Common Language

Artifacts from the Athapaskan language group

This exhibit is a collection from the First Nations groups that make up the Athapaskan language and cultural group.

The Northern Athapaskan cultural group stretches from the Alaskan interior across the Yukon and Northwest Territories to Hudson’s Bay in Manitoba and south into Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. This group is made up of many Nations who share a common language base and have many cultural similarities.

This exhibit explores the similarities and the differences of this widespread group. The collection on display belongs to Parks Canada and is on-loan to both the Nak’azdi First Nations in Fort St. James and to the Exploration Place where it is currently being stored and displayed.

On display are everyday objects such as bone hide scrappers, knives, a packsaddle, a dog whip and baskets. Astounding artistic ability is shown in items such as moccasins, quillwork straps, embroidery, hide jackets, and an octopus bag. This display also includes ceremonial items such as a Chief’s jacket and smoking cap. We also have on display children’s toys and games, and drums and rattles as well as several pieces of clothing.

Much of the information for the items in this collection came from a combination of archival material from the Hudson’s Bay Archives and from interviews with Carrier Elders from Tache near Fort St. James and with members of the Thomas Seymour George family in Burns Lake.

The exhibit closed January 2006.