The nomination dossier of the Tr’ondëk-Klondike serial site was accepted by the World Heritage Centre in March 2021, for evaluation. A panel of experts will review the nomination dossier over the next fourteen months and a decision to inscribe, not inscribe, refer or defer will be made by the World Heritage Committee in 2022.
The new nomination is a serial property, comprised of eight distinct heritage sites that together tell the story of Indigenous experiences during the development and expansion of colonialism in their territories. These eight parts contain the most intact and outstanding physical evidence of an Indigenous peoples’ occupation of land overlain with evidence of colonial expansion, and the First Nations’ responses.
The nomination includes Fort Reliance, Ch’ëdähdëk (Forty Mile), Ch’ëdähdëk Tth’än K’et (Dënezhu Graveyard), Fort Cudahy and Fort Constantine, Tr’ochëk, Dawson City, Jëjik Dhä Dënezhu Kek’it (Moosehide Village), and Jëjik Dhä Tthe Zra¸y Kek’it (Black City). The lands and waters in between the component sites are not included in the site.
Composed of 334 hectares of land, the property is located within the homeland of Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in. The boundary encompasses component sites along parts of the Yukon River and the Blackstone River. The boundaries of the component parts were assigned to include the archaeological and historic resources that represent an Indigenous peoples’ evolving experience of, and adaptation to, European colonialism at the turn of the twentieth century.
A buffer zone comprises 54 hectares of land surrounding the serial components of the nominated property. It includes a 30-metre-wide area immediately adjacent to the site boundaries, with the exception of boundaries that are the ordinary high-watermark on the riverbanks, where the buffer is 10 metres. Buffer zones are an important tool for conservation of properties inscribed on the World Heritage List. While there are no regulatory protections, a buffer zone considers the “surroundings” of an inscribed property, and allows for monitoring of activities immediately adjacent to the site.
Tr’ondëk-Klondike illustrates Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in’s presence in their homeland for thousands of years prior to the newcomers’ arrival and the subsequent changes in land use, livelihoods, and patterns of settlement, as well as adaptations to new economies, in response to the establishment of colonial power over a thirty-year period from 1874 to 1908. Tr’ondëk-Klondike testifies to the continuity of Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in life on the land and their cultural traditions, knowledge, and practices maintained, in spite of the colonial expansion and consolidation that occurred in the Yukon.
World Heritage status will not affect Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in treaty and aboriginal rights, resident interests nor mining. Each of the component sites have previously had mineral staking rights withdrawn or are located within Category A Settlement Land, identified in Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Final and Self-Government Agreements. There are no active mining claims within the boundaries of the component sites. Five of the eight component parts already have planning documents to guide development and heritage conservation within the sites (Tr’ochëk, Dawson City, Jëjik Dhä Dënezhu Kek’it (Moosehide Village), Ch’ëdähdëk (Forty Mile), Fort Cudahy and Fort Constantine).
There is no other place like Tr’ondëk–Klondike in the world.
The eight component sites of the Tr’ondëk-Klondike serial property have one of the most complete and exceptional ensembles of archaeological and historic evidence that reflects an Indigenous peoples’ experience of, and adaptation to, the global phenomenon known as European colonialism.
The Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in experience, vividly echoes the experiences of Indigenous people in North, Central, and South America; Oceania; Africa; and throughout many parts of Asia during this period. These experiences of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in were instigated by expanding commercial interests associated with the fur trade and the western North American gold rushes that were incredibly intensified during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1896–1898.
The physical evidence that transmits the heritage values of Tr’ondëk-Klondike is in good condition and the property’s component sites are protected and managed under appropriate legislation and policy, with no component exposed to unplanned or unregulated development. Joint stewardship, continuing use, and consistent conservation planning ensure Tr’ondek- Klondike is intact.
The nominated property is an exceptional site that illustrates Indigenous peoples’ experiences in the face of European colonialism. No other property on the World Heritage List or Tentative Lists currently demonstrates as well, an Indigenous peoples’ experience of, and adaptation to, colonialism, nor the continuity of an Indigenous peoples’ culture before, during, and after the initial contact period with colonizers.
