Gabe Etchinelle on the Keele River (Courtesy B. Stewart 1981)

Gabe Etchinelle on the Keele River (Courtesy B. Stewart 1981)

Call to the Shuhtagot’ine

Statement of Significance

Albert Wright, Chief of the Shuhtagot’ine (Mountain Dene), negotiated Treaty 11 in 1921 on behalf of the Aboriginal people who traded at Fort Norman (Tulita). Once the terms had been settled, Chief Wright walked up the Keele River leaving messages for the Shuhtagot’ine to meet at Tulita to take treaty. Every thirty kilometres, he blazed a tree, with a notice written in Slavey syllabics and decorated with drawings of animals and other symbols.

The last sign post before the head of the Keele River was placed to attract the attention of families descending the river on their return from the spring beaver hunt in the Yukon. After walking from the Yukon through MacMillan Pass, these families built mooseskin boats at the headwaters of the Keele and descended in them to Tulita to trade meat and furs.

Following the signing of Treaty 11, the Shuhtagot’ine ranged less frequently to the Yukon, remaining on the east side of the continental divide. Although they no longer journeyed between the two territories using mooseskin boats and pack dogs, family links bind the people of Tulita, NWT and Ross River, Yukon Territory.

Key elements that define the heritage character of the Call to the Shuhtagot’ine include:

  • At least three message posts remain
  • The use of Slavey syllabics, illustrations, and symbols to transmit messages
  • Demonstrates how the Shuhtagot’ine seasonally travelled prior to Treaty 11
  • The impact of Treaty 11 in changing life ways for the Shuhtaot’ine
  • Canada. Dept. of Indian and Northern Affairs / Library and Archives Canada / e008440683