Caqahak – Thick Forest
The Ktunaxa people have been in this area since Na?muq?in fulfilled his prophecy and placed the Ktunaxa people in this area to be the keepers of the land. At that time there was some disturbance caused by a huge water monster known as Yawu?nik?, who killed many of the animals. It was decided that Yawu?nik? had to be destroyed. A war party was formed. Yawu?nik? plied the Kootenay (wu·u ?aqs?maknik ?akinmituk)and Columbia (Mi??qaqas) River System. When Yawu?nik? was killed, and butchered and distributed among the animals, Yawu?nik?’s ribs were scattered throughout the region that now form the Hoodoos seen throughout the region.
When the prophecy was fulfilled the spirit animals ascended above and are now the guiding spirits of the Ktunaxa. In all the excitement Na?muq?in 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 known as Ya·k?iki, in the Yellowhead Pass vicinity. Na?muq?in’s head is near Yellowstone Park in the State of Montana. His body forms the Rocky Mountains.
The Ktunaxa occupied the area now recognized as ?aqahak (Fernie) for thousands of years before the arrival of the settlers. The area was known to be a winter hunting area where the Ktunaxa would hunt mountain sheep, mountain goat, moose, elk deer and other animals. They would trap and fish, and harvest natural vegetation. The Elk Valley is within Qukin ?amak?is (Land of the Raven) and was known for its mineral coal. The Ktunaxa would carry the coal with them to start their fires as they travelled to the different encampments as they followed the seasons in their homelands.
The Ktunaxa used a flint quarry near ?aqahak (Fernie) to make their weapons and tools. The Ktunaxa would also trade with other tribes from over the east mountain range now known as Alberta, the tribes being the Blackfoot and later the Stoney. The route used to join the tribes was the route the Ktunaxa used to hunt buffalo.
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