Gwich'in Council International’s membership consists of two representative bodies in Canada and one in the United States: the Vuntut Gwich’in First Nation (VGFN), which is a self-governing First Nation in Old Crow, Yukon; Gwich’in Tribal Council (GTC), who represents the beneficiaries of the Gwich’in Land Claims Settlement Act in NWT; and the Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments (CATG), for the eight Gwich’in communities in Alaska – Fort Yukon, Venetie, Arctic Village, Chalkyitsik, Birch Creek, Circle, Canyon Village, and Beaver. GCI supports Gwich’in by amplifying our voice on sustainable development and the environment at the international level to support resilient and healthy communities.
The Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation is a self-governing First Nation, whose membership of 450 largely resides in one community, Old Crow. Old Crow is the only fly-in community in Yukon. As a self-governing First Nation VGFN has responsibility for: executive functions, finance, natural resources, information systems, health and social services, human resources, education, and government services and housing. VGFN is led by an elected chief and council.
The Gwich’in Tribal Council (GTC) is an Aboriginal organization that represents Gwich’in Participants in the Mackenzie-Delta of the Northwest Territories and across Canada.
The objectives of the GTC are to:
- Protect and preserve the rights, interest and benefits of the Gwich’in in reference to their use, ownership and management of lands, waters, and resources in the Gwich’in Settlement Area;
- Retain, preserve and enhance the traditional and cultural values, customs and language of the Gwich’in in a changing society;
- Develop and promote economic, social, educational and cultural programs that will enable the Gwich’in to become self-sufficient and full participating members in a global society;
- Uphold the rights, interest and benefits of the Gwich’in in reference to the Constitution Act, Treaty 11 and the Gwich’in Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement; and
- Receive, preserve and enhance the capital and the lands and other benefits transferred to the Gwich’in pursuant to the Gwich’in Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement signed on April 22, 1992.
The GTC accomplishes these objectives through various wholly-owned organizations such as the Gwich’in Settlement Corporation and the Gwich’in Development Corporation.
In Alaska, the Gwich'in people from Arctic Village to Venetie are organized under state legislation known as IRA (Indian Reorganization Act). The Tribes are run by a Chief and Council who are all elected. The Council of Athabascan Tribal Government (CATG) was created by the tribes in the Yukon Flats. Its purpose is to support the tribes in the Yukon Flats by providing a unified voice.
According to its constitution, CATG is “to conserve and protect tribal land and other resources; to encourage and support the exercise of tribal powers of self-government; to aid and support economic development; to promote the general welfare of each member tribe and its respective individual members; to preserve and maintain justice for all…”