chapter  Chapter 2
Cultural Diversity in Northwestern North America
WithJohn W. Ives
Pages 58

Northwestern North America is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating ethnographic regions in the world. There are diverse physical environments, including coastal settings, interior plateaux, montane and boreal forests, treeline ecotones and tundra. With these gradients in physical variability are associated a variety of trends in social and economic organization. The broad sense of cultural unity underlies the present day political activities of Athapaskans centred on the Mackenzie Basin, who have identified themselves as the Dene Nation for the purposes of aboriginal land claims. Northern Athapaskans themselves recognize certain internal divisions. The peoples of the Mackenzie Basin and the Barren Grounds refer to themselves as “Mackenzie Dene,” an Athapaskan word for “people.” Many of the inferences made by Dyen and Aberle bridge the gap between purely linguistic issues and issues of ethnological significance. Several authors have made inferences about Athapaskan prehistory based upon their assessment of ethnological information.