Native Studies Paper on the Dene People

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Running Head: THE DENE PEOPLE OF NORTH AMERICA! 1 THE DENE PEOPLE! 2 Abstract The Dene are a First Nations culture with a unique set of values and principles often not shared by the popular culture of the countries in which they reside. They believe in harmony between all living things of this world as well as the spirit world. Like all aboriginal tribes of the Americas, their culture has been irreparably bruised by the coming of other peoples, yet at the core of their history are the indisputable teachings of how to live a life that is good. In order to live harmoniously with one another, other cultures need to understand the Dene people in their own terms, and not in a way that compares their culture to other. THE DENE PEOPLE! 3 The Dene People of North America The Dene people are a group of Aboriginal nations residing in North Western Canada and the South Western United States who are part of a larger group of Aboriginal nations. This larger category of nations, so named for the language they speak, are called Athabaskan people. Beneath the Dene umbrella are nations of Dogrib, Chipewyan, south and north Slavey, and Gwich’in of northern Canada; and the Navajo of the South Western United States (Ryan, 1). The Word Dene literally means “people”, and the area they have always occupied in the Northwest Territories, Denendeh, was appropriately named to mean “land of the people” (“Welcome to the Dene Nation”, 2012) It is difficult to speak of one aspect of Dene culture without speaking of all others. Their history, spiritual beliefs and political values are all intertwined. The Dene have always had strong ties to each other, to animals, to the earth and to the spiritual world. The belief is that we are equal to all these things. It is at the Dene core to rely on one another for community, animals and land for sustenance and shelter, and the spirit

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