the late 1840s.

Hudson’s Bay Company trader and artist, Alexander Hunter Murray, made this painting of a Gwich’in family on the move about the late 1840s.

Yukon Archives, Catharine McClellan fonds, 90/57, #4

During the last ice age, when most of North America lay buried under glaciers, this area was part of Beringia and covered by a vast grassland called a mammoth steppe. The ice-free zone included parts of Siberia, the Bering Isthmus, Alaska, Yukon and the Northwest Territories.

Beringia formed a land bridge between North America and Siberia. Animals, plants and insects moved back and forth across the bridge. The land was populated with woolly mammoths, steppe bison, saiga antelope, camels, scimitar cats, giant short-faced bear and beavers the size of black bears. Although many of these ice age animals did not outlast the cold climate, their remains are still found in the frozen earth by scientists, placer miners and others. Some of the animals that did survive the ice-age include caribou, moose, Dall sheep, and grizzly bears. Even today there are the rare creatures and plants that exist nowhere else but in the former area of Beringia.

There is archaeological evidence showing that people lived here from the end of the last ice age, some ten thousand years ago. Much like our ancestors, these mammoth hunters worked hides, gathered edible plants and engaged in other subsistence activities.