If the Warden is a City Elf...
The humans tell tales of Andraste, and to them, she was a prophet. To our people, however, she was an inspiration. Her rebellion against Tevinter gave our people a window through which to see the sun, and we reached toward it with all our strength. The rebellion was brief but successful; even after the death of the prophetess, we fought on for independence as the human Imperium began to crumble. In the end, we won freedom and the southern land known as the Dales, and we began the Long Walk to our new homeland.
There, in the Dales, our people revived the lost lore as best we could. We called the first city Halamshiral, "end of the journey," and founded a new nation, isolated as elves were meant to be, this time patrolled by an order of Emerald Knights charged with watching the borders for trouble from humans.
But you already know that something went wrong. A small elven raiding party attacked the nearby human village of Red Crossing, an act of anger that prompted the Chantry to retaliate and, with their superior numbers, conquer the Dales.
We were not enslaved as we had been before, but our worship of the ancient gods was now forbidden. We were allowed to live among the humans only as second-class citizens who worshipped their Maker, forgetting once more the scraps of lore we had maintained through the centuries.
If the Warden is a Dalish Elf...
It is hard to tell our children about those of our people who have decided to live in the shemlen's cities. They ask, "Why would anyone want to be treated like that?" And sometimes I do not know what to say. I do not understand it myself. They were freed, but they have returned to live in the service of their former masters. They are housed like animals in walled sections of the shemlen's cities. They do the meanest of tasks and are rewarded with nothing. Why? I do not know.
We tell the children that the elvhen are strong, that we are a proud people, but they hear of these city elves who choose to toil under the humans' heavy hand. How do we teach them pride when they know there are others who would allow themselves to be trampled into the dust? So we tell them that these city elves are to be pitied, that they have given up on their people, given up their heritage. We tell them that some people are so used to being controlled that, when freed, they know not what to do with themselves. They are weak and afraid--afraid of the unfamiliar, afraid of our life of wandering. Above all, they are afraid even to hope that one day we may have a home of our own.
--Gisharel, keeper of the Ralaferin clan of the Dalish elves.
If the Warden is a not a City nor Dalish elf or in Dragon Age II...
When the holy Exalted March of the Dales resulted in the dissolution of the elven kingdom, leaving a great many elves homeless once again, the Divine Renata I declared that all lands loyal to the Chantry must give the elves refuge within their own walls. Considering the atrocities committed by the elves at Red Crossing, this was a great testament to the Chantry's charity. There was one condition, however--the elves were to lay aside their pagan gods and live under the rule of the Chantry.
Some of the elves refused our goodwill. They banded together to form the wandering Dalish elves, keeping their old elven ways--and their hatred of humans--alive. To this day, Dalish elves still terrorize those of us who stray too close to their camps. Most of the elves, however, saw that it was wisest to live under the protection of humans.
And so we took the elves into our cities and tried to integrate them. We invited them into our own homes and gave them jobs as servants and farmhands. Here, in Denerim, the elves even have their own quarter, governed by an elven keeper. Most have proven to be productive members of society. Still, a small segment of the elven community remains dissatisfied. These troublemakers and malcontents roam the streets causing mayhem, rebelling against authority and making a general nuisance of themselves.
--From Ferelden: Folklore and History, by Sister Petrine, Chantry scholar