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Dena'ina Ełnena (Dena'ina Homeland)

The Dena'ina homeland includes what we now know as Anchorage. Long before European explorers arrived, the Dena'ina lived here; many of them still do.

Qin Cheghitnu—"Crying Ridge Creek"

The Dena'ina name for Campbell Creek is "Qin Cheghitnu," which means "Crying ridge Creek." It flows from Qin Cheghi—"Crying Ridge"—now known as Tanaina Peak, in the Chugach Mountains. Because much of the Dena'ina homeland is visible from Qin Cheghi, it was a mourning place where Dena'ina remembered and honored their ancestors and lost loved ones.

Subsistence Foods

The salmon runs of Qin Cheghitnu and other creeks have sustained Dena'ina communities for countless generations. The Dena'ina traditionally harvested salmon (łiq'a) and other fish from both salt and freshwater, using handmade weirs, traps, dipnets, and spears. They also depended upon many other resources, including moose, bears, porcupines, ptarmigan, spruce grouse, waterfowl, snowshoe hares, berries, and wild plants.


Dena'ina traditions, still practiced by many today, require caring for animals and plants that humans need for survival. From a traditional, historic Dena'ina view, fish, other wildlife, and plants are sentient beings, aware of human activities and demanding respect. To disrespect the non-human world is to court disaster—poor weather, famine, and even death might result. Respectful behavior includes never taking more plants or animals than needed, thorough use of harvested animals, never speaking about animals in a boastful manner, and handling animal remains carefully.

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