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Sekani Indians of Canada

Sekani. Signifying "dwellers on the rocks." Also called:

Al-ta-tin, by Dawson (1888, p. 192 B).
Lhtaten, by Morice (1889, p. 118), meaning "inhabitants of beaver dams": applied also to Nahane.
Rocky Mountain Indians, by Bancroft (1886-90, vol. 1, p. 35, map).
Sastotene, by Teit quoted by Jenness (1937, p. 5): Kaska name for certain bands, meaning "black bear people".
Thé-ké-né, by Petitot (MS.), meaning "dwellers on the mountains."
Tsekenné, by Morice (1889, p. 112), meaning "inhabitants of the rocks." ["people of the contorted rocks,"
  according to James Teit (1900)].
Tseloni, by Teit quoted by Jenness (1937, p. 5): Kaska name for certain bands, meaning "mountain top people".
T'set'sa'ut, by Jenness (1937, p. 5): so called by the Indians on Skeena and Nass Rivers.

Connections. The Sekani formed a group of bands or tribes of the Athapascan linguistic stock, and were dialectically affiliated with the Tsattine and Sarcee.

Location. On the headwaters of Peace and Liard Rivers and some of the neighboring western slopes of the Rocky Mountains.

Subdivisions
Jenness (1937) gives the following:

1. Sasuchan or Sasuten, occupying all of the basin of Finlay River from the mouth of the Omineca north and west,
  including Thutade and Bear Lakes.
2. Tsekani, occupying the country from Mcleod Lake south to the divide, and east to the edge of the prairies.
3. Tseloni, occupying the plateau country between the headwaters of Finlay and Liard Rivers, the Fox in its upper
  reaches, and the Kechika or Muddy River flowing through the center of their domain.
4. Yutuwichan, in the country from the north end of McLeod Lake down the Parsnip and Peace Rivers to Rocky
  Mountain canyon and westward to the headwaters of the Manson and Nation-Rivers, including Carp Lake and the upper reaches of Salmon River.

Morice (1889) counted nine bands, but he extended the name Sekani over the Tsattine and Sarcee and included three minor groups whose independent position is uncertain, and which have probably resulted from later mixtures.

History. Jenness (1937) believes that the Sekani were driven into the Rocky Mountains as a result of the westward thrust of the Cree. Morice (1889) tells us that the first Sekani encountered by Europeans were evidently the band met by Alexander Mackenzie on June 9, 1793, when on his way to the Pacific Ocean. One of these guided him to the head of Parsnip River but deserted shortly before they came to the Fraser. In 1797 James Finlay ascended the river which now bears his name. A few years later James McDougall penetrated the Sekani country, and in 1805 Simon Fraser established Fort McLeod on McLeod Lake for the Sekani trade. Since then the contact of the tribe with the Whites has been continuous and cumulative. Traders were followed by miners and missionaries and all the influences of a more complicated civilization.

Population. Mooney (1928) estimated that there were 3,200 Sekani in 1780, not counting the Esbataottine, of whom he thought there might have been 300 in 1670. Drake (1848), estimated, 1,000 in 1820, and Morice 500 in 1887 and 1893. Mooney (1928) estimated there were 750 in 1906, including 250 Esbataottine, but a census taken by the Canadian Department of Indian Affairs in 1923 returned only 160.

The Indian Tribes of North of America, by John Swanton, 1953

Canadian Indians


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