Hunting-Traditional Wildlife Management Practices

It is true that the people had a spiritual understanding that the land could not be owned but they did believe in their right to decide who could hunt, where they could hunt, when they could hunt, and how much they could hunt. Their survival depended on this type of resource management. With permission, surrounding Nations could hunt and fish within traditional Sinixt territory. When disputes over fishing and hunting sites within Sinixt territory couldn’t be settled, Sinixt People would war with any Nation in order to defend their rights to the land.

Recorded historic and ethnographic evidence of battles between the Sinixt and Ktunaxa occurred because of such disputes (Bouchard and Kennedy 2000). While some battles were short and others were prolonged, the Sinixt Nation never lost. There is a saying that you are only as rich as the poorest person and this type of mentality derives from tribal living. When every member of the tribe was healthy, they could stand strong for the tribe.

Like salmon, the meat from hunts was distributed equally among the People and chosen individuals (sometimes called “runners”) were responsible for distributing meat to the families. Also, like the fishing sites within Sinixt territory, hunting sites were managed by families (passed down through lineage) or appointed chiefs. Seasonal burning and thinning were common management techniques traditionally used by Sinixt People. Typically this work was completed by women in order to ensure productivity and accessibility of plant foods and medicines, but it also promoted biodiversity and enhanced food sources for wildlife species. The grizzly bear, for example, shares an extremely similar diet with the Sinixt People.