Jijuu Mary Snowshoe

Culture, Heritage & Spirituality (2019)

Gwich’in Nation, NT 

Jijuu (Grandmother) Mary Snowshoe was born in 1938 and though her siblings went to residential school, her parents kept her at home and taught her the traditional Gwich’in ways. Her father taught her to hunt, fish, and trap, and her mother taught her to prepare traditional food and tan moose skin for clothing. She carries on the stories of the Gwich’in Nation by memory and can recount, as her father did for her, the first “white men” who came to their community, the flu epidemic, and the Anglican missionaries who came with religion. She continues to pass on her sacred knowledge helping to ensure the Gwich’in way of life lives on for generations to come. Mary taught the Gwich’in language for 24 years until her retirement in 2003. At 80 years old, still sets fish nets under the ice, fosters children, and continues to live off the land in the summer. In 2008, she received a Wise Women Award with the Northwest Territories Status of Women Council.