spiritual connection between the life force of man and
animal was very essential.
The men thought this spiritual connection lead them to
the animals and the animals reciprocated by allowing themselves
to be approached by the hunters and give their lives.
The Dene people practiced the right way of living on the
land, because there is a strong belief; if the rules are
broken, the animals would be upset and they would take
themselves away from the Denesuøine
and they would starve. There were many gifted and powerful
medicine people in Dene society, but two brave men stand
out more than others. It is not appropriate to tell stories
about these spiritual men unless a person is in the position
to do so with all the accurate details of their life,
certainly a woman is not allowed to speak of them however,
the literal translation of their Dene names can be provided.
These two men were ¿enekwi
¿edeøkal and setsié
¿egor, the meaning of these names in English
are ¿enekwi ¿edeøkal,
meaning, " one who flies as the Eagle" and Setsié
¿egor, meaning "grandfather, caribou
hip joint". These Indian names were given according
to reputation, personality, trait or appearance, the children
were closely observed during childhood and then an elder
relative would give the person his or her name. The Denesuøine
believed in the importance of a name. They believed that
a name gave a person character and that that person must
live up to the meaning of the name chosen for them in
their culture. Power was acquired at the metaphysical
level. A medicine man or women was chosen through a repetition
of dreams and in dreams they were honoured to represent
their people as shamans.
The person was given the choice to follow or to say no,
it was rare for a person to decline such an offer unless
he/she was advised otherwise, because it was believed
that in refusing you could offend the spirit sent to you
as a guide to help you. Medicine "fighting"
was rare among the Dene people, but was certainly known.
There are different kinds of medicine people, there is
the jester for instance; one who would walk around only
in the summer and cure people with different herbs and
plants. He/she would dress up in caribou hides and dance
around the camp and look for people to cure. The gifted
person could perform at a tea dance or at a hand game
gathering. A young woman at their time of puberty was
not allowed to look at the jester, her power could weaken
the medicine and cause sickness in the community. The
prophet was another medicine specialist; who could see
into the future and warn the people of coming events.
The people depended on him in harsh times because he led
the hunters to the caribou. Even when game was scarce,
he warned the people about what he saw in his dreams of
harsh winters, and enemies. These prophets could even
call the lost soul of a person so he/she could find their
way back to the people. The medicine men and women acquired
special gifts through dreams and with the aid of an animal
helper, called "Ük'qzé"
meaning the" next dimension or a shadow". It
has been told that the chosen people had to overcome many
obstacles once he/she has decided to take on the gift
followed by isolation of fasting and chant prayer to locate
the animal aid. This was to purify the soul and body in
preparation for vision quests spiritual travel and to
become acquainted with the other side.