25 years as a National Historic Site

Saoyú-ʔehdacho National Historic Site

In 2022, the Délı̨nę Got'ı̨nę Government and Parks Canada celebrated the 25th anniversary of the establishment of Saoyú-ʔehdacho National Historic Site.

Saoyú and Ɂehdacho are two large peninsulas reaching into Sahtú (Great Bear Lake) just south of the Arctic Circle in the Northwest Territories. Designated a National Historic Site in 1997 and set aside as a protected area in 2008, Saoyú and Ɂehdacho are teaching, healing and spiritual places, essential to the cultural well-being of the Sahtúgot‘ı̨nę “the people of Sahtú.”

Délı̨nę is the only community on Sahtú. Sahtú is the largest freshwater lake entirely within the borders of Canada. The name Délı̨nę means “flowing water,” referring to the nearby Great Bear River that pours from Sahtú to the Mackenzie River. This is a place thriving with fish and wildlife, ideal for people who subsist on the bounty of the land.

The Elders of Délı̨nę say that the protection of Saoyú and Ɂehdacho is a responsibility given to the Sahtúgot‘ı̨nę by their ancestors. It is through these places and the stories associated with them that the Elders pass on their knowledge: their history, values, laws, land use skills, land management practices and life-styles. The 5,565 km2 site is cooperatively managed by the Délı̨nę Got'ı̨nę Government and Parks Canada.

Saoyú and Ɂehdacho provide an opportunity for non-Dene to better understand the origins of Sahtú-Dene culture, spiritual values, life-style and land use. For Sahtú-Dene, the land is alive with stories, which blend the natural with the supernatural worlds. These stories are essential in defining these inhabitants as people in relationship to the earth. Saoyú and ʔehdacho were selected by the Sahtúgot‘ı̨nę for nomination as a national historic site and on September 22, 1997 were announced as a national historic site by Délı̨nę and Parks Canada.

The 25th anniversary of Saoyú and Ɂehdacho National Historic Site reminds us of how far we’ve come, but also how truly young we are. We celebrate 25 years since the historic site was created, while also understanding that it takes ongoing commitment to protect marine ecosystems, honour Sahtúgot‘ı̨nę knowledge, and further understand how the land and the water and people connect.

Be part of the celebration!

Be sure to check out the different pages below to dive into the special history and culture that Saoyú and ʔehdacho represent.

Denecho Knowledge Centre Exhibit

Learn about Sahtúgot‘ı̨nę culture and ways of life.

Tudzǝ́ Godi

The water heart sustains the watershed of Sahtú. Read the entire Water Heart story.

Délı̨nę’s Culture Camp

Funding from the Stories of Canada Program supported the Délı̨nę Got’ı̨nę Government’s vision to create a new Cultural Camp in the community of Délı̨nę.

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