Gwich’in is an Athabaskan language with about 400 speakers in the Northwest Territories, were it has official status, and Yukon Territory of Canada. There are a further 300 speakers in Alaska. Most speakers of Gwich’in are elderly, though in a few communities, the language is used by all ages of people.
The Gwich’in language has also been known as Loucheux, Kutchin and Tukudh.
Gwich’in was first reduced to writing by Robert McDonald (1829-1913) a Church of England missionary, in the 1870s. His Gwich’in translations of the Bible, the Book of Common Prayer and a hymnal are still read by middle-aged and older people. Younger people are more familiar with the new Gwich’in spelling system, which was devised by Richard Mueller in the 1960s.