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Etchaottine Indians of Canada

Etchaottine. Significance unknown. Also called:

   Awokanak, Cree name, meaning "slaves."
   Brushwood Indians, by Franklin (1823).
   Slaves, Slavey, by traders by translation of the Cree term.

Connections. The Etchaottine belonged to the Athapascan linguistic stock, their closest relatives having been, apparently, the Kawchottine.

Location.  In the valley of Mackenzie River between Great Slave Lake and Fort Norman.

Subdivision

     The following names are mainly from Petitot (1891):

Desnedeyarelottine, on the banks of upper Mackenzie River.
Eleidlinottine, at the confluence of Liard and Mackenzie Rivers, their territory extending to La Martre,
  Grandin, and Taché Lakes.
Etchaottine, between Liard River and the Divide, along Black, Beaver, and Willow Rivers.
Etcheridiegottine, on the middle course of Liard River.
Etechesottine, between Great Slave and La Martre Lakes.
Klodesseottine, on Hay River.
Petitot speaks of another band at Fort Norman, but applies no special name to it.

History. Petitot (1891) states that the Etchaottine anciently extended as far south as Lake Athabaska but that the Cree, on obtaining guns, drove them out of that region and, when they had taken refuge in the islands in Great Slave Lake, pursued them thither and slaughtered many. Although it is by no means certain that the Etchaottine ever extended as far as Lake Athabaska (see history of the Chipewyan), they no doubt suffered, like other Athapascan tribes of the region, from the invasion of the Cree. In 1789 Mackenzie passed through the entire length of the country and trading posts soon followed. They have since continued to occupy the territory above indicated while it has gradually been metamorphosed by the activities of the Hudson's Bay Company and the missionaries.

Population. Mooney (1928) estimated that in 1670 there were 1,250 Etchaottine.

Connection in which they have become noted. The Etchaottine have appeared in history principally under the name of "Slaves" owing to the dominating position which the Cree obtained over them and the contemptuous attitude of that tribe toward them in consequence.

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