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Kawchodinne Tribe

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Kawchodinne Indians, Kawchodinne People, Kawchodinne First Nation (ka ‘hare’, cho ‘great’, dinne ‘people’: ‘people of the great hares’). An Athapascan tribe dwelling north of Great Bear Lake, Mackenzie Territory, Canada, on Mackenzie river, the lakes east of it, and Anderson river. Mackenzie said they were a small tribe residing on Peace river, who spoke the language of the Chipewyan and derived their name from the Arctic hare, their chief means of support. At another time1 he placed them on Porcupine river, Alaska. Franklin2 placed them immediately north of the Thlingchadinne on the north side of the outlet of Bear lake. Back3 located them on Mackenzie river as far north as 68°. Richardson4 gave their habitat as the banks of Mackenzie river from Slave lake downward. Hind5 said they resorted to Ft Norman and Ft Good Hope on the Mackenzie, and also to Ft Yukon, Alaska. Ross6 said they resided in 1859 in the country surrounding Ft Good Hope on Mackenzie river, extending beyond the Arctic circle, where they came in contact with the Kutchin, with whom by intermarriage they have formed the tribe of Bastard Loucheux (Nellagottine). Petitot7 said the Kawchodinne lived on the lower Mackenzie from Ft Norman to the Arctic ocean.

The Kawchodinne Indians are described as a thickset people, who subsist partly on fish and reindeer, but obtain their clothing and most of their food from the hares that abound in their country. Their language differs little from that of the Etchareottine, while their style of dress and their customs are the same, although through long intercourse with the traders, for whom they have great respect, most of the old customs and beliefs of the tribe have become extinct. They are on friendly terms with the Eskimo. The Kawchodinne have a legend of the formation of the earth by the muskrat and the beaver. The dead are deposited in a rude cage built above ground, the body being wrapped in a blanket or a moose skin; the property of relatives is destroyed, and their hair is cut as a sign of mourning. When the supply of hares becomes exhausted, as it frequently does, they believe these mount to the sky by means of the trees and return in the same way when they reappear. Polygamy is now rare. They are a peaceable tribe, contrasting with their Kutchin neighbors. In personal combat they grasp each other by their hair, which they twist round and round until one of the contestants falls to the ground. They are not so numerous as formerly, a great many having died from starvation in 1841, at which time numerous acts of cannibalism are said to have occurred. In 1858 Ross8 gave the population as 467; 291 males, 176 females. Of these 103 resorted to Ft Norman and 364, to Ft Good Hope. Petitot9 arranged them in five subdivisions:

  • Katagottine
  • Katchogottine
  • Nellagottine
  • Nigottine
  • Satchotugottine

In another list10 instead of Nigottine he has Etatchogottine and Chintagottine. In a later grouping11 Petitot identifies Katagottine with Chintagottine, suppresses Satchotugottine, and adds Kfwetragottine.


  1. Mackenzie, Mass. Hist. Coll., II, 43, 1814 

  2. Franklin, Journ. to Polar Sea, 261, 1824 

  3. Back, Journal, 497, 1833-35 

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  4. Richardson, Arct. Exped., II, 3, 1851 

  5. Hind, Lab. Penin., II, 261, 1863 

  6. Ross, MS., B. A. E. 

  7. Petitot, Dict. Dènè-Dindjie, XX, 1876 

  8. Ross, MS. , B. A. E. 

  9. Petitot, Dict. Dènè-Dindjie, XX, 1876 

  10. Bull. Soc. Geog. Paris, 1875 

  11. Petitot, Autour du lacdes Esclaves, 362, 1891 

MLA Source Citation:

Hodge, Frederick Webb, Compiler. The Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Bureau of American Ethnology, Government Printing Office. 1906. Web. 28 August 2016.
- Last updated on Aug 5th, 2014

This page is part of a larger collection. Access the full collection at Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico.

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