The Dene Nation (prior to 1978 the Indian Brotherhood of the Northwest Territories) is the political organization that was established in 1970 to represent the Dene, or northern Athapaskan-speaking peoples and their descendants, of Denendeh, which includes the Mackenzie River valley and the Barren Grounds in the NWT, in the settlement of outstanding land and governance issues with the government of Canada.
The organization evolved in response to long-standing concerns over the written terms found in the federal government's versions of Treaties 8 and 11 signed with the Dene in 1899-1900 and 1921-22 respectively. This concern led soon after incorporation to the filing of a caveat (or legal warning to third parties) respecting continued Dene interests in lands described in these treaties. This caveat (the so-called Paulette caveat) was challenged, but in 1973 Mr Justice W. Morrow of the Supreme Court of the NWT found that certain Aboriginal rights continued to exist. Although this judgement was subsequently overturned by the appeal court on technical grounds, it led the federal government to accept that further negotiations on the Dene interests were necessary.
The Dene Nation consistently held that ABORIGINAL RIGHTS negotiations were essentially over the establishment of a political relationship between the Dene and the Canadian state: a view that was underscored by the wording on self-determination in the Dene Declaration (1975), in the preamble to a proposed Agreement-in-Principle (1976) and in evidence led at the Berger hearings on a proposed MACKENZIE VALLEY PIPELINE (1975-77). Incompatibility between this position and that of the federal government has been an ongoing concern since that time.
In 1981, the federal government and the Dene worked to negotiate an agreement with respect to nonpolitical aspects of the outstanding land issues. The government suspended negotiations with them after a resolution insisting that Aboriginal and treaty rights be affirmed in the final agreement was passed at the annual Dene Assembly in 1990. An agreement with terms similar to those negotiated in that final agreement was subsequently reached with some regions of Denendeh.
The Dene Nation has also been engaged in programs concerning Dene health, education, community development, legal issues, land and resource development and communications. The first president (now known as National Chief) of the Dene Nation was Mona Jacobs of Fort Smith in the NWT. Subsequently, Roy Daniels, James Wah-Shee, Georges ERASMUS, Stephen Kakfwi and Bill Erasmus have held the senior executive position.
Author MICHAEL I. ASCH
Links to Other Sites
Canadian Aboriginal Writing and Arts Challenge
The website for the Canadian Aboriginal Writing and Arts Challenge, which features Canada's largest essay writing competition for Aboriginal youth (ages 14-29) and a companion program for those who prefer to work through painting, drawing and photography. See their guidelines, teacher resources, profiles of winners, and more. From the Historica-Dominion Institute.
Lessons from the Land: Idaa Trail
Take a virtual tour along the Idaa Trail, a traditional canoe route of the Tåîchô (Dogrib) people in the Northwest Territories. Click on the names along the trail to learn about the history of each site. See the teachers' guide and other sections of the extensive Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre website for more information.
Encyclopedia of Canada's Peoples
The website for the "Encyclopedia of Canada's Peoples." Click on the links for feature articles about Canada's many multicultural communities, access to their extensive digital archives collection, learning modules, and much more. From "Multicultural Canada."
Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre
An extensive online information source about the history, traditions, and languages of First Nations peoples in Saskatchewan.
A superb multimedia website dedicated to native dance traditions from coast to coast in Canada. Features audio and video clips, in-depth interviews and articles for students, the image research database for scholars, downloadable resource kits for teachers, and more. Produced by Carleton University and The Sumner Group Inc., with the assistance of many other organizations and contributors.
The website for the historic Hamlet of Fort Liard.
Learn how the Dene people who lived in the Mackenzie River region assisted in the design and construction of the Canol pipeline, an essential section of the overland route used to transport oil from the Canadian north to Alaska during World War II. From the Geological Survey of Canada and the Geological Association of Canada. A PDF file.
Deh Cho Travel Connection
An extensive online guide to the Deh Cho Travel Connection, a remarkable journey through Canada’s north that traverses the Mackenzie, Liard, and Alaska Highways. Click on the links for more information about the history of the route, interactive maps, and details about local communities, parks, and wildlife. From the website for Industry, Tourism and Investment, Government of the Northwest Territories.
Tåîchô First Nation
An extensive website devoted to the Tåîchô First Nation, formerly the Dogrib First Nation. Features information about their culture, government, language, organizations, and business enterprises. Offers an illustrated history, a map of their traditional use area, an image of the Tåîchô flag, a gallery of work produced by community artists and craftspeople, and much more.
Native Communications Society of the NWT
The website for the Native Communications Society of the NWT, home of NCS TV and radio station CKLB, which broadcasts music, regional news, and current events to communities throughout the Northwest Territories.
An illustrated history of the Denesuliné (Dene) in northern Saskatchewan. Includes online copies of archival photos and related documents. From the Northern Research Portal, University of Saskatchewan Library.
Emile Petitot, Arctic Explorer and Missionary
A brief synopsis of the film "Emile Petitot, Arctic Explorer and Missionary." From the website for Shenandoah Films in the US.
Thelon Wildlife Sanctuary
An illustrated guide to the Thelon Wildlife Sanctuary, which straddles the border of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories and was established in 1927 to conserve muskox populations. From the Nunavut Parks and Special Places website.