Da Kų Cultural Centre
The Da Kų Culture Centre is an innovative cultural facility located in Dakwäkäda (Haines Junction) in the southern part of Canada’s Yukon Territory. Da Kų (Our House) celebrates the culture and traditions of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations (CAFN) Dän (people). The centre is a teaching, curatorial and interpretive facility, providing programming directed to our Citizens as well as the general public. Da Kų honours our language and stories, our strong connection to the land, and our living culture. Da Kų also connects the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations Dän to the wider community of Dakéyi, our southern Yukon and northwestern British Columbia homeland. These links are illustrated by the other agencies housed in our facility – Parks Canada’s Kluane National Park Visitor Centre, with its feature exhibits, and Yukon Government’s Visitor Information Centre, which showcases pieces from the Yukon Permanent Art Collection. No admission is charged for visiting Da Kų. We recommend a couple hours be allowed for visiting the centre.
Our Cultural Centre is a gathering place that recognizes and celebrates the cultural contributions and way of life of Champagne and Aishihik First Nations peoples – the places we come from, the traditions and languages we carry, and the arts we practice and perform. It is an environment creating lasting memories, where young people will learn the wisdom of our Elders, know our stories and legends, and assume responsibility to carry our values.
Hours and booking
Da Kų Culture Centre is open 8:30am to 6:00pm during the summer visitor season (May 15 through Labour Day). Winter hours are by appointment: (867) 634-3300 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Summer visitor information: (867) 634-3300 or email@example.com
Da Kų is a multi-purpose facility. The building houses the interpretive facilities and programs, as well as offices of the Language, Culture and Heritage Department of CAFN. It is also home to Kluane National Park’s Visitor Centre, and Yukon Government’s Visitor Information Centre.
Various types of gathering, classroom (only available from Mid- June to Mid- August) and work spaces are available for rent through CAFN in the Da Kų facility. These spaces are used for everything from conferences, weddings, family gatherings, presentations, meetings, courses and workshops. Our large community gathering hall space offers a stunning view to the Auriol Mountain Range in Kluane National Park.
All rental spaces have access to our permanent exhibit areas, which provide a unique atmosphere for meetings and events hosted at Da Kų. The facility’s fully equipped kitchen space is available for rent. We can also assist in making catering arrangements for your event.
For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or our Events coordinator at email@example.com or 867-634-3307.
A variety of exhibit areas showcase the culture and history of the Champagne and Aishihik people. During the summer months, guided tours of our outdoor and indoor exhibit areas are offered. Inside Da Kų, you will find panels on each of our historic villages and contemporary communities. The most popular of our indoor exhibits is the floor map.
The 2019 Exhibit called Dance and Gatherings of the Southern Tutchone people is presenting the dance tradition of the Champagne and Aishihik people. Dance regalia, instruments, songs as well as other aspects of social gatherings where dance occurred are displayed. The exhibition shows how early dance from the precontact Geometric Period looked like and leads into the introduction of fabric and beads of the Beaded Period. The exhibition also shows current practices and illustrates what changes occurred and what has been retained from the past.
Celebrating Our Artists, our exhibit for Summers 2016 and 2017, opened officially on June 21. It featured art from six of our CAFN artists; Frances Oles, Fred Stick Sr., Fred Stick Jr., Brenda Asp, Ron Chambers and Arthur Joe. From oil on canvas to painted drums, from carvings to fashion design as well as photography, we are very proud to showcase some of our great talent.
Treasures, our exhibit from last year, opened summer 2015 in our feature exhibit space. Treasures showcases the family heirlooms of the Champagne and Aishihik people, those important items that connect us to our ancestors and their way of life.
The Gúyàt (beads) exhibit was our first exhibit. Gúyàt showcased the exquisite beauty and detail of the Champagne and Aishihik beadwork tradition. The exhibit featured a range of handmade items decorated with beads: slippers (moccasins), mukluks, puberty hood, coats, vests, gun scabbards, gloves, purses as well as smaller items.
