Go, Ogopogo, And Don’t Come Back No More!

There is a legend from the time when the British Empire owned this corner of North America, that says that the local people, the Syilx, claimed there was a monster in the lake, much like the cryptosaur of Loch Ness: kind of a long snaky thing with teeth at one end and a tale at the other.



The wire and concrete version. Note the excellent hand-cut rubber tire look.

People are still looking for the wee beastie. Here’s a website devoted to all of that. This,  (zooming in on the image above), though, I believe:


Rattlesnake Island

According to Syilx Geography, the creature N’ha-a-itk, which was disrespectfully garbled as Ogopogo, lived in a cave beneath this island.

Now, let’s pull back just a little, and see that island in its context …


Rattlesnake Island and … A Head with a … Snout?

Let’s look a little more closely …

snoutThe Snout is a Head, too?

… and farther back …

crittersA Hump-Backed Fish?

This game is at least half as much fun as the Cryptosaur one, but it does have some basis in cultural understanding.

pink spawn

Hump-Backed Salmon

These guys used to come up here from Siberia, but were cut off when lake levels sank at the end of the Ice Age. Could the stories here be that old? Sure.

I think is an ancient way of reading the land that is caught up with the story of Okanagan Mountain. After all, in Indigenous cultures throughout Northwestern North America, the interrelation between living creatures is commonly more important than Western ideas of their species-specific independence. Here’s an example from the Vernon Museum:

arg19Argillite Carving, Haida Gwaii

Everything is flowing together. Every thing is changing into each other thing. People, too.

With that pattern of thought, I think the entire valley of Okanagan Lake was once read as a story. Here is just a brief introduction to its characters. There are many more.

okmap2Instead of Reading Constellations in the Sky…

…the Okanagan has Stories in the Land

That’s a map well worth archaelogical exploration. If re-created, it might tell of the human experience of history here and be the basis for moving Okanagan culture back into the land. Who knows what will be learned by uncovering 10,000 years of human history in this place. Who knows what novels and ecological understanding will follow. After all, the people who invented Ogopogo by mis-reading that land …


…also, eventually, created this as their crowning achievement…

Mission HIllMission Hill Winery, West Kelowna Source.

An Austrian bell tower funded by hard liquor profits and called “A family estate.”

…and this, too …

Biological Garden, University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus

That’s a blue bristle from a street sweeping machine in the foreground. The university has currently raised 1 billion dollars towards its 1.5 billion dollar goal of supporting innovation and something it calls ‘place’.

I’d sure miss the earth if it were gone. The place in the image just above has already left it.


N’ha-a-itk Family Group with Rattlesnake Island

Looking North from the ancient north-south trail.  Greata Ranch

Next: What innovation really looks like.

6 replies »

    • I saw that. Good on them. There’s a lot of other people in Spallumcheen who are annoyed about water as well. It’s a big story. Thanks for reminding me.


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