A Canadian Peacemaker


Thanadelthur was born in 1697, and was a Dene woman. Many believe that she is from the Lake Athabasca to the Great Slave Lake region. However, today, many people consider her to be Chipewyan, but the Dogribs say that she’s one of theirs. She was also a part of the Hudson’s Bay Company, serving as a guide and interpreter. She played a major part in making a peace agreement between the Chipewyan and the Cree people. In Canada, she is famous for her role in an eleven month (7 June 1715 to 7 May 1716) trek across the Subarctic to find her peoples.

Thanadelthur died of an illness on February 5th, 1717, but her story continues to be passed on by the Chipewyan.

The Hudson's Bay Company

Thanadelthur is better known than other Native people of the early fur trade, as a result of the records made in 1715 -1717 by James Knight (the Governor at York Fort) and Alexander Apthorp, his accountant,. Yet no paintings, sketches, or descriptions of her exist.

In early 1713, Thanadelthur, with several other women, were captured by the Cree. After a winter spent with their captors, she and another woman escaped, and attempted to return home. However, several conditions made it difficult, and Thanadelthur's companion passed within a year of travel. Luckily, Thanadelthur was found by goose hunters from the Hudson's Bay Company, who brought her to York Factory, Manitoba in late 1714. James Knight, a member of the Hudson's Bay Company, needed a native interpreter to speak with the Chipewyan about the fur trade at this time. He enlisted the help of Thanadelthur to make a peace treaty between the Chipewyan and Cree in 1715. Thanadelthur, along with a large group, started their mission. The success of this meeting led the HBC to establish the Prince of Wales fort in 1717 for the Chipewyan fur trade.

Contribution to Canada

Thanadelthur has accomplished two major tasks. Firstly, she managed to create a treaty between the Chipewyan and Cree peoples. This would have been difficult, as they were rivals at the time, stealing from each other's camps. Even when Thanadelthur and her party set off to create peace, several Chipewyans were murdered by the hands of the Cree. She left her group, but only to return ten days later with 400 Chipewyans. She had convinced them to come out and meet their enemies- peacefully.
The Crees in her original party were worried about what the Chipewyan would do, but after they argued their innocence, they invited the Chipewyan peoples to smoke the pipe of peace. When the ceremony was completed, some of the Chipewyan peoples returned to York Fort with the HBC's men. Thanadelthur was then credited with making peace between the two groups.
Furthermore, by accomplishing this task, she allowed the HBC to build another fur-trading centre at Churchill River. Not only did Thanadelthur create peace between the Cree and Chipewyan, she also aided in the expansion of the Hudson's Bay Company.