Yukon River

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Yukon River
Canoeing the Yukon River.jpg
Canoeing the Yukon River
Yukon watershed.png
Location of the Yukon River and watershed
Native name
State Alaska
Physical characteristics
Source Llewellyn Glacier at Atlin Lake
  location Atlin District, British Columbia, Canada
  coordinates 59°10′N133°50′W / 59.167°N 133.833°W / 59.167; -133.833
  elevation669 m (2,195 ft) [1]
Mouth Bering Sea
Kusilvak, Alaska, U.S.
62°35′55″N164°48′00″W / 62.59861°N 164.80000°W / 62.59861; -164.80000 Coordinates: 62°35′55″N164°48′00″W / 62.59861°N 164.80000°W / 62.59861; -164.80000
0 m (0 ft)
Length3,190 km (1,980 mi)
Basin size833,232 km2 (321,713 sq mi) to 854,700 km2 (330,000 sq mi) [2]
  average0.8 km (0.50 mi) Rampart to Tanana; [3] 820 m (2,690 ft) to 1,000 m (3,300 ft) (Pilot Station) [4]
  average9.1 m (30 ft)-12.1 m (40 ft) (Rampart to Tanana); [3]
  maximum40 m (130 ft) (Rampart); [3] 24.4 m (80 ft) (Pilot Station) [4]
  location Pilot Station, Alaska, U.S.— (121 miles upstream of mouth; Basin size: 820,856 km2 (316,934 sq mi); [5] 831,386 km2 (321,000 sq mi) [2] [6]
  average(Period of data: 2001-2022) 6,840.3 m3/s (241,560 cu ft/s) [2]

(Period of data: 1971–2015) 6,576 m3/s (232,200 cu ft/s) [5]

(Period of data: 1977–2006) 6,428


 m3/s (227,000 cu ft/s) [7]
  minimum340 m3/s (12,000 cu ft/s)
  maximum24,600 m3/s (870,000 cu ft/s) 34,000 m3/s (1,200,000 cu ft/s) (2005) [2]
  location Yukon Delta, U.S., Alaska, Bering Sea
  • (Period of data: 1984–2018) 212 km3/a (6,700 m3/s)
  • (Period of data: 1951–2017) 214 km3/a (6,800 m3/s) [7]
  • (Period: 1980–2017) 206 km3/a (6,500 m3/s) [7] (Period: 1951–1979) 225 km3/a (7,100 m3/s) [7]
  location Kaltag (450 miles upstream of mouth; Basin size: 767,000 km2 (296,000 sq mi) [2]
  average6,040.2 m3/s (213,310 cu ft/s) [6] to 6,130.6 m3/s (216,500 cu ft/s) [2]
  location Stevens Village (Basin size: 508,417 km2 (196,301 sq mi) [6]
  average(Period of data: 1977-2022) 3,471.1 m3/s (122,580 cu ft/s) [2]
  location Dawson (1,300 miles upstream of mouth; Basin size: 264,000 km2 (102,000 sq mi) [6]
  average2,160 m3/s (76,000 cu ft/s) [6] to 2,319.1 m3/s (81,900 cu ft/s) [8]
Basin features
  left White River, Tanana River, Innoko River
  rightTagish River, Takhini River, Teslin River, Big Salmon River, Pelly River, Stewart River, Klondike River, Birch Creek, Koyukuk River
[9] [10]

The Yukon River is a major watercourse of northwestern North America. From its source in British Columbia, Canada, it flows through Canada's territory of Yukon (itself named after the river). The lower half of the river continues westwards through the U.S. state of Alaska. The river is 3,190 kilometres (1,980 mi) [10] [11] long and empties into the Bering Sea at the Yukon–Kuskokwim Delta. The average flow is 6,400–7,000 m3/s (230,000–250,000 cu ft/s). [2] The total drainage area is 833,000 km2 (321,500 sq mi), [2] of which 323,800 km2 (125,000 sq mi) lies in Canada. [12] The total area is more than 25% larger than Texas or Alberta.

