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Sinixt Nation Press Releases
Notice: Press Release and Statement
Date: April 11, 2015
Source: Marilyn James, Smum-Iem
Touchstones Museum-Selkirk College Race To The Bottom: Anti-Academic achievement for Colonial Empire
Last Thursday’s event hosted by Touchstone Museum and Selkirk College is a disappointing, self-disclosing display of collusion in ethnic cleansing of Indigenous Language and a Peoples, Sinixt Nation Peoples.
While the event was cited “to celebrate 35 years of Sinixt presence” in the Kootenays, the event excluded the very Sinixt People who have held the Sinixt presence in the Kootenays. More needs to be explored about political motives in why a museum and a BC college would intentionally misdirect the Canadian public about regional Indigenous knowledge and culture.
Of primary cultural significance, the event sponsors importing false cultural information about Sinixt Peoples and Sinixt Territory, the very Territory within which this event was held. Colville Confederated Tribes representatives incapable of featuring the very work of those Sinixt People who were excluded.
A paying community member of Nelson and vicinity attending a Touchstones Museum and Selkirk College event, you would think, would expect to be presented true depictions regarding the Sinixt Nation. But who validates the authenticity of supposed true culture and language?
The language performed at this event by entertainment troupe Lorae Willey and Shelly Boyd, Colville Tribal members who claim Sinixt heritage, are trained speakers of the Nselcxin (Okanogan/Colville language). On the other hand is Sinixt (Sn-selxcin) language, which is a distinct dialect, separate and apart from the Okanogan/Colville Salish language.
This cultural fact would have been expressed in a professional forum befitting a Museum and a BC College had not the sponsors featured an entertainment troupe, Colville Confederated Tribes representatives scabbed for, at best, was performance art, an insult to Sinixt Ancestors. Prior to the event, a message was delivered by an event representative that a Sinixt Territory spokesperson occupying our Sinixt Territory was unwelcomed.
Still, it may have been commendable to have Salish speakers sharing their Okanogan/Colville language had it been disclosed honestly for that expressed purpose. It is not, however, acceptable to feature the Okanogan/Colville language or any other language as Sinixt; such an act is that of shear cultural ignorance on the part of the entertainment troupe. Would the public know the dialect difference? I would venture the unsuspecting public would NOT.
It is very concerning to have public institutions colluding with public processes to maintain the extinction status of the Sinixt Peoples. Make no mistake, Sinixt extinction enabled and facilitated by public entities is a continuing government exercise by BC and the Crown.
Colville Confederated Tribes representatives, now Selkirk College affiliates, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Okanogan Nation Alliance who are one of the several tribal groups benefitting from the maintained extinct status of the Sinixt Peoples. Simultaneously, the Canadian government hands Sinixt resources and land to these other tribal groups, through the treaty process they have refused to accept, inclusive of the Sinixt land claim document filed in 2007.
In the full strength of the government policies of oppression of Sinixt Peoples’ in which the government demonizes us as “extinct”, it must be understood as attempts towards ethnic cleansing. As ethnic cleansing goes, there are tools in the destruction of economic and political organization, with an intention of weakening the Peoples’ spirit and actual thriving capacity, including demonizing The Peoples. These are the bases of Canadian and U.S. foreign policy, of which First Nations and Tribes are foreign nations according to each respective government’s own interpretation. Keep in mind, boarding schools were and continue to be a more recent oppressive cultural destructive policy.
Government ethnic cleansing policies are disruptive to the respective First Nation and can cause disorientation in the communities.
Here are a few examples of present disorientation, now perpetrated by this Touchstones – Selkirk College event: Cultural cannibalism is present in those poor souls who have gotten tired of the fight and have sold out to Colville Confederated Tribes, like Robert Watt. Moreover, the real ethnic cleansing coup by the event sponsors was to get two Sinixt-claimed persons to commit cultural cannibalism as an entertainment troupe, each disassociated from academic and Sinixt reality, by coming into Sinixt Territory and present either intentionally or ignorantly, Okanogan/Colville language “as Sinixt”. This is beyond sad.
Cultural cannibalism is when you’re supposed to be “tribal” and “celebrate” 35 years of work that you did not do and exclude those who did. Sad that even though Robert Watt, was present as “their boy” at this event they didn’t even publicly recognize him; exclusion isn’t only about physical presence.
Cultural cannibalism is when cultural anomie arrives and First Nations People engage in foreign cultural practices such as substances addiction (like alcohol, peyote) in wanton abandon of the right behavior to of your own entire First Nations cultural community. Both your own cultural community and the “other cultural community” rituals are damaged. Many times with complete denial of damages to the very culture they are participating in (in this case, the depletion of the very peyote fields themselves), damages to self, damages to other participants, damages to community, and damages to the cultural community that is not in “the” place these ceremonies belong.
Cultural cannibalism is any settler person or institution who colludes, excludes, and deludes in the acts of genocide and human rights violation being perpetuated by government process.
A body of work has been attached to this press release that has had nothing to do with the Colville Confederated Tribes, Okanogan Nation Alliance or for any other purpose the to shed light on the continued genocide perpetuated by the Government, through maintained extinction of the Sinixt Peoples. The work stands for the autonomy of the Sinixt Peoples and Nation and nothing short of that is acceptable.
Please make your own contribution to end these acts of madness by colonial empires and ethnic cleansing.
Notice: Press Release and Statement
Date: April 12, 2013
Sinixt Nation has worked diligently over the past three decades to correct the 1956 Canadian government's extinction status of Sinixt people. The Crown has recognized Sinixt people as indigenous peoples of Canada (as a tribal group) but not as the Indian Act's defined term of “Aboriginal peoples of Canada” as presented in a document dated August 9th, 1995 and signed by then Indian Affairs Minister Ron Irwin which stated: “The Arrow Lakes Band ceased to exist as a band for the purpose of the Indian Act when-its last [registered] member died on October 1, 1953. ... It does not, of course, mean that the Sinixt people ceased to exist as a tribal group.”
