Dene Ts’ı̨lı̨ – We Are Dene
The history of the Dene people around this huge lake called Sahtú (Great Bear Lake) goes back for thousands of years. The people here are defined by our stories passed on orally for generations.
We call ourselves Sahtúgot’ı̨nę, people of Great Bear Lake. We are related to the Tłı̨chǫ̨got’ı̨nę (Dogrib people), K’áshógot’ı̨nę (Hare people), and Shúhtagotı̨nę (Mountain people) of the Central Mackenzie Valley in the Northwest Territories, and we maintain strong ties with our neighbouring relatives.
We are participants in the Sahtú Dene and Métis Comprehensive Land Claim, signed in 1993. There are some 2,800 registered as beneficiaries in the whole settlement area. Sahtúgot’ı̨nę beneficiaries number about 900, and about half of that number speak their language in their everyday lives.
Edırı nę́nę́ is our concept for what is called “the land” in English. This term encompasses the ecological, historical, cultural and spiritual aspects of the land. History tells us that those that survived on the land with their families maintain strong ties that enable them to understand their ancestors’ relationships with the land, water and wildlife.