Yoho National Park
Parks Canada respectfully acknowledges that Yoho National Park is located within the traditional lands of the Ktunaxa and Secwépemc peoples. We recognize their stewardship of the lands and waters in the area now known as Yoho National Park since time immemorial. Parks Canada is committed to reconciliation and renewed relationships with Indigenous peoples, based on a recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership.
Before Yoho National Park
Prior to the arrival of Europeans, Ktunaxa and Secwépemc peoples used the area for hunting, fishing and gathering. The valleys of the Kicking Horse and Amiskwi rivers have been used for many generations as important travel corridors between the Columbia Valley and the Bow Valley and adjacent plains east of the Canadian Rockies.
Park creation and the removal of Indigenous peoples
"In the beginning, parks were established without much consultation with the public, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal. However, we have learned from the past. Today, we cannot imagine creating a new park, site or marine conservation area without the support and collaboration of the public, especially Aboriginal peoples..."
Yoho National Park was created in 1886, one year after Canada’s first national park was established at Banff. Like many of Canada’s earliest national parks, Yoho National Park was established in a time when legislation and management of these parks did not consider Indigenous traditional knowledge or recognize long-standing cultural and spiritual values and use of the landscape. Traditional activities of Indigenous peoples were viewed as inconsistent with the management of the early national parks.
Consequently, many Indigenous peoples were excluded from the park, and lost physical ties and cultural connections with places of importance within their traditional territories. This was not just a geographical disconnection but a total disconnection from an important part of their identity.
Land is fundamental to practicing culture, spirituality, ways of life and sense of self. For many Indigenous peoples their relationship with the land is integral because everything comes from the land: food, clothes, shelter, water and medicines, as well as stories, history, ceremonies and law.
Parks Canada recognizes the rich history of Indigenous peoples on the landscape and is committed to strengthening relationships and deepening Indigenous involvement in the mountain parks. Today, Parks Canada is working to build relationships with Indigenous groups that have ancestral connections to Yoho National Park, to discuss areas of interest for collaboration and opportunities to further Indigenous involvement in park management and operations.
Yoho National Park’s Indigenous Relations team works with diverse Indigenous communities and groups with historical connections to the park, to strengthen connections with traditionally used lands and waters in Yoho National Park, and to ensure the voices, histories and culture of Indigenous peoples are presented and commemorated within the park.
Indigenous engagement occurs in Yoho National Park primarily through collaboration with the Ktunaxa Nation Council and the Secwépemc Columbia Campfire Collaborative, representing 9 different Indigenous communities in British Columbia. These groups work with Parks Canada to address common interests and work on achieving common goals that support reconciliation and reconnection to the land.
The Ktunaxa (k-too-nah-ha), also known as Kootenay, have occupied the lands around the Kootenay and Columbia rivers and Arrow Lakes for more than 10,000 years. Ktunaxa traditional territory encompasses 70,000 km2 of south-eastern British Columbia, and includes parts of Alberta, Montana, Idaho and Washington.
For thousands of years, and long before settlers arrived, the Ktunaxa harvested flora and fauna in the area that is now managed as Yoho National Park. The park lies within ʔaknuqⱡuⱡam ʔamakʔis (Land of the Eagle).
Ktunaxa stories teach their generations of seasonal migrations that occurred across the Rocky Mountains and on the Great Plains; of war and trade interactions with other Nations; of place names and landmarks; and of lessons and values. The Ktunaxa language is a language isolate, meaning that it is one of a kind and unrelated to any other language in the world.
To learn more about the Ktunaxa Nation, visit:
- Ktunaxa Nation Council
- ʔakisq̓nuk First Nation
- Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡiʾit (Tobacco Plains Indian Band)
- Yaqan Nukiy (Lower Kootenay Band)
The Secwépemc (shuh-whep-em) people have used the areas now encompassed by Yoho, Kootenay, Mount Revelstoke, Glacier, Banff, and Jasper national parks since time immemorial; long before settlers arrived.
Many of today’s roads and trails in the park are based on Secwépemc travel routes, used by Indigenous peoples for generations as connections to trade partners and areas for food and medicinal plant gathering. Indigenous guides created horse trails that evolved into major highways such as the Trans-Canada Highway in Yoho National Park. Today, Yoho National Park continues to be an important area of oral history and Secwépemc cultural practice.
Parks Canada and the Secwépemc Nation continue to foster a better working relationship that informs the management of natural resources and enhances the visitor experience for those exploring traditional lands.
To learn more about the Secwépemc Nation, visit:
Access and cultural use
Indigenous people are always welcome in Yoho National Park. Parks Canada is committed to maintaining a system of national heritage places that respects traditional use and recognizes the role of Indigenous people in stewardship of these special places. We are committed to facilitating access for Indigenous peoples for traditional, ceremonial, or cultural activities, with Parks Canada staff who are well informed, respectful and culturally competent.
To facilitate access, day passes to Yoho National Park are available to Indigenous people upon request at the Yoho West Gate, visitor centres and mobile gates located within. Fees for campgrounds and other services continue to apply.
Should an Indigenous group have a long-standing connection to Yoho National Park, to make future access to Yoho National Park easier, we encourage the group’s leadership to contact us to request Nation-specific Indigenous Access Passes. With Nation-specific Indigenous Access Passes, there is no expiry date, and you will no longer have to stop at the gate. For more information, please contact the Yoho National Park Indigenous Relations Manager, at indigenousrelationsLLYK@pc.gc.ca.
Harvesting and Cultural Use
Cultural Use Agreements are available for members of Indigenous groups with long-standing connection to Yoho National Park. If you are interested in learning more, please contact the Yoho National Park Indigenous Relations Manager, at indigenousrelationsLLYK@pc.gc.ca.
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