The Dene were the first people in the Northwest Territories. The term Dene actually means “people” and includes many different Aboriginal groups. Chipewyan, Tlicho, Yellowknives, Gwich’in, Slavey and Sahtú make up a large part of the Dene people, although there are many more groups that are also Dene.
Traditionally, the Dene elders share their history and way of life from generation to generation. Through the use of stories they pass along wisdom and knowledge from the past, including travelling by dogsled and canoe, hunting animals, following herd migrations and trapping.
The Dene people have a deeply respectful appreciation for the land and its inhabitants as well as a rich, traditional culture of life on the land.
There are many stories and legends of the Dene people about the aurora borealis.
They say that if you whistle, you can bring the lights down and make them dance. There are also other legends about the aurora as lamps lighted by the spirits of departed souls that are there, guiding the newly departed into Heaven.
Another story explains the red aurora as blood shed between two battling spirits though there are many other legends and stories of the aurora from the Dene people and many more by other people throughout the world.