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OUR WORK - KEEPING THE LAKES WAY
After a long and tiresome 2 year battle, a caravan of Sinixt-Lakes descendants and supporters went to Victoria with Hereditary ll'mix'm Francis Romero to repatriate ancestral remains. The Sinixt-Lakes Nation received a Transfer of Title document along with six (6) ancestral remains from the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria BC. It was at this moment Lakes people became the first indigenous group in BC to repatriate remains, the date was September 25, 1990.
This led to finding more ancestral remains through various museums, private and public collections. Over the last 25 years the efforts of the Sinixt Nation and supporters has led to the repatriation of 64 burials. The last reburial took place in the Summer of 2012 after a small box was retrieved by an ally from an anonymous source and was returned to Sinixt Nation spokesperson Marilyn James.
All 64 repatriated ancestral remains are reburied at our ancient burial grounds in Vallican, British Columbia, Canada.
Cultural Site Preservation
For the last 25 years Sinixt Nation has actively been engaged in efforts to protect the few remaining cultural heritage sites in the Columbia River Headwaters. Sinixt Nation has been involved in consultations, legal challenges, direct action, and public education to aid in the protection of our ancient cultural sites. Sinixt Nation works closely with archeologists and local school districts to help educate people to the great cultural significance of the ancient sites by leading cultural information tours and by working as liaisons in studies.
The Sinixt Nation land reclamation in Vallican BC started after road building plowed right through the heart of the old village and burial grounds. Guided by our elders and spiritual leaders we started the effort to protect what was left of our ancient cultural sites in the Slhu7kin'-Slocan Valley. Robert Watt was appointed caretaker of the burial grounds by a council of elders and Lakes descendants in the early 1990's. He upholds his duties and obligations to his ancestors to this day in an honorable way, in a way that would make any one of them proud.
Pithouse Construction at Vallican
With the help of the local community Sinixt Nation has completed a very large pit-house at the Vallican Heritage Site. The pithouse is used for educational tours with teachers and students from the local school districts, for Sinixt Nation meetings and gatherings, for shelter for visiting Sinixt families, and for hosting the Sinixt Nation's annual winterdance ceremonies. The pithouse was constructed in a rocky area to prevent any damage being done to any existing house-pit depressions or burials in the area.
Community Events and Public Speaking
Sinixt Nation has been part of hundreds of community events in the last two decades. Marilyn James herself has been the guest speaker and/or opening speaker at numerous community events recognizing the Sinixt Nation as the First Nation group in the area. Marilyn is also a local storyteller at schools and storytelling gatherings in Sinixt Territory. Robert Watt has also spoke on behalf of Sinixt Nation at events and teach ins. We will be adding a detailed list of Sinixt Nation Community involvement over the last 25 years.
Marilyn James has a masters in education and has helped develop aboriginal curriculum with sinixt cultural information for local school districts in the territory. Herself and her daughter, Taress Alexis, continue to work closely with School district 20 to devolope positive educational initiatives between the Sinixt Nation and the schools in the district for the benefit of all children in the region.
Sinixt Nation has worked to get the Frog Mountain Story into classrooms through the school districts in Sinixt territory. Robert and Marilyn have both been on speaking tours into classrooms throughout the territory to teach children about Sinixt people and the ancient history of the lands we all live on.
Marilyn until recently worked closely with Selkirk College as the aboriginal liaison person. Sinixt Nation elders held ceremony and blessed the grounds used for the aboriginal gathering place at the college. Unfortunately Selkirk College broke traditional Sinixt protocol and disrespected the now deceased elders who blessed their buildings. Marilyn James was fired by Selkirk College and they no longer work with the Sinixt Nation but only with members from the ONA and Colville Business Council. This is a major blow to creating quality aboriginal educational services and initiatives to Selkirk students in Sinixt territory. Sinixt however maintain healthy relationships with individual students and teachers and hopes that the politics dictating the quality of education at Selkirk can move beyond the perspective of business first, education second.
Please Check back soon.... we will be adding a timeline and archive for the hundreds of documents and news clippings covering "our work."
March 12 2013