The smallest, most remote of the Tłįchǫ Dene communities stands amid a gorgeous setting — the Snare River, which weaves its way through sandy, rolling shield-country on the cusp of the treeline. No settlement is closer to the Barrenlands, nor to the diamond mines that are one of the NWT’s major economic engines.
The area around Wekweètì, meaning “Rock Lake,” was used for generations by the Tłįchǫ as a seasonal hunting camp as they travelled to the nearby Barrenlands on the trail of migrating caribou. In the 1960s, the area became a permanent settlement when Elders like Johnny Simpson and Alexis Arrowmaker moved here from Behchokǫ̀ looking to return to a more traditional way of life.
As such, fishing and hiking here are ideal. Although the nearby mines are a significant source of jobs, many residents still maintain a livelihood by hunting and fishing. But there are also modern conveniences. Wekweètì has a hotel and lodge for visitors, a store, a health centre and a school. It’s also close to the series of dams along the Snare River that provide hydropower to Yellowknife and Behchokǫ̀.
Despite the technological innovations, the land here remains as ancient as anywhere on the planet. Acasta Gneiss, located just north of Wekweètì, is the oldest exposed rock ever found on earth, with an age of over four billion years.
When you visit, be sure to keep an eye out for the majestic Barrenlands Caribou herd that often passes close by on its way north to the calving grounds in the spring, and then south again as winter approaches.
Wekweètì is 200 kilometres north of Yellowknife and can be accessed primarily via road from Whati, or a flight from Yellowknife.