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Cultural Heritage

For thousands of years, before the Europeans arrived, the First Peoples of this land prospered here. Read the Creation Story. Their rich history is showcased at regional interpretive centres, museums and through story telling and natural attractions.


The Ktunaxa (Kootenay) people have lived and travelled the region since time began. They constructed numerous pictograph sites which chart some of their movements through this region. Some can still be viewed today on the east side of Columbia Lake. Some hiking is necessary; boat access may also be helpful.

At the north end of Columbia Lake, craggy spires rise up and tower over the water. Formed as a result of thousands of years of glaciation, followed by erosion from meltwater and weather, the hoodoos stand as a testament to the grand geologic forces moving far beyond the span of human lifetimes.  Throughout history, the Ktunaxa Nation has told their Creation Story – during those ancestral times, the ancient sea monster Yawunik was known to kill a number of animals so a council head up by the Chief animal Nalmuqcin was formed to defeat Yawunik.  Read more.

The area surrounding the rounded granite outcrop on which the red pictographs are painted is typical of the Creston Flats. Before the advent of the dykes, this whole area at the south end of Kootenay Lake was inundated during high water. Smoke soot deposits suggest that this spot was used as a campsite by the Ktunaxa (Kootenay) people during low water. A panel, approximately 5’x4′ is situated under a rock overhang about 12 feet above ground level and surrounded by a 50-foot high amphitheatre of smooth granite rock. The fine lined pictograph is painted in light rusty red; more can also be found along the westshore of Kootenay Lake.

The Ktunaxa occupied the area now recognized as Caqahak (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. The Elk Valley is within Qukin ?amak? is (Land of the Raven) and was known for its mineral coal.   Read More

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