The longest river in Alaska and Yukon, it was one of the principal means of transportation during the 1896–1903 Klondike Gold Rush. A portion of the river in Yukon—"The Thirty Mile" section, from Lake Laberge to the Teslin River—is a national heritage river and a unit of Klondike Gold Rush International Historical Park. [13] [14] Paddle-wheel riverboats continued to ply the river until the 1950s, when the Klondike Highway was completed. After the purchase of Alaska by the United States in 1867, the Alaska Commercial Company acquired the assets of the Russian-American Company and constructed several posts at various locations on the Yukon River.

The Yukon River has a recent history of pollution from military installations, dumps, wastewater, and other sources. [15] [ failed verification ][ citation needed ] However, the Environmental Protection Agency does not list the Yukon River among its impaired watersheds, and water-quality data from the U.S. Geological Survey shows relatively good levels of turbidity, metals, and dissolved oxygen. [16] The Yukon and Mackenzie rivers have much higher suspended sediment concentrations than the great Siberian Arctic rivers. [17]

The Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council, a cooperative effort of 70 First Nations and tribes in Alaska and Canada, has the goal of making the river and its tributaries safe to drink from again by supplementing and scrutinizing government data.


The name Yukon, or ųųg han, is a contraction of the words in the Gwich'in phrase chųų gąįį han, which means white water river and refers to "the pale colour" of glacial runoff in the Yukon River. [18] [19] The contraction is Ųųg Han, if the /ųų/ remains nasalized, or Yuk Han, if there is no vowel nasalization. [20] In the 1840s, different tribes had different opinions as to the literal meaning of Yukon. In 1843, the Holikachuks had told the Russian-American Company that their name for the river was Yukkhana and that this name meant big river. [21] However, Yukkhana does not literally correspond to a Holikachuk phrase that means big river. [22] [23] Then, two years later, the Gwich'ins told the Hudson's Bay Company that their name for the river was Yukon and that the name meant white water river. [18] White water river in fact corresponds to Gwich'in words that can be shortened to form Yukon. [19] Because the Holikachuks had been trading regularly with both the Gwich’ins and the Yup'iks, [24] the Holikachuks were in a position to borrow the Gwich'in contraction and to conflate its meaning with the meaning of Kuig-pak [River-big], which is the Yup'ik name for the same river. For that reason, the documentary evidence suggests that the Holikachuks had borrowed the contraction Ųųg Han [White Water River] from Gwich'in, and erroneously assumed that this contraction had the same literal meaning as the corresponding Yup'ik name Kuig-pak [River-big].

The Lewes River is the former name of the upper course of the Yukon, from Marsh Lake to the confluence of the Pelly River at Fort Selkirk.

The following table lists the Indigenous names for the Yukon.

Literal meaningNative languageSpelling in the
local alphabet
Spelling in a
standardized alphabet
IPA transcription
'big river' Yup'ik KuigpakKuigpak/kuix'pak/
Inupiaq KuukpakKuukpak/ku:k'pak/
'white water river' Gwich'in Yuukan or Ųųg HanYuukan or Ųųk Han/ju:kan//ų:k han/
[ citation needed ] Deg Xinag YeqinYeqin/jəqɪn'/
Holikachuk YooqinYuuqin/ju:qɪn/
Denaakk'e YookkeneYuuqene/ju:qʰənə/
Hän Tth’echù or Chuu k'onnTth'echù or Chuu k'onn/tθʰ'etʃʰuʔ//tʃʰu: k'onn/
Southern Tutchone Chu NìikwänChu Nìikwen/tʃʰu ni:kʷʰən/


Map of the Yukon River watershed Yukon River drainage basin.gif
Map of the Yukon River watershed

The generally accepted source of the Yukon River is the Llewellyn Glacier at the southern end of Atlin Lake in British Columbia. Others suggest that the source is Lake Lindeman at the northern end of the Chilkoot Trail. Either way, Atlin Lake flows into Tagish Lake (via the Atlin River), as eventually does Lake Lindeman after flowing into Bennett Lake. Tagish Lake then flows into Marsh Lake (via the Tagish River). The Yukon River proper starts at the northern end of Marsh Lake, just south of Whitehorse. Some argue that the source of the Yukon River should really be Teslin Lake and the Teslin River, which has a larger flow when it reaches the Yukon at Hootalinqua. The upper end of the Yukon River was originally known as the Lewes River until it was established that it actually was the Yukon. North of Whitehorse, the Yukon River widens into Lake Laberge, made famous by Robert W. Service's "The Cremation of Sam McGee". Other large lakes that are part of the Yukon River system include Kusawa Lake (into the Takhini River) and Kluane Lake (into the Kluane and then White River).

