The communities of the Ktunaxa Nation and special guests gathered at St. Eugene Mission Resort on Sunday, June 24, 2018, for an event celebrating the Nation’s ownership of St. Eugene, and its transformation from a residential school into the deluxe resort it is today. Barry Coulter/The Cranbrook Townsman

Ktunaxa shares Creation Story, looks ahead, to mark Indigenous Peoples Day

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athryn Teneese, Ktunaxa Nation Chair, said she’s excited about what the future holds for all people within ʔamakʔis Ktunaxa, (Ktunaxa traditional territory), particularly as the Ktunaxa Nation moves towards self-governance in the spirit of collaboration and innovation.

“We’re continuing to strengthen our relationships with everyone in ʔamakʔis Ktunaxa,” Teneese said. “We all have something to contribute toward making our world a better place for ourselves and our neighbours, today and into the future.”

In 2016, Canada adopted The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in its framework for reconciliation at all levels and across all sectors of Canadian society.

The Declaration recognizes Indigenous peoples’ basic human rights, as well as rights to self-determination, language, equality and land, among others.

Teneese said reconciliation is also a process of healing of relationships, which involves learning and education.

“This is a good time to share some of our history, our language and our culture with neighbours and residents of ʔamakʔis Ktunaxa,” she said. “We’ve been asked by some of our elders to share our Creation Story as part of our ongoing dedication to learning and education.”

The Creation Story, summarized below in an extremely brief form, is adapted from stories that have been shared for countless generations.

“Stories are a key element of Ktunaxa self-awareness, teaching us who we are and where we come from,” Teneese said. The original written form of the Creation Story was pieced together by a Ktunaxa Elder, Wilfred Jacobs, from oral history research he had done in the 1980s.

“I hope people take the time to learn more about the Ktunaxa during National Indigenous Peoples Day,” Teneese said. “And I hope June 21 is the beginning of a safe, healthy and happy summer for everyone.”

Ktunaxa Creation Story

The Ktunaxa people have always been here. Before the Ktunaxa, Spirit Animals occupied the country. The Ktunaxa Creation Story speaks of the giant, Naⱡmuqȼin, and a prophecy from the Creator that would ultimately create all the Human Beings in the world. At that time, there was some disturbance caused by a water monster known as Yawuʔnik̓, who killed many creatures.

A war party was formed to destroy Yawuʔnik̓. He was pursued amongst the Kootenay and Columbia river systems which were connected at that time near Canal Flats in the Rocky Mountain Trench. Yawuʔnik̓ was eventually killed and butchered, his meat was distributed among the animals so everyone was fed. His organs became the various races of people and were scattered throughout the world.

These events placed the Ktunaxa people in these ancestral homelands as stewards of the land.

The lakes and rivers are a testament of this feat, as are Yawuʔnik̓’s ribs, also known as the Hoodoos, seen throughout the region.

When the prophecy was fulfilled, Naⱡmuqȼin, in all his excitement, rose to his feet, standing upright, hitting his head on the ceiling of the sky and knocking himself dead. His feet lay northward in a place we call Ya·kⱡiki, in the Yellowhead Pass vicinity. His head went south, and rests near Yellowstone Park in the State of Montana, and his body is now known as the Rocky Mountains.

For a more detailed written rendition of the Ktunaxa Creation Story, please visit Ktunaxa.org/who-we-are/creation-story/.

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