Sahtu is the Dene name for gigantic Great Bear Lake. It means “bear waters,” and might refer to the presence of barrenland grizzlies on the lake’s eastern shores. Great Bear Lake is among the planet’s largest bodies of fresh water, with a surface area of 31,400 sq km and depths that reach 440 metres. It’s also the biggest lake entirely within Canada. Great Bear has a reputation among fishermen that stretches back many years. The fishing lodges of Great Bear consistently claimed some of the largest lake trout ever recorded, and prize trout are still being hauled from its depths. The monsters go back in the lake these days, under catch and release rules that prevail in the Northwest Territories, and only a few eating fish are harvested today.
Two peninsulas on Great Bear, covering 5,565 square kilometers, were designated as a national historic site in 2009. Parks Canada and the community of Délįne signed a first-of-its-kind deal where the sites – called Saoyú (saw-you-eh), or Grizzly Bear Mountain, and ʔehdacho (aa-daa-cho), or Scented Grass Hills.