The river passes through the communities of Whitehorse, Carmacks, (just before the Five Finger Rapids) and Dawson City in Yukon, and crossing Alaska into Eagle, Circle, Fort Yukon, Stevens Village, Rampart, Tanana, Ruby, Galena, Nulato, Grayling, Holy Cross, Russian Mission, Marshall, Pilot Station, St. Marys (which is accessible from the Yukon at Pitkas Point), and Mountain Village. After Mountain Village, the main Yukon channel frays into many channels, sprawling across the delta. There are a number of communities after the "head of passes," as the channel division is called locally: Nunum Iqua, Alakanuk, Emmonak, and Kotlik. Of those delta communities, Emmonak is the largest with roughly 760 people in the 2000 census. Emmonak's gravel airstrip is the regional hub for flights.


The bridge across the Yukon River at Carmacks on the Klondike Highway Carmacs-bridge across Yukon River.JPG
The bridge across the Yukon River at Carmacks on the Klondike Highway
The E. L. Patton Yukon River Bridge carries the Dalton Highway over the Yukon north of Fairbanks. Patton Yukon River Bridge.jpg
The E. L. Patton Yukon River Bridge carries the Dalton Highway over the Yukon north of Fairbanks.

Navigational obstacles on the Yukon River are the Five Finger Rapids and Rink Rapids downstream from Carmacks.


Despite its length, there are only four vehicle-carrying bridges across the river, listed from upstream to downstream:

A car ferry crosses the river at Dawson City in the summer; it is replaced by an ice bridge over the frozen river during the winter. Plans to build a permanent bridge were announced in March 2004, although they are currently on hold because bids came in much higher than budgeted.

There are also two pedestrian-only bridges in Whitehorse, as well as a dam across the river and a hydroelectric generating station. The construction of the dam flooded the White Horse Rapids, which gave the city its name, and created Schwatka Lake.

Transportation is also performed along the river in summer by barge, enabling heavy goods, oil, and vehicles to be transported to communities along the Yukon, Tanana, Innoko, and Koyukuk rivers. This service is performed by Ruby Marine and reaches Tanana on the Yukon River and Nenana on the Tanana River. [25]

Geography and ecology

Some of the upper slopes of this watershed (e.g. Nulato Hills) are forested by Black Spruce. [26] This locale near the Seward Peninsula represents the near westernmost limit of the Black Spruce, Picea mariana, [27] one of the most widespread conifers in northern North America.

The river flows into several parklands and refuges including:

Crossing the Lake Laberge by canoe 2015-08-20 Canoeing the Yukon River - Whitehorse to Carmarcks 1442.jpg
Crossing the Lake Laberge by canoe


Yukon at Pilot Station (121 miles upstream of mouth) minimum, average and maximum discharge [28]

YearDischarge (Period: 1975/10/01 – 2022/09/30)
cfsm3/scfs m3/s km3cfsm3/s
1976 65,0001,840218,300 6,182 195 700,00019,800
1977 44,0001,250204,100 5,779 182 669,00018,900
1978 42,0001,190185,300 5,247 166 465,00013,200
1979 40,0001,130224,200 6,349 200 587,00016,600
1980 50,0001,420236,900 6,708 212 660,00018,700
1981 40,0001,130229,600 6,502 205 563,00015,900
1982 38,0001,080240,800 6,819 215 866,00024,500
1983 45,0001,270218,900 6,199 196 554,00015,700
1984 35,000990231,900 6,567 207 642,00018,200
1985 40,0001,130239,200 6,773 214 1,100,00031,150
1986 50,0001,420231,400 6,553 207 585,00016,600
1987 47,0001,330223,800 6,337 200 649,00018,400
1988 50,0001,420218,700 6,193 195 680,00019,300
1989 55,0001,560225,500 6,385 202 800,00022,650
1990 47,0001,330235,400 6,666 210 900,00025,500
1991 50,0001,420249,800 7,074 223 1,070,00030,300
1992 46,0001,300239,500 6,782 214 788,00022,300
1993 50,0001,420240,400 6,807 215 854,00024,200
1994 50,0001,420253,700 7,184 227 660,00018,700
1995 42,0001,190218,300 6,182 195 696,00019,700
1996 36,0001,020209,700 5,938 187 502,00014,200
1997 No incomplete data have been used

