Hare - Orientation

Identification. The Hare refer to themselves as "Ka so gotinè," (which may mean big willow people), or as "gahwié gotinè" (rabbitskin people, which is a recent translation from English). The suffix -gotinè means "the people of"; hare, willow, and arrow have similar roots, and the Hare have been called "the people of" all three. The names "Hare" and "Peaux de Lievre," which Whites have used for over two hundred years, refer to the extreme dependence some Hare Indians placed on the varying hare Lepus americanus for food and clothing.

Location. The Hare live today where they lived when first contacted by Whites: in what is now the Canadian Northwest Territories, north of Great Bear Lake and on both sides of the Mackenzie River. Since 1806, Fort Good Hope, located today at 66°16′ N and 128°38′ W, has evolved from a trading post visited by most Hare Indians several times a year for Economic and, after 1860, religious reasons into the settlement where most of the Hare live today.

Demography. In 1978, 430 Hare Indians were registered on the Canadian Indian band roll at Fort Good Hope and Colville Lake. The first census, in 1827, estimated the Population of the Hare as approximately 300, but by that time they had been strongly affected by epidemic disease from which, apparently, mortality was significant.

Linguistic Affiliation. The Hare speak an Athapaskan language that shares high mutual intelligibility with and differs in only minor dialectical ways from Mountain, Bearlake, and Slavey. Divergence from neighboring Kutchin is sharp with the exception, perhaps, of one enigmatic nineteenth-century band that apparently was a cultural and biological amalgam of Hare and Kutchin—the "ne la gotinè" (end of the earth people or Bâtards Loucheux).

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