If you’re looking for things to do near Cranbrook, the Ktunaxa Interpretive Centre should be at the top of your list. Dedicated to preserving the heritage of the Ktunaxa and Kinbasket people, the first inhabitants of the Kootenay region. Ktunaxa (pronounced ‘k-too-nah-ha’) people have occupied the lands adjacent to the Kootenay and Columbia Rivers and the Arrow Lakes of British Columbia, Canada for more than 10,000 years.
The Interpretive Centre itself is located on the lower level of the St. Eugene Golf Resort Casino, and features displays of traditional stone, bead, hide works, as well as wood and cloth crafts, and is dedicated to preserving and restoring Ktunaxa and Kinbasket traditional cultural knowledge through the study of ethnographic objects, photographs, and historic records.
In many ways, the Ktunaxa Interpretive Centre realizes the vision of Mary Paul, a Ktunaxa Elder who said in 1984:
Since it was within that building that the culture of the Kootenay Indian was taken away, that it should be within that building that it is returned.
The building in question is the St. Eugene Mission, a former residential school that was, for most of the past century, essentially dedicated to wiping out Ktunaxa language and culture, and replacing both with English and Roman Catholicism.
The mission has been converted into a dazzling destination resort located just five minutes from Cranbrook’s international airport, and features a beautiful hotel, a casino, and a prize-winning golf course.
But the Ktunaxa Interpretive Centre, opened this past spring, is the true heart of St. Eugene Mission, and is open year-round Monday to Friday from 9-5pm, and is closed at noon for lunch.
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