for statistical calculation

2001 46,0001,300249,500 7,067 223 901,00025,500
2002 38,0001,080210,400 5,958 188 884,00025,000
2003 48,0001,360236,500 6,697 211 543,00015,400
2004 46,5001,320211,800 5,998 189 648,00018,350
2005 41,0001,160254,600 7,209 228 1,240,00035,100
2006 45,0001,270252,300 7,144 226 920,00026,050
2007 38,0001,080213,600 6,048 191 531,00015,000
2008 40,5001,150231,600 6,558 207 775,00021,950
2009 48,0001,360231,900 6,567 207 1,090,00030,900
2010 42,0001,190205,600 5,822 184 675,00019,100
2011 47,0001,330227,000 6,428 203 670,00019,000
2012 44,0001,250247,700 7,014 221 660,00018,700
2013 48,5001,370231,700 6,561 207 820,00023,200
2014 45,0001,270266,400 7,544 238 553,00015,700
2015 55,0001,560229,400 6,499 205 621,00017,600
2016 58,0001,640274,600 7,776 245 603,00017,100
2017 46,7001,320214,900 6,085 192 562,00015,900
2018 48,0001,360257,600 7,294 230 669,00018,900
2019 60,9001,730233,300 6,606 208 647,00018,300
2020 52,4001,480290,900 8,237 260 704,00019,900
2021 50,9001,440262,200 7,425 234 589,00016,700
2022 49,4001,400280,800 7,952 251 682,00019,300


The Yukon River is home to one of the longest salmon runs in the world. Each year Chinook, coho, and chum salmon return to their terminal streams in Alaska, the Yukon Territory, and British Columbia. The Chinook have the longest journey, with an estimated 35–50% bound for Canada. As salmon do not eat during their spawning migration, Yukon River salmon must have great reserves of fat and energy to fuel their thousands-mile-long journey. As a result, Yukon River salmon are noted for their especially rich and oily meat.

The villages along the Yukon have historically relied on and continue to rely on salmon for their cultural, subsistence, and commercial needs. Salmon are traditionally dried, smoked, and frozen for both human and sled dog consumption. Common methods of fishing on the Yukon include set gillnets, drift nets, dip nets, and fish wheels. The preference of certain gear is largely dependent on the river's varied characteristics in different areas. Some parts of the river do not have eddies to make set-nets successful, whereas in other places the tributaries are small enough to make drifting impractical.

Over the last 20 years salmon recruitment, the number of returning adults, has taken several shocks. The late 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s have been marked by radically reduced runs for various salmon species. The United States Department of Commerce issued a Federal Disaster Declaration for the 2008 and 2009 Commercial Chinook Yukon River fisheries, calling for the complete closure of commercial fishing along with restrictions on subsistence fishing. The root cause of these poor returns remains debated, with questions about the effects of climate change on ocean food-supply & disease prevalence in returning adults, the methods of fishing used on the river, and the effects of the Bering Sea Pollock trawl fleet on food supply and salmon bycatch. [29] [30] In 2010, the Alaska Department of Fish & Game's Board of Fisheries issued the first-ever restriction for net mesh size on the Yukon, reducing it to 7.5 inches (190 mm). [31]

Various organizations are involved to protect healthy salmon runs into the future. The Yukon River Drainage Fisheries Association was formed in 1990 by a consensus of fishers representing the entire drainage in response to recent disaster years. Its organizational goals include giving voice to the village fishers that have traditionally managed these resources, enabling communication between fishers and fishery managers, and helping to preserve the ecological integrity of salmon runs and local cultures' Traditional Ecological Knowledge [32]

In March 2001, the U.S. & Canadian governments passed the Yukon River Salmon Agreement to better manage an internationally shared resource and ensure that more Canadian-originated salmon return across the border. [33] The agreement is implemented through the Yukon River Panel, an international body of 12 members, equal-parts American and Canadian, that advises managers of Yukon River fisheries concerning restoration, conservation, and coordinated management. [34]

Tribal organizations such as the Association of Village Council Presidents (AVCP), Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments (CATG), and Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC) work to sustain Yukon River salmon to promote healthy people, cultures, and communities.


