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image_caption =Dane-zaa chief and family, Peace River area Alberta, 1899, Glenbow Museum
Total population
Regions with significant populations
 Canada ( Alberta,
 British Columbia)
English, Danezaa
Christianity, Animism
Related ethnic groups
Tsuu T'ina

The Dane-zaa (ᑕᓀᖚ, also spelled Dunne-za, or Tsattine), historically referred to as the Beaver tribe by Europeans, are an Athabaskan-speaking groups of First Nations people. Their traditional territory is around the Peace River in Alberta and British Columbia, Canada. Today, about 1,000 Dane-zaa reside in British Columbia and perhaps half of them speak the Danezaa language. Approximately 2,000 Dane-zaa live in Alberta.


The name Tsattine has been translated to "Those who live among the beaver." The spelling Dane-zaa is typically used for "the Real People." That spelling is used by the Dane-zaa Language Authority.[1] Different tribes and First Nations use different spellings. For example, the Doig River First Nation (DRFN) and Halfway River First Nation (HRFN) use Dane-Zaa. Prophet River First Nation (PRFN) uses Dunne Tsaa; and the West Moberly First Nations (WMFNs) use Dunne-za or Dunne Za. Where other spellings are used in citations, such as Dunne-Za (e.g., Ridington 1988), they are kept intact and are synonymous with Dane-zaa.

The historic usual English term Beaver is a translation of the name used by several of their neighboring tribes. the Dakelh called them Tsattine / Tsat'en and the Plains Cree called them Amiskiwiyiniw, both meaning "Those who live among the beaver" or "Beaver People." In French, they are known as the Gens de Castor, meaning "People of the Beaver."


Dane-zaa (Beaver) women and children in front of their tipi, 1899

Prior to the 19th century, the Dane-zaa inhabited lands further east, near the Athabaska and Clearwater Rivers, and north to Lake Athabaska, as well as territory north of the upper Peace River (called Saaghii Naachii, meaning "big river," by them). Archaeological evidence establishes that the area of Charlie Lake north of Fort St John has been continuously occupied for 10,500 years by varying cultures of indigenous peoples.

In the late 18th century, European-Canadians opened the Peace River area to fur trading. The Cree, a powerful people to the east of the Dane-zaa, became dependent on European goods provided by the North West Company traders, who later amalgamated with the Hudson's Bay Company). Scots-Canadian explorer Alexander Mackenzie (explorer) established Rocky Mountain Fort at the mouth of the Moberly River in 1794.

According to Dane-zaa oral history, the Peace River is named for the settling of a conflict between the Dane-zaa and the Cree. The Cree traditionally lived south and east of the Upper Peace River region. Due to their trade with settlers, they had guns and they pushed the Dane-zaa northwest in the late 18th century. A peace treaty, negotiated in the late 1700s or early 1800s, stated that the Cree would south of the Peace River, and the Dane-zaa north.[2] The Peace River, before and after its new name, marked a boundary zone, where groups met for trade, celebration, and settling of disputes.

A post journal of 1799–1800 mentions people trading at the post who can be identified as the ancestors of members of the former Fort St John Band, now the Doig River and Blueberry River First Nations. Doig oral history confirms that the ancestors of present Dane-zaa families were in the upper Peace River area prior to first contact by Alexander Mackenzie in 1793. Traders provisioned their expeditions with bison meat and grease provided by the Dane-zaa in their hunting on the rich prairies of the upper Peace River area. By the time the Hudson's Bay Company took over the North West Company in 1823, bison were scarce.

Traditionally, Dane-zaa have followed the teachings and songs of their Dreamers, who first predicted the coming of the Europeans. The last Dreamer, Charlie Yahey, died in 1976.

The Dane-zaa of Fort St John took an adhesion to Treaty 8 in 1900. Today they continue to have a strong cultural and economic presence in the North Peace area.

Danezaa governments[edit]

Dane-zaa tipi in winter near Peace River, Alberta, 1899

Treaty 8 Tribal Association[edit]

Treaty 8 Tribal Association members:[3]

North Peace Tribal Council (NPTC)[edit]

North Peace Tribal Council members:[7]

Western Cree Tribal Council[edit]

External links[edit]