History of Indigenous Peoples

Dene Cultural Institute Newsletter

This article came in on my watch, so I'm taking care of passing it on.
I held it for a while to enable me to communicate with Petr and with
Preston Hardison, who operates the INDKNOW list, where this newsletter
is also regularly posted. My own feeling is that we should avoid having
the same newsletters go to a number of mailing lists on related subjects,
and that we should in general strive for working relationships with each
of the mailing lists and archive sites dealing with any aspect of the
lives and cultures of indigenous peoples, just to avoid duplication of
effort. I hope in the coming weeks in months to establish these kinds
of cooperative relationships. Meanwhile, Petr wanted this newsletter to
go out to NATIVE-L, and I am hereby obliging him. I'll pass on subscrip-
tion instructions for INDKNOW and other mailing lists as soon as possible
and I'll try to put a policy into place by then that tries to limit this
sort of duplication. --Gary (gst@gnosys.svle.ma.us) ]

Here's the July newsletter. For back issues, drop me an email.

-- ================================================================= Petr Cizek pcizek@acs.ucalgary.ca Research Director Dene Cultural Institute Box 570 Hay River, Northwest Territories, Canada X0E 0R0 Tel. (403) 874-8480 Fax. (403) 874-3867 Mod. (403) 874-3965 =================================================================


The Dene Cultural Institute Quarterly is published four times a year in the Northwest Territories. No part of the Quarterly may be reproduced by any means without written permission of the publisher. Please address all correspondence of whatever type to P.O. Box 570, Hay River, N.W.T., X0E 0R0. Telephone: (403) 874-8480, FAX (403) 874-3867.


Traditional Knowledge Policy New Healing Facilitator Story by Rene Fumoleau Visitor Centre Activities A Non-Dene View Project Highlights Backtalk


The Dene Cultural Institute is pleased to acknowledge a generous contribution from the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation of Toronto towards the Traditional Governance Project being conducted in Rae Lakes.

This research project, started last year, will make a valuable contribution to creating a better understanding of the traditional governing systems of the Dogrib peoples at a time when "self-government" talks are the order of the day.

The Foundation's support, together with support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Departments of Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs, Education, Culture and Employment, Indian Affairs, and the Treaty 11 Dogrib Tribal Council will enable project partners to conduct the research over a three-year period.

Joanne Barnaby


Since last issue, our circulation increased by over 1000 subscribers without printing any additional copies. An electronic version of the Quarterly is now being distributed through the Indigenous Knowledge, Native, and Polar mailing lists on the InterNet.

We received many positive comments in response to April's issue through electronic mail from around the world. Some of these notes are reprinted in the Backtalk section.

The Institute's Traditional Knowledge database will continue to grow as new research projects are undertaken. A lands and resources project has been started with Trout Lake and a health and wellness project is being discussed with Colville Lake.

There is a critical need to communicate this storehouse of information effectively to both Dene and non-Dene audiences. The Institute's efforts to develop computer networking and information systems will ensure that Traditional Knowledge is readily available throughout Denendeh and around the world.

Petr Cizek


I enjoyed the SAD dialogue and would hereby like to formally request permission to make use of that excerpt for my post-grad classes in interviewing skills (the 'How not to do it' section!).

Dr. Andre C. Fiedeldey Dept. of Psychology, University of Pretoria Republic of South Africa

Greetings (Ya'at'eeh),

I came across your newsletter I wondered if these Dene are related to the Dineh of the southwest.

I grew up on the Navajo Nation (Shiprock, New Mexico) where my family raised me in a traditional Navajo (Dineh) lifestyle (herding sheep, farming, etc.). Now, I have my doctorate from the University of California in zoology.

I have experienced tremendous changes in my life going from one cultural lifestyle to another. For many of my Navajo (Dineh) peers and my mentors, this was a very difficult transition and some had negative effects like alcoholism result from this change. Balancing tradition and culture with the outside society is possible.

