Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Athabascans, the most widespread division of the North American aborigines, their domain occupying the greater part of the dominion of Canada and Alaska, and stretching with considerable interruptions thence southwards into North Mexico. Athabascan is a purely geographical expression, taken from Lake Athabasca, which lies about the centre of their territory. The most collective native name for this great aggregate of tribes is Tinneh, that is, "Men," a term in various dialectic forms (Tinne, Dinne, Dine, Dnaine, Dinja, etc.), appropriated by most of the groups as their own special designation. The more important of these groups are the Kenais and Atnahs (Nehannes) of Central and South Alaska; the Kutchins or Loucheux between the Upper Yukon and Lower Mackenzie rivers; the Chippewayans with the Beaver, Slave, Dog-rib, Hare, Yellow-knife, Sheep, and other tribes, between the Rocky Mountains and Hudson Bay north of the Churchill river; the Tacullies or Carriers of North British Columbia and eastwards to the Mackenzie; the Umpquas of Oregon; the Tlaskanais of the Lower Columbia; the Hoopahs of California, and the Apaches of Arizona and North Mexico. The various groups differ considerably in their physical and mental qualities, some being fierce and untamable, others somewhat timid and servile; but all speak more or less closely related forms of the same Athabascan language, which shows but slight affinities with any other native tongues. It is spoken in its greatest purity by the Chippewayans of Lake Athabasca, who are in every way the most important members of the family, and who are not to be confounded with the Algonquin Chippeways of the Laurentian lacustrine region. The Athabascans are mainly hunters and trappers, and most of them find employment as such in the service of the Hudson Bay Company. The best authority on the Athabascan tribes is the missionary, M. Petitot, whose writings have appeared in the Annee Geographique and several other French periodicals.