Dene Principles & Values


  • The values and principles have a universal human quality. Many of them have been reflected in the cultures of other peoples throughout the world, at different times in history. For the traditional Dene, however, these values and principles are as fundamental as life itself. They not only gave expression to the purpose and fulfillment of human life, they also serve the very practical function of ensuring the survival of the people.
  • This land was created by “the one who provides for all”, and we came from this land. We recognize our equality with this land and all living creatures.
  • We recognize and respect the natural laws, which regulate the cycle of seasons, the rhythms of the earth, the ways of the animals.
  • No one individual has right to own the land. As the ones who came from this land, we have a collective right to use the land and its resources to ensure our survival as a people. We also have a collective responsibility to protect the land and resources for our children and grandchildren.
  • We take only what we need from the land. We honour and give thanks to the spirit of the land and that which we take from the land. We do not waste anything that we have taken from the land, but share it with all who are in need.
  • The survival of the whole group (family, community) is more important than the accumulation of individual wealth or status.
  • Individual rights and freedoms are respected and encouraged within the larger, more important context of a collective identity and responsibilities for the survival and well-being of the entire group.
  • The laws of the Dene, which have been passed down to us by our elders, teach us how to respect the land, ourselves, and each other. The laws teach us how to live in balance and good health, and how to protect ourselves and our children. We must continue to live by these laws and pass them on to our children.
  • We respect and care for each other, in particular, we honour and provide for our elders, who care for us and pass on the gifts of generations past. We also honour and provide for our children who will pass on the ways of the Dene to generations yet to come.
  • We come from male and female, and we respect and honour the contributions which both men and woman make in working together for the survival of the people.
  • We respect and honour our leaders and medicine men and women who share their special skills, experience, wisdom and powers for the benefit of their people. We don’t expect them to work for us or serve us, but we look to them for guidance and instruction to help us govern ourselves in a good way.
  • Everyone has the right to be heard and to take part in the decision – making process on discussion of matters which will affect us.
  • We respect the right of the Dene, in family groups, in communities, or in regions, to make decisions, without interference from outside, with respect to matters which affect them alone in their territory.


Dene values are an important part of our daily lives, the values are taught from the history and continue on through the generations.


The Dene share in the use of the land and the resources of the land, particularly food. The work of maintaining the camp is shared, as is the responsibility for caring for children, and protecting the safety and health of the family.


One shows respect for oneself and for others, for leaders and elders and those with special skills, and for the land and all living things.


Caring is shown for all members of the extended family. The widows, orphans, and elders unable to provide for themselves are cared for by their community. Concern is shown for the safety and protection of oneself and others in the home.


Equality among all people, and the equality of humans and all other living creatures is recognized.

Self-Respect and Pride:

Everyone, as equals, had reason to respect themselves and take pride in doing well, whatever it was their particular responsibility to do. There was pride in being self – reliant, in being someone who could contribute something to the family and community.