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Home Story Łutsël K’é: The Guardians of Thaidene Nëné

Łutsel K’e: The Guardians of Thaidene Nëné

Photo credit: Jeff Hipfner

“(The Lady of the Falls) has told the people that she will always be there to heal, to protect, to guide: as long as we do not disturb her land until the end of time. This is the responsibility passed on to us by our elders. They know our identity and strength come from our relationship with Thaidene Nëné.” – Gloria Enzoe from Łutsel K’e

On the eastern arm of Great Slave Lake, there exists a stunning land formed 3 billion years ago by the collision and re-bounding of the Slave Geologic Province and Churchill tectonic plates. This geological process formed a crevice in the land over 7,000 feet deep, that eventually filled with sediment from retreating glaciers to form what is now the gorgeous East Arm of Great Slave Lake. Sheer cliffs tower over pristine lakes. Surging rivers become cascading waterfalls. This place is home to muskoxen and barren-ground caribou, and the grizzlies and wolves that stalk them. The deep, clear waters remain in pristine condition today. The lake is thick with lake trout. The skies abound with birdlife. The trees gradually thin out to the barrenlands. Nestled in this abundant landscape is the fly-in only First Nations Chipewyan Dene community of Łutsel K’e, with a population of around 300. 

Photo credit: Pat Kane

Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve, located right next to the community of Łutselk’e, the ‘land of our ancestors’, holds great cultural and spiritual significance to the Indigenous people who live there. It has been home to the Łutsel K’e Dene First Nations since time immemorial and remains a place that locals have sworn to protect forever, as guardians of their traditional territory. Now, this sacred area is poised to be one of the largest protected areas in North America, encompassing some 26,000 square kilometres. 

This protected area allows residents to preserve the ecological integrity of the land while also creating sustainable local employment opportunities through tourism. The community members of Łutsel K’e will guide you to and within Thaidene Nëné National and Territorial Park.

Photo credit: Pat Kane

Other than the Region’s residents, only a handful of intrepid explorers, bold adventurers, mineral surveyors, and government scientists had ever seen this land. But now through tourism operators like Red Cliff AdventuresChase East Arm Adventures, Frontier Lake Lodge, and River’s East Arm Tours, people of the Łutselk’e Dene First Nation people of the Łutselk’e Dene First Nation will be welcoming you and teaching you about this breathtaking land, its history and traditions. After a 45-minute flight from nearby Yellowknife—180 kilometres to the east— travellers can stop by the Band office to purchase local arts and crafts before departing by boat to spy muskoxen on the shores of the countless lakes and rivers. Have a local tourism operator take you to drop a fishing line into the 600-metre-plus chasm of Christie Bay in Great Slave Lake’s East Arm—the deepest freshwater lake in all of North America and home to world class, and record shattering, trout lake fishing.

Photo Credit: Pat Kane

Or learn more about the local culture and hear traditional stories sitting by an open fire at a traditional camp. Visitors can explore Old Fort Reliance, a National Historic Site of Canada built for an expedition led by Captain George Back in 1833. It served as a base for expeditions for trading and for missions seeking the lost British explorers John Ross and, later, John Franklin.

The Łutsel K’e Dene, guardians of Thaidene Nëné, promise guests authentic experiences from a land rich with history and biodiversity, and hosts who are proud to show their homeland to visitors from all over the world. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to visit this Park and learn about the culture of those who call it home.