Sinixt Nation has acted in good faith to address the issue of our people being wrongfully extincted and whereas the Crown has not. Our most recent legal challenge against the Crown to protect Sinixt interests to cultural sites was struck down and resulted in the BC Supreme Court forcing the Sinixt people involved to pay for the court costs. We feel this is contrary to the obligations held by the Crown.
“The Crown holds legally binding obligations under international law to recognize and promote the fundamental rights of all human-beings, including the economic, social, cultural, civil, political and religious rights of all Sinixt peoples regardless of the Canadian laws that exist such as the Indian Act,” said Sinixt Nation Headman Vance Robert “Bob” Campbell Sr..
Campbell went on to further state, ”The United Nations Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide reads under Article 2(b) that “causing mental harm to members of a group” constitutes genocide and clearly the Canadian government is causing mental harm to myself and the other members of the Sinixt Nation by continuing to strip us of our inherent rights as indigenous human-beings.”
Robert Watt, caretaker of the Sinixt Nation cultural sites in the Slocan Valley, said, “The government has continued to act in a disrespectful and hostile manner towards Sinixt peoples who claim their inherent rights in Canada. The Crown is well aware that we as Sinixt people continue to exist on and use our traditional territory as we have done prior to the assumption of Crown sovereignty in 1846.”
Members and representatives of the Sinixt Nation filed a land claim in 2008 by writ of summons in the BC Supreme Courts (file No. 14324) and has notified the Canadian government (and both Provincial and Federal treaty commissions) that our unceded territory is not to be a negotiation tool with any other tribal groups who are not historically documented as anything but visitors to Sinixt lands.
The treaty negotiations are being put forward to the public by the government as an act of reconciliation with first nations peoples.
When asked her opinion about the BC Truth and Reconciliation Process and the recent allotment of “Crown Land” near Nakusp BC to the Ktunaxa Nation Council through treaty negotiations, Marilyn James Spokesperson for Sinixt Nation said, “The current process lacks conscience and reason and is sadly, a blatant violation of domestic and international law, and is seen as a continuation of the genocidal policies against Sinixt people who are in the pursuit of our fundamental cultural rights as indigenous peoples in Canada.”
James went on to add, “The Canadian government holds a fiduciary responsibility to Sinixt peoples whose territories are impacted by government policies and industry and that for the Crown to maintain the current extinction status of our tribal group is nothing short of the “cowboys and indians” mentality of the Wild West.”
“The recent settlement of land granted to the Ktunaxa around the Nakusp area and the planned settlement of lands in the Castlegar area is just another example of the Canadian government acting against the rights of Sinixt people and is taking an act of genocide to a new level by not only committing the act of genocide against the Sinixt peoples in their territory but by embroiling the Ktunaxa and the public in a collusion of that act,” James said.
Modern day colonial government actions are but a continuation of the derogation of Sinixt people's basic rights and are to benefit the interests of the Ktunaxa Nation Council, who as the archeological record verifies, never occupied the lands around the Arrow Lakes.
These colonial strategies are nothing new to Sinixt people. Archived Journals of the BC legislature saw a motion made on March 1st 1892 to impose a 50 dollar foreign hunter fee on Sinixt peoples in an effort to keep Sinixt from occupying and using their ancestral homelands and at the same time to benefit the interests of the Ktunaxa peoples. The record from the BC Legislature Journals states:
“Mr. Kellie moved, seconded by Colonel Baker—
That whereas, owing to custom, the Indians [Sinixt] from the neighbourhood of Colville, in State of Washington, do annually come into British Columbia and hunt along the Arrow Lakes and Columbia River[Sinixt territory], and by so doing exclude the Indians of Kootenay[ktunaxa], in British Columbia, from following the chase in those parts of the Province above mentioned ;
Be it therefore resolved, That in the interests of British Columbia, our Government do instruct its officers in Kootenay, or elsewhere, to see that the provisions of the "Game Act," empowering the collection of the sum of fifty dollars for all non-residents who come into British Columbia for the purposes of hunting, be enforced in regard to these foreign Indians [Sinixt] when they cross the International Boundary for the purpose of hunting in British Columbia,
The motion was withdrawn.”
Unlike the 1892 motion that was withdrawn, the Archives of the BC Legislature show that on December 3rd 1894 the Crown, in the interests of Ktunaxa resolved to exclude Sinixt peoples from Canada by prohibiting their movement across the Canada/US border. Below is the excerpted text from the Archived Journals;
“On the motion of Mr. Hume, seconded by Mr. Kellie, it was Resolved,--
That whereas, owing to custom, the Indians[Sinixt] of the State of Washington, in the United States, do annually come into British Columbia and hunt along the Columbia River and Arrow Lakes, and by so doing exclude the Indians of Kootenay[ktunaxa], in British Columbia, from following the chase in those parts of the Province above-mentioned And whereas there are known cases of the maltreating of settlers along said river and lakes:
Be it therefore Resolved, That an humble Address he presented to His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor, praying him to move the Dominion Government to take such steps as may be deemed advisable with the United States Government to exclude these Indians[Sinixt] from crossing the International Boundary,”
These said legislated acts would most definitely be defined as “genocide” today however the term “genocide” was not legally defined at the time the acts were committed and therefore are not recognized legally as acts of genocide. However, when perceived as the continuation of these same systemic policies of stripping Sinixt Nation members of our basic rights for the benefit of the Ktunaxa, it can only be received as an act of genocide.
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.
Media Contact: Marilyn James, phone 250-226-6726
For further information and evidence documents please see: http://sinixtnation.org