Walking the Land, Feeding the Fire
Knowledge and Stewardship Among the Tlicho Dene
Publication Year: 2012
In the Dene worldview, relationships form the foundation of a distinct way of knowing. For the Tlicho Dene, indigenous peoples of Canada's Northwest Territories, as stories from the past unfold as experiences in the present, so unfolds a philosophy for the future. Walking the Land, Feeding the Fire vividly shows how--through stories and relationships with all beings--Tlicho knowledge is produced and rooted in the land.
Tlicho-speaking people are part of the more widespread Athapaskan-speaking community, which spans the western sub-arctic and includes pockets in British Columbia, Alberta, California, and Arizona. Anthropologist Allice Legat undertook this work at the request of Tlicho Dene community elders, who wanted to provide younger Tlicho with narratives that originated in the past but provide a way of thinking through current critical land-use issues. Legat illustrates that, for the Tlicho Dene, being knowledgeable and being of the land are one and the same.
Walking the Land, Feeding the Fire marks the beginning of a new era of understanding, drawing both connections to and unique aspects of ways of knowing among other Dene peoples, such as the Western Apache. As Keith Basso did with his studies among the Western Apache in earlier decades, Legat sets a new standard for research by presenting Dene perceptions of the environment and the personal truths of the storytellers without forcing them into scientific or public-policy frameworks. Legat approaches her work as a community partner--providing a powerful methodology that will impact the way research is conducted for decades to come--and provides unique insights and understandings available only through traditional knowledge.
Published by: University of Arizona Press
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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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List of Illustrations
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This publication is long overdue—at least, giving access to the important insights it contains is overdue. I am a bit biased. I have developed a deep friendship with its author, a relationship that had a very tumultuous begin-ning. In 1986, I was in the early stages of setting up the Dene Cultural In-stitute, with marching orders from the Dene chiefs and huge expectations ...
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A considerable number of people have helped me—from the beginning, when I started my research, to the end as I put together this book. I have the deepest respect for the elders I came to know. They are among the most intelligent and scholarly people I have met. It was a great privilege to hear their stories and to travel with them through Tłı ̨chǫ nèèk’e; the depth ...
List of Acronyms
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Tłıc̨ hǫ Pronunciation Key
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Tłı̨chǫ has four vowels—a, e, i, o—and four kinds of vowels: plain, nasal, low tone, and nasal low tone. The nasal vowels are: a ̨, e ̨, ı ̨, ǫ; the low-tone vowels: à, è, ì, ò; the nasal low-tone vowels: à ̨, è ̨, ì ̨, ò ̨. The nasal sound is made when air flows through the nose and the mouth; for the low-tone vowels, the voice is deeper, and the air flows through the mouth; for nasal ...
Introduction: Understanding a Little Bit
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The drive along the 110-kilometer gravel highway to Behchokǫ̀ was usu-ally rough as the vehicle hit pothole after pothole, but in Joanne Barn-aby’s 1986 Grand Marquis we floated. Joanne, executive director of the Dene Cultural Institute, was telling me about her trip to Europe with her mother. She explained that in looking at all the heritage sites and ...
Chapter One. Janiì's Story; Moìse's Experience
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A constant theme for discussion and action among the Tłı̨chǫ elders is their insistence that stories and knowledge that come from the past are important for the present and for the future. For them, both stories and ex-perience will ensure Tłı ̨chǫ survival, while maintaining Tłı̨chǫ character and protecting the dè during the never-ending negotiations with govern-...
Chapter Two. Learning Stories.
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In May 1996, Madelaine Chocolate, Sally Anne Zoe, and I were visiting Romie Wetrade. We listened as the several elders who were present told of events. In winding their stories back through time, these elders empha-sized information on when the event first occurred. Later I asked Romie if knowing when occurrences first happened is as important as knowing the ...
Chapter Three. Dwelling within Dè and Tłıchq nèèk'e
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In July 2002, several Tłı ̨chǫ from Gamètì and I stopped for lunch during a day’s outing to Semì ̨tì, a lake south of Gamètì. We ate fish and duck while elders narrated occurrences and happenings within Tłı ̨chǫ nèèk’e. Phillip Zoe shared his experience of seeing northern lights go into the water and cause a whirlpool when he was traveling on Wetł’aezǫtì as a young man ...
Chapter Four: Experiencing Kweèt'ıį̀: Traders, Miners, and Bureaucrats
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We did not conceive that they did not see the world as we do. The Dene had no experience of a people who would try to control us, or who would On 23 July 2002, Madelaine Drybone died at the age of ninety-seven. Made-laine was one of four elders who initiated the traditional-governance research in 1993 in the conviction that continually listening to and sharing stories ...
Chapter Five. Experiencing Kweèt'ıį̀: Collaborating and Taking Action
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Before deciding what to do, leaders need to listen to the people.In June 2004, Father Jean Pochat and I sat talking. I expressed my respect for the Tłı ̨chǫ elders with whom I worked and for their reverence for the spirit in all things. I also expressed how I love the gentle way in which these elders tell stories to guide behavior. He listened to me. He then told ...
Chapter Six: Following Those Who Know
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In 2004, I was talking with an employee of one of the diamond companies about the company’s traditional environmental knowledge research with aboriginal communities in northern Canada. During this conversation, he made a passing comment that the Inuit are much easier to work with be-cause “Inuit elders tend to defer to younger people,” unlike the Dene, whose ...
Chapter Seven: Walking Stories; Leaving Footprints
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During the fall of 2003, hunters in Gamètì were recanvassing and fixing the frames of their freighter canoes. Charlie Gon and his wife’s brother, Charlie Tailbone, were planning to travel through Tłı ̨chǫ nèèk’e. They explained that different hunters who would be traveling with them knew different trails because they had heard the stories and had experienced ...
Chapter Eight: The Centrality of Knowledge
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While working in Tłı ̨chǫ communities, I often walked between homes and locations on well-worn paths. On arrival, I would listen to oral nar-ratives being told near fires from which warm tea and coffee were served, food cooked, and meat or fish were being dried. At times, women smoked hides. As I sat listening to individuals tell of their recent experiences, ...
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Glossary of Tłıchq Terms and Place-Names
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About the Author
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Allice Legat is a practicing anthropologist with an interest in knowledge and culture. She has done fieldwork in Afghanistan, northern British Columbia, and Nunavut, but in 2003 the Tłı ̨chǫ of the Northwest Territories held her heart. She continues to participate in research projects conceived by Tłı ̨chǫ today. This book draws on her scholarship and work with the Tłı ̨chǫ—in ...
Page Count: 184
Illustrations: 30 photos, 3 maps
Publication Year: 2012
Series Title: First Peoples: New Directions in Indigen