Yukon River near Carmacks Rio Yukon, Carmacks, Yukon, Canada, 2017-08-27, DD 01-04 PAN.jpg
Yukon River near Carmacks

Yukon Territory

The Yukon River, as seen from the Midnight Dome in Dawson City, Yukon The Yukon River.jpg
The Yukon River, as seen from the Midnight Dome in Dawson City, Yukon


Anabranches near the junction of the Yukon River and the Koyukuk River in Alaska, August 24, 1941 Junction of the Yukon and Koyukuk Rivers, Alaska.jpg
Anabranches near the junction of the Yukon River and the Koyukuk River in Alaska, August 24, 1941

List of major tributaries

The main river and tributaries are (sorted in order from the mouth heading upstream):







Basin size


Average discharge


Yukon Delta
Nanvaranak Slough 1,735 28.1
Archuelinguk 56 705 12.8
Lower Yukon
Andreafsky 193 5,369 91.4


362 2,906 51.7
Atchuelinguk 266 5,439 73.8
Reindeer 97 1,191 22
Talbiksok 129 1,857 26.5
Kako Creek 550 9.8
Innoko 805 36,517 335.5
Koserefski 48 897 13.1
Bonasila 201 3,108 43.7
Anvik 225 4,610 65
Khotol 137 2,331 40.1
Nulato 114 2,287 54.2
Koyukuk 805 81,326 770
Bear Creek 789 10.8
Kala Creek 893 13
Yuki 137 2,771 33.4
Melozitna 217 7,045 67.6
Big Creek 814 4.6
Nowitna 455 18,596 102.4
Blind 34 587 3.4
Boney Creek 72 788 3.9
Tozitna 134 4,248 28.2
Tanana 1,061 113,959 1,246
Middle Yukon
Hess Creek 80 3,082 15.6
Ray 69 1,751 14.2
Dall 129 3,714 17.6
Old Lost Creek 10.3
Hodzana 201 4,323 19.5
Beaver Creek 290 5,426 54.9
Hadweenzic 150 2,422 19.4
Birch Creek 241 13,064 127
Chandalar 328 24,165 141.8
Christian 225 8,827 67.8
Porcupine 916 116,431 623
Charley 142 4,377 22.7
Kandik 132 2,840 19.7
Nation 113 2,411 24.6
Tatonduk 110 15.6
Upper Yukon
Seventymile 93 7.5
Fortymile 97 16,602 79.4
Klondike 161 8,044 63.9
Indian 2,242 20.4
Sixtymile 137 3,719 25.4
Stewart 533 51,023 510
White 322 46,900 566
Pelly 608 48,174 412
Nordenskiöld 6,371 16
Little Salmon 3,626 9.7
Big Salmon 240 6,760 67.6
Teslin 393 35,014 331
Takhini 180 6,993 103.1
Atlin 6,812 110

[2] [8] [35]

In media

See also

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The Tanana Athabaskans, Tanana Athabascans or Tanana Athapaskans are an Alaskan Athabaskan peoples of the Athabaskan-speaking ethnolinguistic group. They are the original inhabitants of the Tanana River drainage basin in east-central Alaska Interior, United States and a little part lived in Yukon, Canada. Tanana River Athabaskan peoples are called in Lower Tanana and Koyukon language Ten Hʉt'ænæ, in Gwich'in language Tanan Gwich'in. In Alaska, where they are the oldest, there are three or four groups identified by the languages they speak. These are the Tanana proper or Lower Tanana and/or Middle Tanana, Tanacross or Tanana Crossing, and Upper Tanana. The Tanana Athabaskan culture is a hunter-gatherer culture and have a matrilineal system. Tanana Athabaskans were semi-nomadic and as living in semi-permanent settlements in the Tanana Valley lowlands. Traditional Athabaskan land use includes fall hunting of moose, caribou, Dall sheep, and small terrestrial animals, and also trapping. The Athabaskans did not have any formal tribal organization. Tanana Athabaskans were strictly territorial and used hunting and gathering practices in their semi-nomadic way of life and dispersed habitation patterns. Each small band of 20–40 people normally had a central winter camp with several seasonal hunting and fishing camps, and they moved cyclically, depending on the season and availability of resources.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Upper Kuskokwim people</span>

