Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in Heritage Sites

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Black City: Caribou

Caribou bull in his prime.

Caribou bull in his prime.

(H)wëdzey (Hän) or Vadzaih (Gwich’in)

One of the main reasons for Black City’s location was its proximity to the annual migration routes of both the Porcupine and Hart River caribou herds.

Both herds are comprised of the Grant’s caribou (Rangifer tarandus granti). These members of the deer family have been living and adapting in the arctic and subarctic regions for over 1.6 million years. Some of the caribou’s more interesting features include:

  • its compact body, short muzzle and tail prevent heat loss
  • its pelt is made up of hollow hairs which trap air, insulate in extreme cold, and provides buoyancy when swimming rivers
  • broad, concave hooves that act like snowshoes and are good shovels for digging through snow to reach food
  • a keen sense of smell that can locate lichen under snow
  • unique in the deer family in that both males and females have antlers