First Peoples

Okanagan Land Claim Twist

Here in the desert, we have been blessed with 135 kilometres of fossilized glacial water. In the summers, when the stuff warms up, people play and splash about, especially people who have driven through the mountains to get here. After a bit of that, retirement on the molten glacial shores seems like a pretty great thing …

For Many People, This is the Real Okanagan

A sailboat safely at anchor at dusk…Worth a drive through the mountains and around the frozen glaciers from the oil fields, anytime.

This, too…

Improvised Dock

Those pre-formed concrete blocks have more uses than a beaver hat.

Oh, yeah, there’s that:

Anti-Beaver Defensive Fencing

Just try to gnaw through that, eh.

It’s not just humans who have colonized the edges of this molten glacier. The image above is one part of the Okanagan Aesthetic Moment that you might have to ignore if you’re going to have the full effect of your private dock. After all, this was once rich ground for Northwest Company and Hudson’s Bay Company fur traders, and what did they want? Beaver hats. Can you imagine those dour Scots jumping off of this?

Private Dock

There’s a public boat launch in the foreground. It’s kind of dwarfed by the neighbours, though. (That is, of course, the point.)

All along the lake, the road is lined with houses, on both sides, on the principle that “they’re not making more view property so get some.” In other words, land ownership is actually view ownership and ownership of social position. It is not land stewardship. It’s the ancient water that matters. There is occasionally a narrow boat access for non-lakeshore-residents. There is never a mountain access, although the ancient water is the breath of the grass and they exist together.

The Untouchable Hills

If water is a common resource, isn’t the land as well?

Well, yes and no. Yes, because, well, duh. No, because land is power. If everyone had access to the grass, then no one could control that access for profit. Oh, and we wouldn’t have any Indian Reserves, either.

Public Path and Private Space

The public path lying to the left of carefully-manicured private yards looks like an accident, allowed to exist only in the gaps left by the pressures of private display.

Shouldn’t the balance, for a social species like homo sapiens, be more like 50-50?Shouldn’t our shared spaces be at least half as decent as our private ones? Hey, it’s worth asking. Meanwhile, across the lake at the Okanagan Indian Reserve:

Frozen Lake with Bus and Field, Okanagan Indian Reserve

Okanagan Lake looking like the moon in the background.

The boundary between lake and land is relaxed here. It speaks of a sense that it will not go away. I think the lesson is that it’s not just the Syilx who need a land claim. We all do. Then we can take off our darned beaver hats at last and live on the land and the lake together.

Okanagan Indian Band Pow Wow Grounds

I’d like that.

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