Chipewyan people

Chipewyan people

The Chipewyan (Denésoliné or Dënesųłiné - ‘People of the barrens’, pronounced as ‘Den-a-sooth-leh-na’ in Chipewyan)[1] are a Dene Aboriginal people in Canada, whose ancestors were the Taltheilei. There are approximately 11,000 Chipewyan living in the Canadian Arctic regions around Hudson Bay, including Manitoba and the Northwest Territories, as well as northern parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan. Present-day bands exist in:


  • Athabasca Tribal Council
    • Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (Reserves: Fort Chipewyan, Chipewyan #201, 201A, 201B, 201C, 201D, 201E, 201F, 201G, ca. 348 km², Population: 934)[2]
    • Fort McKay First Nation (Reserves: Fort McKay #174, 174C, 174D, Namur Lake #174B, 174A, ca. 149 km², Population: 696)[3][4]
    • Chipewyan Prairie First Nation (Reserves: Big Horn #144A, Cowper Lake #194A, Janvier #194, Winefred Lake #194B, ca. 31 km², Population: 739)[5]
    • Fort McMurray First Nation (Reserves: Fort McMurray #468, Clearwater #175, Gregoire Lake #176, 176A, 176B, ca. 31 km², Population: 632)[6]
  • Tribal Chiefs Association (TCA)[7]
    • Cold Lake First Nations (Reserves: Blue Quills First Nation, Cold Lake #149, 149A, 149B, 149C, ca. 209 km², Population: 2.482)[8]
  • Akaitcho Territory Government (ATG)[9]
    • Smith's Landing First Nation (‘Thebati Dene Suhne’, Thebacha - ‘beside the rapids’, the Dene name for Fort Smith, Reserves and communities: ?ejere K'elni Kue #196I, Hokedhe Túe #196E, K'i Túe #196D, Li Dezé #196C, Thabacha Náre #196A, Thebathi #196, Tsu K'adhe Túe #196F, Tsu Nedehe Túe #196H, Tsu Túe #196G, Tthe Jere Ghaili #196B, ca. 100 km², Population: 324)[10]


  • Keewatin Tribal Council[11]
    • Barren Lands (Brochet) First Nation (Reserve: Brochet #197, ca. 43 km², Population: 1,021)
    • Northlands (Lac Brochet) Dene First Nation (also known as Northlands Denesuline First Nation, Reserves and communities: Lac Brochet #197A, Sheth chok, Thuycholeeni, Thuycholeeni azé, Tthekalé nu, ca. 22 km², Population: 1,005)
    • Sayisi Dene First Nation (formerly known as ‘Duck Lake Dene’[12], Reserve: Churchill #1, ca. 2 km², Population: 729)

Northwest Territories:

  • Akaitcho Territory Government (ATG)
    • Deninu Kue First Nation (‘Deneh-noo-kweh’ - ‘People of moose Island’, formerly known as ‘Fort Resolution Dene’, Reserve: Fort Resolution Settlement[13], Population: 843)
    • Lutsel K'e Dene First Nation (Lutselk'e ‘Loot-sel-kay’ - ‘place of the Łutsel-fish’, formerly known as ‘Snowdrift Band’, Reserve: Snwodrift Settlement, Population: 725)
    • Salt River First Nation #195 (Reserves: Fort Smith Settlement, Salt Plains #195, Salt River #195, Fitzgerald #196 (Alberta), ca. 230 km², Population: 879)


