Language

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In Łı́ı́dlı̨́ı̨́ Kų́ę́, the language we speak is “Dene Zhatıe” or “South Slavey.” The name Łı́ı́dlı̨́ı̨́ Kų́ę́ means “where the two rivers meet.” Slavey comes from the description of a group of Dene living in the boreal forest region of the western Canadian Subarctic. There is no term for this group in Dene languages, but “Slavey” has been adopted by many Dene as a collective term of self-designation when speaking English.

Fun fact: Did you know there are five Dene languages in the Northwest Territories? Learn more about these different languages and where region they come from.

Listen to the Language

Fort Simpson Elder: Jonas Antoine - YouTube
Fort Simpson Elder: Jonas Antoine

To listen to our Elders speaking in Dene Zhatıe, check out these videos that were put together by the youth of Łı́ı́dlı̨́ı̨́ Kų́ę́ Regional High School through Reel Youth.

If you are interested in videos produced by Dehcho First Nation that outline Dene Laws and Elder’s knowledge of different plants and animals explore this page.

Nahanni: River of Forgiveness – 90th Parallel
Nahanni River of Forgiveness, 2019. Directed by Geoff Bowie.

To watch the Nahanni River of Forgiveness Film send an email to communications@liidliikue.com for a link to watch it online!

Check out the South Slavey dictionary! It shows many Dene Zhatie words and if you click on it, it will read it out loud for you!

Practice the Language

Marc Durdin on Twitter: "The FirstVoices Keyboard App is powered ...

Download the app “First Voices” on your phone today to type in the traditional languages! To get it for Android. To download it from Apple.

To add Dene font to your computer you can download it or use the Web Keyboard!

Gudeh: We are speaking Dene Zhatie Check out the website or download the app on Apple devices now.

Regional Differences

There are five tribal groups of Dene that have evolved into what is now referred to as “Denendeh” which means “the Creator’s Spirit flows through this Land”.  These five tribes have evolved their own language and customs and are the:

  • Gwich’in in the Mackenzie Delta Region,
  • North Slavey in the Sathu Region,
  • South Slavey in the Dehcho Region,
  • Chipewyan in the South Slave Region, and the
  • Dogrib in the North Slave Region.