Dogrib - Orientation

Identification. The English term "Dogrib" is a translation of a Cree term. "Tlicho" (dog rib) was probably not a term of tribal self-reference aboriginally but came into use by Dogribs in the contact era, especially to distinguish themselves from neighboring Athapaskan peoples. The term "Done" (people) is the self-designation that emphasizes the Indianness of the Dogrib.

Location. The Dogrib have continued to occupy their aboriginal lands. Their hunting-trapping range is between 62° and 65° N and 110° and 124° W in the Northwest Territories, Canada. South to north, Great Slave Lake and Great Bear Lake border the Dogrib traditional range. The greater portion is in the rocky outcrop of the Canadian Shield, where the boreal forest cover becomes progressively more sparse and stunted toward the east. The westernmost range of the Dogrib includes the eastern edge of the Mackenzie River Lowlands. The continental subarctic climate is one of brief warm summers with long hours of daylight and long cold winters when temperatures may drop to —40° F or below. "Freeze-up" of lakes and streams begins in early October and "break-up" comes in May.

Demography. In 1970 the Dogrib numbered about seventeen hundred persons, contrasted to only about one thousand in 1949. European-derived epidemics throughout the nineteenth century helped hold the Dogrib population to Between approximately eight hundred and one thousand from 1858, when the first actual count was made, to 1949. The Canadian government's introduction of effective treatment for tuberculosis and expanded medical services in the late 1950s spurred population growth, which continues to the present. In the 1960s, by providing subsidized housing and through other means, the government succeeded in getting many Dogribs to settle in Rae, to which in former times, as the trading post and mission site, Dogribs had resorted only seasonally. Rae-Edzo (Edzo is an ancillary government-created complex) is now the major Dogrib settlement, although some live at Detah near the town of Yellowknife and in the small bush settlements of Lac la Martre, Rae Lakes, and Snare Lake, which the government began to provide with infrastructural support in the 1970s.

Linguistic Affiliation. The Dogrib speak a language of the northeastern Athapaskan language group, with some dialectic variation across the Dogrib regional groups.

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