|11,130 or 27,000 |
|Regions with significant populations|
|Canada (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Nunavut)|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Dene, Yellowknives, Tłı̨chǫ, Slavey, Sahtu|
The Chipewyan (Denésoliné or Dënesųłiné – "People of the barrens") are a Dene Native Canadians, whose ancestors were the Taltheilei. They are part of the Northern Athabascan group of people.
The following list of First Nations band governments had in March 2013 a total registered membership of 22,754 with 10,938 in Saskatchewan, 6,371 in Alberta, 2,871 in Manitoba and 2,574 in the Northwest Territories. All had Dene Suline populations however several had a combination of Cree and Dene Suline members (see the Barren Lands First Nation in Manitoba and the Fort McMurray First Nation in Alberta).
There are also many Dene (Dene Suline) Métis communities located throughout the region. The Saskatchewan village of La Loche for example had 2300 residents who chose Dene (Dene Suline) as their mother tongue in 2011. About 1800 of the residents were Métis and about 500 were members of the Clearwater River Dene Nation.
An estimation of the Dene Suline First Nation population using the registered members of 22,754 less approximately 1,200 Cree members would be 21,554. Adding the Dene Suline Métis speaking population of several thousand (including La Loche) would bring a conservative estimate of the total Dene Suline population to nearly 24,000 people.
- Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. Reserves: Fort Chipewyan (K’aı́tëlı́) Chipewyan #201, 201A, 201B, 201C, 201D, 201E, 201F, 201G, ca. 348 km², Population: 1082 
- Fort McKay First Nation. Reserves: Fort McKay #174, 174C, 174D, Namur Lake #174B, 174A, ca. 149 km². Population: 778 
- Chipewyan Prairie First Nation (Tł’ógh tëlı́ dënesųłı̨ne) Reserves: Cowper Lake #194A, Janvier #194, Winefred Lake (Ɂuldáze1 tué) #194B, ca. 31 km². Population: 822 
- Fort McMurray First Nation (Tthı̨dłı̨ kuę́ ). Reserves: Fort McMurray #468, Clearwater #175, Gregoire Lake #176, 176A, 176B, ca. 31 km². Population: 688 
- Tribal Chiefs Association (TCA)
- Cold Lake First Nations (Łué chógh tué). Reserves: Blue Quills First Nation, Cold Lake #149, 149A, 149B, 149C, ca. 209 km². Population: 2,669 
- Akaitcho Territory Government (ATG) (Ɂákéchógh nęnę)
- Smith's Landing First Nation. ‘Thebati Dene Suhne’ Tthëbátthı́ dënesųłı̨ne, Thebacha Tthëbáchághë - ‘beside the rapids’, the Dene name for Fort Smith. Reserves and communities: ?ejere K'elni Kue #196I, Hokedhe Túe #196E, K'i Túe #196D, Li Dezé #196C, Thabacha Náre #196A, Thebathi #196, Tsu K'adhe Túe #196F, Tsu Nedehe Túe #196H, Tsu Túe Ts’u tué #196G, Tthe Jere Ghaili #196B, ca. 100 km². Population: 332 
- Barren Lands (Brochet Kuę́) First Nation has a Cree and Dene population. Reserve: Brochet #197, ca. 43 km². Population: 1,076 
- Northlands First Nation also known as Northlands Denesuline First Nation. Reserves and communities: Lac Brochet (Dálú tué), Lac Brochet #197A, Sheth chok, Thuycholeeni, Thuycholeeni azé, Tthekalé nu, ca. 22 km². Population: 1,024 
- Sayisi Dene First Nation formerly known as ‘Duck Lake Dene’. Reserve: Churchill 1, ca. 2 km². Population: 771 
- Deninu Kue First Nation (‘Deneh-noo-kweh’ - ‘People of moose Island’), formerly known as ‘Fort Resolution Dene’. Reserve: Fort Resolution Settlement  Population: 883 
- Lutsel K'e Dene First Nation (Lutselk'e ‘Loot-sel-kk ay’ - ‘place of the Łutsel-fish’), formerly known as ‘Snowdrift Band’. Reserve: Snowdrift Settlement. Population: 757 
