Dänojà – The Distant Time
In the distant time, we harken back to the beginning of life in our land, how the earth was formed, how the sun and moon came to be, and how we lived our lives before the newcomers arrived.
Singing and drumming to celebrate the seasonal opening of the Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre, May 2015.
Midnight Arts photo
Distant Time Stories
Like peoples from all over the world, our ancestors pondered the big questions: How did the world come to be? Who set the sun, moon and stars high in the sky? How should we relate to the animals that are crucial to our survival? What must one do to be a good person and ensure that we and our families prosper?
In the Athapaskan cosmology, many figures played a part in making the world as it is today. Through trickery and transformation, Crow stole the sun and moon then threw them into the sky to shine on everyone. The one who is credited with setting the world in order and providing humans with necessary skills and knowledge is a larger-than-life character known as Tsà’ Wëzhè or the Traveller who can be human or beaver.
The Material Record
For thousands of years, our ancestors travelled lightly on this land leaving few traces of their presence. Nonetheless, careful investigation reveals that they used many of the same fish camp sites, game look-out points and travel routes that we do today. Our people have been working with archaeologists and other scientists to learn the stories of their lives as we uncover tools of stone and bone, fireplaces, and remnants of ancient meals, and to map the outlines of more recent structures.
Familiar landmarks help us navigate our land. Embedded in the landscape are the First Nations names associated with these hills, mountains, rivers, lakes and campsites. Names can reflect physical characteristics or associations with people and activities.