Tr’ondëk-Klondike stands out in its capacity to represent an Indigenous peoples’ experience of, and adaptation to, colonialism in the western subarctic region of North America at the turn of the twentieth century. It is an outstanding illustration of what Indigenous people all around the world experienced over a 500-year period, when European nations imposed their economic, political, military, social, and cultural power on all corners of the globe.
Cultural heritage is ways of living that are passed down from generation to generation, events, people, or societies that are demonstrated in places, objects, practices, and language. Cultural heritage is not only limited to material objects that we can see and touch, it also consists of immaterial elements: traditions, oral history, performing arts, social practices, traditional craftsmanship, rituals, knowledge and skills transmitted from generation to generation within a community.
Natural heritage includes physical, biological or geological features that have exceptional scientific or aesthetic value. Natural World Heritage sites often commemorate ecosystems, biodiversity, geological processes, natural beauty, and other natural values.
UNESCO World Heritage sites are nominated for their outstanding cultural and/or natural heritage values, and they are categorized as cultural sites, natural sites, or mixed sites. (Mixed sites must demonstrate both cultural and natural features.) If Tr’ondëk–Klondike is added to the World Heritage List, it will be a cultural site.
The development of the Tr’ondëk–Klondike nomination was overseen by a community-based Advisory Committee and managed by Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in. It was prepared by a team of heritage staff from Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, Government of Yukon and heritage consultants, who live, raise their families and make their livelihoods in the Yukon.
The World Heritage Advisory Committee consists of representatives from the Klondike Visitors Association, Dawson City Chamber of Commerce, Dawson City Museum, City of Dawson, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, Government of Yukon, Klondike National Historic Sites, Klondike Placer Miners’ Association, Yukon Chamber of Mines, and a Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in citizen, and community residents.
There is strong local and territorial support for the World Heritage nomination among heritage, tourism and business sectors, the City of Dawson, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, Yukon and federal governments. The nomination was identified as a key private business opportunity in regional economic planning. The Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor), Parks Canada and Yukon Government provided funding, with in-kind support and project management from Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in.
International recognition of Tr’ondëk–Klondike would enrich existing tourism opportunities through recognition of Tr’ondëk–Klondike’s cultural values.
World Heritage status will strengthen community attachment through greater recognition of our shared story. First and foremost, it will help strengthen our community through working together and respecting each other's stories.
It is expected that marketing through the international lens of the globally recognized UNESCO logo will attract more visitors to Dawson City and Yukon — including higher-spending international and winter visitors — and encourage private-sector investment in new and expanded facilities and services we will all enjoy. As members of the community, your support for World Heritage status helps support our efforts to diversify our economy, stimulate business opportunities that create year-round jobs and incomes, open up access to new funds for improved community facilities and sustain the exceptional quality of life we enjoy here.
The local Stewardship Committee will plan for sustainable increases to visitor numbers, ensuring that visitors have access to appropriate areas of Tr’ondëk–Klondike and can appreciate the site’s values without impacting fragile heritage areas or community use. It is an opportunity to develop and enhance programs at places such as Tr'ochëk, Forty Mile, and Dawson City and leverage funding for their sustainability. Private areas like Moosehide, where there is no desire for tourism, will not be promoted or made accessible.
The Tr’ondëk–Klondike nomination was submitted by Canada in January 2021 on behalf of the local Advisory Committee, and a decision by the World Heritage Committee is expected in 2022. The COVID-19 pandemic affected 2020 World Heritage Committee scheduling, it is not known at this time if there will be continuing changes to the World Heritage process, due to the world-wide pandemic.
ICOMOS (the International Council on Monuments and Sites) is a non-governmental organization (NGO) that gives recommendations to the World Heritage Committee on cultural and mixed World Heritage sites and new nominations with cultural heritage values.
During the evaluation process, each nomination proposal is assessed by up to 10 experts drawn from the ICOMOS network, who study the nomination and the proposed “Outstanding Universal Value” of the site.
As an international non-governmental organization, ICOMOS provides advice to the World Heritage Committee on cultural heritage and has no authority within Canada regarding regulations or legislation.