The Sneak-up

A few centuries ago, a small group of the Ĩyãħé Nakoda ventured far south and east from their traditional homeland along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains. They went to trade with the rattlesnake people (Comanche) in present-day northwest Texas.

Some time afterward, the group travelled north and then west along the Missouri River through present-day Montana. They intended to reunite with the main Ĩyãħé Nakoda group. Their journey eventually brought them north to a series of meadows below what is now known as Kananaskis Lakes. That is where they set up camp before continuing on the final leg of their journey.

A "vision seeking" ceremony was performed there. After four days one of the War Chiefs who was a Shaman (one who channels between the visible world and the invisible spirit world), revealed his vision. He told the others that the main group of the Ĩyãħé Nakoda they expected to reunite with should be camped in the valley south of the "flat-faced mountain".


However the Shaman warned that, according to his vision, danger lay waiting in the valley ahead. "Runners" were sent along the valley on a scouting mission. They climbed tok yapébi baha ("enemy warrior lookout"), a mountain now referred to as Baldy or Barrier.

Additional runners climbed other mountains. The runners on the mountains sent instant signals to one another by way of reflections from the polished brass on their guns.

The valley below them was thick with smoke. Beneath the smoke, they spied lodges. By the shape, structure and placement of the lodges, they knew they were of the enemy Blackfoot tribe. The runners verified the number of warriors, old men, women, and children in the encampment. They then returned to their camp by the lakes and told of these findings.

The Shaman said the main Ĩyãħé Nakoda group must have gone on a hunt, for they would never permit the Blackfoot to trespass and camp in traditional Ĩyãħé Nakoda territory. He stated his group must go on the warpath and defeat this enemy for its unacceptable intrusion.

Over the next three days, they made preparations to sneak-up on the enemy Blackfoot. Preparations included ceremonial dances and sneak-up songs.

They made their attack on the fourth day and raided the Blackfoot camp. Those not killed were routed from Ĩyãħé Nakoda territory.

As a demonstration of the tenacity of their will to defend their territory, they chased the Blackfoot much farther. Some were chased as far as the pine bluffs toward Jumping Pound Creek, while others were chased to Horse Creek, east of the Ghost River and north of the Bow River.


They then reunited with the main Ĩyãħé Nakoda group which by then had returned to their encampment near ĩyã mnaθka, the "flat-faced mountain", as had been envisioned by the Shaman.

A great celebration was held in honour of this reunification, and also the victory over the enemy Blackfoot. During the celebration, the warriors recounted their tales of bravery and strength through song, dance, and stories.


All words in the Ĩyãħé Nakoda language that are written on this page are included in the Language menu segment for you to hear how they are correctly pronounced.