The Secwepemc People
Songs and Dances
For Assistance in
viewing this site.
The Land of the Secwepemc
The Secwepemc are the indigenous Peoples who inhabit the south central interior of British Columbia. The territory of the Secwepemc extends from the Columbia River Valley on the east slope of the Rocky Mountains to the Fraser River on the west and from the upper Fraser River in the north to the Arrow Lakes in the south. Secwepemc territory covers a vast area; approximately 180,000 square km. The territory, traditionally, was an extensive and varied environment, although much of the territory today is destroyed by forestry, mining, mass scale tourisms, and other commercial developments. The landscapes traditionally used by the Secwepemc include: alpine unit montane parkland unit; montane forest unit; intermediate grasslands unit; intermediate lakes unit; river terraces unit; and river valleys unit.
The Secwepemc, traditionally, were semi-nomadic; their life based on fishing, hunting, and plant gathering. They traveled great distances to procure food and other technological needs. The various landscapes they used provided everything the Secwepemc needed to survive and flourish. Secwepemc territory provided the people with a wide diversity of animal and plant food, medicines, and technological resources. All food and material culture was obtained from the various environments. The Secwepemc harvested deer, moose, elk, caribou, many smaller mammals, and many varieties of salmon and fish. They gathered over 135 species of plants for food, medicine, ceremonial, habitation, and technology. The Secwepemc, with their intimate knowledge of their environments, based their subsistence economy on balancing the use of resources and careful management regimes. They made use of food and materials which were in abundance, but also relied on other sources when their primary sources failed.
The Secwepemc maintained a vast storehouse of ecological and cultural knowledge gathered from years of experience and observations on the land. By knowing and keenly observing the natural environment, the Secwepemc were able to obtain knowledge, for example, they knew that to find the best pitch medicine, they had to find a tree which was wind shook. The tree released the pitch to heal itself and to provide medicine for the people.
The Secwepemc maintained a spiritual and practical respect for the land, water, air, animals, plants, and all things needed for their survival. This respect, as well as responsible stewardship, was essential for their survival and livelihood. Through stewardship, they upheld their responsibilities to maintain a balanced and harmonious relationship with other people and the land.
Traditional Secwepemc way of life was based on a complex and interdependent system. Practical needs, spirituality, social and political organization, kinship, and nature were all interrelated and interconnected. The Secwepemc knowledge system provided them with a clear understanding of the social and ecological implications of their actions.
The Secwepemc practiced intensive land management regimes which ensured sufficient supply of needed items, not only for present needs but to ensure the resources were available for future generations. One example is landscape burning to ensure better and more plentiful root crops. Survival was also dependent on ecological knowledge and cultural skills being passed down by oral tradition to the following generations.
Songs, dances, and ceremonies played an important role in taking care of the land and everything the Secwepemc harvested from it. Prayers and offerings were made before anything is collected from the land. Thankfulness and respect for the harvest were shown at all times.
See the Secwepemc Nation
The Secwepemc Nation is large and covers a great deal of territory. For this reason we have created an image which is very large but split into sections to help it in loading. This file is 535 k and may take a bit of time to load depending on your connection. Please be patient.
For those who have visual problems the same information available on the map, is also available in our next two links, in a more complete form.
Landmarks and Stories