We Are Secwepemc
Who We Are
The Secwepemc people have lived in this territory for thousands of years. Archaeological evidence in fact shows at least nine thousand (9,000) years of occupancy along the lakes and river areas. The remains of pit houses not far from our current reserves leaves us with a picture of the lives of our ancestors.
Our Elders tell us we have lived here since time immemorial. We lived based on an economy of resource extraction, including fishing, hunting, trapping and berry gathering; our ancestors prospered, grew and grew from these lands for thousands of years. The waterways and networks of trails enabled vast travel that was tied to the seasonal cycles. Similarly, we developed intricate social and political systems that remained in place for thousands of years.
The oral traditions continue to be passed down from generation to generation through stories, crafts and ways of life. Waves of traders, missionaries, colonial administrators had a significant impact on our traditions and ways of life by influencing and indeed, outlawing many of our ways. Extensive extraction, at first focusing on beaver pelts and wildlife, then on forestry and eventually on minerals, has depleted many of our resources.
In spite of the over extraction, we have persisted and cared for our resources. By mid-19th century, the small pox epidemic and the missionizing of our people, including the taking of many of our children to residential schools, decimated our population. Once the gold rush had begun, an influx of people invaded our territory by the time it ended, farmers had their eyes on our fertile lands. We were not farmers in the sense that the Europeans understood farms and their ways conflicted with our land uses.