GNWT recognizes Dettah as official spelling of community name

The community of Dettah. Photo supplied by Spectacular NWT.
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The GNWT has officially recognized the Dene First Nation’s preferred spelling of its community Dettah.

Previously the GNWT had spelt the community’s name as “Detah.”

The spelling change more accurately reflects the English pronunciation of the traditional name for the community, according to a statement from the Yellowknives Dene First Nation Elders.

The GNWT has a mandate to make traditional names official through the Geographic Names Program, a 40-year old program where communities submit applications to have names changed.

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“Our community was named Dettah — T’èɂehdaà in our T’satsąot’inę language, which means burnt point, or ash
point due to a fire which occurred in the community in the late 1800s that wiped out most of our 20 or so log homes and much of the large trees that surrounded our community,” Chief Edward Sangris (Dettah), Yellowknives Dene First Nation said in a statement.

“This is the right step in the direction of recognizing the traditional names of our Dene People and
reconciling the errors of the colonial past. This is an example of reconciliation in action.”

This name change is effective November 1, 2020.

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