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Article: The Structure Of The Denes¶øiné Nation

At one point in history, The Dene were a strong and great nation with an autonomous identity. There were many of them, and they traveled back and forth through out the vast area of what is now the Northwest Territories, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta. Europeans would change that forever with boundaries. The Dene people were nomadic and traveled freely. They lived in various groups, large or small. The leader was chosen by their great hunting skills. The elders were the advisors and people lived as one with the land.

The lives of the Dene people were shaped and governed through the spiritual forces of their environment. The social structure was communal and collective. The political structure of the Dene people is as ancient as the land, rock, water and the everlasting sky. They believe the Creator left them in charge of the land and water to the Northern Hemisphere and took care of it for many years. They know every river bend and very trail. There is a common understanding among the Dene through one common language that consists of several dialects. The Dene language is part of the Athabaskan language group. In spite of these small barriers the people lived collectively and respected one another. In compiling information of ethnology on the Dene people of the Athabaskan region we can not separate it from ethnohistory because oral history is what the Dene people use to explain their existence. It is not a new innovation but rather an old ethnology unto itself. The ethnohistorical approach will be utilized as a means for identifying social, cultural and political structure of the Dene people. The method of measurement integrates generalized ethnographic observations with the oral and written history of the people. In Saskatchewan there is a comparison between two regional populations of Dene groups: One group, who reside in Northern Saskatchewan, and the other toward the northern tip of the Churchill River or sometimes called the Northwest Dene.

Athabasca Region:
The northern Athabasca basin accommodate four Dene bands known as "Etthén heldélü Dené" (caribou eaters). Their territory is located in Northern Saskatchewan from Lake Athabasca (west) to Hatchet Lake (East). Fond Du Lac (Ganü kóö), Black Lake (Tazen Tuwé) and Stoney Rapids (Deschaghe) which are all located close to the border of the Northwest Territories, whereas Hatchet Lake (tthöø tuwé) is toward the southeast of the province.

Churchill Region:
The northwest to the Churchill River basin accommodate the remaining four groups of the Denesçøiné people of Saskatchewan, These are Buffalo River (Ejeredesche), English River(Bqnücvere), Birch Narrows (Tatthüka Tuwé), and Clearwater River ( Tth®tél haze tuwé).

In the past, the Dene occupied the territory within the forest - tundra margin, west of Hudson Bay and in to the Slave River. The Dene knew no boundaries then and every one lived freely and followed the Caribou migration pattern in the winter and fished along the Great Lakes during the summer. The Dene organizational structure consists of human dynamics and patterns of adaptation. We will examine human diversity and life ways within the environment based upon a society's mobility, technology, specialization, social differentiation and behavioral variables. The cultural difference of the four Dene tribes is unique but they share many cultural values and assumptions with the Inuit from the Arctic Circle. The two tribes continued a way of life that has remained similar for thousands of years.