- Salt River First Nation#195 (Reserves: Fort Smith Settlement, Salt Plains #195, Salt River #195, Fitzgerald #196 (Alberta), ca. 230 km². Population: 934 
- Buffalo River Dene Nation (Ɂëjëre dësché) located at Dillon. The reserve is about 84 km north east of Île-à-la-Crosse (Kuę́ ). Reserve: Buffalo River Dene Nation #193, ca. 83 km². Population: 1,309 
- Clearwater River Dene Nation (Tı̨tëlase tué) Its most populous reserve Clearwater River borders the village of La Loche to the north. Reserves: Clearwater River Dene #222, #221, #223, La Loche Indian Settlement ca. 95 km². Population: 1,844 
- English River First Nation with offices at Patuanak signed Treaty 10 in 1906 under Chief William Apesis. The name originates from the English River where the "poplar house people" (Kés-ye-hot’ı̨në) inhabited the area for periods during the year. Most families, who now reside in Patuanak (Bëghą́nı̨ch’ërë) and La Plonge 192 by Beauval had traditionally lived down river at Primeau Lake, Knee Lake and Dipper Lake. Reserves: Cree Lake 192G, Porter Island 192H, Elak Dase 192A, Knee Lake 192B, Dipper Rapids 192C, Wapachewunak 192D, LaPlonge 192, ca. 200 km². Population: 1,475 
- Birch Narrows First Nation (K’ı́t’ádhı̨ká ) located at Turnor Lake, most populous Reserve #193B about 124 km northeast of Île-à-la-Crosse, the reserve originated from Treaty 6 in 1906, Reserves: Churchill Lake #193A, Turnor Lake #193B, #194, ca. 30 km². Population: 719 
- Black Lake Dene Nation (Tázën tué) located at Black Lake, most populous reserve Chicken #224 about ca. 170 km southeast of Uranium City (Tsókı̨në), formerly known as ‘Stony Rapids (Dëschághë) Band. Reserves: Chicken #224, #225, #226, ca. 322 km². Population: 2,039 
- Hatchet Lake Dene Nation (Tthëłtué) also known as "Lac la Hache Denesuline First Nation" is located at Wollaston Lake, ca 354 km north of Flin Flon, Reserve: Lac la Hache #220, ca. 110 km². Population: 1,685 
- Fond du Lac Dene Nation (Gąnı́ kuę́ ) is located at Fond-du-Lac. The most populous reserve Fond Du Lac #227 is east of Lake Athabasca. Reserves: Fond Du Lac #227, #228, #229, #231, #232, #233, ca. 368 km². Population: 1,867 
Historical Chipewyan Regional Groups
The Chipewyan moved in small groups or bands, consisting of several extended families, alternating between winter and summer camps, hunting, trapping, fishing and gathering in the boreal forest and around the many lakes of their territory. Later with the emerging North American fur trade they organized themselves into several major regional groups in the vicinity of the European trading posts, in order to control as middleman the carrying trade in furs and the hunting of fur-bearing animals - the new social groupings also enabled the Chipewyan to dominate their Dene neighbors and to better defend themselves against their rifle-armed Cree enemies, who were advancing to the Peace River and Lake Athabasca.
- Kaí-theli-ke-hot!ínne (K’aı́tëlı́ hót’ı̨ne) (‘willow flat-country up they-dwell’) lived on the western shore of Lake Athabasca at Fort Chipewyan. Their tribal area extended northward to Fort Smith on the Slave River and south to Fort McMurray on the Athabasca River)
- Kés-ye-hot!ínne (K’ësyëhót’ı̨ne) (‘aspen house they-dwell’ or ‘poplar house they-dwell’) lived on the upper reaches of the Churchill River, along the Lac Île-à-la-Crosse, Methye Portage, Cold Lake, Heart Lake and Onion Lake. The tribal name is probably a description of adjacent Chipewyan groups for this major regional group and takes literally reference to the Lac Ile à la Crosse established European trading forts which were built with Poplar or Aspen wood.
