Kaska Dena

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Total population
1,435 (2016 census)[1]
Regions with significant populations
Canada (British Columbia, Yukon)
English, Kaska
Christianity, Animism
Related ethnic groups
Tagish, Tahltan, Nahani

The Kaska or Kaska Dena are a First Nations people of the Athabaskan-speaking ethnolinguistic group living mainly in northern British Columbia and the southeastern Yukon in Canada. The Kaska language originally spoken by the Kaska is an Athabaskan language.

Kaska Dena communities and First Nations include:

Kaska Dena also live in British Columbia communities of Fireside and Muncho Lake, between Watson Lake and Fort Nelson, British Columbia along the Alaska Highway. Historically the Kaska people have had a respectful relationship with the land and the environment. Kaska took part in the traditional First Nations seasonal round, following game like caribou and other seasonal food like berries. They used waterways like the Liard River and Frances River to travel from Dease Lake to Frances Lake, Yukon. They also had several established bush trails for travelling.[2]

By one account, the name of the asbestos-mining ghost town Cassiar is believed to be a variant of Kaska, the town being named for the Kaska people; by another account, the word the name Cassiar derives from is a Kaska word either for a black bird, or for the fibrous asbestos ore upon which the town was built.

After colonization of the Yukon Territory, the building of the Alaska Highway, and the government's attempts at assimilation, the Kaska people have lost much of their culture. This includes a substantial loss of the Kaska language. Lower Post, British Columbia was the location of the residential school that the Kaska children had to attend until it closed in 1975.[3]

In 2005, the film One of Many by the French filmmaker Jo Béranger (original French title, Voyage en mémoires indiennes, 2004) profiled Sally Tisiga, a Kaska person, in search of her cultural identity.[4]


  1. ^ "Aboriginal Ancestry Responses (73), Single and Multiple Aboriginal Responses (4), Residence on or off reserve (3), Residence inside or outside Inuit Nunangat (7), Age (8A) and Sex (3) for the Population in Private Households of Canada, Provinces and Territories, 2016 Census - 25% Sample Data". www12.statcan.gc.ca. Government of Canada. Retrieved 2017-11-23.
  2. ^ Farnell, G. (2014). The Kaska Dene: A study of Colonialism, Trauma and Healing in Dene Kēyeh. The University of British Columbia. [1]
  3. ^ Meek., A. B. (2010). We Are Our Language. An Ethnography of Language Revitalization in a Northern Athabaskan Community. Tucson, Az.: The University of Arizona Press. pp. 1–40.
  4. ^ "One of Many". Film catalog. Doc Alliance Films. Retrieved 14 April 2013.

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