History, Culture and Language of Délı̨nę

History, Culture and Language of Délı̨nę

History, Culture and Language of Délı̨nę
History of Délı̨nę

The Sahtúot’ı̨nę are intrinsically linked to the Sahtú (Great Bear Lake). Their creation stories and history are written on the very Land whose name they identify with. Traditionally, Dene family groups lived in and travelled around each part of the Sahtú and its Watershed area. These founding families became known as the Sahtúot’ı̨nę (the people of Great Bear Lake). The Sahtúot’ı̨nę are the only people to have lived in and around the Sahtú, which is nearly 32,000 km2. Over time, the family groups of the Sahtú came together and settled in what is now ‘Délı̨nę’ – meaning “where the water flows”. To this day, Sahtúot’ı̨nę still remain connected to their traditional territories where they frequent to harvest, and heal. This strong connection to Land has been credited for the strong Culture, Language, and Spiritually of the Sahtúot’ı̨nę that has stood the test of time.

Today, the Sahtúot’ı̨nę live in Colville Lake, Délı̨nę, Fort Good Hope, Norman Wells and Tulı́t’a which form the Sahtú Region of the NWT. Although there are close interrelationships among these communities, they are culturally, linguistically and spiritually distinct.

The Sahtúot’ı̨nę speak a Dene dialect known as Sahtúot’ı̨nę Kǝdǝ́, which is also one of the official languages of the Déline Got’ı̨nę Government.

The Sahtúot’ı̨nę have a rich and vibrant culture. A strong connection to the land and to oral histories and traditional knowledge is important to the Dene, as well as to many Indigenous peoples. Délı̨nę has become an important place for cultural, spiritual and social gatherings.

Fur traders established posts in this area as early as 1799. Délı̨nę also served as the winter quarters for Sir John Franklin’s second Arctic expedition in 1825. According to his diaries, Franklin’s men would spend their leisure time playing games on the ice with skates and sticks similar to modern day hockey. For this reason, Délı̨nę is known as the birthplace of ice hockey.

Near Délı̨nę you'll also find Saoyú-ʔehdacho National Historic Site. Made up of two peninsulas on Great Bear Lake, Saoyú-ʔehdacho is the largest National Historic Site in Canada and is jointly administered by Parks Canada and the Délı̨nę Got’ı̨nę Government. The peninsulas are sacred, spiritual places and are very important to the Sahtúot’ı̨nę (“the people of the Sahtu”). It's through this land, and the stories that surround it, that Elders in Délı̨nę pass on the history, laws, values and skills critical to their way of life.

Délı̨nę Got’ı̨nę Government