Dane-Zaa (ᑕᓀ ᖚ)

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Language Family: Dene (Athabaskan)

Language known as: Beaver, Dunne-za, dʌnneza, Dane-zaa Záágéʔ

"We call our language Dane-zaa Záágéʔ, which translates as "people-regular language" in English. It is also known as the Beaver Language, because of the name the Europeans gave our people during the fur trade.

Dane-zaa Záágéʔ is a member of the Athabaskan language family, which is one of the largest in North America. It includes the Navajo language of the American Southwest, Hupa, spoken along the Pacific Coast of California and Oregon, and many languages of Alaska and Canada. Dane-zaa Záágéʔ is closely related to the languages spoken by our neighboring Athabaskan groups, such as Dene Dháh (Alberta Slavey), Sekani, Tsuut'ina (Sarcee), Dene Sųłiné (Chipewyan), and Dene Zā́gé' (Kaska).

Dane-zaa Záágéʔ is spoken at Hanás̱ Saahgéʔ (Doig River), Blueberry, Halfway River, and Prophet River in British Columbia as well as at the Boyer River (Rocky Lane) and Child Lake (Eleske) Reserves in Alberta."1.

State of the Language

"English is now the first language of most Dane-zaa children, and of many adults in our communities. Dane-zaa Záágéʔ was our primary language until our grandparents and parents started to send our children to school in the 1950s. English only became dominant in the 1980s. Because our language is orally based, Dane-zaa Záágéʔ becomes increasingly endangered as our fluent speakers pass away."1

First Nation Population Fluent Speakers Understand or Speak Somewhat Learning Speakers
Blueberry River First Nations247024150
Doig River First Nation3299502000
Halfway River First Nations42565318715
Prophet River First Nation5263256815
Saulteau First Nations8406unknownunknownunknown
West Moberly First Nations73071223
Footnotes / References
1. unknown (2005). Dane Wajich Dane-ẕaa Stories & Songs.
2. Language Data from Blueberry First Nations School (2014), Language Needs Assessment #3346
3. Language Data from Doig River First Nation (2014), Language Needs Assessment #2413
4. Language Data from Halfway River First Nation (2014), Language Needs Assessment #3453
5. Language Data from Tribal Council (2013), Language Needs Assessment #2965
6. Treaty 8 Tribal Association (n.d.). Treaty 8 Tribal Association.
7. Language Data from West Moberly First Nations (2014), Language Needs Assessment #3349