Great Canadian Parks / Northwest Territories

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The Parks / Northwest Territories / Nahanni National Park Reserve


(From Herb Norwegian - Fort Simpson Band Chief)
"Legend tells us that Ndambadezha (Yamonja) was a spiritual person who travelled this great land. Umoria means ‘the man who walked the great shore’ because this was all water a long time ago. During the Ice Age, it was never touched by ice. It was a gorge, where it was almost like a Garden of Eden. And the Naha, they lived there for hundreds of years, and from there, they became a great tribe."

For thousands of years the Dene people have used this land in spite of the forbidding terrain and unpredictable weather. They learned to find shelter from sudden rains, climb above flash floods and wait out early snows. The Naha were the Dene tribe who claimed the Mackenzie Mountains as their territory. They were nomadic within their territory, using different parts of the mountains and valleys according to the season. And they were fierce warriors, unhesitating in their attack upon anyone who camped within their boundaries and sometimes beyond.

"They were raiders. They came down the great rivers and they took advantage of whoever was living there. It came to a point where the people in the flats and lowlands couldn't put up with the continuous raiding every year, so finally the elders got together and said ‘we got to put a stop to this’. They were on top of the mountain and they knew the Nahande people were down there and they attacked. To their great surprise, they found out that in these teepees, around the campfire, that there wasn't anybody around."


In some versions of the story, the Naha were tracked down and killed, in others the warriors simply disappeared. Anthropologists have recently discovered surprising similarities in legend between the lost tribe of the Naha and the Navajo of the American southwest. In fact, Slavey Dene visiting Arizona have found they can converse quite comfortably with the Navajo, perhaps the descendants of their enemies from long ago.


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