ROCHER RIVER, NWT
Our family is originally from Rocher River, NWT area, situated near the mouth of Taltson River that drains into the Great Slave Lake in the South Slave Region, roughly 50 kilometres east of Fort Resolution, NWT.
Rocher River was a traditional community including other families who lived outside of the community in traditional camps, at the mouth of Rocher River, Taltson River, Rat River, Jean River, Stoney Point and Stoney Island, sustained the Tthetsënɂotı̨́né for generations, dating back to the early 1800s.
Modern Rocher River was founded in the 1920s when a trading post was built in the area, growing into a bustling trading centre. Many of the Tthetsënɂotı̨́né moved from their traditional camps into Rocher River, so their children could attend school, while others remained at the camps. By the 1950s Rocher River had dene band, a government day school, two trading posts, post office and a church, with a population of about 200.
The area was rich and still is in hunting and trapping for the dene and metis and some today still practice our harvesting traditions in the area, including us and our family. This is the main area where we source and harvest our traditional materials.
By the late 1950s a series of events would seal the fate of Rocher River and us Tthetsënɂotı̨́né people. A large deposit of lead zinc ore was discovered over 100 kilometres away in pine point — a mine would follow and a damn to power it.
In the winter of 1960, the community’s only school burned down and the federal government made the decision not to rebuild in favor or centralizing education services at Fort Smith, Yellowknife and Fort Resolution. The fire set of a series of events that would take away the community's stores, homes and eventually most of our people.
Then construction of the Taltson River dam began in 1964, with the Pine Point Mine starting production one year later. The Tthetsënɂotı̨́né people were against building of the dam, their concerns went unheard by the government, no consultation was done. The government went ahead with the construction. The construction of the Taltson River hydro dam upstream of Rocher River in 1965 flooded many trap lines and gave further reason for the few remaining residents to move away.
Family homes were abandoned, the people displaced, and our way of life was changed forever. The Tthetsënɂotı̨́né people, original signatories to Treaty 8 as the Yellowknives, were essentially erased from the history books.
The displaced community members were forced by the federal government to join other bands. Most of the band membership was transferred to what was then called the Chipewyan band in and around the community of Fort Resolution, also to Lutsel K’e, N’Dilo and Yellowknives.
Today, many of the Tthetsënɂotı̨́né people believe that it was the will of the government to remove the people out of the area for a dam after the discovery of the deposits in Pine Point. Based on the information, we believe this too.
Pronounced “Deneh-noo-kweh”, meaning Moose Island, and also known as Fort Resolution. The community is situated at the mouth of the Slave River, on the shores of Great Slave Lake. It is the oldest documented European community in the Northwest Territories dates back to 1791 when the North West Company opened a trading post, and was a key link in the fur trade's water route north.
Fort Resolution is designated as a National Historical Site of Canada as the oldest continuously occupied place in the Northwest Territories with origins in the fur trade and the principal fur trade post on Great Slave Lake. Home to Deninu Kue First Nations and the Fort Resolution Metis.
Although I am a band member and it is the community I partly grew up in, I have more of a connection with Rocher River, Rat River and Jean River where I grew up with my parents and family.