Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in /home/osoyoosm/public_html/templates/js_cascada/html/overrides/pagination.php on line 29

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in /home/osoyoosm/public_html/templates/js_cascada/html/overrides/pagination.php on line 35

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in /home/osoyoosm/public_html/templates/js_cascada/html/overrides/pagination.php on line 29

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in /home/osoyoosm/public_html/templates/js_cascada/html/overrides/pagination.php on line 35

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in /home/osoyoosm/public_html/templates/js_cascada/html/overrides/pagination.php on line 29

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in /home/osoyoosm/public_html/templates/js_cascada/html/overrides/pagination.php on line 35

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in /home/osoyoosm/public_html/templates/js_cascada/html/overrides/pagination.php on line 29

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in /home/osoyoosm/public_html/templates/js_cascada/html/overrides/pagination.php on line 35

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in /home/osoyoosm/public_html/templates/js_cascada/html/overrides/pagination.php on line 29

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in /home/osoyoosm/public_html/templates/js_cascada/html/overrides/pagination.php on line 35

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in /home/osoyoosm/public_html/templates/js_cascada/html/overrides/pagination.php on line 29

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in /home/osoyoosm/public_html/templates/js_cascada/html/overrides/pagination.php on line 35

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in /home/osoyoosm/public_html/templates/js_cascada/html/overrides/pagination.php on line 29

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in /home/osoyoosm/public_html/templates/js_cascada/html/overrides/pagination.php on line 35

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in /home/osoyoosm/public_html/templates/js_cascada/html/overrides/pagination.php on line 29

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in /home/osoyoosm/public_html/templates/js_cascada/html/overrides/pagination.php on line 35


Okanagan First Nations

The Lifestyle of the Okanagan

(A speech from the Katie Lacy Fonds manuscripts, speaker and audience unkown)

There were four main groups of tribes – the Okanagan, the San Poil, the Colville, and the Lake.  The name Okanagan came from the Indian name of the tribe, which was pronounced in many ways.  The group known as the San Poil was given its name by the first French traders.  The Colville group was named after the river and fort of Colville.  They were first known as “Les Chauldieres”, which meant Kettle of Bucket Indians.  The origin of the name is unclear, but has some connection with Kettle Falls and Kettle River.  The name Okanagan is said by some to have been the name of a place on the river where the salmon made their stopping place.  This is close to where Okanagan Falls is today.  Some of the old people maintained that this was the headquarters of the tribe.

The Nicola Indians joined the Okanagan country on the northwest boundary, and the Shuswaps bordered on the north.  In the west were the Stuwi’x (a Similkameen Athapascan tribe).  To the east were the Kutenais and in the south the Spokans.  There were about nine thousand people in the tribe and until 1832 there was little disease, but from then on periodical epidemics of smallpox caused many deaths among the people.  When the boundaries were set up between the United States and Canada, the San Poil and Colville Indians became American Indians, if one can use that phrase.  There remained less than two thousand Canadian Okanagan Indians.

Each tribe was divided up into bands.  A band consisted of a number of families, who made their headquarters in a certain section of the country under a chief.  There were no nobles or clans like the Coast Indians.  Although dances were held, there was no society to manage them or the singing.  Some men became chiefs because their father had been one, others because of wealth or being a great warrior.  Others were elected because of their wisdom and eloquence of tongue.  Leaders were always appointed to head hunting and war parties.

Chiefs were looked upon as fathers of the people.  Whenever messengers arrived with important news, they summoned their people.  In their speeches they told the people to live good lives, to help the poor, and to be kind to the sick.  They looked after the hunting and fishing and told their bands when the berries were ripe for picking.  They also kept track of the days by cutting lines on sticks.  They were expected to entertain visitors and give feasts and presents to their own people two or three times every year.

There were no regular councils.  A chief could call a meeting at any time.  The band chiefs usually assembled their own people before the big meetings took place.  Everyone could attend and take part in the discussions.  Each band had one or more criers who notified the people where and when the meetings were to take place.