Outline of the History of Fort Providence
the people of Fort Providence have come from nine different tribes or
- the Red Knife clan,
- the Mink Lake clan,
- the Moose Point clan,
- the Echaot'i (land of the giants people),
- the Horn River people,
- the Big Point (Edah Cho) people,
- Jack Fish Point people.
largest Dene tribe in this area was known as 'the river people' who
are now known as 'Deh Gah Got'ie' Dene.
to contemporary historians, the earliest established community of "Providence"
was located on the North Arm of Great Slave Lake, East Great Slave Lake
near Fort Rae during the time of fur trader Peter Pond.
second community of "Providence", known as old Fort Providence,
is located at Big Island, 60 miles upstream of the present day community,
and was established during the early 1800's by the first missionaries
to arrive in the area.
present day community of Fort Providence was established by missionaries
in the mid -1800's. An orphanage/mission was started by sisters in 1859.
last big gathering at Red Knife by Dene tribes took place in 1918. Evidence
of a significant tea dance circle, used during a spiritual gathering,
is still present to this day.
brief overview of modern historical events follows:
1921: A treaty party arrived in Fort Providence, and Paul Lefoin was
recognized as Chief,
1928: A flu epidemic hit the Dene - an estimated 600 people were lost,
1930: A new mission school, the Sacred Heart Mission, was built,
1940: The American Army situates its base at Axe Point,
1958: Slashing began for construction of the Highway to Yellowknife,
1959: A Federal Day School was built,
1960: Sacred Heart Mission School shuts down and is converted to a Nursing
1968: Myhrens opens a bar across from the ferry landing,
1970: Queen Elizabeth II comes to Providence to start a Canoe Race to
Inuvik. hosted by Chief Vital Bonnetrouge.
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Click here for Jean Watts' account
of life in Fort Providence in 1948