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The Athapaskan tribes are an Indigenous group connected by language and geography. Northern Athapaskans tribes are located in Northwest Territories (NWT), Yukon, Alaska, and extend into the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Coast. The Navajo and Apache tribes of the southwest are linguistically connected and known as Southern Athapaskans. The geography of the Northern Athapaskan tribes is expansive, but the population is surprisingly sparse in comparison.

Northern Athapaskan Nations 

NWT is home to six Athapaskan languages, each with multiple dialects: T'atsaot'ine (Chipewyan/Dogrib), Denesuline (Chipewyan), Tłı̨chǫ (Dogrib), Deh Gah Got'ine (South Slavey), Sahtuot'ine (North Slavey).

  • Athapaskan Nations in the NWT are Akaitcho Nation; Yellowknives Dene (Dettah/Ndilo), Lutsel K'e First Nation, Deninu Ku'e First Nation, Smith's Landing First Nation; Tłı̨chǫ Nation: Behchokǫ̀ First Nation, Gamètì First Nation, Wekweètì First Nation, and Whatì First Nation;  Sahtu Nation: Sahtúot’ine (Deline), K’ashot’ine (Fort Good Hope), Norman Wells, and Shuta Got’ine (Tulit'a); Dehcho Nation: Deh Gáh Got’îê First Nation, Tthets’éhk’edélî First Nation, Ka’a’gee Tu First Nation, Liidlii Kue First Nation, Nahanni Butte Dene Band, Pehdzeh Ki First Nation, Sambaa K’e First Nation, West Point First Nation, and Salt River First Nation.

Yukon is home to eight Indigenous languages, each with multiple dialects: Nee'aaneegn' (Upper Tanna), Gwich'in, Hän, Dän K’è (Southern Tutchone), Dän K’í (Northern Tutchone), Tàgish, Lingít (Tlingit), and Dene K’éh (Kaska).

  • Athapaskan communities in Yukon are Carcross/Tagish First Nation, Champagne and Aishihik First Nations (Haines Junction), First Nation of Nacho Nyak Dun (Mayo), Kluane First Nation (Burwash Landing), Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation (Carmacks), Selkirk First Nation (Pelly Crossing), Kwanlin Dun First Nation (Whitehorse), Ta'an Kwach'an Council (Whitehorse), Teslin Tlingit Council (Teslin), Tr'ondek Hwech'in (Dawson City), Kaska Nation (Faro, Ross River, Watson Lake).

Alberta Athapaskans

  • Dene Tha' Nation: Bushe River First Nation, Meander River First Nation, and Chateh First Nation.

  • Dane-zaa (Beaver) Peace River area of BC and Alberta.

  • Tsuu T'ina (Sarcee) located between the city of Calgary and the Rocky Mountains.

British Columbian Athapaskans 

  • Tahltan communities are Luwe Chon (Iskut), Tlegohin (Telegraph Creek), and Talh'ah (Dease Lake)

  • Dakelth (Carrier) communities are Tache (Stuart Lake), Yekoochet'en (Portage Band), Nak'azdli (Fort St. James), Ndazkoh First Nation, Nadleh & Stellat'en First Nation, Saik'uz First Nation

  • Dane-zaa (Beaver) Peace River area of BC and Alberta

  • Sekani (Tsek'ehne) lived along the Finlay and Parsnip tributaries of the Peace River.

  • Tsilhqot'in (Chilcotin) lives between the Fraser River and the Coast Mountains in west-central BC.

Alaska Athapaskans

The Alaskan Athapaskan people lived traditionally along five major river systems: the Yukon, the Tanana, the Susitna, the Kuskokwim, and the Copper River drainages. There are eleven Athapaskan languages spoken in Alaska. They are; Ahtna, Deg Hit'an, Dena'ina, Gwich'in, Han, Holikachuk, Kolchan, Koyukon, Lower Tanana, Tanacross, and Upper Tanana.

Athapaskan groups cross borders - Northern Athapaskan speakers cross over territorial and state boundaries of Alaska, Yukon, BC, NWT, Alberta, and Saskatchewan.


  • NWT communities: Ehdiitat Gwich'in (Aklavik), Tetlit Gwich'in (Fort McPherson), Nihtat Gwich'in (Inuivk), Gwichyaa Gwich'in (Tsiigehtchic).
  • Yukon community: Vuntut Gwitch'in (Old Crow)

  • Alaska communities: Dihai-kutchin and Neetsaii Gwich'in (Arctic Village), Gwichyaa Gwich'in (Beaver), Deenduu Gwich'in (Birch Creek), Draanjik Gwich'in (Chalkyitsik), Danzhit Hanlaii Gwich'in (Circle), Gwichyaa Gwich'in (Fort Yukon), Dihai-kutchin, and Neetsaii Gwich'in (Venetie)


  • Yukon communities: Ross River Dena Council (Ross River), Liard First Nation (Watson Lake)
  • BC communities: Daylu Dena Council (Lower Post), Dease River First Nation (Good Hope Lake), Kwadacha First Nation (Fort Ware)

Upper Tanana

  • Yukon community: White River First Nation (Beaver Creek)
  • Alaska communities: Tok Village, Tetlin Village, and Northway Village


  • NWT community: Lutselke,

  • Alberta communities: Lue Chok Tue (Cold Lake)

  • Saskatchewan communities: Fond-du-Lac (Lake Athabasca), Hatchet Lake First Nation, Black Lake First Nation, and Stoney Rapids First Nations, Wollaston Lake, Patuanak, Dillon, La Loche, and Turner Lake.

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