Thanadelthur

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Thanadelthur
Born c. 1697
Canada
Died 5 February 1717
York Factory, Manitoba
Cause of death Fever
Nationality Chipewyan
Occupation Interpreter

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

Life[edit]

Thanadelthur is thought to have been born during 1697. In early 1713, died because of fever party of Dënesųłı̨ne 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 24 November 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 Dënesųłı̨ne (Chipewyan) and the Cree. 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 Dënesųłı̨ne (Chipewyans) and the Cree.[1]

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 Dënesųłı̨ne (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 Dënesųłı̨ne (Chipewyans) to spend the winter at the company factory.

A promised trading post in the Dënesųłı̨ne (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. Knight said of her: “She was one of a very high Spirit and of the Firmest Resolution that every I see in any Body in my Days and of great Courage.”[1]

Legacy[edit]

The Dënesųłı̨ne (Chipewyans) are a national group that is a member of a much larger ethnographic na-dene 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. In comparıson, her story ıs of legends ın the Denesųłı̨ne language. Reference to thıs says, she was our grandmother who brought the Cree and Dënesųłı̨ne together ın peace.

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 recognized Thanadelthur as a national historic person of Canada.[4][5]

In Popular Media[edit]

Thanadelthur is portrayed as a leading character in the James Archibald Houston's novel Running West, 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.[6]

Canadian musician Mike Ford recorded the song "Thanadelthur" on his second album Canada Needs You.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Thorman, G. E., Thanadelthur, 2, retrieved 8 October 2015 
  2. ^ a b "Our History: People: Women: Thanadelthur". HBC Heritage. Retrieved 8 October 2015. 
  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. ^ Thanadelthur National Historic Person. Directory of Federal Heritage Designations. Parks Canada.
  5. ^ Forster, Merna (2004). "Thanadelthur: A Priceless Prize or War". 100 Canadian Heroines: Famous and Forgotten Faces. Toronto: Dundurn Press. pp. 254–256. ISBN 1-55002-514-7. Retrieved 25 January 2010. 
  6. ^ Houston, James Archibald (1989). Running West. Crown. ISBN 978-0-5175-7732-5. 
  7. ^ "Canada Needs You (Volume One) CD". Maple Music. Retrieved 8 October 2015.