  • Meadow Lake Tribal Council (MLTC)[14]
    • Buffalo River Dene Nation (the reserve is about 84 km northeast of Île-à-la-Crosse, Reserve: Buffalo River Dene Nation #193, ca. 83 km², Population: 1,234)[15]
    • Clearwater River Dene Nation (most populous reserve Clearwater River is about 24 km east of La Loche, Reserves: Clearwater River Dene #222, #221, #223, La Loche Indian Settlement, ca. 95 km², Population: 1,691)
    • English River First Nation (English River First Nation is located at Patuanak, and signed under Chief William Apesis Treaty 10 in 1906, the name originates from the English River where the poplar house people ('Kés-ye-hot!ínne') inhabited the area for periods during the year, formerly the reserve was known as Grassy Narrows reserve, most families, which now reside in Patuanak, had traditionally lived down river at Primeau Lake, Knee Lake and Dipper Lake, Reserves: Patuanak, Cree Lake 192G, Porter Island 192H, Elak Dase 192A, Knee Lake 192B, Dipper Rapids 192C, Wapachewunak 192D, LaPlonge 192, ca. 200 km², Population: 1,414)[16][17]
    • Birch Narrows First Nation (located at Turnor Lake, most populous Reserve #193B about 124 km northeast of Île-à-la-Crosse, the reserve originated from Treaty 6 in 1906, Reserves: Churchill Lake #193A, Turnor Lake #193B, #194, ca. 30 km², Population: 670)
  • Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC)[18]
    • Black Lake Denesuline First Nation (located at Black Lake, most populous reserve Chicken #224 about ca. 170 km southeast of Uranium City, formerly known as ‘Stony Rapids Band’, Reserves: Chicken #224, #225, #226, ca. 322 km², Population: 1,984)
    • Hatchet Lake Denesuline First Nation (also known as Lac la Hache Denesuline First Nation, located at Wollaston Lake, ca 354 km north of Flin Flon, Reserve: Lac la Hache #220, ca. 110 km², Population: 1,607)
    • Fond du Lac Denesuline First Nation (located at Fond-du-Lac, most populous reserve Fond Du Lac#227 east of Lake Athabasca, Reserves: Fond Du Lac #227, #228, #229, #231, #232, #233, ca. 368 km², Population: 1,805)


Historical Chipewyan Regional Groups

The Chipewyan moved in small groups or bands, consisting of several extended families, alternating between winter and summer camps, hunting, trapping, fishing and gathering in the Taiga and around the many lakes of their territory. Later with the emerging North American fur trade they organized themselves into several major regional groups in the vicinity of the European trading posts, in order to control as middleman the carrying trade in furs and the hunting of fur-bearing animals - the new social groupings also enabled the Chipewyan to dominate their Dene neighbors and to better defend themselves against their rifle armed Cree enemies, who were advancing to the Peace River and Lake Athabasca.

  • Kaí-theli-ke-hot!ínne (‘willow flat-country up they-dwell’, lived on the western shore of Lake Athabasca at Fort Chipewyan, their tribal area extended northward to Fort Smith on Slave River and south to Fort McMurray on Athabasca River)[19]
  • Kés-ye-hot!ínne (‘aspen house they-dwell’ or ‘poplar house they-dwell’, lived on the upper reaches of the Churchill River, along the Lac Isle à la Crosse, Methye Portage, Cold Lake, Heart Lake and Onion Lake - the tribal name is probably a description of adjacent Chipewyan groups for this major regional group and takes literally reference on at Lac Isle à la Crosse established European trading forts, which were built with Poplar or Aspen wood)
  • Hoteladi (‘northern people’ lived north of the Kés-ye-hot!ínne between Cree Lake, west of Reindeer Lake on the south and on the east shore of Lake Athabasca in the north)
  • Hâthél-hot!inne (‘lowland they-dwell’, lived in the Reindeer Lake-Region, witch drains south into the Churchill River)
  • Etthen eldili dene (Etthén heldélü Dené, Ethen-eldeli - ‘Caribou-Eaters’), lived in the Taiga east of Lake Athabasca far east to Hudson Bay, at Reindeer Lake, Hatchet Lake (also Axe Lake), Wollaston Lake and Lac Brochet
  • Kkrest‘ayle kke ottine (‘dwellers among the quaking aspens’ or ‘trembling aspen people’, lived in the boreal forests between the Great Slave Lake in the south and Great Bear Lake in the north)
  • Sayisi Dene (or Saw-eessaw-dinneh - ‘people of the east’, traded at Fort Chipewyan, their hunting and tribal areas extended between Lake Athabasca and Great Slave Lake, and along the Churchill River)
  • Gáne-kúnan-hot!ínne (‘jack-pine home they-dwell’, lived in the taiga east of Lake Athabasca and were particularly centered along the eastern Fond-du-Lac)
  • Des-nèdhè-kkè-nadè (Desnedekenade, Desnedhé hoæé nadé hoþünö - ‘people along the great river’, were also known as Athabasca Chipewyan, lived between Great Slave Lake and Lake Athabasca along the Slave River near Fort Resolution (Deninoo Kue - 'moose Island')
  • Thilanottine (Tu tthílá hoþünö - ‘those who dwell at the head of the lakes’ or ‘people of the end of the head’, lived along the lakes of the Upper Churchill River area, along the Churchill River and Athabasca River, from Great Slave Lake and Lake Athabasca in the north to Cold Lake and Lac la Biche in the southwest)[20]
  • Tandzán-hot!ínne (‘dwellers at the dirty lake’, also known as Dení-nu-eke-tówe - ‘moose island up lake-on’, lived on the northern shore of Great Slave Lake and along the Yellowknife River, and before their expulsion by the Tłı̨chǫ along Coppermine River - were often regarded as a Chipewyan group, but form as Yellowknives historically an independent First Nation and called themselves T'atsaot'ine


Historically, the Denesuline were allied to some degree with the southerly Cree, and warred against Inuit and other Dene peoples to the north of Chipewyan lands.

