Harvesting fish species was integral to the survival of the Secwepemc and depended on sustainable stewardship practices. Fisheries stewardship for the Secwepemc included their whole traditional territory. The ancient laws of the Secwepemc were passed on orally. Laws and traditions were handed down from generation to generation. These laws involved the overall spirituality of the Secwepemc people, and the interconnectedness of every living thing.
Fishing is part of the holistic way of living as Secwepemc. During the fishing season, at the rivers, lakes and streams, there was a definite protocol that all Secwepemc adhered to. These laws included the proper allocation of fish during the fishing season. It was the duty of the Secwepemc Fisheries Steward to abide by the laws under the authority of the people and the watchful eye of the chief. Fish were allocated according to the size of the family, for survival through the winter. All lakes and streams had their Secwepemc names that go back thousands of years. The Interior fishery was directly interconnected with the ocean-going fish. The freshwater fish acted as a buffer against the over-harvesting salmon and steelhead. It also served to prevent the over-harvesting of other animals that serve as a food source for the Secwepemc. For the river tribes the salmon was the currency. The Secwepemc economy revolved around the cycles of salmon harvesting.
Today, Secwepemc members follow and abide by the laws that were passed down. We will continue to watch over our fishing areas, to ensure that conservation and preservation measures are taken to protect all fish resources in Secwepemcul’ecw.
The Secwepemc have lived in harmony with the wildlife of Secwepemcul’ecw for thousands of years. As with the fish resources of Secwepemcul’ecw the survival the Secwepemc has depended on the survival of animal species. Hunting remains a vital cultural and economic part of the Northern Secwepemc way of life. Hunters from families and communities teach the youth to hunt and live off the land. Meat and fish is distributed to elders to supplement the proportionately low average incomes of Secwepemc community members. The preservation of hunting as a way of life is vital to the preservation of Secwepemc culture.
Wildlife is currently administered under the provincial Wildlife Act. Industrial, commercial and residential development of Secwepemcul’ecw poses a threat to the wildlife habitat and hunting areas of the Secwepemc. Current conservation policies are based on scientific information and do not account for the traditional ecological knowledge of the Secwepemc. With out this knowledge the conservation policies cannot properly address the interests of the Secwepemc.
Spokin Lake is an important moose calving area, a wetland complex and a T’exelc traditional and contemporary hunting area. We will continue to work toward its protection.
Spokin Lake – Spucwten
The Spokin Lake area (Spucwten) is within the T’exelc (Williams Lake Indian Band) traditional territory, near 150 Mile House.
The Spokin Lake area is prime moose calving grounds, our traditional hunting grounds, and a hunting area for others. It is also a beautiful area, full of wetland species. Our long-term goal is to preserve the Spokin Lake area as a biosphere and to protect it from logging. It would be protected for all users, but especially for nearby T’exelc’ members to use for traditional activities as they have done for centuries.
We would honor road closure measures for the Spokin Lake area, similar to the Enterprise area (MU-52A) for wildlife conservation. Limited entry hunting has continued in MU-52A since clear-cuts were approved and logged in the 1980’s. We do not approve any logging for 1999-2002 in the Spokin Lake area, beyond minimal-disturbance salvage logging.
In September of 1999 we held an informational roadblock on the Spokin Lake Road and at 150 Mile House. We received a considerable amount of public support. Following our action, we met with Riverside and Williams Lake Forest District. We all agreed that the forest health of the area required some salvage. Only salvage logging is planned for this area now and we will be involved in the planning. No road closures are planned, however. Small business blocks for salvage remain in the development plans.
We have asked that more studies of the area be completed before further development occurs. We feel the area requires moose habitat studies and an inventory of the wetlands. Our own plant studies have shown there are endangered traditional plants in the area. The protection of Borland Creek itself is of concern as it provides water for Williams Lake.
The Williams Lake Band community built a cabin in October of 1999 to use for hunting and other activities. Our families will continue to work to protect the lands they have used and occupied for centuries.
We are not alone in our desire to protect this area, as we mentioned.