Golden Heart Plaza Named one of the "Great Places in America" by American Planning Association
Before Fairbanks Was Founded
From the "Athabascan Circle" - Commissioned by Tanana Chiefs Conference. Athabascan Circle
The first people to inhabit this great land are now known as Athabascan Indians. Their mythology contains many stories about man's creation and evolution on this continent. Throughout history, the Athabascans' respect for the animals has run through the fiber of their lives. Athabascans paid homage to the animal spirits to prevent them from leaving the land. Some animals were considered the masters and creators of the universe and were the subject of many legends.

Early day Athabascans led a nomadic lifestyle. They traveled in small family groups of clans, following the seasons in search of food. In the late fall and early winter they hunted the migrating caribou. The caribou were most important for their flesh and hides, which provided food, clothing and shelter.

Winter days and nights were spent surviving the cold and darkness. During this time of confinement, the history of the people was passed from generation to generation through stories and legends. In early spring, the people traveled to spring camps and the winter's supply of food was depleted. They hunted ducks, geese, muskrats and beaver on the lakes. The fresh food was a welcome change of diet. After long winters of separation and hardships, the tribes gathered to celebrate and discuss mutual concerns. Summers were busy in the fish camps along the rivers. Once the salmon runs began, fish were caught, smoked and stored for winter. The rivers were the lifeblood of the Athabascans, providing food and transportation. Each fall the tribes gathered berries and hunted waterfowl. After the snow had fallen, the men hunted hibernating bears.

As it was with the first Athabascans, the cycle was complete and began again. Such were the old ways and such are the new. From season to season, life is a never-ending cycle. The integrity of life is in this understanding. To an Athabascan, the only things that change are the ways of survival.