Dän k’e (Our Ways)
Family is at the heart of our culture and way of life. In kwädāy (traditional) times, families worked together to provide for themselves with everyone contributing.
In kwädāy (olden days), there were no firm boundary lines between the Champagne and Aishihik Dän and our neighbours. We had strong connections, through marriage and trade, with people living nearby, including Burwash Landing and Northway to the northwest; Carmacks and Fort Selkirk to the north; Whitehorse, Carcross and Tagish to the east; and Klukwan, Haines, Dry Bay and Yakutat to the south.
CAFN has two clans: Käjèt (Crow) and Agunda (Wolf). The clan system is central to who we are as a people, and clan provides an important sense of identity. Clan symbols are often used on regalia worn on special occasions. A person’s clan is inherited from their mother.
Dän Yizhì (Traditional Names)
Many CAFN families continue to pass on dän yizhì (traditional names). These names are specific to each clan and are given at birth or at Potlatches.
Nàkwät’à (the Potlatch)
Potlatches are important community events. They are held to honour a person and to celebrate events or achievements. The Funeral Potlatch honours an individual who has passed on and provides support to those grieving the loss of their loved one. The Memorial or Headstone Potlatch, held at least a year after the death, marks the end of the period of grieving. Potlatches are always hosted by one of the two clans and include a feast.
Dá Kwanje (Our Languages)
Dän means person or being in the Southern Tutchone language. It also refers to us as a people. Dän k’e, known as Southern Tutchone, is the language of our ancestors. It belongs to the Athapaskan language family, which is centred mainly in northwestern North America.
Southeast Alaska is the homeland of the Tlingit language. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Tlingit was the language of trade and many Dän spoke it as a second language. Others grew up speaking Tlingit. Many landscape features in our Traditional Territory have both Dän k’e and Tlingit places names or names that originate from these languages. Today our children are being taught Dän k’e in school.