Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Sinixt people: a place at the table

Sinixt Nation -Arrow Lakes -Bonegame Film [Bring Home the Bones]*

Although it is common for indigenous homelands to straddle, surpass, pre-exist and if at all possible ignore settler boundaries, in the west BC has shown a special intolerance of truth, and an uncompromising favouring of settler over indigenous, and convenience over reality. 
The provincial and federal governments have colluded to impose a situation on some of the Salish that was not imposed for instance in Six Nations regions, perhaps because they were not participating properly in the colonial project, here in the west, back in the day. 
Equality was less of an issue, and injustice was deemed preferable.

The April 12 2013 press release by the Sinixt Nation shares again the history of Sinixt Nation, and the continuing colonial responses of the federal government. This history is important in itself, and also in that it shines a light across all of the ongoing conversations that indigenous and colonial peoples have had, must have, and will continue to have, until the aggressive apartheid can be completely revolted against, and the reconciliations of all the faces and forces of history become a synthesized story of our shared history, and of truth and justice in the present day. 

If the federal government can acknowledge that it moved communities of Inuit around for non-Inuit reasons, surely it can acknowledge the similar reality here in BC. 

If overlapping land claims can be sorted out coast to coast, surely this one can be sorted out as well, equitably and morally.
Here is a small excerpt from the recent Sinixt Nation Press Release
The traditional winter shelter of the indigenous people of the headwaters of the Columbia River and that of all interior Salish peoples was the pit-house. Hundreds of house-pit depressions are found throughout the region. The archaeological reports confirm that Sinixt people lived in pit-houses while the Ktunaxa people did not.
Obviously the indigenous people of the Arrow Lakes region were Salish in origin as can be determined by the place names in the region having their roots in Salish culture. The name for Nakusp itself is named after a sn-selxcin word (Lakes-Okanagan language), “nkwusp.” The town of Slocan is named after the sn-selxcin word, “slhu7kin,” translated as “speared in the head” in reference to the Sinixt tradition of spear-fishing in the region.
The Nakusp Museum holds an impressive collection of local Sinixt artifacts from the region some of which were donated by Sinixt Nation Headman Vance Robert (Bob) Campbell Sr..
Over the past 20 years Sinixt Nation has worked with schools in Nakusp, Trail, Nelson, Castlegar, Winlaw and more to share traditional stories with children such as the Frog Mountain (Mt. Wilton) Story. School District 20 has officially recognized the Sinixt Nation as the indigenous people of their region and Trail BC.
Sinixt Nation hereby informs everyone of their obligations to indigenous and international laws and also that they have a duty to respect and recognize Sinixt Nation members inherent and entitled rights to our traditional territory. A map of Sinixt territory can be found online on our website.
Read the full press release:

Sinixt lands map by most witnesses show that the traditional territories
are primarily north of contemporary Canada-US international boundary
I don't have an investment in modern land clams, in the sense of should they be negotiated, or is the position of standing aside from the invitation to trade away rights a more empowered stance. As an urban indigenous and a mixed blood who is thoroughly displaced, I am far from advising those with a land base and any form of cultural continuity at all, how best to meet the challenges of co-existence. 

That said, if the imposition of racist laws prevented the free enjoyment and natural development and expression of Sinixt life in Canada, economic and otherwise, that is reason enough to insist upon their recognition, and inclusion by all. 

The Musqueam people likewise were for the most part forced from the islands of the Fraser River estuary, according to oral history and both archeological and historical records, and pressed onto reserve lands, within their ancestral realms but away from their usual economic sustenance and traditional domiciles/ homelife. This severance was less severe, but no less disruptive.

The people of Xwáýxway, a village in the area now named Stanley Park, likewise do not currently live on the peninsula, but do remember, and cherish the ongoing relationships. The Squamish did not end up with an international border between their current landbase and their traditional lands/old village sites, however, there is a similar and an acknowledged pattern here. The impact of dispossession and grief, and the decades of cumulative impact, can begin to be reversed at any time.

Acknowledging the traditional and territorial rights of the Musqueam people, the Squamish people, the Inuit or the Innu, it is all the same-- along with benefiting from the long memory of the elders in order to make sense of current expressions of collective life, within our specific geographies, the shared grief that is that simmering energy between racialized groups begins to find more positive routes of expression. 

It all begins with that life affirming acceptance of both sides of history, fundamental human rights, shared truth.

The Sinix't, Bringing Home the Bones 

[Bring Home the Bones]frogmountainfilms

see also,
Trailer for a documentary film "Bring Home the Bones", originally titled "The Bone Game", a glimpse into the story of the Sinixt Nation and our peoples determination to continue our cultural and spiritual laws and practices as appointed down to us by our elders and clan-mothers and our struggle to have our tribe and people recognized by CANADA and the BC governments since they fraudulently extincted our people in 1956. Interviews with Appointed Sinixt Spokesperson Marilyn James, Archeologist Gordon Mohs, 

Appointed Hereditary Sinixt Headman Vance Robert (Bob) Campbell, community members and more. The film also looks at some of the work done by Sinixt to reclaim and protect our ancient village and burial sites and to repatriate 64 ancestral remains from private and public collections such as the Royal Museum of British Columbia. 

For More Info:

vid2  Uploaded on Jun 23, 2010
Trailer for the Feature length Docu-Drama The Sinix't, Bringing Home the Bones.
A film about a group of aboriginal peoples falsely declared extinct and disenfranchised from their right to enter and remain in their ancestral homeland within the country of Canada in order for a controversial damming system to be put in place without dispute on the Columbia river system in BC.
Here is the story of their struggle to shed this "ghost" status and return to the land where their ancestors bones lay, just 50 years after being declared extinct. The Sinix't people have been fighting their "extinction" for the last 25 years, as well as setting precedent for the return of their ancestors bones from museums throughout the province.
map from among the many gathered on the Sinixt Nation website,


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