Hugh Brody – The Other Side of Eden - Dunne-za and maps
Type of Spiritual Experience
The Dane-zaa (also spelled Dunneza, or Tsattine, and historically often referred to as the Beaver tribe by Europeans) are a First Nations people of the Athabaskan-speaking ethnolinguistic group. Their traditional territory is around the Peace River of the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia, Canada. About 1,000 Dane-zaa are living today in British Columbia and perhaps half speak the Danezaa language, and around 2,000 live in Alberta.
A description of the experience
Hugh Brody – The Other Side of Eden
The Dunne-za, like many other hunter gatherer peoples, use dreams to locate both the animals they will kill and the routes along which they must travel to find these animals. The hunt is something other than mere hunting; rather it is part of a vitally important relationship. The people depend on the animals, and the animals allow themselves to be killed.
In the immense landscape of their territory and with such a deep history of its occupation, the hunter gatherers of the Halfway reserve carry knowledge and techniques that they have accumulated over many generations. Dreamers process this into decisions about the land and the hunt. To find the animals that are willing to be killed, Dunne-za hunters travel along trails that reveal themselves in dreams.
Shamans are the people whose special skills and techniques allow them to move from the practical realm to the spiritual realm, from the everyday to the metaphysical. ‘Powerful dreamers’ are the Dunne-za equivalent of shamans. An elder once told me they function like tape recorders, they record a dream song as they sleep and find they can play it back in the daytime. The origin of the song is mysterious, its meaning may be obscure, but its consistence is not in doubt.