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Dunne-za Place Names

There are only eleven official place names in Alberta suspected to be of Dunne-za origin. Six are said to use the Dunne-za language. Chinchaga River, which flows into Hay River, uses the word "Chinchaga" said to be a Dunne-za word meaning "big wood" or "big timber." There is also a Dene Tha name for the river which means the same thing (DB). Kleskun Creek and Kleskun Hill, near Spirit River, are said to use the Dunne-za word meaning "white mud." (DB)

Names which appear to be English translations of Dunne-za include Beaverlodge River and the town of Beaverlodge which take their names from a word meaning "lodge" or "temporary dwelling." The first white settlers are said to have taken up squatters rights in this region of northwest Alberta in 1908 (DB).

Four Dunne-za place names are said to commemorate a person or event. Among them is La Glace. a hamlet 30 kilometres northwest of Grande Prairie, which is named for Chief Charles La Glace who is said to have restrained his people from using force against white settlers when they moved into the area. La Glace drowned in Valgalla Lake in 1909 at the age of 62 (DB).

The lack of official place names of Native origin in northern areas suggests that there were factors in the naming process which tended to exclude local indigenous peoples.


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