Sinixt Confederacy Holds Event to Discuss History and Future Goals

The Sinixt Confederacy held a three-day ethnohistory training event in Nelson, British Columbia, for West Kootenay organizations and governments. The event aimed to streamline the US-Canada border crossing process for Sinixt people and gain recognition from the federal government.

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Sakchi Khandelwal
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Sinixt Confederacy Holds Event to Discuss History and Future Goals

Sinixt Confederacy Holds Event to Discuss History and Future Goals

The Sinixt Confederacy, a branch of the Colville Confederated Tribes based in Washington state, held a three-day event in Nelson, British Columbia, Canada, from April 25-27, 2023. The event, titled "Joint Provincial Government Sinixt Confederacy Ethnohistory Training," brought together approximately 520 people representing dozens of West Kootenay organizations, including federal and provincial government ministries, businesses, municipalities, school districts, chambers of commerce, timber companies, Community Futures organizations, museums, regional districts, community forests, and hydro producers.

The Sinixt Confederacy has two primary goals: streamlining theU.S.-Canada border crossingprocess for Sinixt people and gaining recognition from the federal government. In 2021, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in R v Desautel that the Sinixt are an aboriginal people of Canada under the constitution, with hunting and related rights in Canada. Thus, the Sinixt people want the federal government to simplify the border crossing process, now that they have rights in both countries.

Why this matters: The Sinixt Confederacy's efforts to gain recognition and streamline border crossing have significant implications for Indigenous rights and self-governance in Canada and beyond. The Sinixt Confederacy's efforts to gain recognition and streamline border crossing have significant implications for Indigenous rights and self-governance in Canada and beyond. A successful outcome could set a precedent for other Indigenous groups seeking similar recognition and rights, contributing to a more equitable and inclusive society in the long run.

Seeking recognition from the federal government involves overcoming differences in governance systems between the U.S. and Canada, plus legal subtleties. Seeking recognition from the federal government involves coping with differences in governance systems between the U.S. and Canada, plus legal subtleties. Cindy Marchand, a Sinixt representative, acknowledged the complexity of the situation, stating,"If this is confusing for you, it's confusing for us too. "The Sinixt Confederacy also aims to achieve inclusion in all federal and provincial funding sources.

During the event, the Attorney General of B.C. presented a new 240-page report titled "Sinixt Traditional Territory: A Review of Ethnographic and Historical Sources." The report summarizes ethnographic information relating to the traditional territory of the Sinixt people, covering their history, including their presence in the 19th century, plus the presence of other Indigenous groups, government officials, and settlers.

Local historian Eileen Delehanty Pearkes gave a slide presentation summarizing the report, which included maps of Sinixt villages and hunting trails from the time of contact with Europeans in 1811 to the date of the U.S.-Britain border division in 1846. Sinixt spokesperson Shelly Boyd emphasized the importance of presenting their history from their own perspective, stating, "We didn't want the report to just be about history. We wanted to talk about our voices, the way we saw our history, the way we felt, the way we experienced it. This is not just about reports about us. It's real lives."

Cultural anthropologist Andrea Laforet played a vital role in the R v Desautel case by researching and providing evidence to the court on the genealogies of Sinixt families that could be identified as living in B.C. at the time of contact with Europeans. at the time of contact with Europeans. Laforet determined there were 21 such families and is now conducting further genealogical work to identify Sinixt people who don't live at Colville, with the goal of offering all Sinixt the opportunity to join one governing body.

The event left a strong impression on attendees, with Shelly Boyd remarking, "It left me no doubt that there is both curiosity about and support for the Sinixt in the West Kootenay." As the Sinixt Confederacy continues their efforts to gain recognition and streamline border crossing, they face complex challenges but remain committed to preserving their history, culture, and rights as an aboriginal people of Canada.

Key Takeaways

  • Sinixt Confederacy held a 3-day ethnohistory training event in Nelson, BC, for 520 attendees.
  • The event aimed to streamline US-Canada border crossing for Sinixt people and gain federal recognition.
  • Sinixt Confederacy seeks inclusion in all federal and provincial funding sources.
  • A new 240-page report summarizes ethnographic information on Sinixt traditional territory and history.
  • The event sparked curiosity and support for Sinixt rights and self-governance in the West Kootenay region.