The Gwich’in Tribal Council Grand Chief announced he has reclaimed his traditional last name of Kyikavichik.
Formerly known as Ken Smith, Kyikavichik says he has reclaimed his traditional last name to pay honour to the Gwich’in language.
Kyikavichik means “Carry the arrow” in Gwich’in. It was changed to Kay or Kaye in the early 20th century as initial settlers and government officials to the area could not pronounce Kyikavichik.
“For us as Gwich’in to reclaim who we are as a people and we start that by changing the way in which we talk about it,” Kyikavichik wrote in a press release.
As a descendant of residential school survivors, the legal change of name for Kyikavichik was performed free of charge and was completed within a week in early March.