means "Bear-water People." Not coincidentally, their territory is mainly the area around the Great Bear Lake
(Sahtu) and the Great Bear River
(Sahtu De). Traditionally, their main diet was caribou
When radium and uranium were discovered on the east shores of Great Bear Lake in the 1940s, the Sahtu Dene way of life changed radically. In 1942, the Canadian government opened the Eldorado heavy metals mine and ran it secretly until 1960. Without being told of the deadly hazards of radiation, Sahtu Dene men and women worked with radioactive ore, resulting in generations of cancer-stricken Sahtu Dene and millions of tons of radioactive waste.
This is where the uranium in the bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki came from.
There is a short film documenting this:
Village of Widows: The Story of the Sahtu Dene and the Atomic Bomb
by Peter Blow (Canada/Japan, 1999)
This documentary film allows us to listen to the testimonies of members of the Sahtu Dene tribe of western Canada, who lost family members in these early efforts to extract and transport heavy metals. The "uranium widows" journey to Hiroshima in a moving pilgrimage. (from the movie blurb)