Grandma Muggs at LaShaye’s outdoor forest birthday party 2020
Our off-grid campsite sits on the family property, Chief Baptiste Mathias’s land; this property has been within our family for many years. This land is the largest part of the lakeshore that is untouched, undeveloped and has some cleanest air and purest water. Margaret Mathias is the true heir to all of the lakeshore property extending the Old US Hwy 93 into Dayton, Montana. My grandmother’s mother sold most of the land to put her son through college, who later became the first Native American Engineer for NASA to help engineer the first space shuttle for our country. It was tough for our people to find jobs during those times; unfortunately, my great-grandparents were forced to sell their land very cheaply to survive.
‘Ka papa’ is a Kootenai word and is pronounced with long a. It sounds like “kaw pawpaw,” meaning “my grandfather” or “my grandmother,” depending on the speaker (male or female). The Kootenai language is extraordinarily complex, and the correct way to say “great grandfather” is an entirely different word and most likely too hard for an English speaker to pronounce. Therefore, we will save the language lessons for another day. Chief Baptiste Mathias is my grandmother’s “Ka papa,” and it was always her lifelong dream to start a business on her property. In honor of my grandmother and while she was still alive, my husband, children, and I sought to bring her dreams to fruition. We chose the name “Ka papa” to honor my 89-year-old grandmother who recently moved on to join the ancestors on February 26, 2022.
My grandmother was born on April 20,1932 at the family home right here on the Yawuʾnik̓ shores in Elmo Montana. She was delivered by her grandmother, Marion Big Knife Pierre. My grandmother was a proud fullblood Kootenai (Ksanka) who remained true to her culture by honoring the traditions and beliefs of her people. She was a fluent speaker of the isolate Kootenai language and worked tirelessly to instill cultural knowledge and customs to those who wanted to learn.