The Upper Kuskokwim people or Upper Kuskokwim Athabaskans, Upper Kuskokwim Athabascans, and historically Kolchan, Goltsan, Tundra Kolosh, and McGrath Ingalik are an Alaskan Athabaskan people of the Athabaskan-speaking ethnolinguistic group. First delineation of this ethnolinguistic group was described by anthropologist Edward Howard Hosley in 1968, as Kolchan. According to Hosley, "Nevertheless, as a group possessing a history and a culture differing from those of its neighbours, the Kolchan deserve to be recognized as an independent group of Alaskan Athapaskans." They are the original inhabitants of the Upper Kuskokwim River villages of Nikolai, Telida, and McGrath, Alaska. About 25 of a total of 100 Upper Kuskokwim people still speak the language. They speak a distinct Athabaskan language more closely related to Lower Tanana language than to Deg Xinag language, spoken on the middle Kuskokwim. The term used by the Kolchan themselves is Dina'ena, but this is too similar to the adjacent Tanana and Tanaina for introduction into the literature. Nowadays, the term used by the Kolchan themselves is Dichinanek' Hwt'ana. Their neighbors also knew them by this name. In Tanaina they were Kenaniq' ht'an while the Koyukon people to the north referred to them as Dikinanek Hut'ana. The Upper Kuskokwim Athabaskan culture is a hunter-gatherer culture and have a matrilineal system. They were semi-nomadic and lived in semi-permanent settlements.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Indigenous peoples in Yukon</span> Indigenous peoples of Yukon, Canada

The Indigenous peoples of Yukon are ethnic groups who, prior to European contact, occupied the former countries now collectively known as Yukon. While most First Nations in the Canadian territory are a part of the wider Dene Nation, there are Tlingit and Métis nations that blend into the wider spectrum of indigeneity across Canada. Traditionally hunter-gatherers, indigenous peoples and their associated nations retain close connections to the land, the rivers and the seasons of their respective countries or homelands. Their histories are recorded and passed down the generations through oral traditions. European contact and invasion brought many changes to the native cultures of Yukon including land loss and non-traditional governance and education. However, indigenous people in Yukon continue to foster their connections with the land in seasonal wage labour such as fishing and trapping. Today, indigenous groups aim to maintain and develop indigenous languages, traditional or culturally-appropriate forms of education, cultures, spiritualities and indigenous rights.


