Ktunaxa Women and Children on horseback in Cranbrook B.C.

March 8th, 2023 1 Minutes
Columbia Basin Institute of Regional History(CBIRH) and Cranbrook Archives – 0366.0023 (As seen in ‘Forgotten Cranbrook A Photo History of Early Cranbrook & District written by Wild Horse Creek Press publisher Keith Powell, editor and co-authors Erin Knutson and Derryll White of the CBIRH)

This hand-coloured postcard demonstrates an example of daily life for Ktunaxa women and their children in Cranbrook in the early 1900s. Each woman is holding a baby strapped to a cradleboard while on horseback and minding other children. Women of the Ktunaxa were primarily in charge of domestic duties. These duties included picking berries and roots, food preparation, childcare, managing the home, and making clothes.

During this period (1890s-1920), the Ktunaxa were sequestered on reserves. They are subject to an Indian Agent for their activities off the reserve. The Ktunaxa and other tribes began to challenge the government’s land expropriation. Attempts to ‘civilize’ the area through assimilation and force resulted in a significant cultural loss to the Ktunaxa while decimating much of their traditions and society.

The Catholic Church began to supervise the education of the Ktunaxa children to assimilate them young – the Ktunaxa language was not spoken or written with the advent of residential schools. The clergy severely punished children for speaking in their mother tongue. Many children reportedly died in these schools from disease, abuse, and neglect.

Image: Columbia Basin Institute of Regional History – 0019.0147

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