Chipewyan (chĭpˌəwĪˈən) [key], Native North Americans of the Athabascan branch of the Nadene linguistic stock (see also Native American languages). Formerly the largest of the Athabascan groups, scattered Chipewyan bands ranged W Canada between Great Slave Lake and the Churchill River. They were nomadic hunters and gatherers who lived in small groups of extended families, following the seasonal migration of caribou herds. The Chipewyan were in rivalry with the Woodland Cree; eventually their numbers were severely reduced by smallpox. They are not to be confused with the Chippewa or Ojibwa. In 1991 close to 10,000 Chipewyan were living in Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and the Northwest Territories.
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