Miles Canyon/Kwanlin

The people indigenous to this southern area of Yukon when European and American settlers arrived are the Kwänlin Dän. It wasn’t until the year 2005 that they gained governance over themselves, which is astounding to me. Not to them, I imagine, sadly.

And I’m already tired of hearing the names of the explorers as the names of the rivers and mountains and towns, and seeing all the statues and plaques, and hearing the amazing stories of what they accomplished. I’m not hearing about the devastation they brought in the form of guns and liquor to the people already here and to the land during gold mining. None of that is top of the tourist info., although the Canadian government seems more ready to present info about their First Nations Peoples than the U.S. is.

(Note that I’ve traveled on this leg from Oklahoma, where Americans forced people after the took even the paltry reservation lands from them, north through the American Midwest, listening to stories of atrocities the whole way.)

Back to our hike. This stretch of river through the canyon we hiked is known as Kwänlin (or more readily, Miles Canyon, after the U.S. General who fought against natives here). The Yukon runs through a bottleneck of basalt here where it forms sheer cliff faces.

You can see the pedestrian bridge tiny in my photos above: it swings and creaks wonderfully when you walk over it.

We went on a short hike on the far side, along and above the river and canyon.

I tried to capture the color of the water; it’s like the Milk River at Writing-on-Stone but less milky.

The best part of the hike was running into a young woman I’d seen a couple of hours earlier at the brewery where we met Doug and Melanie. She works the front of the tasting room, she said. And I’m guessing regularly when she gets off work she walks these amazing trails with her dog, watching the strong, late-day sunlight on the Yukon and in the woods. She was walking fast on her own, and she reminded me of myself when I used to walk Jackie Boy on park land in Harpers Ferry. Long live ladies who walk the woods.

U.S.S. Klondike

Back to downtown Whitehorse: This massive river boat is being renovated on the bank of the Yukon.

It used to run back and forth from Dawson City to here, and it would burn up something like two cords of wood an hour.

Indigenous people who were kicked off their land and denied hunting rights (if I’m remembering my reading right) would support their families by chopping the forest to feed the two steam engines.

Tracy and I spoke with a woman from the local family literacy center who talked about the threat Covid posed to nearly-extinct languages here; they are just now being resurrected by local elders, most of whom survived the pandemic thanks to extreme protective measures by the close-knit community.

I’m tacking on a photo from our lunch at the Woodcutter’s Blanket, a surprisingly lovely place. The touristy themes of rugged Americans and Europeans won over even me, here.

4 thoughts to “Miles Canyon/Kwanlin”

  1. My visits to Edmonton are spaced out enough to notice changes in attitude and it’s been very obvious in the last few years that much more attention is being paid to indigenous cultures and history (the actual history, not the crap I was taught in school) and respect given. It’s a drop in the bucket, and I’m not sure how much comfort to the affected groups, but it’s a start. The fact you could even access that info you did on the Kwänlin Dän is something to celebrate. Hopefully these small things are like a snowball, collecting up as it rolls along getting bigger and bigger until it’s big enough to make some real changes. Also, gorgeous landscapes!

    1. Jacqui, I’ve responded three times in agreement here, but my signal was so bad that no responses got through. I agree, and well-said!