An important historic Denesuline is Thanadelthur ("Marten Jumping"), a young woman who early in the 18th century helped her people to establish peace with the Cree, and to get involved with the fur trade (Steckley 1999).

The Sayisi Dene of northern Manitoba are a Chipewyan band notable for hunting migratory caribou. They were historically located at Little Duck Lake, and known as the "Duck Lake Dene". In 1956, government relocated them to the port of Churchill on the shore of Hudson Bay and a small village north of Churchill called North Knife River, joining other Chipewyan Dene, and becoming members of "Fort Churchill Dene Chipewyan Band". In the 1970s, the "Duck Lake Dene" opted for self-reliance, a return to caribou hunting, and relocated to Tadoule Lake, Manitoba, legally becoming "Sayisi Dene First Nation (Tadoule Lake, Manitoba)" in the 1990s.[21]


Denesuline (Chipewyan) speak the Dene Suline language, of the Athabaskan linguistic group. Dene Suline is spoken by those First Nations members whose name for themselves is a cognate of the word Dene ("people"): Denésoliné (or Dënesųłiné).

The name Chipewyan is, like many people of the Canadian prairies, of Algonquian origin. It is derived from the Plains Cree name for them, Cīpwayān (ᒌᐘᔮᐣ), "pointed skin", from cīpwāw (ᒌᐚᐤ), "to be pointed"; and wayān (ᐘᔮᐣ), "skin" or "hide" - a reference to the cut and style of Chipewyan parkas.[22] Many Chipewyan believe that the name is derogatory.

Despite the superficial similarity of the names, the Chipewyan are not related to the Chippewa (Ojibwa) people.

Notable Chipewyan


Further reading

  • Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. Footprints on the Land: Tracing the Path of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. Fort Chipewyan, Alta: Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, 2003. ISBN 0973329300
  • Birket-Smith, Kaj. Contributions to Chipewyan Ethnology. Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1930.
  • Bone, Robert M., Earl N. Shannon, and Stewart Raby. The Chipewyan of the Stony Rapids Region; A Study of Their Changing World with Special Attention Focused Upon Caribou. Mawdsley memoir, 1. Saskatoon: Institute for Northern Studies, University of Saskatchewan, 1973. ISBN 0888800037
  • Bussidor, Ila, Usten Bilgen-Reinart. "Night Spirits: The Story of the Relocation of the Sayisi Dene." University of Manitoba Press, March 16, 2000. (Memoir of a Dene Woman's experiences in Churchill, Manitoba.)
  • Clayton-Gouthro, Cecile M. Patterns in Transition: Moccasin Production and Ornamentation of the Janvier Band Chipewyan. Mercury series. Hull, Quebec: Canadian Museum of Civilization, 1994. ISBN 0660140233
  • Cook, Eung-Do. 2006. The Patterns of Consonantal Acquisition and Change in Chipewyan (Dene Suline). International Journal of American Linguistics. 72, no. 2: 236.
  • Dramer, Kim, and Frank W. Porter. The Chipewyan. New York: Chelsea House, 1996. ISBN 1555461395
  • Elford, Leon W., and Marjorie Elford. English-Chipewyan Dictionary. Prince Albert, Sask: Northern Canada Evangelical Mission, 1981.
  • Goddard, Pliny Earle. Texts and Analysis of Cold Lake Dialect, Chipewyan. Anthropological papers of the American Museum of Natural History, v. 10, pt. 1-2. New York: Published by order of the Trustees [of the American Museum of Natural History], 1912.
  • Grant, J. C. Boileau. Anthropometry of the Chipewyan and Cree Indians of the Neighbourhood of Lake Athabaska. Ottawa: F.A. Acland, printer, 1930.
  • Human Relations Area Files, inc. Chipewyan ND07. EHRAF collection of ethnography. New Haven, Conn: Human Relations Area Files, 2001.
  • Irimoto, Takashi. Chipewyan Ecology: Group Structure and Caribou Hunting System. Senri ethnological studies, no. 8. Suita, Osaka, Japan: National Museum of Ethnology, 1981.
  • Li, Fang-kuei, and Ronald Scollon. Chipewyan Texts. Nankang, Taipei: Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica, 1976.
  • Lowie, Robert Harry. Chipewyan Tales. New York: The Trustees, 1912.
  • Paul, Simon. Introductory Chipewyan: Basic Vocabulary. Saskatoon: Indian and Northern Education, University of Saskatchewan, 1972.
  • Scollon, Ronald, and Suzanne B. K. Scollon. Linguistic Convergence: An Ethnography of Speaking at Fort Chipewyan, Alberta. New York: Academic Press, 1979. ISBN 0126333807
  • Shapiro, Harry L. The Alaskan Eskimo; A Study of the Relationship between the Eskimo and the Chipewyan Indians of Central Canada. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1931.
  • Sharp, Henry S. Chipewyan Marriage. Mercury series. Ottawa: National Museum of Canada, 1979.
  • Sharp, Henry S. The Transformation of Bigfoot: Maleness, Power, and Belief Among the Chipewyan. Smithsonian series in ethnographic inquiry. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1988. ISBN 0874748488
  • VanStone, James W. The Changing Culture of the Snowdrift Chipewyan. Ottawa: [Queen's Printer], 1965.
  • Wilhelm, Andrea. Telicity and Durativity: A Study of Aspect in Dëne Sųłiné (Chipewyan) and German. New York: Routledge, 2007. ISBN 0415976456

