Constructing a traditional White Pine bark canoe

The Sturgeon-Nose Canoe (WiYA? ?A-K´UN YAqsu?mi?) has been with the Ktunaxa Nation since time immemorial. Before the white man, with their automobiles, these canoes were our vehicles.

The design is distinctive to the Ktunaxa. The purpose of the design was for the nose to part and glide through the bull-rushes in the valley’s delta. It’s unique nose shape was derived from the sturgeon fish, commonly found in the Kutenai lake and river.

Today, the construction of the Sturgeon-Nose Canoe is still alive in Lower Kutenai, with a few families building them. It’s in our blood! Scroll down to view the process. 


Ribs and Hoops

Harvesting Cedar Roots

Harvesting Cedar Roots

Harvesting Bitter Cherry Bark

A Roll of Bitter Cherry Bark

Bitter Cherry Bark Rolls


Start of Frame

Frame Taking Shape

Another View

More Frame Work

Framing the Mid-Section

Frame Nearing Completion

Working on Canoe Frame in front of my birth place

Further on the Frame

Tying Hoop to Nose

View Looking Inside Nose

Another View of the Nose

Continuing the Mid-Section

Framing on a Hot Summer Day

At this stage, the Elders say "This is the Skeleton of the Sturgeon"

Finishing Nose Frame

Continuing Tying Hoops to Frame

Constructing 16-foot Frame

Tying Frame Together

Framing takes a long time!

Model Skeleton Frames

Harvesting Bark

Selecting White Pine
Falling White Pine tree
Cutting Bark
Peeling Bark
Removing Bark
Rolling Bark – Step 1
Rolling Bark – Step 2
Rolling Bark – Step 3

Applying Bark

Applying the Bark

Bark Applied to Nose Section

Applying the Bark is Done

Another View of the Canoe before Sealing

Nose View before Sealing


Fir Pitch

Applying the Pitch

Applying Pitch to Crack

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