The French-speaking missionaries to the northwest of the Red River Colony referred to the Chipewyan people as Montagnais in their documents written in French. Montagnais (in French) therefore has often been mistakenly translated to Montagnais (in English), which refers to the Montagnais (Innu language) of northern Quebec and not the Dene (Chipewyan people).
There are also many Dene (Denesuline)-speaking Métis communities located throughout the region. The Saskatchewan village of La Loche, for example, had 2300 residents who in the 2011 census identified as speaking Dene (Denesuline) as their mother tongue. About 1800 of the residents were Métis and about 600 were members of the Clearwater River Dene Nation.
The Denesuline people are part of many band governments spanning Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and the Northwest Territories.
Northlands First Nation also known as Northlands Denesuline First Nation. Reserves and communities: Lac Brochet (Dálú tué), Lac Brochet #197A, Sheth chok, Thuycholeeni, Thuycholeeni azé, Tthekalé nu, ca. 22 km². Population: 1,024
Clearwater River Dene Nation (Tı̨tëlase tué) Its most populous reserve Clearwater River borders the village of La Loche to the north. Reserves: Clearwater River Dene Nos. 222, 221, and 223, La Loche Indian Settlement ca. 95 km². Population: 1,844
English River First Nation with offices at Patuanak signed Treaty 10 in 1906 under Chief William Apesis. The name originates from the English River where the "poplar house people" (Kés-ye-hot'ı̨në) inhabited the area for periods during the year. Most families, who now reside in Patuanak (Bëghą́nı̨ch'ërë) and La Plonge 192 by Beauval had traditionally lived down river at Primeau Lake, Knee Lake and Dipper Lake. Reserves: Cree Lake No. 192G, Porter Island No. 192H, Elak Dase No. 192A, Knee Lake No. 192B, Dipper Rapids No. 192C, Wapachewunak No. 192D, LaPlonge No. 192, ca. 200 km². Population: 1,475
Birch Narrows First Nation (K'ı́t'ádhı̨ká ) located at Turnor Lake, most populous Reserve No. 193B is about 124 km northeast of Île-à-la-Crosse, the reserve originated from Treaty 6 in 1906, Reserves: Churchill Lake No. 193A, Turnor Lake Nos. 193B and 194, ca. 30 km². Population: 719
15 communities in Canada with Denesuline populations. Flashing dots are villages with over 1,000 speakers.
The Chipewyan moved in small groups or bands, consisting of several extended families, alternating between winter and summer camps, hunting, trapping, fishing and gathering in the boreal forest and around the many lakes of their territory. Later with the emerging North American fur trade they organized into several major regional groups in the vicinity of the European trading posts to control, as middleman, the carrying trade in furs and the hunting of fur-bearing animals. The new social groupings also enabled the Chipewyan to dominate their Dene neighbors and to better defend themselves against their rifle-armed Cree enemies, who were advancing to the Peace River and Lake Athabasca.
Kés-ye-hot!ínne (K'ësyëhót'ı̨ne) ('aspen house they-dwell' or 'poplar house they-dwell') lived on the upper reaches of the Churchill River, along the Lac Île-à-la-Crosse, Methye Portage, Cold Lake, Heart Lake and Onion Lake. The tribal name is probably a description of adjacent Chipewyan groups for this major regional group and takes literally reference to the Lac Ile à la Crosse established European trading forts which were built with Poplar or Aspen wood.
Hoteladi Hótthę̈nádé dëne ('northern people') lived north of the Kés-ye-hot!ínne between Cree Lake, west of Reindeer Lake on the south and on the east shore of Lake Athabasca in the north.
Hâthél-hot!inne (Hátthëlót'ı̨ne) ('lowland they-dwell') lived in the Reindeer Lake (ɂëtthën tué) Region which drains south into the Churchill River.
Kkrest'ayle kke ottine ('dwellers among the quaking aspens' or 'trembling aspen people') lived in the boreal forests between Great Slave Lake in the south and Great Bear Lake in the north.
