The Tsuutʼina are an Athapaskan group, once part of the more northerly Dane-zaa ('Beaver Indians') nation, who migrated south onto the Great Plains during the 1700s, prior to any written records of the area. Tsuutʼina oral history has preserved the memory of their separation from the Dane-zaa
Explorer David Thompson said that the Tsuutʼina lived in the Beaver Hills near present-day Edmonton during the 1810s, where they cohabited with the Cree. At some point, however, they came in conflict with the Cree and moved further to the south, eventually forming an alliance with the Blackfoot.
The Tsuutʼina likely acquired most of their Plains Indian culture from the Blackfoot. Although in most respects the Tsuutʼina are typical Northern Plains Indians, their Sarcee language remains pure Athabaskan to this day. As such it is closely related to the languages of the Dene groups of northern Canada and Alaska, and also to those of the Navajo and Apache peoples of the American Southwest. Migrating over one thousand years ago, the latter tribes developed separately, becoming the most southerly of the Athabaskan peoples.
The Tsuutʼina were noted among other northern Plains tribes for their tanned bison robes and fine buckskins, likewise their handcrafted saddles and cherry wood bows. As early as 1910 the Tsuutʼina were also noted as farmers and cattlemen, and they continue in these occupations at the present time.