Mapping, Language and Stories in Deline
Principal Investigator: Rice, Keren (4)
Licence Number: 15357
Organization: Linguistics and Aboriginal Studies, University of Toronto
Licenced Year(s): 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010
Issued: Nov 04, 2013
Project Team: Fibbie Tatti (Collaborator, University of Victoria), Walter Bayha (Co-Investigator, Sahtu Renewable Resources Board), Michael Neyelle (Co-Investigator, Deline Renewable Resources Council and Sahtu Renewable Resources Board), Jane Modeste (Collaborator, Dene Yati Consulting), Deborah Simmons (Co-Investigator, Sahtu Renewable Resources Board and University of Toronto), Keren Rice (Principal Investigator, University of Toronto), Leslie Saxon (Co-Investigator, University of Victoria), Dagmar Jung (Co-Investigator, University of Cologne), Kenneth Caine (Collaborator, University of Alberta), Nicole Beaudry (Collaborator, Independent researcher), Alina Takazo (Collaborator, Independent researcher), Ingeborg Fink (Graduate Research Assistant, University of Cologne), Rauna Kuokkanen (Collaborator, University of Toronto)

Objective(s): To document language through stories, song, and concepts of place in order to better understand what Dene government means, and how they relate to governance and land stewardship.

Project Description: As the community makes the transition to self-government, there has been an increased interest in language documentation through stories, song, and concepts of place in order to better understand what Dene government means. Governance thus forms one focal point of this research. The research team are particularly interested in the areas of variation, change and continuity in language, stories, song, and concepts of place as they relate to governance and land stewardship.

Complementing the focal point on governance, this project will involve development of an indigenous research methodology with respect to language research. The research teams approach will involve documentation with extended families or clans from distinct traditional land use areas across three or four generations, including archival materials and new materials from living family members. The research team will focus on the collection of “rich” discourse through a variety of performance media. Annotated audio and video data will support the development of local educational material (including a language toolbox) as well as the establishment of community archives for traditional linguistic and cultural knowledge. The interdisciplinary research team brings together a diversity of community and academic expertise.

This is a participatory research program initiated by the Deline First Nation community as part of a vision for research, education and capacity-building for governance. The lead community partner is the Deline Renewable Resources Council, with the support and ongoing input of the Deline First Nation and Deline Land Corporation. Community researchers are provided with training, and community members participate in structuring every phase of the research, including project design, implementation, analysis and education activities. Communications products and community presentations related to the research process and outcomes are provided on a regular basis, and activities in the school ensure that students are educated about research process and results. The aim is to understand how Dene language, stories and songs can be used to address social and environmental change in the present and future.

Community participants and leaders will determine the forms of communication within the community. Currently it is projected that research process and results will continue to be communicated through regular research meetings with elders and delegates of leadership organizations, presentations at the schools and public meetings, oral reports at meetings of community organizations, written briefings, community radio, and a web portal. Communication to the broader public in the NWT is by permission of the Deline Renewable Resources Council and Deline First Nation. This will include the web portal and plain language and academic publications co-authored with the community research team.


The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2014.