Fort Simpson is located at the junction of the Liard and Mackenzie Rivers. It has a population of approximately 1200 people. This area has always been important in the spiritual life of the local people known as the Dene. This meeting place became a focus for the fur trade in the Deh Cho region. The rock monument Ehtiidli, means "The Junction of the Two Great Rivers". The Mackenzie River starts at Great Slave Lake but its headwaters flow down from Jasper National Park through the Athabasca River, Lake Athabasca and the mighty Slave River. It is also the longest river in Canada at more than 4200km long. The Dene people, who have inhabited this land for thousands of years, have a long history of making treaties with their neighbours. Historically, they always kept in touch with each other in the interest of planning their future and protecting their lands.
The Papal grounds have been of great importance to the Dene people for hundreds of years. Prior to European contact, people would gather here to renew friendships after the long winters apart. After the arrival of the Europeans, the aboriginal people began to settle near the trading posts. "The Flat" (Ehdaa), as this area is called, is the site they occupied.