Thanadelthur/ Thanadeltth'er

(1697-1717)

Thanadelthur was born in 1697 and played a crucial role in the expansion of the fur trade in the early 1700s. At a time when Dene and Cree were traditional enemies, Thanadelthur was able to forge a peace between the two Nations. She was a brave, intelligent, Dene woman who when in her teens was captured by the Cree in a raid on her encampment in 1713. She was enslaved for more than a year. She escaped and came across the HBC York Factory Fort which was governed by Governor James Knight who needed a translator to help him negotiate with the Cree and the Dene.

Knight relied on Thanadelthur’s bravery and tenacity to help shape peace between the rivaling two nations. Thanadelthur’s efforts allowed the Hudson’s Bay Company to expand their fur trade monopoly from the area of York Factory, on the Hayes River, into the far North.

Unfortunately, Thanadelthur’s life was cut short because of illness but her contribution in the making of peace between the Dene and Cree had a lasting impact on both Nations, and the HBC and her inspiring story survives in Dene oral tradition and the journals of the Hudson’s Bay Company. Through oral history, the Dene people talk about how beautiful she was and that she chose a red jacket. The colour red is very significant in the telling of the story of Thanadelthur and her contact with the HBC.

On August 13, 2017, a 300-year commemoration took place in Churchill, Manitoba. Many people of the Dene and Cree decent congregated in Churchill to honour and commemorate Thanadelthur, many of them wore red. For her contribution to Manitoba and Canadian history, Thanadelthur is commemorated as a Person of National Historic Significance in 2000, and a Historical Role Model for the Youth in 2002.

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