Ktunaxa Creation Story

In ancestral times referred to by the Ktunaxa as the animal world, there were references made many times by the Creator to when there will be –aq‰makni‡ (people).

At that time, there was some disturbance caused by a huge sea monster known as Yawu–ni‡,who killed many of the animals. A council was called by the Chief animal, Na‰muq…in.  Na‰muq…in was huge. He was so tall that he had to crawl on is hands and knees, for if he stood up his head would hit the ceiling of the sky.

It was decided that Yawu–ni‡, had to be destroyed. A war party was formed. Yawu–ni‡, plied the Kootenay and Columbia River System including Columbia Lake and Arrow Lakes.

Yawu–ni‡ was sighted in the Columbia Lake near Yaqa·n Nu–kiy and the chase was on. At that time, the Kootenay River and the Columbia Lake were joined. As the chase proceeded, Na‰muq…in gave names to many locations along the Kootenay River, Kootenay Lake, Arrow Lakes and the Columbia River.

Yawu–ni‡ was pursued down the Kootenay River past the Wasa sloughs, now called Wasa, BC. Skinkuȼgot into trouble here when he fell into the river and had to be rescued by Wasa, (horse-tail).

The chase went by where the St. Mary’s River empties into the Kootenay River. –a“am,  where the St. Mary’s Reserve is now located, then on down river to Kank̓ak (spring) where Mayuk (weasel) joined the war party. There were animals on both sides of the river as the chase continued, and among the party was a parasite, –a—kuk‰akuwum, who had to be carried on the backs of other animals. His name was „umtus and he was mean and bossy. The other animals grew tired of his nagging and dumped him into the river at a place now known as Yaqaki‰ wa•mitqu‰i‰ki Ȼ̓umtus.

Leaving the land of the Eagle, –a—knuq‰u‰am–ama‡is and into the land of the wood tick, „am‹a             –Amakis past Wasa–ki (Waldo) then on past the now 49th Parallel and then past Kaxax (Turtle), now underwater, near Rexford, Montana. The chase went on by –a—ki–yi (Jennings) and on by –a“swaq (Libby) then into Skinku… –Amakis (the land of Coyote), past –a“anqmi  (Bonners Ferry, Idaho) then northerly past the now international boundary into –a…pu –amakis, the land of the Wolverine, past Yaqa·n Nu–kiy (Creston, BC) then up the Kootenay Lake past –a“asqnuk, (Kuskannok, BC).

The chase went on by –Akuq‰i (Akokli Creek), past Ksanka Creek. The Yawu–ni‡ chose to follow the Kootenay River past –aqyam‰up (Nelson, BC). The chase was now in Mi…gagas –amakis (the land of Chickadee).

At Ki‡si‰uk, (Castlegar, BC) Yawu–ni‡ went north into the Arrow Lakes, past –akin‡a–nuk (Arrow Rock) where arrows were shot into a crevice in the rock. If the arrow was true, the journey continued, if the mark was missed, beware, danger ahead. The arrow was true and the journey continued past „a‰nu–ni‡ (Nakusp) then up past Ktunwakanmituk Mi…qaqas (Revelstoke, BC) where the Columbia River flows into the Arrow Lakes, then up and around The Big Bend then down past –aknuq‰nuk (Golden, BC) past Yaknusu–ki (Brisco, BC) then on past Yakyu…ki. The chase carries on through Kwata“nuk (Athalmere) then past Kananuk (Windermere, BC) past –akis“nuk (Windermere Lakes), then back into the Columbia Lake, Yaqa·n Nu–kiy, (Canal Flats, BC). This completed the cycle of the chase.

Yawu–ni‡,  would once again escape into the Kootenay River and the chase would go on. The chase would go on and on. Every time the war party thought they had Yawu–ni‡, cornered, Yawu–ni‡, would escape again.

One day sitting on the river bank observing the chase was a wise old one named Kik̓um. Kik̓um told Na‰muq…in, you are wasting your time and energy chasing the monster. Why not use your size and strength and with one sweep of your arm, block the river from flowing into the lake and the next time the monster enters the lake you will have him trapped?  Na‰muq…in took the advice of Kik̓um and did as he was told. The next time Yaw–unik̓entered the lake, he was trapped.

Having successfully corralled Yaw–unik̓, a decision had to be made as to whom the honor of killing Yaw–unik̓would be bestowed upon. The honor was awarded to Yamakpa‰ (Red-headed Woodpecker).

When Yaw–unik̓was killed, he was taken ashore and butchered and distributed among the animals. There remained only the innards and bones. The ribs were scattered throughout the region and now form the Hoodoos seen throughout the area.

Naⱡlmuq…in then took the white balloon-like organ, known as the swim bladder, and crumbled it into small pieces and scattered it in all directions saying,̓These will be the white race of people ̓. He then took the black ingredient from the inner side of the backbone, the kidney, and broke it into small pieces and scattered them in all directions declaring, ̓These will be the black race ̓. He then took the orange roe and threw the pieces in all directions saying, ̓These will be the yellow race of people ̓.

Naⱡlmuq…in looked at his bloody hands and reached down for some grass to wipe his hands. He then let the blood fall to the ground saying,̓This will be the red people, they will remain here forever ̓.

Naⱡlmuq…in, in all the excitement, rose to his feet and stood upright hitting his head on the ceiling of the sky. He knocked himself dead. His feet went northward and is today know as Ya—‰iki, in the Yellowhead Pass vicinity. His head is near Yellowstone Park in the State of Montana. His body forms the Rocky Mountains.

The people were now keepers of the land. The spirit animals ascended above and are the guiding spirits of the people.

 

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