Dreamers & The Land - Dreamers : Charlie Yahey

Dreamers & The Land | DREAMERS


Charlie Yahey

Born in 1881. Died in 1976.

Our most recent Dreamer was Charlie Yahey who died in 1976 at an old age. Charlie was raised by his father's brother, Usulets (Big Charlie), for whom Charlie Lake is named and who died in the 1918 flu.

Charlie Yahey learned many songs from the Dreamer Gaayęą who was one of his main mentors. He also traveled to Heaven, and brought songs back for our people to use.

Spending most of his life traveling seasonally throughout our territory, he was forced to settle at Blueberry River in the 1950s. He still continued to move around seasonally and often spent time at Alááʔ S̱atǫ during the summer months. It was here that the late songkeepers Albert Askoty, and Billy Makadahay, as well as many of our current Doig River Drummers and songkeepers, learned many of the songs that they continue to perform today.

Charlie Yahey's legacy of songs and oratory, some of which has been preserved through audio recordings made by anthropologist Robin Ridington during the 1960s, continues to nourish our Dane-zaa First Nations. It was with the strength of Charlie Yahey's songs and oratory that our people were able to continue with our Dreamers' Dance during the hard years that followed the building of the Alaska Highway.

Charlie Yahey has many descendents living within the Blueberry River and Doig River First Nations. He was married to four different women over his lifetime and fathered eleven children. His last wife, Anachuan (Bella Attachie) had been married to the Dreamer Anaalaatááʔ until he died around 1920. When she remarried Charlie Yahey in 1930, who was also a Dreamer, she was able to share some of Anaalaatáá's knowledge with him.

Listening to the recordings of Charlie Yahey's oratory and songs continues to give our people an insight into the symbolic language that Charlie Yahey shared with the earlier Dreamers. Dancing to our Dreamers' songs at our Dreamers' Dances and community gatherings keeps our tradition alive and strong.

The Doig River Drummers singing a song by the Dreamer Charlie Yahey

The Doig River Drummers singing a song by the Dreamer Charlie Yahey, Doig River, 2004

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The Doig River Drummers sing a song by our last Dreamer, Charlie Yahey, at our summer Dreamers Dance, Doig River, July, 2004.