So, I am encouraged for the future of the American Indian in the U.S. because of their desire to advance their education. I hope the Dene in your country are also growing strong.

Until next time (Ha'goo'nee),

Wilfred F. Denetclaw Jr., Ph.D.

Thank you for sending me a copy of your April 1994 issue, which I read with keen interest.

Frederick Helleiner, Ph.D. Department of Geography, Trent University

Thank you for sending me a copy of the Traditional Medicine Report. The Medicine report is easily readable and not difficult to understand. We need to continue to create reports like this to educate not only our own people but also other Canadians.

Ethel Blondin-Andrew, P.C., M.P. Secretary of State, Training and Youth

A letter and information package on the Dene Cultural Institute Healing Program has been received and appreciated. As Medical Director of the Inuvik Region, I am convinced that so many of our stitches, cast, bandages, and most of the hurting and grief will only be eliminated through individual and community healing processes like you propose.

C.W. MacNeil, M.D. Medical Director, Inuvik Regional Health Board

I just received and enjoyed your excellent April issue of the Quarterly. It was forwarded to me by the Editor of Caribou News whom I had asked to put you on the distribution list for Caribou News.

Gunther Abrahamson Secretary-Treasurer Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board


Although the Government of the Northwest Territories sought Elders' advice, their recommendations were not incorporated into the final Traditional Knowledge Policy tabled before the Legislative Assembly on November 30, 1993.

The Elders Gathering on Traditional Knowledge in Fort Providence, October 12-14, 1993, unanimously passed a resolution urging the Government to consider the following points before finalizing its Traditional Knowledge Policy:

1. Definition of Traditional Knowledge: Knowledge and Values which have been acquired through experience, observation from the land, or from spiritual teaching, handed down from generation to generation.

This definition has been only partly incorporated into the GNWT Traditional Knowledge Policy. The Traditional Knowledge Policy continues to criticize the use of a broad definition, as adopted by the Traditional Knowledge Working Group. The definition suggested by the Elders only appears in an appendix at the end of the document.

2. To sponsor annual Territorial Elders Conferences that focus on specific Traditional Knowledge subjects and that are designed to meet practical needs of northern communities and Government. These conferences should be attended by youth delegates as part of the effort to increase the interest of youth in Traditional Knowledge.

Instead of undertaking to sponsor annual Territorial Elders Conferences, the GNWT only intends to "consult with territorial elders and youths on specific subjects."

3. To add cultural organization representation on the Co-ordination Committeeto provide a link between Elders and Government.

The GNWT is still unwilling to allow cultural organizations to be members of this committee. As concessions, the GNWT only offers opportunities for consultation and reviews of workplans.

4. To allocate new and significant financial resources for Traditional Knowledge research, recognizing the urgency of documenting this critical knowledge before it dies with our Elders.

No new resources are to be made available. The GNWT only intends to "reprofile" grants and contributions to give priority to Traditional Knowledge.

5. Consistent with the stated support for current Elders Councils, to provide operational support to these Councils.

No resources are to be made available for Elders Councils. However, the GNWT concedes that it will "review existing councils and their current mandates and funding sources available to them." The only significant new resources will be made available for a Traditional Knowledge Co-ordinator within the Department of Renewable Resources. This money could probably be spent more usefully on direct Traditional Knowledge research and education.

6. To increase support to Traditional Knowledge education programs both within and outside the formal school system.

In a positive move, the GNWT does make a commitment to increase support to the Traditional Knowledge programs both within and outside the formal school system.

7. To adopt the principle that Government programs, services, institutions, and laws should be administered in a manner consistent with the beliefs, customs, values, and languages of the people being served.

There is no mention of adopting this principle. In fact, the statements criticizing the broad definition of Traditional Knowledge, which encompassed "the use of [traditional] knowledge to develop culturally-appropriate ways of governing", indicate that the GNWT is extremely reluctant to apply Traditional Knowledge to issues of governance.

