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1763 – 1800


The North West Company, a partnership of American and Scottish investors who took advantage of French alliances with Native populations, establishes numerous trading posts throughout Canada.

The fur trade reaches the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains and foreign disease appears amongst the Ktunaxa. Smallpox claims a high percentage of the population.

David Thompson is the first non-aboriginal person to be encountered by the Ktunaxa. Two Ktunaxa men meet him near the present site of Fort Edmonton. The Columbia River is of major interest to the explorers. It forms one of the natural boundaries of the Ktunaxa Traditional Territory and has until now helped to keep settlers out of the Columbia Basin. Thompson would be one of the first explorers of the Columbia River system. The Ktunaxa are described as ‘Kootenay’ Indians by Thompson.

The Ktunaxa are introduced to the fur trade and modern commerce. The traditional lifestyle continues for the most part, and the introduction of modern tools and implements has only a slight impact on Ktunaxa society. The attachment to the land is still maintained.