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Chipewyan language — Chipewyan Dene Suline ᑌᓀᓱᒼᕄᓀ Dëne Sųłiné Spoken in Canada Region Northern Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba; southern Northwest Territories and Nunavut …   Wikipedia

  • Chipewyan — /chip euh wuy euhn/, n., pl. Chipewyans, (esp. collectively) Chipewyan for 1. 1. a member of a North American Indian tribe that inhabits northwestern Canada between Hudson Bay and the Rocky Mountains. 2. the Athabaskan language spoken by the… …   Universalium

  • Chipewyan — n. Native American people comprising of numerous independent bands who live in a large area of north west Canada; member of this people n. Athabaskan language spoken by the Chipewyan people …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Chipewyan — or Chipewayan [chip′əwā′ənchip΄ə wī′ən] n. [Cree ochiipwayaaniiw, lit., one who has pointed skins or hides: prob. in allusion to the Chipewyans style of hunting shirts] 1. a member of a North American Indian people of NW Canada 2. the Athabaskan… …   English World dictionary

  • Chipewyan — The Chipewyan ( Denésoliné or Dënesųłiné ) are a Dene Aboriginal people in Canada, whose ancestors were the Taltheilei. There are approximately 11,000 Chipewyan living in the Canadian Arctic regions around Hudson Bay, including Manitoba and the… …   Wikipedia

  • Chipewyan — Die Chipewyan (engl. Aussprache: ‘Chip uh WHY an’), Denesuline (auch Denésoliné, Dënesųłiné ‘Volk des kargen, öden Landes’, sprich ‘Den a sooth leh na’ in Chipewyan, engl: Aussprache: ‘Dene su lee neh’)[1] oder einfach Dene (sprich: ‘den ay’)… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Chipewyan — [ˌtʃɪpə wʌɪən] noun (plural same or Chipewyans) 1》 a member of a Dene people of NW Canada. Compare with Chippewa. 2》 the Athabaskan language of the Chipewyan. Origin from Cree, lit. (wearing) pointed skin (garments) …   English new terms dictionary

  • Chipewyan — Chip•e•wy•an [[t]ˌtʃɪp əˈwaɪ ən[/t]] n. pl. ans, (esp. collectively) an. 1) peo a member of an American Indian people of subarctic Canada, living in scattered communities from Hudson Bay W to Great Slave Lake and NE Alberta 2) peo the Athabaskan… …   From formal English to slang

  • Chipewyan — noun 1. a member of the Athapaskan people living in western Canada between Great Slave Lake and Hudson Bay • Hypernyms: ↑Athapaskan, ↑Athapascan, ↑Athabaskan, ↑Athabascan 2. the language spoken by the Chipewyan • Syn: ↑Chippewyan, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • Fort Chipewyan, Alberta — Hamlet of Fort Chipewyan   Hamlet   Aerial view of Fort Chipewyan …   Wikipedia