In the Dene worldview, relationships form the foundation of a distinct way of knowing. For the Tlicho Dene, indigenous peoples of Canada's Northwest Territories, as stories from the past unfold as experiences in the present, so unfolds a philosophy for the future. Walking the Land, Feeding the Fire vividly shows how—through stories and relationships with all beings—Tlicho knowledge is produced and rooted in the land.
Tlicho-speaking people are part of the more widespread Athapaskan-speaking community, which spans the western sub-arctic and includes pockets in British Columbia, Alberta, California, and Arizona. Anthropologist Allice Legat undertook this work at the request of Tlicho Dene community elders, who wanted to provide younger Tlicho with narratives that originated in the past but provide a way of thinking through current critical land-use issues. Legat illustrates that, for the Tlicho Dene, being knowledgeable and being of the land are one and the same.
Walking the Land, Feeding the Fire marks the beginning of a new era of understanding, drawing both connections to and unique aspects of ways of knowing among other Dene peoples, such as the Western Apache. As Keith Basso did with his studies among the Western Apache in earlier decades, Legat sets a new standard for research by presenting Dene perceptions of the environment and the personal truths of the storytellers without forcing them into scientific or public-policy frameworks. Legat approaches her work as a community partner—providing a powerful methodology that will impact the way research is conducted for decades to come—and provides unique insights and understandings available only through traditional knowledge.