Indigenous North Americans
Dene people (/ˈdɛnɛ/ DEN-eh) are an aboriginal group of First
Nations who inhabit the northern boreal and
Arctic regions of Canada.
Dene speak Northern Athabaskan languages.
Dene is the common
Athabaskan word for "people" (Sapir 1915, p. 558). The term
"Dene" has two usages. More commonly, it is used narrowly to refer to
the Athabaskan speakers of the
Northwest Territories and
Canada, especially including the
Chipewyan (Denesuline), Tlicho
Yellowknives (T'atsaot'ine), Slavey (Deh Gah Got'ine or Deh
Sahtu (the Eastern group in Jeff Leer's classification; part
of the Northwestern
Canada group in Keren Rice's classification). But
it is sometimes also used to refer to all Northern Athabaskan
speakers, who are spread in a wide range all across
northern Canada. Note that
Dene never includes the Pacific Coast
Southern Athabaskan speakers in the continental
U.S., despite the fact that the term is used to
Athabaskan languages as a whole (the
Southern Athabaskan speakers do, however, refer to
themselves with similar words: Diné (Navajo) and Indé (Apache).
Alexander Mackenzie described aspects of a number of northern Dene
cultures in the late eighteenth century in his journal of his voyage
down the Mackenzie River.
3 Notable Dene
4 See also
6 Further reading
7 External links
Dene are spread through a wide region. They live in the Mackenzie
Valley (south of the Inuvialuit), and can be found west of Nunavut.
Their homeland reaches to western Yukon, and the northern part of
British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba,
Alaska and the
southwestern United States.
Dene were the first people to settle in
what is now the Northwest Territories. In northern Canada,
historically there were ethnic feuds between the
Dene and the Inuit.
Inuit representatives participated in a healing
ceremony to reconcile the centuries-old grievances.
Northwest Territories is the largest
Dene community in
Dene include five main groups:
Chipewyan (Denesuline), living east of Great Slave Lake, and including
Sayisi Dene living at Tadoule Lake, Manitoba
Tlicho (Dogrib), living between Great Slave and Great Bear Lakes
Yellowknives (T'atsaot'ine), living north of Great Slave Lake
Slavey (Deh Gah Got'ine or Deh Cho), the North Slavey (Sahtu,
(Sahtúot’ine), including the Locheux, Nahanni, and Bear Lake
peoples) living along the
Mackenzie River (Deh Cho) near Great Bear
Lake, the South Slavey southwest of
Great Slave Lake
Great Slave Lake and into Alberta
and British Columbia.
Sahtu (Sahtúot’ine), including the Locheux, Nahanni, and Bear Lake
peoples, in the central NWT.
Although the above-named groups are what the term "Dene" usually
refers to in modern usage, other groups who consider themselves Dene
Tsuu T'ina, aka the Sarcee, currently located near Calgary,
The Beaver people (Danezaa or Dunneza) of northeastern British
Columbia and neighbouring regions of northwestern Alberta.
The Tahltan, Kaska, and
Sekani people of the Northern Interior of
British Columbia. Another group in this region, the
lived in the
Portland Canal area of the northernmost BC Coast near the
border with Alaska. They are now extinct.
Dakelh (Carrier) peoples of the Northern and Central Interior of
British Columbia, and their subgroup the Wet'suwet'en
Tsilhqot'in people of the eponymous
Chilcotin District of the
Central Interior of British Columbia
The extinct Nicola Athapaskans, aka the Stuwix ("strangers" in the
Shuswap language), migrated south from northern BC into the Nicola
Valley region in the late 18th century and were absorbed into the
Nicola people, an alliance of
Nlaka'pamux and Okanagan peoples.
The Gwich'in and Tanana and other peoples of
Alaska are also
considered to be Dene, which is to say part of the family of
In 2005, elders from the
Dene People decided to join the Unrepresented
Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO) seeking recognition for their
ancestral cultural and land rights.
The largest population of Denesuline speakers live in the northern
Saskatchewan village of
La Loche and the adjoining Clearwater River
Dene Nation. In 2011 the combined population was 3389 people. The
Denesuline language is spoken by 89% of the residents.
