Language and Culture

The Similkameen people have retained their ceremonies, arts, culture, heritage and language which are being taught to the next generation through their oral history and teaching from the chaptikwl and through family systems.

The Nsyilxcen Language is considered an endangered Language and as part of the Language Revitalization Strategy (PDF) Chief and Council’s mission is to promote the use, preservation and revitalization of Nsyilxcen language in the Similkameen.

Over the years, LSIB leadership has also shown consistent support for the idea of language preservation and revitalization. Current and past Chiefs and Councils have consistently identified language preservation and revitalization as a priority for LSIB, and various initiatives over the years have contributed to the goal of keeping Nsyilxcn alive in the community. Substantial language revitalization efforts have been made at Teepee Tots, the LSIB Band School, and among the community.

The goal of language preservation and revitalization is also shared by community partners. There is an active language society based among the membership of the LSIB – Paul Creek Language Society.  LSIB has worked in partnership with Paul Creek for curriculum development, program development and language immersion. The public schools serving the Similkameen Valley have made opportunities available to teach Nsyilxcn during the school day. Nicola Valley Institute of Technology (NVIT) and the Enowkin Centre have worked to deliver accredited courses in language, both at the Enowkin Centre and in Keremeos.

Nsyilxcn Language and The Lower Similkameen Indian Band.

Nsyilxcn is spoken throughout the land of the Syilx Nation, from the Upper Nicola Valley in the northwest to the Colville River Valley in the southeast, from the upper reaches of the Columbia in the northeast to the Methow-Columbia region in the southwest, and in all parts in between. There are a variety of dialects found throughout this great region. These dialects are preserved by bands, families and individuals in both British Columbia and Washington.

Nsyilxcn language is enriched and sustained by the unique elements found in the language of these communities, families and individuals.

It is therefore understood that the Nsyilxcn language spoken by members of the Lower Similkameen Indian Band has unique elements and facets that contribute to the richness of the overall language spoken throughout the Syilx Nation. And so, it must be recognized that, without exception, every single fluent speaker of Nsyilxcn in the LSIB is a unique and treasured resource who can make a unique and valuable contribution to the preservation and revitalization of Nsyilxcn language.

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