First Peoples

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piq kiʔláwnaʔ (pronounced pik-ki-lau-na) is named after the White Grizzly bear. Sinixt elder, Eva Orr, who has now joined her ancestors said,

Since I was a child, I periodically have this dream. It is always at the full moon. A huge white grizzly walks along. My Elders said that these white grizzlies in our ancestral land around Arrow Lake Country are held sacred.

Sinixt still honour this unusual one-in-ten variation of the Grizzly. Sinixt continue to dig roots, hunt, gather berries and medicines, fish and conduct cultural practices in the area. They also uphold the value of protected wilderness for all species of plants and animals and the maintenance of the integral habitat that supports them. For the Sinixt, mountains and intact forests, especially old growth, are what provide and purify water for all the region’s inhabitants, including humans, and play a vital role in buffering climate change.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and BC’s DRIPA legislation mandates governments, businesses and the settler public to come into right relationship with the First Peoples of BC. This includes free, prior and informed consent from First Peoples for any developments on their lands, recognition of their Traditional Ecological Knowledge, maintenance of their spiritual relationships with their lands and much more (see Sinixt conservation laws). The Autonomous Sinixt, through their traditional governance system, Smum’iem, uphold their unceded rights and responsibilities to the people and their tum xula7xw (homeland). In order to honour their Traditions, they say the entirety of the piq kiʔláwnaʔ area must be preserved with no further incursions by industrial, recreational or other developments.

Under the colonial land-claims process, the Okanagan Nation Alliance, the Ktunaxa Nation and Secwepemc Nation have made claims in this area.