There are very few fences in Fort Yukon. They interfere too much with the snow-gos. Most of them, like this one, surround grave sites. Speaking of graves…
Ours is a superstitious culture. Years ago, one of the traditional chiefs of the Athabascans died in another state and was buried there. This fall, his remains were returned to Fort Yukon, a move that was opposed by some who feared that disturbing the chief might bring ill upon us. Who can say what the chief thinks about all this, but following his re-internment less than 3 months ago, six of our villagers have died. It is a terrible blow to a tiny community of six hundred, most of whom are related to the deceased in one way or another.
All of this is fast becoming lore. Already I have heard from three neighbors, “You know the chief was brought back and buried this fall – yeah, and six people have died since then, too.”
Who can say?