First Nations of the Lower North Thompson Valley
The Lower North Thompson Valley is steeped in history and rich in aboriginal culture of our First Nations people. There are several First Nations people whose history reaches into the Lower North Thompson Valley including the Tk’emlúps, and the Simpcw. They have lived here as far back as recorded history.
Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc
The Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc was formally known as the Kamloops Indian Band. It was established in 1862 under the direction of Governor James Douglas. At one time the Secwepemc people occupied one large traditional territory covering approximately 145,000 sq. kms. In 1811, the colonial government divided the Secwepemc people into 17 distinct groups with specific parcels of land designated to each.
The word “Tk’emlúps” (tik-kumm-loops) means “people of the confluence or where the rivers meet.” It has been the home of the Tk’emlupsemc for centuries.
The Tk’emlύps Reserve # 1 is the largest reserve in British Columbia. In addition, Tk’emlύps is also one of the most progressive First Nations in Canada. It has traditionally held great economic importance for the Secwepemc Nation. It is a hub of historical traffic and trade routes. Approximately 1,300 members strong, it is one of 17 Secwepemc Nation Bands.
Join them in their yearly celebration at the Kamloopa PowWow!
The Simpcw are part of the Secwepemc, or Shuswap, Nation. They have been here for centuries. The word Simpcw means “people of the North Thompson River,” which is where they have lived as long as they can remember.
They are one of 17 Bands who historically (and currently) lived in the Thompson River Valley. Simpcw’s lands covered an area of roughly 5,000,000 Ha. It ranges from north of McLure to the head waters of the Fraser River at McBride and from Jasper in the east and south to the head waters of the Athabasca River.
Archaeological surveys have found winter sites and food cache pits throughout the region. There have been finds in: Finn Creek, Vavenby, Birch Island, Clearwater, Little Fort, Chu Chua, Barriere, Louis Creek, Tête Jeune, and Jasper.
Currently, Simpcw First Nation has approximately 700 members. Many of them live in Chu Chua, which is also the location of the main village of Simpcw First Nation. Many Simpcw members still practice and maintain their traditional knowledge and customs. They also teach them at Neqweyqwelsten School, along with the regular BC elementary school curriculum.
The Simpcw Fisheries is an important part of the Lower North Thompson. The Dunn Lake Hatchery also hosts several events including Coho Day, Raft River First Fish Ceremony and hosts the Raft River Interpretative School Program.
The Simpcw also play an active part in the modern workforce. Many business owners and professionals are within their membership. It is a close-knit community with gatherings as well as events which happen on a regular basis.
This is all part of living up to Simpcw’s mission statement, which states: “The Simpcw are a culturally proud community, valuing healthy, holistic lifestyles based upon respect, responsibility and continuous participation in growth and education.”