Kya was the mother of Sokka and Katara and the wife of Hakoda, chief of their village at the Southern Water Tribe. She was killed during a raid on her home, and her death had a profound impact upon both her children. Katara wore her mother's necklace as a memento of her affection.
Legends state that Kya once had a childhood friend, Nini, who was trapped and killed by a snowstorm while the two were young. Katara told the story in order to scare her friends, making it unclear whether the events occurred or not.
In her later life, Kya married Hakoda and gave birth to two children: Sokka and Katara. When her daughter, Katara, became ill with a cold, Kya made a special paste out of blubber and pepper berries and rubbed it on her little girl's chest, which was always effective.
When the Southern Raiders attacked her village, Kya was found in her home by the Raiders' leader, Yon Rha, who interrogated her about the identity of the last Southern waterbender. When an eight-year-old Katara arrived, Kya looked Yon Rha in the eyes and told him to leave her daughter alone in exchange for the information that he wanted. She told a scared Katara to not worry and find Hakoda.
As Yon Rha demanded to know the identity of the waterbender who lived in the village, Kya at first denied that there were any waterbenders left, declaring that the Fire Nation had taken them all away in prior raids. However, Yon Rha told her that they were not leaving until they had found the waterbender, whose existence had been confirmed to him by a reliable source. Desperate to protect her daughter, the true last waterbender, Kya told him that she was the one they were looking for. When she declared that she was ready to be taken as their prisoner, Yon Rha told her that he was not to take any prisoners, and she was killed instead.
Kya's death had a severe effect on her whole family. Both Katara and Sokka developed a strong distrust in anybody from the Fire Nation, and Hakoda went off to war with his warriors in order to ensure the Water Tribe's survival following the War's end. Katara frequently expressed grief over her mother's death, which she often brought up to illustrate how ruthless the Fire Nation was throughout the War.
Kya was mentioned on several occasions by her children, such as by Katara to explain the importance of her necklace to Haru and to explain to Zuko why she hated the Fire Nation so much. Katara also saw a vision of Kya during her adventure in the Foggy Swamp, though the apparition turned out to be a tree stump sticking out of the water, transformed by the swamp's mystical properties.
Six years after Kya's death, Sokka admitted to Toph that he was unable to remember what his mother looked like, going as far as to say that whenever he tried to picture her, Katara's face was the only thing he could see. Kya's death initially instilled a deep hatred toward the Fire Nation in Sokka, though that grudge slowly faded as he grew older, to the point where he opposed the idea of his sister exacting revenge on Yon Rha.
Katara and Aang later named their daughter after Kya.
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