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Thanadelthur (c. 1697—February 5, 1717) was a woman of the Chipewyan nation who served as a guide and interpreter for the Hudson's Bay Company. She was instrumental in forging a peace agreement between the Chipewyan and the Cree people.


Thanadelthur is thought to have been born during 1697. In early 1713, a party of Chipewyans were attacked by Crees and, among at least three women, Thanadelthur was captured. After spending the winter with their Cree captors, Thanadelthur and another woman escaped and attempted to rejoin their people. Cold and hunger prevented them from doing so, however, and the two endured a year of hardship until Thanadelthur's travelling companion died. Five days later Thanadelthur was discovered by goose hunters from the Hudson's Bay Company.

She reached the safety of York Factory, Manitoba on November 24, 1714. At this time, James Knight, a director of the Hudson's Bay Company, was seeking a native interpreter to help convince the Cree to allow other northern Indians to reach bay side trading posts in order to trade furs with his company. The Cree now were armed with firearms that they had obtained from Europeans, objected to the attempts to invade their tribal territory, and posed a significant hindrance to the lucrative trade the company wanted to conduct.

In 1715, Knight enlisted the aid of Thanadelthur to forge a peace agreement between the Chipewyan and the Cree.[1] On June 27 of that year, Thanadelthur, along with one hundred and fifty Cree and one Englishman, William Stuart, embarked on the mission to make peace between the Chipewyans and the Cree.

Thanadelthur was given many gifts by Knight to present to her people. After much persuasion, the two groups agreed to make peace and Knight was overjoyed.[1][2][3]

Initially, Knight intended to provide safe passage for Thanadelthur and the Chipewyans so that they could return to their home country in 1716. A harsh winter and an enduring fear of bands of Cree who had not been parties to the peace agreement prevented this, however, and caused him to allow the Chipewyans to spend the winter at the company factory.

A promised trading post in the Chipewyan lands had not been built and Thanadelthur's next mission from Knight was to return to her home country and assure her people that the post eventually would be built. Before that could be accomplished, however, she died of a fever on February 5, 1717.[4]


The Chipewyans are a national group that is a member of a much larger ethnographic group whose culture is identified as the Dene, by anthropologists. The legacy of Thanadelthur has survived in the oral traditions of the Dene people and in the records of the Hudson's Bay Company. This later recognition and inclusion in historical records created by the trading company is a rare occurrence for a native person, even if she remained unnamed in documents: when her travels were recorded, she was identified repeatedly as the 'Slave Woman'. Her name has survived to be included in modern histories by means of records retained by the native tribes.

The lasting peace agreement honed by Thanadelthur paved the way for expansion of the Hudson's Bay Company farther north and led to further integration of the arriving Europeans into the tribes of the native Indians.[1][2]

In 2000, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada recognised Thanadelthur as a national historic person of Canada.[5][6]

Fictional portrayals[edit]

Thanadelthur is portrayed as a leading character in the James Archibald Houston's novel Running West, 1989, along with William Stewart and James Knight. The novel traces her life from the time she is captured and enslaved by Cree Indians, through the journey from York Factory to the land of the Dene, and their return.


  1. ^ a b c Thorman, G. E. (1994). "Thanadelthur". Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online (Toronto: University of Toronto Press). ISBN 0-8020-3998-7. Retrieved 2010-01-25. 
  2. ^ a b Hudson's Bay Company (2010). "Our History: People - Thanadelthur". Retrieved 2010-01-25. 
  3. ^ Van Kirk, Sylvia (1983). Many tender ties: women in fur-trade society, 1670-1870. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. p. 68. ISBN 0-8061-1847-4. Retrieved 2010-01-25. 
  4. ^ Schaubs, Michael (2009). "Thanadelthur". Retrieved 2010-01-25. 
  5. ^ Government of Manitoba (n.d.). "Rearview Manitoba: Thanadelthur". Retrieved 2010-01-25. 
  6. ^ Forster, Merna (2004). 100 Canadian heroines: famous and forgotten faces. Toronto: Dundurn Press. pp. 254–256. ISBN 1-55002-514-7. Retrieved 2010-01-25.