Liidlii Ku First Nation

The Liidlii Ku First Nation (LKFN) people have their offices in Fort Simpson.  The Dehcho First

Liidlii Ku First Nation office building

Nations (DFN) is the tribal council for the  Dene and Métis of the 9 communities in the Dehcho Region, including the Liidlii Kue First Nation.

They are:
o Deh Gah Gotie Dene Council (Fort Providence)
o Fort Providence Métis Council
o Kaa’a’ge Tu First Nation (Kakisa)
o Sambaa K’e Dene Band (Trout Lake)
o Liidlii Kue First Nation (Fort Simpson)
o Métis Nation Local 62 (Fort Simpson)
o Tthek’ehdeli First Nation (Jean Marie River)
o Naha Dehe Dene Band (Nahanni Butte)
o Kátlodééche First Nation (Hay River Reserve)
o Pehdzeh Ki First Nation (Wrigley)
o West Point First Nation (Hay River).¹

The Dene are the aboriginal people of a large area of northern Canada—-from Hudson’s Bay to the interior of Alaska, and the northern part of the western provinces to the Arctic Ocean.  Dene literally means ‘flow from mother earth”, so the Dene people flow from Mother Earth and are a people of the Creator and Creation.²

HISTORICALLY

Historically, the Dene and Inuit were the first two peoples to live in the Canadian north after the ice age.  The Dene have predominantly settled south of the Arctic Ocean, and the Inuit predominantly live in Nunavut, Northern Quebec (Nunavik), Labrador, and parts of the Northwest Territories.³  Over the centuries, the Dene have evolved into distinct tribal groups with their own language and customs, although all the languages are part of the Athapaskan language group.  Interestingly enough, the Navaho in the southern United States of America share the same base language and are believed to be a Dene tribe that ventured south centuries ago.

Traditionally, the Dene were a people of the boreal forest and great northern rivers.  They were accomplished hunters and travelled by snowshoe in winter, and birchbark or sprucebark canoes in summer, although some built mooseskin boats.  The rivers have always been the highways of the Dene, and today the modern road system includes ferries and ‘winter roads’ built on the rivers themselves.

The Dene traditionally hunt moose, caribou (woodland and barren ground), black bear, geese, ducks, grouse, ptarmigan, beaver, smaller game and fish.  They traveled their traditional hunting grounds following traditional routes. Historically, they packed everything they needed to survive on their backs and hunted with snares—even caribou were hunted with snares and bush traps.  Dogs were used as pack animals, but after the coming of the Europeans dogsleds became more popular.

Ancestors of the present day Dene lived in skin tents constructed of hides over a framework of poles.  The Sahtu and Slavey Dene often built log huts in winter, or built semi-subterranean houses of sod and logs.  They lived in extended family groups which made survival in the harsh northern climate easier. With the change of season, the various family groups would once again set out across the land following the migration or taking advantage of spawning fish.  As a result, the families would meet and there was feasting, dancing and drumming.  Young people would meet, and matches would be made and the cycle of life continued.

Liidlii Ku/Fort Simpson was one of the traditional meeting places for families in the spring and fall.  Later, the Europeans would take advantage of this natural meeting place by establishing a trading post, then churches and schools.  Today, it is a village and the cultural and political centre of the Dehcho Region.

If the history of the Dene interests you, you may enjoy The Book of Dene, published by the Programme Development Division, Department of Education, Government of the Northwest Territories. This book is a compilation of the Book of Chipewyans, Book of Tlinchodene, Book of Gahchodene, and Book of Gwichin.

“These books are the books of Dene.  In them are the histories, tales and traditions of the Dene.  In them is contained the wisdom of the Dene.  Just as in the bible you will find the histories, tales and traditions of the people of Israel as told by Moses and other storytellers, so in the book you will find the histories, tales and traditions of the Dene as told by Dene a hundred years ago.  They were spoken to a priest called Emile Petitot (1838 – 1916) who wrote the words down in the Dene language.” -Forward of The Book of Dene.

THE DENENDEH

There are five tribal groups of Dene that have evolved into what is now referred to as the “Denendeh” which means “the Creator’s Spirit flows through this Land”.²   These five tribes have evolved their own language and customs and are the:
o   Gwich’in in the Mackenzie Delta Region,
o   North Slavey in the Sathu Region,
o   South Slavey in the Dehcho Region,
o   Chipewyan in the South Slave Region, and the
o   Dogrib in the North Slave Region.

The heart of the Dehcho Region is Liidlii Ku/Fort Simpson and it is the cultural and political centre of the Dene who live here.

¹ Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.

² The People of the Deh Cho

³  Aboriginal Peoples and Communities  

 LINKS

Dene Stories

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Angela About Angela

Hi, I am Angela Fiebelkorn, President of the Fort Simpson Chamber. You can contact us at fscofc@gmail(dot)com or call 867-695-6538.