Mapping, Language and Stories in Deline

Regions: Sahtu Settlement Area

Tags: social sciences, climate change, dene culture, language, governance

Principal Investigator: Simmons, Deborah L (21)
Licence Number: 15828
Organization: Sahtu Renewable Resources Board
Licenced Year(s): 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010
Issued: Jan 20, 2016
Project Team: Keren Rice (Co-Investigator, University of Toronto), Dagmar Jung (Co-Investigator, University of Cologne), Jane Modeste (Collaborator, Deline First Nation), Fibbie Tatti (Co-Investigator, Deline Land Corporation), Michael Neyelle (Co-Investigator, Deline Renewable Resources Council), Walter Bayha (Co-Investigator, Deline Land Corporation), Ingeborg Swanhild Fink (Doctoral student, University of Cologne), Ken Caine (Collaborator, University of Alberta), Laura Tutcho (Collaborator, Deline First Nation), Nicole Beaudry (Co-Investigator), Heidi Brown (Collaborator)

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

Project Description: As the community of Deline 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. This 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 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 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 the 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 20, 2016 to December 31, 2016.