Like many First Nations, the Denesuline have a very close relationship with the land. For traditional Denesuline people this relationship is intertwined with everything in their daily living; children learn about it in two ways: through observation of the adults around them, and through oral stories. Denesuline children learn to be respectful of the land by observing the manner in which the adults properly look after the bones and other parts of the animals and birds they gather for survival. In this way people will survive with the assistance of the animals which have been shown respect; if there is no respect, the living animals will go away and not allow themselves to be used by humans.

Like other First Nations people, the Denesuline present this relationship with the land in the metaphorical form of oral stories, which talk about the need to have a helper who is one of the animals inhabiting their surrounding world. To obtain this animal guide, Denesuline youth are required to go into the bush for a song. Amongst most Dene, the song thus acquired is a private matter, not to be discussed with others. They hold to this belief very strongly: to break this privacy is a violation of the person’s right to learn about the world in which they live.

William Asikinack