The Dakwäkäda Dancers
Based in Haines Junction, Yukon, the Dakwäkäda Dancers have been teaching young people in Southern Tutchone and Tlingit cultures through the tradition of song and dance for more than 20 years.
The group was established by four sisters, all granddaughters of the late Annie Ned. A well-known and respected Southern Tutchone Elder, Annie Ned taught many people to dance, sing and become knowledgeable about the traditional way of life. Her songs and dances form the basis of the group’s repertoire.
With a focus on youth, the Dakwäkäda Dancers include child performers who begin as young as two years of age. Audiences witness the older youth and adults demonstrate leadership and the Southern Tutchone culture alive, vibrant, and being passed down to new generations – native and non-native.
Each song is introduced with its origin and story, thus the audience understands the importance of what is being shared. The Dakwäkäda Dancers are ambassadors of their culture, their community, and the Yukon Territory. Establishing and achieving a performance goal is gratifying for the children and a source of pride for the community.
For more information or to book the Dakwäkäda Dancers, please use the Contact Us form at the bottom of this page.
Cultural Experts and Experiences
You can connect to and learn about Champagne and Aishihik history and culture not just at Da Kų, but from many knowledgeable Citizens and at many locales across Dakéyi (our country). Several CAFN Citizens operate guiding and cultural tourism business, providing authentic experiences.
We encourage visitors to check out the following interpretive venues and businesses:
On the Alaska Highway, between Whitehorse in Haines Junction
Kwaday Dan Kenji (Long Ago Peoples’ Place) – a reproduction of a Southern Tutchone wilderness camp as it would have been constructed prior to contact with Europeans. Located at historic Mile 974 on an old section of the Alaska Highway near Shadhäla (Champagne). Entrance fees apply. Kwaday Dan Kenji can be a unique venue for your next group meeting. For more information contact: Harold Johnson at (867) 634-7047.
On the Alaska Highway, near Kluane Lake
Shakat Tun Adventures – Would you like to learn the secrets of living off the land? Experience the pristine Yukon wilderness? Go home with not only knowledge & inspiration, but also tools you created? Would you like to learn from people deeply rooted in these traditions and ways of life? Adventure packages, wild medicine healing camps and custom adventures. For more information contact: James Allen at (867) 332-2604 or firstname.lastname@example.org OR visit shakattunadventures.com.
On the Haines Highway, between Haines Junction and Haines, Alaska
Kathleen Lake lookout – interpretive panels on the highway overview of Kathleen Lake
Klukshu Village – self-guided interpretive panels at the traditional CAFN village of Klukshu.
On the Aishihik Road
Interpretive panels are in development in collaboration with Yukon Energy for the Aishihik Road.
Our Community Halls
CAFN’s community halls, located at Klukshu, Champagne, Aishihik and Takhini, are open for community gatherings and serve our Citizens.
Arts & Artisans
Drawing upon two cultural traditions, Dän (Southern Tutchone) and Tlingit, Champagne and Aishihik First Nations have a strong community of artists and artisans.
The beauty and skill of those who create is evident in the one-of–a-kind pieces on permanent display at Da Kų. These include artworks such:
- “Coming of the Highway” mural by Ukjese van Kampen
- “Beginnings” painted by Art Joe
- “Mother Salmon” wood carving by Mick and Rick Beasley
- Owl, and (unfinished) Face – two tree carvings by unknown artists of the 19th century
The Njù (store or gift shop) at Da Kų features locally made one-of-a-kind pieces, such as beaded slippers (moccasins), mukluks, gloves and vests. We also offer unique products with Da Kų Cultural Centre and Dakwakada (Haines Junction) graphics.
Da Kų staff can help you connect with our community artists and artisans. For more information, please contact our staff at (867) 634-3307 or email@example.com.
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