The Tree by the Woodpile and other Dene Spirit of Nature Tales

The Tree by the Woodpile and other Dene Spirit of Nature Tales

"series "Spirit of Nature Youth"" series ##1

by Raymond Yakeleya
  • adventure
  • family-and-friendship
  • from-the-north
  • indigenous

“With the passing of many of our Elders, the telling of these stories becomes more valuable than ever.” — Raymond Yakeleya

The Tree by the Woodpile is a story about a First Nations boy who is told an enchanting tale by his grandmother about how an old tree by the woodpile provides food and shelter for the birds and animals of the North. The story is suffused with Newehtsı̨nę, the Creator and Spirit of Nature, who brings a message of how we must to cherish our land. The Tree is written in English and Dene for middle-grade children, ages 8 to 12. Other stories in the book are “The Wolf,” and “Mountain Wind.”


Raymond Yakeleya, author

Raymond Yakeleya is an award-winning Dene First Nation television producer, director and writer, originally from Tulita in the Northwest Territories. His award-winning documentary films including We Remember for CBC and The Last Mooseskin Boat for NFB have screened at festivals around the world. He has produced five national television series and is currently in production on a sixth. Says Yakeleya, “Canada’s Native people need to have a voice in mainstream media in order to tell our People’s stories, our way. With the passing of many of our Elders, the telling of these stories is more valuable than ever.”

Deborah Desmarais, illustrator

Jane Modeste, translator

From Deline North West Territories, Jane Modeste has translated portions of the book into Sahtu Dene language.


  • Family ties inform an Indigenous New Wave. Raymond Yakeleya has spent 20 years fulfilling his grandmother’s deathbed wish that he document ‘what happened to our people.’ He is among Indigenous people ‘taking control of messaging in interesting ways’. - Carrie Tait, Globe and Mail Link to review
  • I always tell the students that my greatest teacher was an Elder who did not have more than a grade 6 education (in the White man's world). That said, he had a doctorate level in the school of life. This man was the wisest human being that I ever encountered and was a wealth of knowledge when it came to his people's teachings. I was priviledged to learn from him for four years.  This goes to say how important it is to value Aboriginal knowledge for what it is: KNOWLEDGE, and how important it is to for this knowledge to be passed on. I read the two stories that you wrote. and I was deeply moved.  Truth to be told, your grandmother was a great teacher.   As for the Wolf story, it is so meaningful.  Yes, animals come to us when there is a big teaching that must be passed on, but for this to happen one must have that magical connection with the animal world. One must be grounded. Your stories teach our children the depth of our relation with Mother Earth, and how all forms of life relate to one another. - Philippe Brulot, Principal, Chief Albert Wright School, Tulita Northwest Territory

Rights Holder

Rights Holder: Durvile Publications



rights available: World

Additional Information

age range: 10 - 12

number of pages: 80

publication date: 03/18/2018

Original language of pub: English and Sahtu Dene

Materials Available: finished book