Sayisi Dene (Saı́yısı́ dëne) (or Saw-eessaw-dinneh - 'people of the east') traded at Fort Chipewyan. Their hunting and tribal areas extended between Lake Athabasca and Great Slave Lake, and along the Churchill River.
Gáne-kúnan-hot!ínne (Gąnı̨ kuę hót'ı̨ne) ('jack-pine home they-dwell') lived in the taiga east of Lake Athabasca and were particularly centered along the eastern Fond-du-Lac area.
Des-nèdhè-kkè-nadè (Dësnëdhé k'e náradé dëne) (Desnedekenade, Desnedhé hoį́é nadé hot'įnę́ - 'people along the great river') were also known as Athabasca Chipewyan. They lived between Great Slave Lake and Lake Athabasca along the Slave River near Fort Resolution (Deninoo Kue - 'moose Island').
Thilanottine (Tthı́lą́ne hót'ı̨ne) (Tu tthílá hot'įnę́ - 'those who dwell at the head of the lakes' or 'people of the end of the head') lived along the lakes of the Upper Churchill River area, along the Churchill River and Athabasca River, from Great Slave Lake and Lake Athabasca in the north to Cold Lake and Lac la Biche in the southwest.
Tandzán-hot!ínne (Tálzą́hót'ı̨ne) ('dwellers at the dirty lake', also known as Dení-nu-eke-tówe - 'moose island up lake-on') lived on the northern shore of Great Slave Lake and along the Yellowknife River, and before their expulsion by the Tłı̨chǫ along Coppermine River. They were often regarded as a Chipewyan group, but form as "Yellowknives" historically an independent First Nation and called themselves T'atsaot'ine (T'átsąnót'ı̨ne).
Historically, the Denesuline were allied to some degree with the southerly Cree, and warred against Inuit and other Dene peoples to the north of Chipewyan lands.
An important historic Denesuline is Thanadelthur ("Marten Jumping"), a young woman who early in the 18th century helped her people to establish peace with the Cree, and to get involved with the fur trade (Steckley 1999).
The Sayisi Dene of northern Manitoba is a Chipewyan band notable for hunting migratory caribou. They were historically located at Little Duck Lake, and known as the "Duck Lake Dene". In 1956, government relocated them to the port of Churchill on the shore of Hudson Bay and a small village north of Churchill called North Knife River, joining other Chipewyan Dene, and becoming members of "Fort Churchill Dene Chipewyan Band". In the 1970s, the "Duck Lake Dene" opted for self-reliance, a return to caribou hunting, and relocated to Tadoule Lake, Manitoba, legally becoming "Sayisi Dene First Nation (Tadoule Lake, Manitoba)" in the 1990s.
Denesuline (Chipewyan) speak the Denesuline language, of the Athabaskan linguistic group. Denesuline is spoken by Aboriginal people in Canada whose name for themselves is a cognate of the word dene ("people"): Denésoliné (or Dënesųłiné). Speakers of the language speak different dialects but understand each other. There is a 'k', t dialect that most people speak. For example, people in Fond du lac, Gąnı kuę́ speak the 'k' and say yaki ku while others who use the 't' say yati tu.
The name Chipewyan is, like many people of the Canadian prairies, of Algonquian origin. It is derived from the Plains Cree name for them, Cīpwayān (ᒌᐘᔮᐣ), "pointed skin", from cīpwāw (ᒌᐚᐤ), "to be pointed"; and wayān (ᐘᔮᐣ), "skin" or "hide" - a reference to the cut and style of Chipewyan parkas.
Most Chipewyan people now use Dene and Denesuline to describe themselves and their language. The Saskatchewan communities of Fond-du-Lac, Black Lake and Wollaston Lake are a few.
Despite the superficial similarity of the names, the Chipewyan are not related to the Chippewa (Ojibwa) people.
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