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Project Summary 

Our project seeks to revitalize Tsattine (Beaver Dene) knowledge in the Peace Region of northwestern Alberta. We are currently focused on investigating Tsattine bison hunting using western science and Indigenous approaches.

Map of Dene languages reproduced from the Pan Dene Comparative Lexicon compiled by Sally Rice, Conor Snoek, and Michaela Stang, with permission by Michaela Stang

Project Origins 

Our project was developed by Victoria Wanihadie and Jessica Metcalfe. Victoria and Jessica first met at the 2017 Dene gathering at Tsuut’ina (southern Alberta), where Victoria shared the work she had been doing to rediscover her Tsattine (Beaver) origins and Jessica shared her isotopic research on bison. After participating in a sweat lodge ceremony together and getting to know each other over subsequent months, they decided to combine their goals, interests, and abilities in an effort to enhance the work that Victoria was already doing. In 2019, Victoria and Jessica received a SSHRC Insight Development Grant to support the development of this project.

Initiatives 

 We are currently working on a number of projects, including: 

  • Finding, interpreting and mapping traditional bison-hunting trails in Tsattine territory (northwestern Alberta)

  • Documenting oral and archival histories about bison kill and processing sites in Tsattine territory, and identifying, mapping and exploring such sites

  • Exploring social relationships between Tsattine hunters and animals (especially bison) based on traditional values 

  • Developing accessible resources about Tsattine history in NW Alberta 

What Drives Our Work

Colonization has distanced Tsattine people in Northern Alberta from their history. Beginning when the fur trade started pushing westward in the late 1700’s, Tsattine people have endured the traumatic effects of displacement, environmental degradation, epidemics, residential schools, and the illegal sale of their traditional lands. Our work recognizes the effects of colonization, and is driven by Dene values and the principles of respect, relevance, reciprocity, and responsibility (Kirkness & Banrhardt 1991). Our work is collaborative, bringing together Indigenous and Western science approaches. We strive to decolonize archaeological practices and approaches as well as historical records and materials.

 

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