- Hoteladi Hótthę̈nádé dëne (‘northern people’) lived north of the Kés-ye-hot!ínne between Cree Lake, west of Reindeer Lake on the south and on the east shore of Lake Athabasca in the north.
- Hâthél-hot!inne (Hátthëlót’ı̨ne) (‘lowland they-dwell’) lived in the Reindeer Lake (ɂëtthën tué) Region which drains south into the Churchill River.
- Etthen eldili dene (Etthén heldélį Dené, Ethen-eldeli - ‘Caribou-Eaters’) lived in the Taiga east of Lake Athabasca far east to Hudson Bay, at Reindeer Lake, Hatchet Lake, Wollaston Lake and Lac Brochet
- Kkrest‘ayle kke ottine (‘dwellers among the quaking aspens’ or ‘trembling aspen people’) lived in the boreal forests between Great Slave Lake in the south and Great Bear Lake in the north.
- Sayisi Dene (Saı́yısı́ dëne) (or Saw-eessaw-dinneh - ‘people of the east’) traded at Fort Chipewyan. Their hunting and tribal areas extended between Lake Athabasca and Great Slave Lake, and along the Churchill River.
- Gáne-kúnan-hot!ínne (Gąnı̨ kuę hót’ı̨ne) (‘jack-pine home they-dwell’) lived in the taiga east of Lake Athabasca and were particularly centered along the eastern Fond-du-Lac area.
- Des-nèdhè-kkè-nadè (Dësnëdhé k’e náradé dëne) (Desnedekenade, Desnedhé hoį́é nadé hot’įnę́ - ‘people along the great river’) were also known as Athabasca Chipewyan. They lived between Great Slave Lake and Lake Athabasca along the Slave River near Fort Resolution (Deninoo Kue - 'moose Island').
- Thilanottine (Tthı́lą́ne hót’ı̨ne) (Tu tthílá hot’įnę́ - ‘those who dwell at the head of the lakes’ or ‘people of the end of the head’) lived along the lakes of the Upper Churchill River area, along the Churchill River and Athabasca River, from Great Slave Lake and Lake Athabasca in the north to Cold Lake and Lac la Biche in the southwest.
- Tandzán-hot!ínne (Tálzą́hót’ı̨ne) (‘dwellers at the dirty lake’, also known as Dení-nu-eke-tówe - ‘moose island up lake-on’) lived on the northern shore of Great Slave Lake and along the Yellowknife River, and before their expulsion by the Tłı̨chǫ along Coppermine River. They were often regarded as a Chipewyan group, but form as "Yellowknives" historically an independent First Nation and called themselves T'atsaot'ine (T’átsąnót’ı̨ne).
An important historic Denesuline is Thanadelthur ("Marten Jumping"), a young woman who early in the 18th century helped her people to establish peace with the Cree, and to get involved with the fur trade (Steckley 1999).
- Louis Riel was a grandson of a Chipewyan
The Sayisi Dene of northern Manitoba are a Chipewyan band notable for hunting migratory caribou. They were historically located at Little Duck Lake, and known as the "Duck Lake Dene". In 1956, government relocated them to the port of Churchill on the shore of Hudson Bay and a small village north of Churchill called North Knife River, joining other Chipewyan Dene, and becoming members of "Fort Churchill Dene Chipewyan Band". In the 1970s, the "Duck Lake Dene" opted for self-reliance, a return to caribou hunting, and relocated to Tadoule Lake, Manitoba, legally becoming "Sayisi Dene First Nation (Tadoule Lake, Manitoba)" in the 1990s.
Denesuline (Chipewyan) speak the Dene Suline language, of the Athabaskan linguistic group. Dene Suline is spoken by Aboriginal people in Canada whose name for themselves is a cognate of the word Dene ("people"): Denésoliné (or Dënesųłiné). Speakers of the language speak ın dıalectıcal varıances but understand each. There ıs a ’k’, t dıalect that most people speak. For example, people ın Fond du lac, Gąnı kuę́ speak the ’k’ and say yakı́ ku whıle others who use the ’t’ say yatı́ and tu.
