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Welcome to the official website of the Dene Nation, also known as the Athapaskan peoples. The Dene Nation is a political organization in Denendeh, meaning "The Land of the People", located in Northwest Territories, Canada. The Dene Nation covers a large geographical area — from present day Alaska to the southern-most tip of North America.





Participants gather at the Dene National Assembly held in Fort Good Hope, Denendeh on July 12-16, 2010 to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Dene Nation. Drum dances lasted into the night. It was not unusual to watch the sun rise as people began leaving the event. At these Dene gatherings, drummers provide the foundation for everyone to join in the dancing.



The Dene Nation has existed for over 30,000 years, with one language and many dialects: Gwich'in; Sahtu; Deh Cho; Tlicho; and, Akaitcho. The Dene have always been sustained by the land and all that it has to offer.



George Mackenzie of Behchoko, Denendeh, explains the signs made with the hands during a round of Dene Handgames. The demonstration was given at the Aboriginal Pavilion in Vancouver, British Columbia during the 2010 Winter Olympics when the Dene Nation was asked to host "Dene Nation Day" as part of its 40th Year Celebration.




Elder Mary Wilson of Fort Good Hope, Denendeh, wrote the following excerpt on the nation of Dene:



“In the past, the Dene of the five tribes were scattered because they lived on the land to make their living and some still do. But as time changed so did the lifestyle of the people. They began to feel the pressures from developments surrounding them. So they decided to join and form an organization. That’s how the Dene Nation came to be.


In the year of 1969, the Indian Brotherhood was formed in the Northwest Territories. This is a political organization to represent the Treaty Indians of the five tribes: Dogrib, Chipewyan, Southern Slavey, Northern Slavey and the Loucheux. By researching Treaties #8 and #11 signed by the Federal Government on land claims and protection of Aboriginal rights.


In 1975, they declared themselves to a nation within Canada with the right to self-determination, changing their name from Indian Brotherhood of the Northwest Territories to Dene Nation, as it is called today, to represent all Dene and their descendants of the five tribes. At this time a more comprehensive land claims negotiations team was formed. Today we are still fighting for the rights to our land and resources, as negotiations goes on”.



**NOTE: Written Verbatim — (word-for-word from original source); date unknown.




Gwich'in flute player William Greenland demonstrates the music of two flutes at the annual Dene Nation BBQ held in Samba'Ke (Yellowknife), Denendeh on June 17, 2011.



Dene youth from Kaleme Dene School in Ndilo, Denendeh listen and enjoy the two different styles of Mr. Greenland's performance.

Back Row: Johnny Jr. Martin, Frank Betsina, Walter Johnson-Black, Raya Laframboise, Karla Franki, Trisha Sangris and Laveena Black

Front Row: Brent Betsina



For an historical overview of both the Indian Brotherhood of the Northwest Territories and the Dene Nation, visit our History page.



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