Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung was declared a site of national historic significance by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board almost 30 years ago.
Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung encompasses more than three kilometers of Rainy River shoreline, extending inland in some places up to 500 meters, with – as today’s archaeologists now know at least 30 village and camp sites and at least 17 burial mounds. Home to the Ojibway people in the past century, the site was home to the Long Sault Reserve from the time of the signing of Treaty No. 3 in 1873 until 1916. It contains evidence of house structures, trails, gardens, and associated activities. The total site area is over 90 hectares.
Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung has deep cultural and spiritual meaning to the Ojibway of the Rainy River First Nations and all indigenous peoples throughout North America. It is a sacred place… a living link between the past, present and future through the continuum of time, which is so integral to the world view of the Ojibway People. Its strategic location at the centre of major North American waterways historically permitted interaction with people from other areas, and hence, Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung is a gathering place.
The weight of history is on this place, it is a place of great treasure. Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung and the surrounding lands hold the record of almost 8,000 years. The Place of the Long Rapids contains the largest group of burial mounds and associated village sites in Canada.
The first mound builders at the Place of the Long Rapids are known as the Laurel Culture. They inhabited this region from about 300 B.C. to 1100 A.D. At Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung Laurel mounds range in size from 18 to 24 meters in diameter and up to 7 meters in height. All are located on river terraces located along the edge of the river terraces which span the site.
Archaeological evidence suggests that the Archaic Culture were the first residents of Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung. They may have been passing through in a constant search for food. They did not build mounds, but none the less, left their mark.
Mounds were constructed by digging a shallow pit, placing the deceased in and covering the remains with earth. More deceased were then placed on top and covered with earth. Over time, possibly hundreds of years, this layering process created the mounds as we see them today.
Grave goods were sometimes placed with individuals in the mounds. Medicine bags, pipes, food, clay pots, and tools represented items an individual may have required both in life and death.
Voyageurs arrived here in the late 1600?s, during a period when many physical and psychological battles were being waged between the Sioux and Ojibway tribes. With European in?uence in the region came change for natives. They were now faced with learning to live with non-natives and new innovations.
In 1873, Treaty No. 3 was signed between the Government and the Ojibway. This treaty greatly affected the lifestyle that natives had known. Over the following century, the Ojibway people would adapt to a new way of life, while still maintaining strong ties to the traditions of their forefathers… traditions that are shared today at Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung.
The Elder?s Cabin
Also known as the Kilbourne Cottage, built in the early 1960?s, this building was used as a summer home by local settlers to the Rainy River Valley. In the late 1970?s, the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) purchased the property to use as a fire station. The Rainy River First Nations acquired the property back from the MNR in the mid 1990?s. The refurbishment of the cottage began in 1995 with the addition of the Traditional Roundhouse. Underneath the Roundhouse and the east side of the cottage, a heavily disturbed Blackduck site exists today. A glance to the west of the Round House reveals an undisturbed burial mound from the Blackduck period.