First Nations in the Northwest Territories

There are 27 First Nations in the Northwest Territories. First Nation is one of three groupings of Indigenous people in Canada, the other two being Métis and Inuit. Unlike the majority of First Nations in Canada, who are governed by the Indian Act and hold reserve lands, 24 of the First Nations in the Northwest Territories have a self-governing agreement or are in the process of negotiating one. The remaining three First Nations, Kátł’odeeche First Nation, Salt River First Nation and Smith’s Landing First Nation, fall under the Indian Act and have reserve land in either the Northwest Territories, Alberta or both (see alsoReserves in the Northwest Territories; Reserves in Alberta). While the term First Nation can describe a large ethnic grouping (e.g. the Dene Nation), in other cases it is synonymous with the term band, a word originally chosen by the federal government and used in the Indian Act. The word band describes smaller communities, such as the ones listed below. Many First Nations prefer the term First Nation over band. In terms of larger ethnic groupings, First Nations in the Northwest Territories are primarily Dene, with some Cree. They speak the following languages or dialects: Cree, Gwichya Gwich'in, Teetlit Gwich'in, North Slavey, South Slavey, Tlı̨chǫ, Dënesųłıné, Wıı̀lıı̀deh Yatıı̀, and Tetsǫ́t’ıné Yatıé. The Northwest Territories also has large Inuvialuit and Métis populations.

There are 27 First Nations in the Northwest Territories. First Nation is one of three groupings of Indigenous people in Canada, the other two being Métis and Inuit. Unlike the majority of First Nations in Canada, who are governed by the Indian Act and hold reserve lands, 24 of the First Nations in the Northwest Territories have a self-governing agreement or are in the process of negotiating one. The remaining three First Nations, Kátł’odeeche First Nation, Salt River First Nation and Smith’s Landing First Nation, fall under the Indian Act and have reserve land in either the Northwest Territories, Alberta or both (see alsoReserves in the Northwest Territories; Reserves in Alberta). While the term First Nation can describe a large ethnic grouping (e.g. the Dene Nation), in other cases it is synonymous with the term band, a word originally chosen by the federal government and used in the Indian Act. The word band describes smaller communities, such as the ones listed below. Many First Nations prefer the term First Nation over band. In terms of larger ethnic groupings, First Nations in the Northwest Territories are primarily Dene, with some Cree. They speak the following languages or dialects: Cree, Gwichya Gwich'in, Teetlit Gwich'in, North Slavey, South Slavey, Tlı̨chǫ, Dënesųłıné, Wıı̀lıı̀deh Yatıı̀, and Tetsǫ́t’ıné Yatıé. The Northwest Territories also has large Inuvialuit and Métis populations.

Each point on this map represents the location of a First Nation’s community or administrative office. For a map of reserves in the Northwest Territories, see Reserves in the Northwest Territories.
(map by The Canadian Encyclopedia, data courtesy Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada and licensed under Open Government Licence-Canada)

First Nations in the Northwest Territories

  • Acho Dene Koe First Nation
  • Behchokǫ̀ Community Government
  • Behdzi Ahda First Nation
  • Deh Gáh Got'ie Dene First Nation
  • Délı̨nę Got’ı̨nę Government
  • Deninu K'ue First Nation
  • Ehdiitat Gwich’in Council
  • Gamètı̀ Community Government
  • Gwichya Gwich'in Council (see Tsiigehtchic)
  • Ka'a'gee Tu First Nation
  • K'asho Got'ine Charter Community
  • K'atlodeeche First Nation
  • Łı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę́ First Nation
  • Łútsël K’é Dene First Nation
  • Nahɂą Dehé Dene Band
  • Nihtat Gwich'in Council
  • Pehdzeh Ki First Nation
  • Salt River First Nation
  • Sambaa K'e First Nation
  • Smith's Landing First Nation
  • Teetl'it Gwich'in Band Council (see Fort McPherson)
  • Tthets’éhk’edélı̨ First Nation
  • Tulita Dene
  • Wekweètı̀ Community Government
  • West Point First Nation
  • Whatı̀ First Nation
  • Yellowknives Dene First Nation