It is a rare thing these days to find that real, authentic family-style feeling. You know the one, where you leave an experience with that warm, fuzzy glow that fills your bucket for weeks. Rarer still is encountering this in the guise of a major tourist resort, but that is exactly what my family found at St. Eugene Golf Resort and Casino’s Speaking Earth Haqaⱡpaⱡniʔnam (Hackalth-palth-knee-nam) cultural experience.
I can still taste the
wild rice porridge and pemmican cake breakfast. When I close my eyes I can
still imagine the mountain trails that Elder and ?Akisq’nuk Chief Alfred Joseph
described to us around a crackling campfire as the sun set behind the Purcell
Mountains to the West. I still chuckle to think of how my competitive wife
tackled me to the ground during one of the Ktunaxa traditional games. My kids
still want to play the Ktunaxa yelling game, a challenge where warriors had to
run as fast and as far as they could in a single breath, all the while
screaming a war cry at the top of their lungs. They also want us to buy a tipi
so we can sleep in it just like at St. Eugene. Guests can also include visits
to farther-flung highlights within the Ktunaxa Traditional Territory, including
Lakeshore Resort & Campground on Lake Windermere, Invermere’s Copper Point Resort and
Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort.
Designed as a unique offering for St. Eugene Resort’s International guests, the experience is just as, if not more relevant and valuable to Kootenay Rockies residents who want to learn more about the storied history of our home, the foundation of which is the Ktunaxa Nation and culture.
The brainchild of Jared Teneese, Speaking Earth has been in the visionary stage for years, waiting for the right time to rise to surface. With the full support of the Ktunaxa Nation, St. Eugene Resort management and staff, that time has finally come.
“The time has finally come to share the Ktunaxa culture with the world,” explains Teneese.
“With the St. Eugene Mission’s history as a Residential School, we have always thought that since this was place our culture was stolen from us, it should be the place where we take it back.”
Teneese and his staff at
St. Eugene have truly found the right formula to accomplish this vision. A
potent blend of Ktunaxa traditional food, games, crafts, stories, hands-on
history lessons, and connections with Ktunaxa facilitators help make Speaking
Earth an unforgettable experience.
Beyond that, Speaking Earth is accomplishing its other purpose, allowing Ktunaxa Elders and youth to work together, speaking Ktunaxa and putting their culture into practice every day.
A truly rare opportunity to visit another culture within the gilded ramparts of a Kootenay Rockies vacation (near Cranbrook, BC), Speaking Earth is an unforgettable series of experiences that offers a glimpse into the unique Ktunaxa culture that has helped shape and safeguard the Kootenays for over 10,000 years.
(Check back in early 2019 for the upcoming season's event dates.)
Words and photos by Dave Quinn. Born in Cranbrook, BC; Dave is a wildlife biologist, educator, wilderness guide, writer and photographer whose work is driven by his passion for wilderness and wild spaces. His work with endangered mountain caribou and badgers, threatened fisher and grizzly, as well as lynx and other species has helped shape his understanding of the Kootenay backcountry and its wildlife.