Yellowknife is the capital city and largest community of Denendeh State. It is located on the northern shore of Great Slave Lake, approximately 400 km (250 mi) south of the Arctic Circle, on the west side of Yellowknife Bay near the outlet of the Yellowknife River.
Yellowknife and its surrounding water bodies were named after a local Dene tribe once known as the 'Copper Indians' or 'Yellowknife Indians' (now referred to locally as the Yellowknives Dene First Nation) who traded tools made from copper deposits near the Arctic Coast. The current population is ethnically mixed. Of the eleven recognised languages of Denendeh State, five are spoken in significant numbers in Yellowknife: Dene Suline, Dogrib, Slavey, English, and French. In the Dogrib language, the city is known as Somba K’e (Som-ba Kay) - "where the money is".
The Yellowknife settlement is considered to have been founded in 1934, after gold was found in the area, although commercial activity in the area did not begin until 1936. Yellowknife quickly became the centre of economic activity in the NWT, and was named the capital of the Northwest Territories in 1967. As gold production began to wane, Yellowknife shifted from being a mining town to a centre of government services in the 1980s. However, with the discovery of diamonds north of Yellowknife in 1991, this shift has begun to reverse.
Despite its central location, it was passed over as the capital of the Arctic Federation in 2009.