Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Sekanais

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search


(Or more properly, Tshé-'kéh-ne, "People on the Rocks", i.e., the Rocky Mountains).

A Déné tribe whose habitat is on both sides of the Rockies, from 52° 30' N. lat. By language they are an eastern tribe, and it is not much more than 130 years since a portion of their congeners, having come into possession of fire-arms through the Canadian fur traders, made such reckless use of the same that the westernmost bands had to cross the mountains to get out of their reach. These quondam aggressors originally roamed along the Athabasca and Beaver Rivers, and they are today known under the name of Beavers, claiming now the valley of the Peace between Fort Dunvegan and a point some distance from L. Athabasca. Another split in the Sékanais ranks, which was due to an insignificant incident, brought into existence still another tribe, whose members were admittedly into the Blackfeet Confederacy under the name of Sarcees. The Sékanais proper are not today more than 450; the Beavers, perhaps 550, and the Sarcees, 190. By natural disposition as much as from necessity the Sékanais are inveterate nomads. They have no fixed abodes, and therefore no villages, or even chiefs in the strict sense of the word. The best related among the fathers of families are their only headmen, and their rôle is restricted to directing the movements of their respective bands. Yet the Sékanais are scrupulously honest and moral, though theirs is the only Déné tribe in which polyandry is known to have existed to a degree, they received the Gospel without questioning; but their habitat and environment, with their consequent nomadic habits, have conspired to make the establishment of permanent missions among them difficult. However, most of them are today under the influence of the Catholic priest. Even the Beavers, who are less religiously inclined, have steadfastly resisted the advances of the Protestant minister.

MORICE, The Western Dénés their Manners and Customs (Toronto, 1890): IDEM, Notes on the Western Dénés (Toronto, 1892); IDEM, History of the Northern Interior of British Columbia (Toronto, 1904); IDEM, The Great Déné Race (Vienna, in course of publication); PETITOT, Monographie des Déné-Dindjiè

A. G. Morice.