8. To assist the Government with understanding the full extent of how Traditional Knowledge can be used in Government services, we attach an overview of examples presented by Elder Elizabeth MacKenzie of Fort Rae.

GNWT does not appear to have noted these examples, as the only examples of using Traditional Knowledge are related to environmental management. However, no reference whatsoever is made to other applications of Traditional Knowledge.

Giving the Department of Renewable Resources the lead role in implementing this policy may reinforce the perception that Traditional Knowledge only encompasses Traditional Environmental Knowledge. Implementation of the policy should rest with Intergovernmental and Constitutional Affairs to ensure that Traditional Knowledge is recognized and used in all Departments of the GNWT.

Supporting provision of northern cross-cultural orientation and training programs by aboriginal cultural organizations is a new and positive element. The statements about developing research protocols and examining legislation regarding intellectual property rights are also positive steps.

The Institute hopes that the Government will be open to strengthening this policy over time. We will continue to offer our assistance in doing so.

Joanne Barnaby and Petr Cizek


Tansi Ahmeen!

I came to work for the Dene Cultural Institute on May 2, 1994 as a workshop facilitator with the Healing Program Team. Since then I've been occupied with reading reports to familiarize myself with the customs, culture and traditions of the Dene people, and visiting with the people of other communities. For one two week period I stayed in Wahti (Lac La Martre) where I met and talked with the people, consulted with the Elders, and formulated plans for future healing workshops to be delivered in that community.

The visit was also rewarding since Wahti is so very picturesque. It is nestled on the shore of turquoise-colored Martin Lake, fringed by the dark green of the spruce trees and the lacy, lighter green of the willows. The air feels and smells, clean. There, people are unhurried and friendly, especially the children who visited each day, teaching me the Dogrib language.

Since arriving in Hay River nine months ago, my perception of life in the NWT has changed dramatically! I came from Bonnyville, Alberta where I worked as an Addictions Counsellor and the Cultural Coordinator with the Bonnyville Indian Metis Rehabilitation Centre. While in Nechi Training in 1988 - '91, I became acquainted with a few people whose homes are in the NWT, who invited me to "Come see for yourself!". Having had adventure instilled in me at a young age by my father, I accepted the challenge and here I am!

My youngest son, Shayne, and I have made our home on the Hay River Reserve; convenient to work and surrounded by bush. The bush is comfortable and familiar to us both since our lives have been lived primarily in the bush and on the farm in north-central Alberta.

Although my family, including my children, my four sisters, five remaining brothers, their families, and my mom are scattered throughout Alberta from Drumheller to Lac La Biche and everywhere inbetween, we strongly support each other in life's challenges and maintain close contact. I support the principles of unity and equality among all peoples and biological family is where it all begins, especially since my family is comprised of Anishinawbe, Ukrainian, Saulteaux, Polish, Cree, Germanic, Scottish and more. We are mixed blood, Warriors of the Rainbow - and, what a beautiful rainbow we make!

Over fifteen years ago I stepped out of the fog of alcohol and drug addiction and onto the good, "Red Road of Recovery" and the Twelve Step program of A.A. Since then, I've never looked back and have become a "student" in my culture, attending cultural activities as far distant as Montana. To further enrich my cultural knowledge, I plan to travel to Siberia in September to visit with the indigenous people of that country.

What I am learning from my Elders is exciting, fulfilling and encouraging - that we are all one. As Black Elk said: "...And I saw that the sacred hoop of my people was one of many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight, and in the centre grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all the children of one mother [Mother Earth] and one father [the Creator or God]. And I saw that it was holy."


All my relations

Louise Pozdzik


Learning about "culture" as a dynamic and evolving force,which is capable of gaining strength and fashioning the future, is a fascinating thing--even on paper. However, culture is "a way of life". While there is something to be gained from the school style of learning, I have always tried to keep in mind that it is definitely some steps away from knowing. In my case, those steps were some 5000 km from Denendeh at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario.

