Dene chief wants to unite Athabascans

WINDOW ROCK

It was 50 degrees and sunny here at 4 p.m. Monday.

Submitted
Norman Yakeleya

In the town of Yellowknife in Canada’s Northwest Territories, it was minus 10 and already dark.

But although it was coming from nearly 2,000 miles and several climate zones away, the voice on the other end of the phone could have been Navajo.

It was Norman Yakeleya, the new national chief of Canada’s Dene Nation, linguistic cousins of America’s Navajo and Apache tribes. He had been toying with an idea, and wanted it broached in the Navajo newspaper to gauge his “southern relations’” reaction. Yakeleya, 59, is feeling a strong pull to unite North America’s Athabascan tribes.

In these days of polarization, “I feel the largest indigenous group in North America should be leading the way in coming together,” he said. “We should be supporting our people in a holistic way, equipping each other to face life’s challenges.”


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Categories: Culture

About Author

Cindy Yurth

Cindy Yurth is the Tséyi' Bureau reporter, covering the Central Agency of the Navajo Nation. Her other beats include agriculture and Arizona state politics. She holds a bachelor’s degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University with a cognate in geology. She has been in the news business since 1980 and with the Navajo Times since 2005, and is the author of “Exploring the Navajo Nation Chapter by Chapter.” She can be reached at cyurth@navajotimes.com.