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Tatsanottine Indians of Canada

Tatsanottine. Signifying "people of the scum of water," "scum" being a figurative expression for copper. Also called:

Copper Indians, from the fact that copper was obtained in their country.
Couteaux Jaunes, French-Canadian name.
Red-knife Indians, referring to copper.
Yellow-knife Indians, referring to copper.

Connections. The Tatsanottine belonged to the Athapascan linguistic stock and were later classified with the Chipewyan, but their original position within the stock is unknown.

Location. On the northern shores and eastern bays of Great Slave Lake.

History. The Tatsanottine derived their name from the ore in a low mountain near Coppermine River which they formerly made into knives, axes, and other cutting tools and traded at fabulous prices, until the introduction of articles of European manufacture broke the market and they moved away from the mine toward trading posts in the south.

Population. Mooney (1928) estimates that there were 430 in 1670. In 1859 a census, which may, however, have been only partial, returned 219. A later estimate by Morice (1906) gave 500.

Connection in which they have become noted. The Tatsanottine have become noteworthy merely on account of their association with the copper deposit above mentioned.

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

Canadian Indians


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