I received an NSTP (Northern Scientific Training Program) grant, which covered my transportation and living expenses so that I could have the experience of volunteering with an organization like DCI for one month.

My own work involved helping distribute the DCI Quarterly through the InterNET to be read all over the world, printing and binding two editions of newsletters, a directory of indigenous peoples projects in environmental protection and resource management in the Americas, and a booklet on DCI facility planning. I also helped draft a proposal about community health and wellness for an upcoming project in Colville Lake, NWT. As well, I worked on some profiles of Hay River Dene artisans.

I have learned a great deal from all of these things and am very grateful for having the opportunity to work with DCI and live in the Hay River community. Certainly one of the most special things about being here has been talking with people in the community and elders like Daniel Sonfrere.

While the north is a vast land, it is certainly not sparse in stories and spirit. I hope that I may have the good fortune to return so that I will learn more about what fills this special space of Denendeh.

Heidi Lescanec


by Rene Fumoleau

In honour of the Queen's visit to the Northwest Territories this August, we are pleased to resent Father Rene Fumoleau's recollections about the last Royal Visit to Yellowknife in 1970. - Ed.

In 1670, the British Crown granted to the Hudson's Bay Company some monopoly rights over the Northern part of America. Those "rights" were relinquished in 1870 to the three-year old Canada. Obviously, both transactions overlooked the rights of the Aboriginal Nations which had occupied that land for thousands of years.

Unconcerned about how the Aboriginal Nations called their land, the Canadian Government named it the Northwest Territories. Colonial powers relate to everything from their own location, which they consider to be the centre of the world.

In 1970, the Northwest Territiories' Centennial Year, Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, and Princess Anne visited Frobisher Bay, Inuvik, Fort Smith, and Yellowknife.

On July 8, from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. in Yellowknife, a stylish dinner gathered for the Queen and the Duke, the Minister of Indian Affairs and Madame Chretien, and everybody who was somebody.

To ensure that all bodies who were nobodies could somehow join in that day's celebrations, a barbeque was organized from 9:15 to 10:35 p.m. at popular McNiven beach, then not yet polluted. Hundreds of people converged to the beach to have a glimpse at Prince Charles and Princess Anne, and to dine on free hamburgers and corn on the cob.

I stood on the beach, munching my corn and talking with Marie Caijon, when I noticed Prince Charles walking towards us.

I stepped a few feet aside and Charles and Marie faced each other:

"Where are you from Madam?"

"I'm from Yellowknife."

"How long have you been here?"

"I'm a Dene, I've been here all my life."

Marie pointed her cob at the prince:

"And you, what's your name?"

"My name is Charles."

"And where are you from?"

"I am from London, madam."

"How did you get here?"

"I flew from London to Montreal, thence to Frobisher Bay and to Yellowknife"

"Are you going to stay here?"

"No madam, I am here only for three days."

"Where will you go from here?"

"I will go back to London."

"How will you go back?"

"I will fly from here to Edmonton and to London."

"You're going to fly again, all the way back?"

"Yes, madam."

"Gee, you must be rich!"


CANMORE, Alberta -- Dene Elder Pat Bugghins came from his homeland to meet golden eagles on their journey north.

"There aren't as many as there used to be up home, so I came here to pray for them", he said before participating in a sacred ceremony honouring the powerful birds.

Sitting in a circle around an open fire, in air sweetened by burning sage, cedar, sweetgrass, and fungus, Bugghins chanted in Dene, the native language of his home in Hay River, NWT.

"Down here, the eagle feather is as sacred as our drum. I like that." he said.

Bugghins was one of about 20 Indians gathered on a sunny hillside near Canmore to pray for the protection of the golden eagles that migrate through the area on their way from Mexico to the Arctic.

Calgary Herald, April 1994

Pat Bugghins is a member of the Denendeh Elders Council - Ed.


Our staff has been busy setting up the Centre for Dene and non-Dene visitors. So far this season, we have had visitors from Singapore and Israel, as well as people from throughout Canada and the United States.

