By Breanne Massey
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
In honour of National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21, the Ktunaxa Nation is reclaiming their culture by honouring the Creation Story to reflect on the past.
“This is a good time to share some of our history, our language and our culture with neighbours and residents of ʔamakʔis Ktunaxa,” said Kathryn Teneese, Ktunaxa Nation Chair in a recent press release.
“We’ve been asked by some of our elders to share our Creation Story as part of our ongoing dedication to learning and education.”
Wilfred Jacobs, a Ktunaxa elder, wrote the original Creation Story after conducting extensive oral history research during the 1980s.
“Stories are a key element of Ktunaxa self-awareness, teaching us who we are and where we come from,” Teneese said.
According to the story, spirit animals occupied Canada and the Ktunaxa people have lived on the land adjacent to the Kootenay and Columbia rivers and the Arrow Lakes of British Columbia, Canada for more than 10,000 years. It speaks about a giant, a prophecy from the Creator who created all human beings in the world and a water monster who killed many creatures.
After the water monster had been pursued and killed by a war party, it is said that the monster’s organs were distributed to animals as a source of food and later, became people from all walks of life.
The Creation Story indicates that the Hoodoos seen throughout the East Kootenay region are the water monster’s ribs.
These Ktunaxa people believe these events have placed the community in these ancestral homelands to act as stewards of the land.
The Ktunaxa’s traditional territory, which includes some areas that overlap with other Nations’ traditional territories, covers approximately 70,000 square kilometres within the Kootenay region of southeastern B.C., and includes parts of Alberta, Montana, Idaho, and Washington.
“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.”
To read the full Ktunaxa Creation Story, please visit: http://www.ktunaxa.org/who-we-are/creation-story/