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  18. 1 2 "Dear Sir, I have great pleasure in informing you that I have at length after much trouble and difficulties, succeed[ed] in reaching the 'Youcon', or white water River, so named by the (Gwich'in) natives from the pale colour of its water. ..., I have the honour to Remain Your obt Servt, John Bell" Hudson's Bay Company Correspondence to George Simpson from John Bell (August 1, 1845), HBC Archives, D.5/14, fos. 212-215d, also quoted in, Coates, Kenneth S. & William R. Morrison (1988). Land of the Midnight Sun: A History of the Yukon. Hurtig Publishers. p. 21. ISBN   0-88830-331-9 . Retrieved 2017-10-16.
  19. 1 2 In Gwich'in, adjectives, such as choo [big] and gąįį [white], follow the nouns that they modify. Thus, white water is chųų gąįį [water white]. White water river is chųų gąįį han [water white river]. Peter, Katherine (1979). Dinjii Zhuh Ginjik Nagwan Tr'iłtsąįį: Gwich'in Junior Dictionary (PDF). Univ. of Alaska. pp. ii (ą, į, ų are nasalized a, i, u), xii (adjectives follow nouns), 19 (nitsii or choo [big]), 88 (ocean = chųų choo [water big]), 105 (han [river]), 142 (chųų [water]), 144 (gąįį [white]). Retrieved 2017-10-16.
  20. Gwich'in vowels may or may not be nasalized. A hook under a vowel, as in "ų," indicates that the vowel is nasalized. Peter (1979). Dinjii Zhuh Ginjik Nagwan Tr'iłtsąįį., at page ii (footnote). English, of course, has no nasalized vowels.
  21. "[The Yukon] in the language of the Kang-ulit (Yup'ik) people is Kvikhpak; in the dialect of the downriver Inkilik (Holikachuk), Yukkhana; of those upriver (Koyukon), Yuna. All these terms mean the same thing in translation–'Big River.' I have kept the local names as a clearer indication of the different tribes along the river." Lt. Zagoskin's Note 63 (1848), translated in, Zagoskin, Lavrenty A.; Henry N. Michael, eds. (1967). Lieutenant Zagoskin's Travels in Russian America, 1842-1844: The First Ethnographic and Geographic Investigations in the Yukon and Kuskokwim Valleys of Alaska. University of Toronto Press., at page 295. Zagoskin did not come into contact with the Gwich'in Indians and had no access to the information that Yukon means white water river in Gwich'in – the language from which the word came.
  22. In Holikachuk, big river or big water would be xinmiksekh, xinchux, toomiksekh, or toochux. Kari, James; et al. (1978). Holikachuk Noun Dictionary (PDF). Univ. of Alaska Fairbanks. p. 19 (xin [river], too [water]). Retrieved 2017-10-16.; Zagoskin; Michael (1967). Lieutenant Zagoskin's Travels., at page 309 (Inkilik proper [Holikachuk] tu [water], miksekh [large]); Hargus, Sharon (2008). Vowel quality and duration in Deg Xinag (PDF). Univ. of Washington. p. 29 (note 33: Holikachuk chux [big]). Retrieved 2017-10-16. Adjectives followed the nouns that they modified in Holikachuk.
  23. Thirty-nine pages of cited "Sources," representing over a century of research, did not verify Zagoskin's report that Yukon means big river. Orth (1967). Dictionary of Alaska Place Names., at pp. 6-44 ("Sources of Names"), 1069 ("The Eskimo ... descriptively called it 'Kuikpak' meaning 'big river.' The Indian name 'Yukon' probably means the same thing."). Orth does not say "probably" when discussing Kuikpak's meaning. Orth's use of "probably" is limited to the discussion of Yukon's meaning, which indicates that Zagoskin's report that Yukon means big river was never verified. In addition, Orth's "Sources" do not even include the Hudson's Bay Company correspondence, which states that Yukon means white water river in Gwich'in. Nor do Orth's "Sources" include aboriginal dictionaries.
  24. Lt. Zagoskin reported that: "The ... Inkilit [Holikachuk] ... live along the routes of communication between the Yukon and the coast and are occupied almost exclusively with buying up furs from the natives living along the Yunnaka (Koyukuk River, a Yukon tributary)." Zagoskin also reported that: "The Inkalik [Holikachuk] ..., who are chiefly occupied in trading both with their fellow tribesmen and with the neighboring tribes of Kang-ulit (Yup'ik), have adopted the way of life of the latter ..." Zagoskin; Michael (1967). Lieutenant Zagoskin's Travels., at pp. 196-97, 244. Because they had adopted the Yup’ik (Eskimo) way of life, and because they were the ones trading upriver, the Holikachuk would have been "the Esquimaux" referred to in John Bell's 1845 report: "The Esquimaux to the westwards likewise ascends the 'Youcon' and carry on a trade with the natives, as well as with the Musquash [Gwich'in] Indians ... I have seen a large camp of the latter tribe on the Rat River on my return, who, had about a doz: of beat [hammered] Iron Kettles of Russian Manufacture which they bartered from the Esquimaux." See, Hudson's Bay Company Correspondence to Simpson from Bell (1845), HBC Archives, D.5/14, fos. 212, 213. For these reasons, the Holikachuk were in a position to conflate the meanings of the Gwich'in and Yup'ik names, and to furnish this conflated information to the Russian-American Company.
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