Role of Women

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Lots of Ktunaxa clothing was made out of animal hide but mainly buckskin. They had special clothing for events like powwows. There are special dances and special outfits for the different groups of dancers such as jingle dancers, men’s traditional dancers, women’s traditional dancers, mens grass dance, mens fancy dancers, hoop dancers and mens chicken dancers. 

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They have a bunch of different art such as beading. They also weave baskets and make bags. Their art is very unique and beautiful. Not very many people know how to make their type of art. Their art has almost gone extinct so it’s important to learn and pass it on to more and more people so it doesn’t go extinct.

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The main hairstyle they would have is a dutch braid sometimes two with a bandana. Sometimes they would have box braids and for events like pow wows there would have special hair accessories.


Women adapted and used different things that were available, if a plant went extinct, they would find something else that would work the same. Women were taught to hunt fish and gather, just like the men. They weren’t semi-nomadic. Women did all the chores, making camp, breaking down camp, and so did the men. Women always made the clothing. Women stayed in traditional Ktunaxa territory. Girls were given a dog from the age of one year old to learn how to raise kids, the dog would grow up, and they would have to learn to teach it different things at different ages. 


Matrical society, “modern” women were equal to men, sometimes greater, only ones that could give birth. Women learned everything that men did. As children, boys and girls were taught the same things. 


Huckleberries are very popular amongst the Ktunaxa on CBC news they announced a new law stating that First Nations will be able to harvest in the restricted zones, as guaranteed by their constitutional Aboriginal rights. This is just one of many acts of generosity to help Reconciliation. 

Hunting and Fishing:

The upper Ktunaxa exploited a greater abundance of big game animals such as elk, caribou, deer, mountain sheep and goat. Meanwhile the lower Ktunaxa aimed and relied more on fish and other aquatic resources such as sockeye salmon, mountain white fish, largemouth bass and rainbow fish. We are still learning more about this topic.

The Ktunaxa use bows and arrows, spears, and knives for hunting animals. The lower Ktunaxa used fish traps spears to catch fish and use.

Parenting/ Teaching:


Parents never hit or slapped their kids; they barely even yelled. Lessons were taught everyday. Grandparents were also very involved in the child’s life. Parents gave their children a real dog to practice raising a child. 



Usually the weddings were planned or siblings and children were traded to go get married. Weddings were usually less of a celebration and more of an announcement. 


ȼuknaⱡ ʔa·kikmatʔt̓ 

The women never went to the hospital to give birth. They would always have midwives and doulas help with their births instead of doctors and nurses. Doulas and midwives knew all the plants and teas that were needed when a woman was giving birth. The doula or midwife would always have a special assistant that would go gather the special plants and make the teas but of course the doula or midwife would always check over the assistants work.

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Charlotte Basil:

What She Did: Charlotte Basil was a Ktunaxa (First Nations) woman that lived in the Creston area. She is best known for keeping the traditional art of making sturgeon-nosed canoes alive. 

More Information: Charlotte Basil did a lot more for the Ktunaxa people than just making canoes. She was also responsible for the preparation of hides and making clothes and household implements. She was considered the last person to know the art of making the Sturgeon-nosed canoes. Luckily, she was able to pass on her knowledge to her children, and played an integral part in the existence of the craft today. Charlotte also made smaller models of the canoe, using the same traditional techniques and materials. She granted these as gifts to other communities and governments, as well as sold them as souvenirs; this helped raise awareness of their unique culture and the canoe itself. 

Canoe Information: Another word for Sturgeon-nosed canoe is “Yaksumik”. This canoe was an integral part of Yakan Nukiy culture, as it pays tribute to their creation story of ‘Nalthmookste’, the water creature that created the land and rivers. These canoes were also the main method of transportation through the marshes and sloughs of the Creston flats.

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Knowledge Keeper: 

The Knowledge Keeper we worked with is Janine Basil. Her mothers family is from Yaqan Nuki, and her fathers family is secwepemc (Shuswap) from the Salmon Arm area. She was raised mainly in the Okanagan. Her family always came back to the Ktunaxa territory for holidays, visits, and ceremonies. Her parents instilled a pride to be Ktunaxa from an early age by practicing our traditional teachings on a daily basis.

Janine shared lots of her knowledge about the role of women in the Ktunaxa community and we were able to talk about the rights of women in traditional Ktunaxa culture.

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Exhibit Plans:

In our future exhibit, we will be taking out half of the things in the exhibit room. As you can see in the pictures there is currently a desk, mannequin, and computer. We plan to take these items out. We will be adding a teepee, pine needle baskets, bushes and grass. We are going to paint the steps/ wall with an outdoor background. We will be adding examples of beading, clothes making, and have some herbs and plants hanging from the inside of the teepee, drying. These are our plans to decolonize this exhibit.

Role of Women