Shuswap Band (Kenpesq’t) is a member of the Secwépemc (pronounced Sec-wep-mec) Nation, an Interior Salish-speaking people who traditionally occupied a vast area in the south-central part of what is now called British Columbia, Canada since time immemorial. Secwépemc Traditional Territory covers approximately 180,000 km² over B.C. and Alberta, with the Secwépemc Nation holding one of the largest territories and caretaker areas in the province.
Though seventeen communities (also known as campfires) exist today, the Secwépemc Nation originally consisted of thirty-two communities united by the Secwepemctsín language, and common customs, ceremonies, and traditions passed down by Sk’elép (Coyote) from generation to generation. These communities are represented by thirty-two feathers on the Secwépemcúl’ecw (pronounced Sec-wep-mec-oo-loo) flag. Shuswap Band is also known as the Columbia Campfire, and acts as a self-governing community when engaging with municipal, provincial, and federal governments on matters within the Columbia Basin.
Secwépemc laws and customs build the moral and spiritual foundation of our society and fundamentally connect Shuswap Band’s identity to both the land and our history. Today, Shuswap Band’s primary community is located on its reserve near Invermere, BC, on the east bank of the Columbia River, though many of our members live throughout Secwépemcúl’ecw and beyond. Shuswap Band also has several close family ties to the neighbouring Ktunaxa Nation, and several members are from both communities. Though the theKenpesq’t family is the first documented Shuswap family in the area, the pithouses that cover the valley’s landscape attest to Secwépemc historical occupation for thousands of years before the Kenpesq’t migration.
The lands within Secwépemcúl’ecw are an extension of the vast history of our people who travelled the territory in annual seasonal rounds, gathering resources and interacting with neighbours through trade and cross-cultural gatherings. Traditional knowledge regarding living and surviving on the land, as well as traditional Secwépemc culture and practices, are an essential part of our heritage, with many of our community’s Elders holding this valuable information.