Canadian City Of Yellowknife – Named After The "Other" Copper Indians – Has Been Evacuated Due To Forest Fires

Fires Drive Residents From City Of Yellowknife  Here in the Copper River Valley, home of the Ahtna people, it may be hard to imagine that th...

Fires Drive Residents From City Of Yellowknife 

Here in the Copper River Valley, home of the Ahtna people, it may be hard to imagine that there's a second group of northern Native Americans – in Canada – who are also known for their ancient ties to copper. These are an Athabascan people known as "the Yellowknives". 

The Yellowknives are from the Northwest Territories. Like the Ahtna people, they were Dene. Like the Ahtna people, they used copper for trading. The term "Yellowknife" comes from the color of copper. 

That part of Canada is a wild and isolated part of the arctic, with the same very cold temperatures we have. Which is not surprising. Yellowknife lies at the same latitude as most of the Copper River Valley of Alaska: Latitude 62º. 

The current town of Yellowknife, with its population of around 20,000 people, is the only city in the Northwest Territories of Canada. It's an interesting place; the region is known for its copper. But it also had gold. And then  in 1991, they discovered diamonds. Uranium and silver have also been discovered near Yellowknife. 

This month of August, 2023, Yellowknife is under siege from nearby forest fires. Not just one or two forest fires are rampaging over the Northwest Territories; there are over 200 forest fires alone in that part of Canada, and many more across the entire country. 

On August 19th, 2023, most of the city of Yellowknife was evacuated due to fire danger, leaving only around a thousand "essential workers". 

This summer is the worst wildfire year in Canadian history. More than 33 million acres have burned. As forest fires roared in on the little city, firefighters, along with the Canadian Armed Forces. tried to beat back the flames. 

As in many parts of Alaska (and in Maui in Hawaii, where just a week ago the entire town of Lahaina went up in smoke) there's only one road linking Yellowknife to the rest of the country. 

Traffic was backed up for miles as people tried to leave over that highway. 

Airplanes are also being used to evacuate residents from that "other" copper country. 

Yellowknife, though over 1,500 miles away, in many ways gives us a warning of the forest fire devastation that threatens us all, here in Alaska. 


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