NWT government will, at last, use Dettah (not Detah)

The NWT government on Friday became the latest organization to switch to the correct spelling of Yellowknives Dene First Nation community Dettah.

The Government of the Northwest Territories had for years used the variant Detah, with only one T, despite the First Nation’s use of two Ts for the community’s name.

In a news release, the territory on Friday acknowledged it had received a “formal request” from the First Nation to adopt the Yellowknives Dene’s English-language spelling.


The CBC made the switch in 2019, again following a request from the First Nation.

“The NWT’s Geographic Names program continues to work with communities and Indigenous governments to ensure the official recognition of traditional place names, to help keep Indigenous cultures strong,” said the territorial government in a statement.

Chief of Dettah Edward Sangris said the community’s name – T’èɂehdaà in the T’satsąot’inę language – means burnt point, or ash point, and comes from a fire in the late 1800s that wiped out many log homes and trees in the area.

“This is the right step in the direction of recognizing the traditional names of our Dene People and reconciling the errors of the colonial past,” Sangris said in a statement.

“This is an example of reconciliation in action.”