First Peoples

Indigenous or Non-Indigenous? A Field Guide.

To be Indigenous means you come from the land, and are of the land. This land, for example.

This is an outcropping on Turtle Ridge in Vernon. Note the red lichen stains.

Typically, these stains come from lichens that inhabit places soaked with bird or animal urine: points of presence or habitation, often with a darned good view. In other words, they mark the markings that non-human people have put on the land, while placing themselves in a point of sight or visibility. These non-human people are called animals today. In an Indigenous world-view, humans are no different than those other people, and make the same marks, with one difference: the humans are conscious of following the pattern. Here is an elk and an eagle from the Tsilqhot’in Illahie.

Note how it is embedded among animal-lichen pairings. Now, note what non-Indigenous marking looks like (below), even on a Kwakwaka’wakw ancestral stone.

Discovery Passage, Looking Over Cape Mudge

It is an individual rather than an environmental marking, and makes the collision of individuals the environment. Not indigenous. Simple.

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