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First Nations/Great Slave Lake
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A Chipewyan Woman.
National Archives of Canada / C-061630

Traditional Tribes of Great Slave

Chipewyan (Denesuline)
• East Arm of Great Slave Lake, in areas of Lutsel K’e, the Taltson and Thelon Rivers. Historical territory stretched as far west and south as northern Saskatchewan and northeastern Alberta.
Athapaskan-speaking.
Caribou hunters.
Name means “pointed skins,” referring to the cut of their tunics, which had a long dangling tail.
Suffered devastating smallpox epidemic in 1781, in which 90% of the population died.

Tlicho Transition
A new government in an ancient land: an historic vote held by members of the former Dogrib Treaty 11 (current band members and descendants of Treaty residents) in June of 2003, has ratified the “Tlicho Agreement,” a far-reaching land claims and self-government document that recognizes the rights and lands of the Tlicho people and establishes an official Tlicho Government.

The Tlicho lands cover a 39,000 square kilometre area north of Great Slave Lake, including part of the lake’s North Arm, and the First Nations communities of Gameti, Rae, Wah Ti and Wekweti.

Following ratification, the agreement must be signed by the Grand Chief and Executive of the Dogrib Treaty 11 council and voted on by the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Parliament of Canada.

The new Tlicho Government is intended to replace the Dogrib Treaty 11 council, and former band councils. Its Constitution is designed to protect the rights of Tlicho citizens, and to protect Tlicho heritage, language and culture. According to the Tlicho agreement, Tlicho citizens are to be given employment opportunities relating to their heritage in Northwest Territory museums, heritage projects and archeological work, and Tlicho heritage resources are to be returned where possible.

Yellowknife (T’atsalt’ine)
East side of north shore of Great Slave Lake, north to Great Bear Lake.
Also known as “Copper Indians” and “Red Indians,” after their copper-handled knives.
Decimated by disease, survivors believed to have been absorbed into Chipewyan Nation.
Athapaskan-speaking.
Caribou hunters. Travelled far into tundra to hunt.

Dogrib (Tlicho)
On western north shore of Great Slave Lake and north to Great Bear Lake (present-day communities of Rae-Edzo, Whati, Rae Lakes, Snare Lake; Yellowknife Dene (Dogrib heritage) now live in the communities of N’dilo and Dettah near city of Yellowknife.
Caribou hunters. Known for sophistication of caribou skin lodges.
Athapaskan-speaking.

Slavey (Deh Gah Got’ine)
West and south of Great Slave Lake to Mackenzie River (Deh Cho) to Liard River. (Present-day communities include Fort Smith, Jean Marie River, Wrigley.)
Name is translation of derogatory Cree word, “awokanak” or “awonak,” referring to the Slavey’s mild-mannered lifestyle. Regarded as weak by other tribes, but also feared for their reputation as skilful magicians.
Fishers and moose hunters.
Athapaskan-speaking.

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