Marguerite Dadzene sits at a table while her husband Germaine plays an old French tune on a fiddle. The Dadzenes are both Dene natives. The Dene are a First Nations people who have had an ambivalent relationship with the Canadian government.
Photograph by Maria Stenzel, National Geographic

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  • On April 9, 1990, the Dene and Métis—both indigenous peoples—concluded negotiations on a land-claims agreement with the Canadian government. It was not ratified and an agreement was not put into effect until 1994. The original agreement would have provided the Dene and Métis with ownership of specified lands, called for joint-management of resources and environmental screening, and outlined financial compensation for past use of the lands. In exchange, the agreement would have extinguished any other Dene and Métis land rights.
    While the original agreement was never implemented, Canada eventually achieved regional land-claim settlements with Dene and Métis groups. In addition, the Canadian government reached agreements with another indigenous group, the Inuit. As aboriginal peoples continue to assert their land rights in the future, countries will reach more land-claim agreements granting autonomy and land ownership to indigenous groups.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    aboriginal Adjective

    native or indigenous.

    autonomy Noun


    compensation Noun

    fee or money paid for goods, services, debt, loss, injury, or suffering.

    environment Noun

    conditions that surround and influence an organism or community.

    extinguish Verb

    to put an end to or completely do away with.

    financial Adjective

    having to do with money.

    government Noun

    system or order of a nation, state, or other political unit.

    implement Verb

    to carry out plans.

    indigenous Adjective

    characteristic to or of a specific place.

    Encyclopedic Entry: indigenous
    Inuit Noun

    people and culture native to the Arctic region of Canada, Greenland, and the U.S. state of Alaska.

    Metis Noun

    people and culture native to Canada, who trace their ancestry to European and indigenous heritage.

    ratify Verb

    to formally approve.

    region Noun

    any area on Earth with one or more common characteristics. Regions are the basic units of geography.

    Encyclopedic Entry: region
    resource Noun

    available supply of materials, goods, or services. Resources can be natural or human.