a member of a group of Athabaskan-speaking North American Indians living in the upper Mackenzie River valley region of the Northwest Territories and in parts of British Columbia, Alberta, and the Yukon Territory.Also, Slavey.
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* * *▪ peoplealso called Slavey, Awokanak, or Etchareottine,group of Athabascan-speaking Indians of Canada, originally inhabiting the western shores of the Great Slave Lake, the basins of the Mackenzie and Liard rivers, and other neighbouring riverine and forest areas. Their name, Awokanak, or Slave, was given them by the Cree, who plundered and often enslaved numbers of them, and this name became the familiar one used by the French and English, for the Slave had a general reputation for timidity or pacifism, whether deserved or not.Like most other Athabascan tribes, the Slave were separated into a number of independent bands, each of which was rather loosely organized, with only nominal leaders, and was associated with certain hunting territories. An informal council of hunters settled disputes. Women and the aged were treated with a respect and kindness that was not typical of all Athabascans.The Slave were inhabitants of the forests and riverbanks; they hunted moose, woodland caribou, and other game but also relied heavily on fish for food. Animal skins were made into robes, shirts, leggings, moccasins, and other clothing; fringes and ornaments made of antlers, porcupine quills, and other natural materials were popular. Their dwellings consisted of brush-covered tepees in summer and rectangular huts formed of poles and spruce branches in winter.The Slave believed in guardian spirits, in the power of medicine men, and in an undefined life after death. A common practice was the deathbed confession of sins, thought to contribute to the delay of death.
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