In the heart of the Deh Cho live the Deh Gah Gotie Dene (people who live by the river). The Deh Cho is located in the Northwest Territories. The Dene people are keepers of the land and so the Deh Cho Process is all about conservation and maintaining the land. This is what makes the Process unique compared to other aboriginal treaties across Canada.
“We must keep our own identity”, elder Harry Minoza.
Long ago, the Deh Gah Gotie Dene lived nomadically. They moved seasonally and had camps to follow game. They used basically every part of the animal such as the hair including antler. They abided by the Dene Laws to conserve and take only what is needed from the land. Take care of the land and the land takes care of you. With the cold harsh winters, furs were traditionally used to clothe the Dene.
With the history of their people, the Dene ladies of Fort Providence use this as an inspiration to create clothing from furs to keep it in their culture and as part of their tradition. The clothing is created from fur. Being inspired of the past and the heritage of the people, the ladies thus created a line called Ek’o (watch out). A modern version of finger-weaving is used to create the garments which have been on international runways of the world, using knitting machines. The ladies are looking to the past for help in creating a future for our community.
“I grew up wearing rabbit skins”, elder Liza Loutit.
Acho Dene Native Crafts began operations in 1976 as a project of the Government of the Northwest Territories and still operates as a Subsidiary of the Northwest Territories Business Development and Investment Corporation.
Over 40 cottage producers living in the community produce the products sold by the store. These products are made using a blend of ancestral techniques and themes with traditional and modern materials to make birch bark baskets, jewellery, moccasins, mittens, mukluks and other souvenirs.
The business also staffs and maintains a tourist kiosk for the Government of the Northwest Territories Department of Industry, Tourism and Investments in its Fort Liard store.
Detailed information about how Acho Dene Native Craft products are made: