Ktunaxa Nation

The Ktunaxa Nation is made up of 6 Bands. Four are located in the East Kootenays and two in the United States. St. Mary’s Indian Band or ʔaq̓am is located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains near Cranbrook, BC. ʔakisq̓nuk First Nation is located in Windermere, BC. Tobacco Plains Indian Band or ʔakink̓umǂasnuqǂiʔit is located in Grasmere, BC. Lower Kootenay Indian Band or yaqan nuʔkiy is located in Creston BC. Confederated Salish Kootenay Tribes of Idaho or ʔaq̓anqmi is located in Bonners Ferry, ID. Ksanka Band or k̓upawi¢q̓nuk is located in Elmo MT.

Our creation story and archaeological data indicate that our people have occupied the land for more than 10, 000 years. The Ktunaxa Nation stretches from south-eastern British Columbia into parts of Alberta, Montana, Idaho, and Washington.

Ktunaxa language is an isolate, and is unrelated to any other language in the world! It is at risk to becoming extinct, and we are constantly working hard to keep it alive by using technology and teaching it every day within our schools, and our homes and communities. (http://www.firstvoices.com)

The Ktunaxa people lived in the tradition teepees that were made of 13 wooden poles (plus 2 for the smoke holes) and hides from deer, elk or buffalo. When canvas was easily accessible we began using that instead, but still used the hides to make moccasin’s, regalia, drums, and any other traditional clothing. The “tulle” teepees were used mainly in the Lower Kootenay regions due to the climate and the availability of the resources. They are made from reeds collected in marshy lands, woven together, and had the same structure as a canvas teepee. Tulle teepees were water proof because when it rained the reeds would expand and absorb the water. The Sturgeon Nosed Canoe is unique because the ends face downward and point out, resembling a Sturgeon Fish. It’s made of wooden cedar panels on the inside and wrapped in white pine bark. They are used more for fishing and gathering tulle through the marsh lands because they aren’t sturdy in heavy waters. The women beaded anything from designs on moccasins, regalia, hair pieces, jewelry, and cradle boards.

Traditional games such as stick games were played in the community and at powwows. There are different kinds of regalia and dances at powwow.  Women wear jingle dresses, traditional regalia, and fancy regalia.  Men have traditional, fancy, and grass regalia. The drum groups sing and drum traditional songs. Other traditional and cultural activities happen in and around our traditional territory.

You can learn more about us at: www.ktunaxa.org

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