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Slhu7kin - Perry Ridge
Perry Ridge - Sinixt Cultural Wetlands
Perry Ridge is culturally significant to the Sinixt People because it is one of the last intact alpine wetlands within the Slocan Valley, which for thousands of years was used, and is still used, by the Sinixt in continuation of their cultural practices.
At the north end of Perry Ridge is the village of Slocan, where the Slocan River drains southward from the Slocan Lake and the mountainous drainage of the Valhalla Park. This confluence represents one of the last year round occupied villages of the Sinixt peoples on the beautiful sandy shore of Slocan Lake. Sinixt rock paintings and burials have been identified along the Slocan lake shore and are evidence of the cultural significance of the Slocan Lake drainage.
From this location the Sinixt accessed all of Perry Ridge to its southern most point. On the west side of Perry Ridge the Little Slocan Lakes have been identified as a Sinixt site where a heritage trail connects Perry Ridge to the Lower Arrow Lakes. On the east side of Perry Ridge, where the Slocan River lies at the base of the mountain, Sinixt ancestral remains have been repatriated and reburied. These burial sites culturally significant sacred sites that continued erosion threatens to expose sites.
Protection of the prominent steep, drainages that are a unique terrain aspect of Perry Ridge will help protect further damage to the grave and cultural heritage village sites. Repatriation and reburial of the ancestral remains of the Sinixt have taken place all along Perry Ridge. At the southern end of Perry Ridge lies the Sinixt Village of Vallican. Sinixt burials at Vallican nestled next to the Slocan River date back thousands of years. The Vallican village site represents the return of the Sinixt to the northern part of their traditional territory. The Sinixt peoples utilize the Vallican site throughout the year where they host community events at this Sinixt Village site they consider to be the seat of Sinixt governance. Of particular cultural significance is that this location is where the Sinixt conduct their traditional Winter Dance ceremony.
Perry Ridge provided sustainability to the cultural practices of the Sinixt. Because of the unique high elevation old growth forests the mountain still offers sustainability if it's biodiversity is protected.
The unique botany on Perry Ridge provides the Sinixt with many of their traditional medicinal and edible plants, which include unique mosses, avalanche lilies and a plethora of dry, alpine and wetland plant species. Traditional basket making materials are also part of the vegetation that provides sustainability to the continued cultural practices of the Sinixt.
Perry Ridge is home to culturally significant species at risk i.e. birds of prey, Screech owls, red tailed hawks, eagles, goshawk, herons, white swans, and more. The rock faces, with their bluffs and caves have a highly valued habitat for coyotes, bears and cougars. These animal species are highly significant to the Sinixt culture. Spearheads and many other artifacts have been found on Perry Ridge which predate arrow heads and identify Perry Ridge as a very old traditional hunting and trapping area.
Included in species at risk and extremely significant is the bull trout found in bordering drainage tibutaries of Perry ridge represented by the Little Slocan on the west and in the Slocan River on the eastern side of Perry Ridge. Many of the tributary drainages to these two river systems represent highly sensitive and rare spawning habitat for the bull trout. Sinixt feel a significant responsibility for this particular species as the word "sinixt" means 'the place of the Bull Trout'. As evidenced by the Sinixt name bull trout and other unique resident species of fish have always played an important part of the Sinixt culture.
As a result of the dams within Sinixt traditional territory salmon no longer play the role a salmon fishery once historically represented and so bull trout and other resident species take on a greater significance. The Sinixt are working to protect this fisheries which in many cases is on the brink of collapse. Perry Ridge will play a vital role in the restoration of the bull trout fisheries in both the Little Slocan and Slocan River. The tributary streams, which drain from the high water table on the south and the wetland bogs on the north, are an important part of the food chain for fisheries in both river systems. These same streams from the old growth alpine forests offer the highest quality drinking water to contemporary settlements at the base of Perry Ridge.
Sinixt people have lost many cultural sites with the majority having been destroyed by government, industry and settlers. 157 documented sites, including pictograph (rock painting), burial, and village sites, fishing and hunting grounds, as well as low level cultural grassland habitat, were flooded by the hydro-electric dams in Sinixt territory alone. Slhu7kin/Perry Ridge represents a unique land mass as a key drainage and tributary of the Slocan and Little Slocan River systems, therefore it defines necessary and rare habitat. In addition these two rivers represent the remaining non-dammed rivers in the entire Columbia River Drainage where the cultural practices of the Sinixt peoples is intrinsic with the sustained habitat of Slhu7kin.
for more info visit The Perry Ridge Water users Association's Website