Thanadelthur (c. 1697 – 5 February 1717) a woman of the Chipewyan
Nation, a guide and interpreter, who was instrumental in forging a
peace agreement between the
Chipewyan and the
Ethel Blondin-Andrew, former MP for Western
Leela Gilday, Canadian folk singer, Juno winner
Jimmy Herman (1940-2013) actor, Dances with Wolves
Matonabbee (c. 1737–1782), guide for Samuel Hearne's expedition to
the Coppermine River
Tahmoh Penikett, actor, Battlestar Galactica and Dollhouse
Eric Schweig, actor, The Last of the Mohicans
Alaskan Athabaskans (Alaskan Dene, Tinneh), Athabaskan peoples of the
interior of Alaska
Navajo Nation (Diné), southern Athabaskan people
Apache people (Inde), southern Athabaskan people
Hupa, California Athabaskan people
Cahto people, California Athabaskan people
Mattole people, California Athabaskan people
Wailaki, California Athabaskan people
Galice language-speakers (Oregon Athabaskan): Chetco, Tolowa,
First Nations Culture Areas Index". the Canadian Museum of
^ "CBC's David McLauchlin dies at 56". CBC News. May 26, 2003.
Tsuu T'ina Nation
Tsuu T'ina Nation website. Archived from the
original on March 8, 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-04.
^ "History of
La Loche (
La Loche 2011)". 2012-11-15.
Abel, Kerry M. Drum Songs: Glimpses of
Dene History. McGill-Queen's
studies in ethnic history, 15. Montreal: Buffalo, 1993.
Bielawski, E. Rogue Diamonds: Northern Riches on
Dene Land. Seattle:
University of Washington Press, 2004. ISBN 0-295-98419-8
Holland, Lynda, Celina Janvier, and Larry Hewitt. The
Project: Stories and History from the Westside. La Ronge, Sask:
Holland-Dalby Educational Consulting, 2002. ISBN 0-921848-23-4
Marie, Suzan, and Judy Thompson.
Dene Spruce Root Basketry: Revival of
a Tradition. Mercury series. Hull, Quebec: Canadian Museum of
Civilization, 2002. ISBN 0-660-18830-9
Marie, Suzan, and Judy Thompson. Whadoo Tehmi Long-Ago People's
Dene Babiche Bags : Tradition and Revival. Mercury
series. Gatineau, Québec: Canadian Museum of Civilization, 2004.
Moore, Patrick, and Angela Wheelock. Wolverine Myths and Visions: Dene
Traditions from Northern Alberta. Studies in the anthropology of North
American Indians. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990.
Ryan, Joan. Doing Things the Right Way:
Dene Traditional Justice in
Lac La Martre, N.W.T.. Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 1995.
Sharp, Henry S. Loon: Memory, Meaning, and Reality in a Northern Dene
Community. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2001.
Dene Nation, the Colony Within. Toronto: University of
Toronto Press, 1977. ISBN 0-8020-2264-2
Wake, Val. White Bird Black Bird, Charleston, South Carolina,
Booksurge, 2008 ISBN 1-4392-0345-8
People of the Deh Cho
Dene Crafts: Explore photographs, a comprehensive bibliography, and a
brief history of
Voyages from Montreal Through the Continent of North America to the
Frozen and Pacific Oceans in 1789 and 1793 Vol. I (1902 ed.)
Voyages from Montreal Through the Continent of North America to the
Frozen and Pacific Oceans in 1789 and 1793 Vol. II (1903 ed.)
1970s The Rise of Aboriginal Political Organizations NWT Historical
Timeline, Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre
First Nations in Alberta
Treaty 6 (Central Alberta, 1876)
Treaty 7 (Southern Alberta, 1877)
Treaty 8 (Northern Alberta, 1899)
Eastern Shoshone / Sosoni
Kootenay / Ktunaxa
Gros Ventre / A'aninin
Beaver / Daneẕaa
Blackfoot / Niitsítapi (language)
Chipewyan / Denésoliné
Cree / Paskwāwiyiniwak (language)
Sarcee / Tsuu T'ina
Saulteaux / Nakawē (language)
Stoney / Nakoda (language)
Cree / Sakāwithiniwak
Beaver Lake Cree
Little Red River Cree
Whitefish Lake (Atikameg)
Whitefish Lake (Goodfish)
Regional and tribal councils
Athabasca Tribal Council
Treaty 6 First Nations
Four Nations Administration
Kee Tas Kee Now Tribal Council
Slave Lake Indian Regional Council
North Peace Tribal Council
First Nations of Alberta
Treaty 7 Management Corporation
Cree Tribal Council
Yellowhead Tribal Council
Acho Dene Koe First Nation (land claim, based in NWT)
Cree Nation (part of reserve, mostly in SK)
Kelly Lake (land claim, urecognized, based in BC)
Michel Band (unrecognized band)
Papaschase (unrecognized band)
Sharphead (extinct band)
List of Indian reserves in Alberta