The name Chipewyan is, like many people of the Canadian prairies, of Algonquian origin. It is derived from the Plains Cree name for them, Cīpwayān (ᒌᐘᔮᐣ), "pointed skin", from cīpwāw (ᒌᐚᐤ), "to be pointed"; and wayān (ᐘᔮᐣ), "skin" or "hide" - a reference to the cut and style of Chipewyan parkas.
Most Chipewyan people now use Dene and Dene Suline (Denesuline) to describe themselves and their language. The Saskatchewan communities of Fond-du-Lac, Black Lake  and Wollaston Lake  are a few.
Despite the superficial similarity of the names, the Chipewyan are not related to the Chippewa (Ojibwa) people.
A paper for NS by Allan Adam 2013
Denesuline heroine Thanadeltth'er's story is one of hope, prosperity and peacemaker with the determination to get things done. Her story is in the Denesuline yatie…nuhetsune tha hots'i dene ni. Yunisi t'oho dene nok'enaraide hots'i si ediri yatie k'i…this is a story from long ago about our grandmother whose name is Thanadeltth'er, she is the first Denesuline to find the white people on Hudson Bay. Dene call this tl'asehochogh the big bay to the east in the Sayisi dene homeland's. This is what Denesuline elders say.
Long ago before Thanadeltth'er finds the white people; Denesuline lived mostly on the barren lands. These are hard times but the Denesuline have a good life there. Already, they have lived in this area for the past two thousand three hundred years: "The Chipewyan were distinguished from all other northern Athabascans in terms of their language, their territory and dependence on the vast herds of migrating barren-ground caribou" (Miller et al. 1992 p. 105). Elders share their stories from one generation to the next. They share stories about the land and what comes from it. They also share valuable knowledge about their unique northern way of life. This what the elders say.
Each year, Dene travel on a seasonal basis all over dene territory following game and paying visits to familiar gathering spots for fish, game and other worldly gifts from the earth. This is the way of life for the dene. Knowledge passes on through stories and language about place names. Names like thai tue (sandy lake) thai dese (sandy river) dot the familiar places all over their territory. This is Denesuline nene or the homeland of the Denesuline. Today, Denesuline who live in the northern parts of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Northwest Territories and Nunavut call this vast land, their home.
In the area of the ethnicity family bonds take place between the Denesuline groups, by using different; "primordial ties include commonly held bonds of kinship, descent, birthplace, language, territory, race or any other objective criteria of identity" (Miller et al. 1992 p. 104). These are a part of the Denesuline ways to maintain kinship amongst each other.
Take for example; the names of dene landmarks, lakes and rivers have their unique names based on these. The same goes for names of different dene groups by using "a primary identity feature is the names people give to their group or which are attached to this group by others" (Miller et al. 1992 p. 105).
The various regional names of the Dene are the Sayisi dene [eastern dene], etthen eldeli dene [the caribou eaters] k'esot'ine [poplar dene] yutthen hot'ine [northern dene] yuda hot'ine [northwest or Yellowknife dene] and tl'oghteli dene [prairie dene].
Like the names of the regional groups of Denesuline, the names of people have different meanings. Often the names come from characteristics of that person, for example a common name for a person who steals would have the name naghai who get their name from a wolverine. The animal that is best known for stealing and being a nuisance.
In Thanadeltth'er's case; her name is [trembling marten]. 'Tha' is the name for marten and nadeltth'er is the verb 'trembling.' She is born in the late 1600s. Elders refer to her as their grandmother nuhetsune. This is how Denesuline refer to people who lived before them. Her birth date or birthplace is unknown. The elders do not have any stories of her early years. Thanadeltth'er is a grandmother to all Denesuline. This is what the elders say.
