Fernie & Elk Valley Culture Guide Issue 2 Fall 2016 - Page 24

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 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. is now Tobacco Plains. The Michel Prairie people, after whom the town of Michel was named, used the area near Sparwood to plant tobacco. Their Ktunaxa name is k̓aqawakanmituqnik and means “river running into and out again” (the Michel Creek into the Elk River). 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 Despite being subjected to 120 years of living on Indian Reserves, and decades of forced attendance at a Residential School at the St. Eugene 24