Nááts’įhch’oh National Park Reserve – Place Names and Pronunciation Guide

Nááts’įhch’oh National Park Reserve is in the traditional territory of the Sahtu Dene and Métis. The dialect used for place names in the park is that of the Shúhtaot’ine (Mountain Dene). Language is a key to understanding the cultural landscape of Nááts’įhch’oh National Park Reserve. 

To know the land as the Shúhtaot’ine know the land, place names must be kept (or returned) to their original Dene (Slavey) language. Not all of the traditional place names are known amongst the Shúhtaot’ine who are alive today. However, Shúhtaot’ine elders have given new names to those places where the old names have been lost or forgotten.

“[Our Shúhtaot’ine Elders have lived their whole entire life in the area and were happy.] All the places may not mean anything to all people, but, they mean the world to the people who live off the area. We have to keep using the Elders’ place names as long as we can, for our future generations. If used in the same way, then we will benefit and get help from the area. Again, I cannot stress how important this area is for our people and future generations. But it has to be used and looked at differently, in our Shúhtaot’ine way.”

David Etchinelle, 2016.

The English names given to places in the park were largely a result of surveyors, geologists and prospectors travelling through the area in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s.

Place names will vary amongst Dene language speakers as well. Nááts’įhch’oh National Park Reserve is in the Sahtu Region of the Northwest Territories, whereas Nahanni National Park Reserve is in the Dehcho Region. The Dehcho name may differ from the Sahtu name for the same location. For example, Tehjeh Deé is called Nahɂa Dehé in the Dehcho. Visitors are encouraged to use (or at least try) Dene place names. By using the Elders’ place names, park visitors are showing respect to the Sahtu Dene and Métis, and helping to keep language and culture as an integral part of the land.

Leon Andrew kindly provided the place names and several other pronunciations below. Another Elder (who wishes to remain anonymous) shared pronunciations for animals, plants and several others words.

English Name 

Shúhtaot’ine Name

Pronunciation

Click the button to play the audio.
O’Grady Lake Area  
O’Grady Lake Túoch'ee Tué Too-ho-chay Tway
Natla River Túoch'ee Deé Too-ho-chay Day
Keele River
(outside the park)
Begaadeé Bay-gah-day
Nááts’įhch’oh Area
Mount Nááts’įhch’oh
(Mount Wilson)
Nááts’įhch’oh Nats-inch-oh(n)
Moose Ponds Nááts’įhch’oh Tué Nats-inch-oh(n) Tway
South Nahanni River Tehjeh Deéi Teh-jeh Day
Rabbitkettle Hot Spring
(in Nahanni)
Gaǫfááii
(name for all hot springs)
Ga-ohn-fah
Nı́onep’eneɂ Area
Nı́onep’eneɂ Lake
(Grizzly Bear Lake)
Nı́onep'eneɂ Tuéiii Nee-oh-neh-pen-ay Tway
Black Wolf Creek Dı́ga Dezene Deé Dig-ah Dez-ehn-ay Day
The Creek is Flowing
Out of the Mountain
Shúhzhıé káı̨lı̨ Shuh-jay kind-eh
Sunlight Mountain Sadéé Shúh Sah-day Shoo
Sunlight Mountain Hot Spring Sadéé Shúh Gaǫfáá Sah-day Shoo Ga-ohn-fah
Divide Lake Area
Divide Lake  Ǫtaa Tu Fehto Oh-tah Too Feh-toh
Creek
(from Divide Lake)
Ǫtaa Tu Fehto Deé Oh-tah Too Feh-toh Day
Swallow Falls Pı́ı́lǫhda Nááréélı̨ Pilo-dah Nah-ray-leh
Broken Skull River Pı̨́ı̨́p'enéh łéetǫ́ǫ́ Deé Pip-en-ay Lee-toh Day
Singing Water Mountain Tu Ɂulah Shúh Too Uh-lah Shoo
White Water Creek Tu Dek’ale Deé Too Dek-ah-lay Day
Rainbow Creek K’áále Míé Deé Kah-lay Mee-ay Day
Red Creek Dedeleɂ Deé Deh-deh-lay Day
Broken Skull Lake Pı̨́ı̨́p'enéh łéetǫ́ǫ́ Tué Pip-en-ay Lee-toh Tway
Broken Skull Hot Spring Pı̨́ı̨́p'enéh łéetǫ́ǫ́ Gaǫfáá Pip-en-ay Lee-toh Ga-ohn-fah
Raven’s Throat River
(outside the park)
Tátsǫ́k’áá Deé Tah-son-kah Day
Margaret Lake Area
Clearwater Lake Tuededéveh Tué Too-deh-dev-eh Tway
Clearwater Mountain
(large – beside the lake)
Tuededéveh Shúh Too-deh-dev-eh Shoo
Lesser Mountain
(granite intrusion)
Pietsele Shúh Pee-et-sel-eh Shoo
Margaret Lake Dechı̨baa Tué Deh-chi-bah Tway
Broken Heart Plateau Sedzeełéetó Pıehtéh Seh-zjay-(k)leh-ton Peh-tay
Three Sisters Mountain Łehdéétaı́ Shúh (k)leh-day-tai Shoo
Howard’s Pass Access Road Area
Connecting Flow River
(Little Nahanni River)
Łáhtanįlį Deé (K)lah-tan-ee-lee Day
Caribou Crossing Trail
(Howard’s Pass Access Road)
Ɂepé Nįnarehɂá Ɂetenéɂ (G)eh—pay Nah-ray-(g)ah (G)et-en-ay
 
Other Useful Words and Phrases in Dene Kedeé
Name (English) Shúhtaot’ine Name Pronunciation
Animals
Caribou Epé Ay-pay
Moose Įts’é It-say
Fish Łue (K)loo-eh
Bear Sah Sah
Wolf Díga Dee-gah
Fox Nǫgére Nok-geh-ree
Squirrel Dléá D’lay
Grouse (chicken) Dih Dee
Eagle Det’onecho Day-ton-e-cho
Loon Tútsi Too-(t)see
Mosquito P’í P'ee
Plants
Berries Je Ji
Spruce Ts’u T’sou
Flower Įt’ǫ́ Een-ton
Lichen Ajú Ah-ju
Moss Nee
Mushroom
(translates as “Mouse Food”)
Dlįa béré D’leei-bée-reh
Useful Words and Phrases
Mountain Dene Shúhtaot’ine Shoo-tah-oh-tin-ay
Thank you Mahsi Mah-see              
Good Morning Náhkale gonezo Nah-kah-lay Go-nay-zoh
Morning Náhkale Nah-kah-lay
Boat (canoe) Eláhyaa Ai-la-y’a 
River Deé Dée
Lake Tué Tway
Unnamed Lake Tu Fehto Too Feh-toh

i    In the Dehcho Region of the Northwest Territories, including Nahanni National Park Reserve, this river is called the Nahɂa Dehé (South Nahanni River)
ii   In the Dehcho Region of the Northwest Territories, including Nahanni National Park Reserve, the tufa mounds are called Gahnįhthah.
iii  Shúhtaot’ine Elders caution travelers against using the word “Grizzly Bear” or “Bear” as these animals have powerful spirits that must be respected. The English name for Nı́onep’eneɂ Tué is no longer being used for this reason.