The Denesuline are always on the move exploring different parts of their territory and sometimes they venture into enemy territory. Their enemies are the Cree [Ena] to the south and east. The Blackfoot [bekedelzen dene] to the southwest. The Inuit [hotena] to the north and their Dogrib [lichanghe dene] relatives to the northwest. All of these rivals skirmish with the Dene from time to time. This is what the elders tell us.
Ku dene nakorelde ha dziredil ni…The dene are in search of new hunting area a large group of Denesuline hunters travel far to the east towards Hudson Bay [tlashochogh]. The hunting party is exploring these new areas to gain new knowledge about lands they are not familiar with. Thanadeltth'er is a young lady who is part of this venture. She does her roles as one of the camp patrons very well.
This is Thanadeltth'er's story; she is in her early teens and is adept in travel with her party. She cooks with the other women who contribute their efforts for the group. Thanadeltth'er gathers small game and prepares the food that is brought to her. It is winter and travel is difficult and food is scarce.
After being out on the land for many weeks, the group encounters a band of Cree people from York Fort. They slaughter and plunder the Denesuline group, and; "Thanadeltth'er and another woman had been captured as prizes of war by the Crees" (Forster 2004, p 254). After being held captive for some time. Thanadeltth'er escapes the fort and is captured again and brought back to the fort, where; "James Knight was pleased to meet the new arrival who he could call 'Slave Woman' because she'd been held captive by the Cree" (Forster, 2004, p. 254). Here is the account from the fort's journal about how Thanadeltth'er is found; "We were hunting at Ten Shilling Creek, she came stumbling out of the woods. Fell right by our feet by the tent, she did mumbling. She's a Copper, sir. But, she speaks fair Cree" (Book, 2001, p. 64). Thanadeltth’er’s ability to speak Cree is good for her future work as in intermediary between the two adversarial tribes. Thanadeltth'er recalls this first real encounter with the first white people is like. This is what the elders tell us:
A t'oho dene beghan niya k'i, edun dene ni…the people I met were strange people, they were hairy and they lived inside this big building. I saw them go inside just like going into a cave. The came back out and they had strange clothes on. I looked into the boss man's eyes and it was just like into the eyes of a seagull, they had strange eyes, not the color of our eyes. This is how I found the white people…kant'u tthot'ine dene hul an ni. This is what the elders say.
Here Thanadeltth'er speaks about this encounter of the event. This is what the elders say. Thanadeltth'er says: that the factor had been told by the Cree that there were people who lived on the land to the northwest who are not people but bad animals. They must be killed off. Thanadeltth'er wants to make sure that her people are not killed off by the Cree as they say they would. She tells the Chief Factor Knight that she is human just as he:
Who are you? she answered in Cree. He inquired if her people were numerous and she said, there were many and are they good looking people? You see me. Do I look bad? No, you look better than these people. Well, that is how my people look (Forster, 2004, p. 256). This encounter pleases her and she is able to convince James Knight that the Denesuline tribes are good for trading with.
The year is 1714-15 and after her capture by the Cree near York Fort. Thanadeltth'er is happy with life around the fort. Her story passes from generation to generation and the old people tell it like they read it from a book, the details are vivid, colorful and enlightening around Denesuline history. In the dene language every thing is alive. A person who listens to these stories is part of the event.
Seba horelyan ni…I am glad to living in this new area, they have many nice things, knives, axes shiny little things in different colors and sticks that sound like thunder. Most of all I like this red cloth, soft and smooth in my hands. Soon, I have clothes made out of this cloth…yu delk'os ye nasdher hija ni. Thanadeltth'er is also known for her red clothes…nuhetsune yu ghan netan ni. This is what the Elders tells us.
In June 1715 Knight and Thanadeltth'er set out with a party of 150 people to travel to the far reaches of Denesuline nene. The intent is to establish new trading networks and to formally establish a peace arrangement between the Cree and the Denesuline.
