In response to the furor raised by the Berger Commission and the Mackenzie Valley pipeline dispute, the Indian and Métis organizations of the Northwest Territories sought strength in numbers and united to form the Dene Nation. As a single body, they issued the Dene Declaration, an assertion of their rights to the land, which they argued had never been surrendered. They insisted that any proposed exploitation of either their lands or resources could not proceed until a settlement had been made with them. The declaration was also a statement of the nationhood of the Dene and the desire of the various Native peoples of the Northwest Territories to be considered as one. In the declaration, the Dene claimed their right to independence and self-government as a nation but situated those claims explicitly within the national context of Canada.