St. Eugene Resort is an inspiring story of our resilient and proud nation, determined to reconnect with our past, honour the present and build a bright future. We began 10,000 years ago and carry through to modern day.
The traditional territory of the Ktunaxa (too-nah-ha) Nation is large. It extends across approximately 70,000 square kilometres, primarily in what is now called the Kootenay Region of southeastern British Columbia and into parts of Alberta, Washington Montana and Idaho.
For more than 10,000 years based on archaeological evidence, the Ktunaxa people lived closely and spiritually with the land. We were renowned for our horsemanship and canoe-making.
We enjoyed the bounty of the land and obtained all of our food, medicine and materials for shelter and clothing from nature. We seasonally migrated across the Rocky Mountains and on the Great Plains, following the vegetation and hunting cycles of primarily elk, moose and deer.
All of the necessary skills to survive were taught by our community as a whole. Girls and young women would be alongside their mothers, aunts and grandmothers while they performed their daily tasks. We learned how to make moccasins, clothing, baskets and other necessary items. We also learned how to tan hides, prepare food, harvest for the winter, and other important skills to ensure year-round survival.
The boys and young men were taught in a similar manner, watching and listening to the older men. Practicing to aim and shoot was introduced in games, and when they were old enough, the young men would join hunting parties to learn the skills necessary to provide food for the entire community.
When an animal was killed, no part was wasted or thrown away. If anything was taken from the land, an offering was made to give thanks for providing nourishment for our bodies and families. There was no concern for ‘over-harvesting,’ as we took what was needed and nothing more. It was a harmonious relationship between our people and the land of the Rocky Mountains and beyond.
Our traditional governments and laws were sophisticated and different than today. We often had more than one Chief, as individuals with specialized skills were also honoured with the title. Being an isolate Nation, specific laws were put into place regarding marriage and family lineage. A Keeper of Knowledge knew each person’s family and ancestral history, ensuring there were enough generational gaps between the intermarriage of families.
Our traditional education system was also very different. Everything was taught orally through songs and storytelling. The Ktunaxa language is known as a cultural isolate language, meaning that it is one of a kind and unrelated to any other language in the world.
Our close connection with the plants and creatures is well established throughout our oral history. We believe that we are the stewards of the land and that we have a sacred covenant with the Creator. This is told in our Creation Story and other legends that have been passed down for generations.
We are proud of our history and long-standing relationship with the land. We are working hard to preserve our unique stories, language and culture to ensure that they live on for future generations.
For more information about the Ktunaxa Nation’s history as well as current-day operations, please visit www.Ktunaxa.org.