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The people of syilx work to protect Lake BC, known for its healing ‘spots’

Climate change is hitting the healing lakes near Osoyoos, which have been visited by the Sirkus people and other nearby indigenous peoples for thousands of years.

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Leon Lewis of the Lower Similkameen Indian Band unlocks a gate that keeps intruders away from Kurilshu, also known as Spotted Lake, and carefully descends a winding dirt road covered in brush.

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Luis, whose sircus name is cewel’na, is from another planet, with a chalky white surface dotted with multicolored mineral deposits and supported by the desolate landscape of the Southern Okanagan Desert. Stop in front of a similar small body of water.

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One day in late October, he took a group of visitors from the nearby Osoyoos Lake Water Science Forum to see the site. Elder of Sircus and guardian of knowledge, for decades he led the people of Sircus to Kururikswu—a place 7 km west of him from Osoyoth (swiw̓s), the home of Sircus—and It has aided in physical or mental healing.

“They walk around the circle and pray. They tell the lake what disease plagues them. Cancer, diabetes, whatever it is,” he said. “They’ll tell the lake what’s wrong, and one of those circles will say, ‘I’m the one who will heal you.'”

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For thousands of years, the people of Sirkus and other nearby indigenous peoples have visited the sacred medicinal lake for physical and mental remedies. Featuring 365 naturally formed ‘specks’, the lake contains various minerals such as magnesium, calcium and sulfur.

According to Lewis, the seven minerals are usually found only separately in different parts of the world, but here they are all found together. In addition to these seven minerals, the researchers found that lake conditions with very high sulfate levels resembled ancient Martian landscapes.

“We call the sky our father. This earth is our mother,” Lewis said. “That’s where we come from.”

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According to the Okanagan Geological Commission, the spots were formed over thousands of years by the precipitation of sulfates, mainly in the form of gypsum and Epsom salts.

During the spring season, the kłlilx’w point is hidden and flooded by groundwater and runoff. As summer progresses, water evaporates revealing ridges of chemical deposits.

Before the Okanagan Nation Alliance took ownership of kłlilx’w in 2001 and returned control of it to the sylx people, Louis said the lake was the site of a non-Indigenous people who wanted to turn the area into a spa. said it was temporarily owned by a man from

“Our elders said, ‘No, you’re not building a spa out of it,'” Lewis said. You can’t tell me what you can or can’t do on your land. We said, ‘This is our land.'”

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Owned by the Okanagan Nation Alliance, the lake is fenced and requires a permit to enter.

After decades of advocacy by Sirkus elders and chiefs, the Okanagan Nation Alliance worked with the federal government to acquire the site of the lake, which is now protected and monitored.

“When we got this, when the elders came here and finished the cremation ceremony, we went out there with all the people who were here and circled the lake. brought the drums and we sang,” Lewis said.

The lake is now under the pervasive threat of climate change, which poses a challenge. Lewis says this is the first time in his four or five years that he has observed a significant drop in lake levels.

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“When we first got it back there was a stream running through it,” he said. “One of his ranchers had a water right, but he diverted it, so the water started to dry up.”

Pollution from passing people and homes overlooking the lake is also a growing problem, he said.

“Before contacting us, when we came here, the elders said that there was something like a rainbow in the lake. This beautiful rainbow over the lake was beautiful,” he said. “But now the pollution is terrible.”

He said that when he arrives at the gate, he sometimes finds heaps of garbage piled up outside. He said the negative energy brought into the territory by some people is a form of pollution.

“People’s negative energy, their negative thoughts, their anger – all of that is affecting that lake,” he said. “Now is the best way we can protect it.” is to fence it in. That’s why it’s fenced in. People get down there all the time, that’s why I put a padlock there to lock that gate. It’s negative energy.”

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He urged people to do their part to protect the lake and surrounding land.

“It’s getting harder and harder to gather food and medicine. It’s harder and harder to protect that water. But we’ll do our best,” he said.

Aaron Hemmens wrote this story for The Discourse. Reporting was made possible in part by grants from the Institute for Journalism and Natural Resources and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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The people of syilx work to protect Lake BC, known for its healing ‘spots’

Source link The people of syilx work to protect Lake BC, known for its healing ‘spots’

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