- May 2017
Fort Simpson was originally established by the Hudson’s Bay Company at a location on the north shore of the Nass River estuary. In the summer of 1834, the Hudson’s Bay Company moved its fort to a site on the Tsimshian peninsula at McLoughlin Bay, which is now called Port Simpson, British Columbia (Patterson 1994). In 1858 and 1894, Roman Catholic missionaries reached Fort Simpson and permanently resided there. The Roman Catholic Mission provided many resources for the community, such as St. Margaret’s Hospital built in 1916 and a school in St. Margaret’s Hall built in 1917. St. Margaret’s Hall was replaced by the Federal Day School in 1974 and was run by the Federal Government. Fort Simpson is still inhabited today and is a quite popular tourist destination. It is the only village in the Northwest Territories with a population of approximately 1,250. Some people of Fort Simpson still identify as Dene. Fort Simpson is accessible via airplane or highway. The Liard Trail Highway leads to Fort Simpson from British Columbia and the Mackenzie Highway reaches Fort Simpson from Alberta. Since both of these highways pass through expanses of nature, it is possible to see black bear, moose, woodland caribou, lynx, wolves, and bison alongside the highways (Fort Simpson Chamber of Commerce n.d.).
Fort Simpson Chamber of Commerce. n.d. Fort Simpson Nortwest Territories Canada. Accessed May 8, 2017. http://www.fortsimpson.com.
Patterson, E. Palmer. 1994. ""The Indians Stationary Here": Continuity and Change in the Origins of the Fort Simpson Tsimshian." Anthropologica 181-203.
- Mar 2017
Raymond Yakaleya, speaking at Norman Wells:
On the north side of the Mackenzie Rivers in the Northwest territories of Canada, lies Norman Wells. There is a northern research station at Norman Wells. Next to the research station lies Imperial Oils, oil production facility. Raymond Yakeleya is a film director who has taken the stories of families who were forced out of their homes by Imperial Oils. Raymond Yakeleya spoke at Norman Wells on August 9th, 19575. Raymond Yakeleya was speaking on behalf of his people, the Dene people, and their opinions regarding the proposed pipeline. On this day, he expressed, how after all of the words said against the pipeline at this conference, what he is really hoping for is that the government will start to trust his people. The goal is to work as equals, to work without creating further division and separation between the people. For his people they don’t want to feel as outcasts and they don’t want to feel ashamed of who they are. They don’t want to have outsiders decide their futures anymore, they want to be able to decide their own futures, they know more about their land and should be treated as equals and not as less. He expresses that the Indian people are not fighting the white people for money but instead are fighting for their lives. The Dene people do not care about the money the pipeline will make but instead they want to know what benefit it will have for their people. They believe the pipeline will be harmful to the environment and they don’t want the pipeline to be forced upon them.
Proceedings at Community Hearing. Proceedings of Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry, Norman Wells, NWT. Vol. 21. Burnaby, BC: Allwest Reporting Ltd, 2003. 1-148. Accessed March 5, 2017. http://www.pwnhc.ca/extras/berger/report/NT%20Norman%20Wells%20Berger%20V21.pdf.
The Dene people are a part of a tribe located on the western subarctic region of Canada, where they experience harsh winters and short summers in the tundra-dominated territory. They are a part of a larger family of Aboriginal cultures known as the Athapaskan people, including the Chipewyan, Dogrib, Hare, Kutchin, Tutchone, Tahltan, Beaver, Carrier and Slavey. The word Dene in Athapaskan translates to “the people."
They rely heavily on caribou; it provides food, clothing, tools, and housing. They also hunted moose, musk-ox, rabbit, and fished to maintain their economy. However, it was not uncommon for tribe members to succumb to starvation and cold, as there was not much food in the southern region. For tribes located further west, the forests and rivers provided more opportunities for food, such as salmon.
The typical housing situation for the Dene varies, because most of the tribe members lead nomadic lives which requires materials that are easily transportable using toboggans. Housing ranged from skin-covered, dome-shaped tipis to cabins built with poles to dugout pit houses. The Dene are socially organized in small groups of families who travel together, though groups of up to 600 is known to happen. The family dynamic is traditional, where the men are the dominant figure. Though as individuals they were granted great amounts of freedom, menstruating women and girls entering puberty were forced in isolation in fear of upsetting the hunting spirits. Dene Chiefs did not reign indefinitely and were chosen based on merit and for temporary situations.
"Canada A Country by Consent: Native Peoples: Dene." Canada A Country by Consent: Native Peoples: Dene. Accessed March 06, 2017. http://www.canadahistoryproject.ca/1500/1500-11-dene.html.