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Chippewa and Chipewyan Indians
Ojibwa. Bands of this immense tribe extended from Lake
Nipissing westward along the north shore of Lake Superior, and in
later times they settled in southern Manitoba, in the northern part
of the present States of Minnesota and North Dakota and along the
southern shore of Lake Superior. The Saulte Ste. Marie was
considered by them their ancient center of dispersion. Northward
they reached the upper course of Albany River. (See
Chipewyan. From a Cree word meaning "pointed
skins," referring to the pointed parkas or shirts which they wore.
|Montagnais, French name.
Mountaineers, English name.
Yatcheé-thinyoowuc, Cree name, meaning "strangers."
Connections. The Chipewyan formed a dialectic
division of the Athapascan linguistic stock.
Location. The boundaries of this group of Indians have
changed considerably but in general their territory lay north of
Churchill River, between Great Slave Lake and Slave and Athabaska
Rivers on the west and Hudson Bay on the east.
|The principal subdivisions seem to have been
|Athabaska, between Lake Athabaska and Great
Slave Lake and in the territory eastward.
Desnedekenade, along Slave River, near Fort Resolution.
Etheneldeli or Caribou-Eaters, mainly about Lakes Caribou,
Axe, and Brochet.
Thilanottine, in later times on the shores of Lacrosse Lake
and between Cold Lake and Fort Locha.
|The Tatsanottine or Yellow
Knives, sometimes considered a subdivision, Jennees (1932)
believes to have been independent. It is doubtful whether
the distinction represented by these divisions was more than
temporary. (See the section on History.)
History. Petitot (1876 a) states that the
Chipewyan tribe was living on Peace River in 1718, that after the
Cree had obtained guns they drove the Etchaottine or Slaves from
their hunting grounds along Slave River, but that they were attacked
in turn by the Chipewyan and expelled from the country, the
Chipewyan taking their places. Jenness wholly discredits this
tradition, however, and gives the following summary of events
bearing on the relative position of Chipewyan and Cree tribes during
this period: He thinks that when the fur-trading posts were
established on Hudson Bay the Chipewyan already occupied the country
from the Great Slave Lake and Lake Athabaska eastward:
. . . but that the intense fusion resulting from the fur trade
obliterated the old subdivisions into tribes or bands and broke down
also dialectic differences. Then the Cree pushed northward and
seized the country between Lake Athabaska and Great Slave Lake [the
Slave River], driving the Beaver up the Peace River [the Beaver and
Cree together driving the Sekani into the Rockies] and confining the
Chipewyan or Northern Indians to the territory designated by Hearne.
Then came the smallpox epidemic that decimated both Cree and
Chipewyan, but particularly the Cree, who were forced to withdraw a
little from Chipewyan territory, allowing the latter to reoccupy
Lake Athabaska, the Slave River, and the southern and eastern shores
of Great Slave Lake, though a few Cree still lingered on Lake
Athabaska and on the Slave River. This was the condition in
Mackenzie's day, who defines the territory of the Chipewyans as
extending from 100°-110° W. by 60°-65° N., although his unpublished
MS. and that of Roderic Mackenzie make them the principal
inhabitants of Lake Athabaska, especially its eastern end. The
establishment of posts on Lake Athabaska broke the Chipewyans up
into two groups, an eastern that still traded at the posts on Hudson
Bay, and a western that traded at Lake Athabaska. Subsequently the
Cree recovered a little and penetrated this western country in
greater numbers, so that today there are practically no Chipewyans
near the Mackenzie River except at Fond du Lac, at the east end of
Lake Athabaska, and at Fort Resolution and around the south shores
of Great Silver Lake. Slave River is occupied by Cree, as is also
Fort Chipewyan; and the Cree dwell all along the Peace River up to
Peace River Landing, and have a large colony at Hudson Hope. [Jenness.]
The Athabaska division consisted simply of those Chipewyan who chose
to trade at Lake Athabaska. The Athabaska or "Athapuskow" Indians of
Hearne (1795) were Cree.
Population. Alexander Mackenzie (1801) estimated that there
were about 400 Athabaska Chipewyan, and Mooney (1928) that there
were 3,500 Chipewyan in all, including 1,250 Caribou-eaters, in
1670. In 1906 there were 2,420, of whom 900 were Caribou-eaters.
Connection in which they have become noted. From one of their
Chipewyan bands, the Athabaska, has come the term Athapascan
selected by Powell (1891) for the designation of the linguistic
stock to which the Chipewyan belong, although, curiously enough, the
name does not appear to be Athapascan at all.
The Indian Tribes of North of America, by
John Swanton, 1953