Our most eventful day was when an Elderhostel group arrived in July. Senior citizens came to experience Dene culture and traditional ways. They marvelled at our Elder, Ann Buggins, as her expert hands demonstrated bannock making. They appreciated hearing Hay River Reserve resident Leon Fabien tell stories about the way we used to live. We also had local artisan and fellow staff member, Elsie Bugghins demonstrate beading, which included a hands-on segment where the visitors made their own beadwork.

After the demonstrations and story-telling, the visitors sat down to a delicious snack of bannock, tea, and watermelon.

The Visitor Centre houses an arts and crafts display and offers many free tourist and cultural pamphlets. All of the Institute's research reports and publications are available for sale. Tours of the Hay River Dene Reserve can be arranged with advance notice.

Keep your ears open and let us know of anyone who would like to come down to the Centre and share their knowledge of our Culture. Or just drop by to have a coffee and enjoy the peaceful surroundings of the Hay River. Our Centre hours are 11 am to 5 pm and phone number is 874-8480. Flory Lawrence or Elsie Bugghins will be pleased to see you.

Flory Lawrence


"Traditional Dene Justice" "The Traditional Dene Justice research report confirms that the Dene, long before the arrival of the Europeans, had laws and a system of justice that worked. What is most interesting is the detail provided by the elders about what these laws were and how they were enforced. The report is frank and speaks of the difficulties that face the community of Lac La Martre today." Stephen Kakfwi


"Indigenous and Western Knowledge and Resource Management Systems" This report describes current ideas about Traditional Ecological Knowledge and how native peoples conserve and manage their lands and natural resources. Traditional knowledge and traditional resource management systems are compared to Western scientific models and the outlook for effective co-management is discussed. The four co-authors have worked with aboriginal communities across Canada, as well as Australia.


"Five Year Plan 1993-1998" The Five Year Plan provides an overview of the Institute's work since 1988 and describes its plans for the next five years. Its purpose is to guide the Institute's activities in promoting and and protecting Dene Culture. The Five Year Plan is lavishly illustrated with archival photographs of Dene and their traditional activities.


"Dehcho"- "Mom, we've been discovered!" "Alexander Mackenzie came to our land. He described us in his Journal as a 'meagre, ill-made people with scabby legs'. My people probably wondered at this strange, pale man ..." - Stephen Kakfwi


"When The World Was New" "Fort Franklin Elder George Blondin has written down the treasured stories of his people -- tales handed down over the campfire for countless generations. Here are the medicine heroes, hunters and healers who have forged Dene History - from the time of Raven, trickster and shapechanger, and the great lawgiver Yamoria ..."


"Those Who Know" "The elders in Those Who Know, like hundreds across the nation, continue lives that preserve in whole or in part, the ways of their ancestors. These people lead the most spiritual of lives. The thirty-one profiles here are about people who have lived every kind of life - on the trapline, in the army, in a camp on the move, in jail, in residential schools, on the reserve." $16.95

"Lore" LORE is the outcome of an International Workshop hosted by the Dene Cultural Institute in July of 1990. It examines the process of collecting traditional knowledge while using a community based approach. It explores some of the means by which this knowledge can be integrated with Western science to improve methods of natural resource management. $15.00

"Traditional Dene Environmental Knowledge" A Report on the Research conducted in Fort Good Hope and Colville Lake, N.W.T. between 1989 and 1993, this 300-Page document explains how to research and record Dene knowledge. It contains a lot of very valuable information on four animal species as well as the traditional rules and beliefs about how to use our natural resources wisely.


"As Long As This Land Shall Last" This book is the first complete documentation of Treaties Eight and Eleven between the Canadian Government and the Indian people during the turn of the Century. Non-native people took to themselves the privileges of ownership of land with no regard to the Indian Claim and to the promise made to the Indians that they could live and hunt there "as long as this land shall last".


Souvenir Spoons & Pins with Dene Cultural Institute Logo

$5.00 each

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