Dane-zaa stories about their land go back to an ancient time when giant animals lived by hunting people. Saya
, the Transformer, is associated with Swans who can fly through to Heaven and return to earth. He overcame the giant animals with the help of his wise grandmother, Asun
. She still guards the land, the elders say, wherever there is one tall spruce tree standing higher than the others. One such place is called Guh tha the
, which means "Spruce Tree Hill." Billy Attachie states:
"That place never been fire.
I think my grandma generation, fire went through there.
Every time the fire come near, it go around. Never burn.
That place never burns, how many generation.
There's a spiritual thing in there."
Oral histories of the Dane-zaa describe how, in ancient times, Saya, the transformer, watched the giant animals and learned how to hunt them. He taught the people to become hunters instead of prey. Saya placed the giant animals beneath the earth. The elders say that pools of grease from the bodies of the giant animals lie beneath Dane-zaa territory. Charlie Yahey predicted that the white people would discover this resource and drill wells into the earth. He warned that the grease from the giant animals would power their vehicles and airplanes, and as a result, "make the world too small."
Chief Garry Oker of the Doig River First Nation explains that, "The Dreamers predicted many changes for the Dane-zaa people. They warned us about the loss of land, the destruction of animal habitat, the earthquakes, the giant snakes (pipelines) and the burning matchsticks (natural gas flare stacks). Our storied land is now being industrialized; these things are becoming our reality." But the Dreamers' songs, he said, "connect contemporary Dane-zaa to our storied land."