Traditional Names of the Big River

Traditional Names of the Big River

In 2015, the Government of the Northwest Territories made five traditional Aboriginal place names for the Mackenzie River official geographical names.

Now with seven names—Dehcho, Deho, Fleuve Mackenzie, Grande Rivière, Kuukpak, Mackenzie River, and Nagwichoonjik—a person from any culture in the NWT can stand on its bank and know that their traditional name for the river is officially recognized.

As the longest river in Canada, the Mackenzie River is one of the most significant geographic features in NWT. All of the traditional names reflect the river’s grandeur and translate as either “big” or “great” river. It plays major roles both historically and culturally for the people of the NWT and is best thought of as a strand of sinew tying the regions together.

  • Dehcho
  • Deho
  • Fleuve Mackenzie
  • Grande Rivière
  • Kuukpak
  • Nagwichoonjik
  • South Slavey
  • North Slavey
  • French
  • Michif
  • Inuvialuktun
  • Gwich’in