Chief Isadore

November 3, 2011

Chief Isadore

Any stay at St. Eugene Golf Resort Casino is not complete without a visit to the Interpretive Centre, where Ktunaxa people come together to provide visitors a taste of their rich history and culture.  Displays include samples of traditional stone, bead, hide, as well as wood and cloth work.

As you walk around the Mission building and the rest of St. Eugene Golf Resort Casino, watch for the pictures on the walls, documenting life at the Residential School and Ktunaxa culture.

Chief Isadore was born in the 1850’s and passed away in 1894 from influenza.  A hereditary chief, he was a very influential presence in the 1880’s, an intense period of change for the Ktunaxa.  By the end of the 1870’s, the buffalo herds in Alberta and Montana were diminishing, cutting the Ktunaxa off from their traditional food supply.  As well, this was also at a time when settlers were moving into the area. 

In 1871, Father Fouquet established the St. Eugene Mission and Chief Isadore formed a strong connection to the Oblates of Mary Immaculate at the Mission.  St. Eugene Mission started with one building, which served as a school and residence, and later a hospital.  The historical Mission building, which is now part of the St. Eugene Golf Resort Casino, was built in 1897 by Father Coccola, three years after Chief Isadore’s death from influenza. 

Joseph’s Prairie (now known as Cranbrook) was an important area used by the Ktunaxa as a campsite and for their horses and cattle, as well as for hunting and fishing.   Joseph’s Prairie was purchased by John Galbraith, who promised that he would never put fences around the land.  Unfortunately, in 1883 Colonel James Baker purchased most of Joseph’s Prairie and he did not recognize the rights of the Ktunaxa to use the land.  In an attempt to protect his people’s hereditary rights, Chief Isadore announced to the growing numbers of settlers that all ranges were to be free and no fences were to be built.  In 1884, Indian Commissioner Peter O’Reilly set aside land for Chief Isadore and his people, excluding several areas, including Joseph’s Prairie, important to the Ktunaxa.  Colonel James Baker proceeded to fence Joseph’s Prairie, order the Ktunaxa off the land, and rename it Cranbrook.  

Tensions increased in the area until 1887, when Constable Harry Anderson (the district’s law enforcement officer) arrested a Ktunaxa man named Kapula on suspicion of murdering and robbing two miners.  Chief Isadore, along with twenty five armed men, released Kapula from the jail at Wild Horse Creek, and ordered the constable out of the district.

The Kootenay Post was established and Superintendent Sam Steele arrived with 75 Royal North-West Mounted Policemen to deal with the “Kootenay Crisis”.  Chief Isadore agreed to return Kapula and an accomplice (Little Isadore) for a fair trial.  The charges were dropped due to insufficient evidence.  Chief Isadore earned Sam Steele’s respect, as he once stated that “Isadore was the most influential chief I have known.”

Below is a picture taken inside Kootenay Post at Fort Steele.

Fort Steele

The land issue was resolved with Chief Isadore receiving a larger piece of land along the Kootenay River.  This was where he spent the last years of his life, working on improving his farm.

The signature suite in St. Eugene Golf Resort Casino’s historic Mission building is named after Chief Isadore.  This suite features views of Fisher Peak and the Rocky Mountains and includes a Jacuzzi tub, fireplace, sitting room, and separate bedroom.  Every stay at St. Eugene Golf Resort Casino is special, but the luxury of a stay in the Chief Isadore suite makes it even more so.

For more information about the history of St. Eugene Golf Resort Casino’s Mission building read our blog post The History of St. Eugene.

Click below to learn about the trail located between Cranbrook and Wardner that was named by Chief Isadore.

Isadore Canyon Trail

The picture below was taken in approximately 1889.  The man standing in the centre is believed to be Chief Isadore.

Chief Isadore

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