War with the Ktunaxa

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War with the Ktunaxa

Legend:   SKINKUȻ and KⱠAWⱠA

One day, in springtime, Kⱡawⱡa was digging roots on a hillside. He was very hungry and wasn’t thinking of anything but food. Skinkuȼ was out walking at the time and heard Kⱡawⱡa digging around. Skinkuȼ said to himself, “Kⱡawⱡa is busy and not thinking”. Being the person he was, Skinkuȼ decided to bother Kⱡawⱡa. He watched him for a while from behind a bush. Skinkuȼ than began to tease Kⱡawⱡa by saying “Hey, you small eyed big person, you are homely”. Kⱡawⱡa looked around and, seeing nobody, he began to dig again.

“Hey there, left-handed one,” Skinkuȼ called, “your tail makes me laugh.” He laughed too loud this time and Kⱡawⱡa saw him. Kⱡawⱡa started to chase Skinkuȼ. They ran around and around a big rock until finally Skinkuȼ tripped and fell over the bank. The fall dazed him.

Skinkuȼ felt something sticking into his hand. It was a buffalo horn. He heard Kⱡawⱡa coming and, thinking quickly, started to make a noise like a buffalo. When Kⱡawⱡa came to see where the noise was coming from, Skinkuȼ poked him with the horn. This startled Kⱡawⱡa and he ran down to the river and across to the other side. When he was safely on the other side, he looked back only to find Skinkuȼ roaring with laughter.  

This legend is connected to the future military exhibit because of the use of deception and provoking but also the quick thinking of Skinkuȼ. The deception of Kⱡawⱡa by using a horn to make it sound like a horde of buffalo like how armies would set up fake bases or bases made entirely out of wood. The quick thinking of Skinkuȼ also relates to to the quick thinking that is needed on the battlefield.

Bio of Robin Louie:

Robin Louie is the knowledge keeper we consulted and learned from. He is a member of the Lower Kootenay Band in Ktunaxa Nation. He fought in the Iraq and the Afghanistan war. When he was in Iraq, he was fighting and there was a girl that he would always bring chocolate to. One day she was hit with shrapnel. Little did he know, he was the one who had hit her with the shrapnel. He was very saddened by this.

When he was younger, he would go down to the flats and shoot the biggest deer. One time, he was trying to drag the deer home and wasn’t able to. Two veterans were on their front steps and they were laughing at his attempt to do this alone. They helped him gut it and they gave him the choice between the kidney and the heart. The kidney meant that he was a hunter and the heart meant that he was a warrior, he chose both. When he was older, he started to hunt bigger animals like elk and moose.

He also told us the story of how they were going to destroy an entire mine. He showed us the second hardest stone in the world which he had mined before we met. This stone was used to make weapons. It made the sharpest spears and arrowheads. When he was a child, the children would play with bows and arrows. They would shoot at targets and enjoyed playing childhood games. For example, they would pet sleeping bears or slap an elk's butt when it was sleeping.

Training and Prep:

Part of the prep for war was getting all the spearheads and arrowheads. People needed to get in shape again for the war. Before they went to war the Ktunaxa needed to gather food, ensure their weapons were ready and have health and medical supplies. A crazy dog is someone who goes to war and becomes a leader. To become a crazy dog you had to prove yourself in battle. The woman would be referred to as a Crazy Owl. They would play a game to decide who would fight: 1 kilometre long field with a medicine ball in the middle the first two people to touch it would have to fight and the team that scores would be the people that go to war or fight along with the mvps from the other team. Used a rock to make weapons that is only found in 3 places in the world. They made the sharpest spears and arrowheads.

Hunting was used as training for battles. They would get taken to a place near Nelson and kill their first live target which was an animal. The Ktunaxa believed if you eat the kidney then you are a hunter- if you eat the heart you are a warrior. The way you become a warrior is to kill your first animal. The Ktunaxa used duck lake as a shooting range. They would play with bows and arrows during their childhood so children became comfortable with using these tools. Kids game where they would sneak up on a bear and pet it or sneak up on an elk and slap its butt.

The Ktunaxa people didn’t fight the English when they came over because they had horses from the Spaniards and guns from the French. The Ktunaxa had a strong connection with the Spaniards from which they got horses. They got guns from the French so they were on level playing ground with the English. The English got to them when they went to ww1 and they went in and took all their weapons metal and guns then they did it again in ww2.


Ktunaxa made their bows out of Yew wood with natural laminate wood and the strings were made out of black bear gut and the arrow heads were Termonite second toughest rock, a sedimentary rock. 

They did not have a solid word for war but there was a war cry. Ktunaxa means; lick the blood because they would bite the heart to release the soul. In Robins words they were introduced to the catholic religion they accepted it because the creation story was pretty much the same and the Ktunaxa being the including people they are accepted it unlike the people around them they believe they fell from the sky whereas others believe the came from the ground the women behind Blitzkrieg was developed off of first nations. [If someone] harmed women or children [there] was a death sentence.

Disagreements caused a lot of wars but sometimes were solved differently. [Warriors] scattered so they were hard to hit in the battlefield. If one of the people were stolen or killed it would mean a big war. You didn’t have to go back to fighting if you didn’t want to they used more brawn than brain.

Second Solution:

Big scale wars weren’t often fought. The usual reason was murder but smaller scale was like food and resources and arguments. So smaller scale problems were fought with two groups that would stand near each other and shoot arrows at each other’s shield. Whoever pierced the shield first wins. They didn’t fight for greed when they fought, they only did it for needs or danger. Another solution was them intermarrying to keep peace lengthened and share resources with each other. They didn’t have to fight too much because they were in the heart of the land. They were always hidden and in a tactical position which almost always gave them the higher advantage. 

Future Exhibit Plans:

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War with the Ktunaxa