Life in the City of Circle has gone on much the same way it has for the hundred-plus years it has existed, despite its ups and downs.
The village has been bringing Charles John back off and on throughout his entire life. John has seen Circle’s population rise and fall much like the Yukon waters the village was established near. Of course, the particular shores of this arm of the Yukon were much narrower back when Circle was founded.
For John, the village and its people represent serenity and a bastion of G’wichen culture housed within the community.
Traditions endure. Some endure many would rather see diminish while others diminish many would rather see endure.
For the former, John, like his neighbors have grown used to annual flooding. At the onset of the Yukon’s 2014 breakup, waters crept well beyond their typical shores and into the streets and homes of Circle. With any flood, the community of roughly 80 residents banded together to help those in need. Luckily the flooding wasn’t devastating, but damage remains.
There is a way of life in Circle John would like seen preserved.
John knows the culture of his village is threatened by the youth’s general disinterest in the cultural G’wichen language and traditions.
“They’re the ones who are going to takeover,” John said. “We (the elders) won’t be here forever.”
The language isn’t easy to learn, John admits, but there’s more to his village’s heritage than language, even though he knows its importance. It all starts at home, John believes. Whether it’s imparting the cultural teachings, teaching subsistence fishing and hunting, John feels it’s more than just preserving traditions. John sees a spiritual connection between the teachings his elders imparted on him and the youth he now passes on those traditions to.
The village of Circle means more than providing roofs over residents’ heads. John believes Circle’s peaceful streets and scenic river vistas are worth preserving just as much as the cultural heritage the village represents.