Fernie & Elk Valley Culture Guide Fernie Cultural Guide FALL 2018 - Page 34

THE KTUNAXA NATION – LIVING CULTURE, LIVING TRADITIONS For more than 10,000 years, the Ktunaxa people, also known as the Kootenai or Kootenay, have occupied a traditional territory that spans what is now known as southeastern British Columbia, Southwestern Alberta, and parts of Washington, Idaho and Western Montana. For hundreds of generations, the Ktunaxa people used the Elk Valley and the Crowsnest Pass as a trade and travel route through the Rocky Mountains. Twice a year, Bison hunts were coordinated on the prairies east of the Rockies until the bison population was decimated in the mid-1800s. The Elk Valley area was the primary home of the easternmost branch of the Ktunaxa people, who are closely connected to families living at what is now Tobacco Plains. The Michel Prairie people, after whom the former town of Michel was named, used the area near Sparwood to plant tobacco. Their Ktunaxa name is aqawakanmituqnik and means ‘river running into and out again’ (the Michel Creek into the Elk River). 34 Despite being subjected to 120 years of living on Indian Reserves, and decades of forced attendance at a Residential School at the St. Eugene Mission near Cranbrook, the Ktunaxa Nation continues to be a strong and thriving community. Today, there are more than 1,500 members in the BC communities of akis nuk, a am, akin umŧasnuqŧi it, and yaqan nu kiy. The Ktunaxa Nation Council is located in Cranbrook. There are two Bands in Idaho and Montana connected by language and culture but politically independent. To learn more about the living culture and traditions of the Ktunaxa Nation visit Ktunaxa.org. THE TIPI The traditional dwelling of indigenous communities, the tipi (or teepee) is a large, durable, cone-shaped tent. Traditionally, it is constructed of wooden poles and tanned animal skins, often buffalo. The poles are tied together at the smaller ends and then raised with a twist, the bases spread out to form a large circle. A hole is left at