Knight provided the young woman with presents to give to her people. The trip is almost aborted as many people fell sick and lack of food along the trek to the Barren lands, many turn back. Thanadeltth'er convinces a small group of Cree to wait while she tried to find her people (Forster, 2004. p. 255). The journey is long and arduous in the heart of Denesuline nene. They are out on the land and Thanadeltth'er is vainly searching for her people. Thanadeltth'er nears a camp of Denesuline. Here is what some Denesuline hunters say about this contact:
Narailze huk'e dene daghit'in nuhets'en ghedel tu naskath…we were hunting and we look across the lake and see some shapes coming towards us. We are scared and hide in the snow away from the trail. As they come closer we make out some people trekking towards us. As they are walking by us, we see one of the lead people is dressed in red clothes. It is hard for us to see who they are because they are dressed in strange clothes. Soon, we recognize Thanadeltth'er is the leader. We call out to her from our hiding spot and she responds accordingly. This is how Thanadeltth'er came back with the White people and Cree to our lands…nuheghan ninja ni. This is what the elders say. At first, the Denesuline are hesitant to have anything to do with the party and; "Thanadeltth'er again has a tough task of trying to convince her people that the Cree sincerely wanted peace" (Forster, 2004 p. 255). The Denesuline believe that peace is an avenue they must pursue with the Cree.
Knight and his group bring new trade goods to the Denesuline. The gifts such as axes to the Denesuline are very good to establish the new relationships. Elder’s say the axe story are memorable: T'at the tthel nuheghan nint’an…They liked the axes so much that they cut every tree down on the side of the hill…hok'esi hadayinla ni…just like a fire had gone through it…on the other hand, they were scared when they are shown the muskets with the loud clap of thunder. This is what the elders say.
Elders say that Thanadeltth'er finds the white people and through her Denesuline have many of the trade goods they have. It is through her efforts that peaceful relationships flourish between the two warring nations, the Cree and Denesuline.
As an intermediary, Thanadeltth'er has important roles "as an interpreter and in persuading her fellow tribesmen to come to the fort to trade despite the presence of their traditional enemies, the Cree" (Dickason, 2010 p. 83). The actions of Thanadeltth’er in creating the new relationship do not go unnoticed; "When Stuart and his party returned to York Factory on May 7, 1716, he credited the success of the mission to Thanadeltth'er, the Chief promoter and Actor" (Forster, 2004 p. 255). Thanadeltth'er is an influential woman who is ahead of her time. Her role as peacemaker and encourages business relationships is important to all parties. Through these actions, Thanadeltth'er and everyone else are winners.
She is a good businessperson and she is quick to establish these relations between the trading company and her people. "She lobbied to have her brother made a trading captain and a post opened for the exclusive use of her people. Eventually Knight agreed" (Ray, 2005 p. 84). These are the main things does.
Thanadeltth'er dies on February 1717 from an epidemic related illness. "Before her death, she trained a young company servant to be an emissary to her people by instructing him in their customs and telling him how to trade with them" (Ray, 2005 p. 84). Thanadeltth'er is a Denesuline woman who is responsible for peace between the Cree and the Dene. Her story is forever etched in the history books and dene legends. Her contribution to further the cause of trade between the Dene and the Hudson's Bay Company is also a remarkable and memorable feat for this young Denesuline woman.
She is from the heart of Denesuline territory and her action brings her fame into history almost by accident. The marauding Cree were out on one of their sojourns and came up to Thanadeltth'er and her companions. In the raid, the Cree slaughtered most of her tribe and took her hostage and enslaved her at York Fort on the Hudson Bay.
Without the forethought of Thanadeltth'er, Denesuline may have taken some more time to become trading partners with the Hudson's Bay Company. Through her perseverance peace was established between the Denesuline and their Cree enemies.
Thanadeltth'er is the first Denesuline to find the white people. That is now almost three hundred years of contact between the various nations and trade became fruitful for many Denesuline, especially; "those of the west took an active part in the fur trade from the outset, choosing to become trappers and middlemen and actively transporting furs" (Miller et al., 1992 p. 106). Thanadeltth'er is a heroine who forever deserves her part in the history books…nuhetsune hotie dene ha nezu nuni an ni. This is what the elders say. Works Cited 
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