Syilx Perspective on Original Foods: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
Keywords:Indigenous Food Systems, Original Foods, Syilx, Indigenous Food Sovereignty
We’re a part of this land, and a necessary part of it. The land needs us, and the planet loves us, and we don’t know how to be a part of that anymore, in a real sense, in a physical sense. A coming back to that is something that we as humans have to figure out together.
—Lax̌lax̌tkʷ, Dr. Jeannette Armstrong (quoted in Hall, 2007)
Where It All Begins
What is your first memory of being on the land? Is it picking berries? Digging up carrots in the garden? Maybe it’s fishing with your dad. Take a moment and let the memory fill your senses. This is what “place-based” means. It means remembering where we come from so that we may understand more fully where we are today.
I come from the Okanagan Nation. My people, the Syilx/Okanagan, are a transboundary tribe separated at the 49th parallel by the border between Canada and the United States. Our Nation comprises seven member communities in the Southern Interior of British Columbia and the Colville Confederated Tribes in Washington. We share the same land, the same nsyilxcәn language, culture, and customs. We are a distinct and sovereign Nation. We are deeply rooted in our land and waters. Our territory is a diverse and beautiful landscape of deserts and lakes, alpine forests and endangered grasslands that extends over 17 million acres (69,000 square kilometers) from just north of Revelstoke, BC, south to the vicinity of Wilbur, Washington. Today we continue to assert our jurisdiction and responsibility over the stewarding of our lands. Our nsyilxcәn language and our Syilx/Okanagan culture respectfully honor the natural laws of the tmixw—that which gives us life. . . .
 tmixw is the sacred life force of all living things.
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