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Chipewyan [archive]

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Chipewyan (chi-pah-way-en) is a Cree word describing their pointed hats or clothing. Dene (den-ay) or Dene suline are also used as names refering to Denendeh meaning "Spirit that flows through this land from the Creator". They also refer to themselves as Ethen-eldeli, or caribou-eaters.


Northern Saskatchewan from Lake Athabasca (west) to Wallaston Lake (east)


Athabasca Region: Fond-du-Lac, Hatchet Lake, Black Lake, Stony Rapids First Nations; Churchill River Basin: Buffalo River, English River, Birch Narrows, and Clearwater River First Nations.


Tundra-forest, sub-arctic, rocky landscape with sparse vegetation and small variety of animal life.


Canadian Athabascan group, related to the Navajo language family


The Chipewyan, or Denesuline, practice traditional survival techniques and traditions. These include hunting available game, tea dances, feasts, and so forth. The Denesuline are also well known for their artistic crafts made from animal hides and birch bark, as well as their talent for music and other arts.

Dene Laws:

he importance of sharing is emphasized in this culture. According the Dene Cultural Institute, sharing constitutes practices that include helping with workload to looking after one another. Love, peace, and community are all central themes to a Dene's way of life.


Written history of the Chipewyan can be traced back to the establishment of trade with European fur settlers as far back as 1716, after establishing some peace with the Cree, who fought the Chipewyan for fur hunting territory. The Chipewyan historically occupied the Manitoba Hudson Bay Area to the Slave River, but have spread throughout Canada for various reasons.


The Dene are estimated to have inhabited the Northwest territories since the Ice Age, because of oral histories referring to a time of only winter.

Additional Reading

 Chipewyan Language
 Dene Words
 Chipewyan Stories
 First Nations of Canada

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