to a Dene lady, Lucy Robillard, the people believed that
death was as important as birth. In traditional times
the Dene put all of the deceased's belongings together
and burned them. Today this is still practiced to a certain
extent. There was a strong belief in reincarnation and
that dead relative’s spirits could be reborn in
another life so they can continue to remain among the
people. There was a belief that if a person completed
all the tasks here on the physical plane then we need
not return unless very close ties were left on Earth.
Death was welcomed at old age and the elders begin to
prepare themselves for the next life. Dene people lived
as one with the land and they practiced the life cycle.
The museums have kept the animal skin pieces that our
grandmothers made and depended upon for clothing, tools
and shelter. It will never be known about the accurate
details because there is not any recorded information
available at our disposal, at least from the Dene perspective.
Western society was most interested in the customs and
manner of dress than in the individuals. They tell us
that the Dene women of the past were content to stand
in the shadow of a man. Oral tradition reveals that they
commanded a respect that would be the envy of our modern
supporters of women's rights. It is true that the coming
of the Europeans drastically altered the lifestyles of
Today under the impact of these new laws and economic
changes, the Dene women became very private people attempting
to regain their traditional tasks, which seems to be invisible
to the mainstream of Canadian society. It is with tremendous
hope that this information will help in answering some
questions that the children of Indian ancestry may have
about their culture.