During our trip to Osoyoos this year, Carol and I visited the NK’MIP Desert Cultural Centre that presents some of the culture of the Syilx people and natural history of the area. The centre includes a theatre featuring dancing, story-telling and singing along other programs, indoor exhibits and an outdoor trail system. Such a centre at Kamloops in concert with the Kamloops Indian Band and other heritage groups would be a wonderful addition to our city. Perhaps MacArthur Island would be an ideal place. Here are some of the features and exhibits that we visited while there.
As you approach the parking area for the Desert Centre, an impressive metal sculpture catches your eye from the road.
This impressive and highly attractive fabrication style is used throughout the outdoor interpretive displays.This and I assume others in the area were created by native artist Virgil “Smoker” Marchand from the Colville Indian Band in nearby Washington State. Here is an interesting short feature about him as an artist
If you walk up to sculpture, and I recommend you do, you get a bit of an overview from the entrance site. Town home accommodations for purchase and a conference centre are partially visible in the distance along with the Desert Centre itself.
The centre is a modern structure and very well done. Part of the interior display area. This visitor is passing a card through a machine which gives you the aural version of a word written on the card.
This sculpture is part of a fishing display where the quarry has just been speared.The remainder of the display shows how the Sockeye Salmon and likely Kokanee were prepared. Of course bears were always present near spawning salmon. Here the salmon fillets are being hung to dry on wooden racks. On the rack drying with the ever-present potential for poaching.Trails take you out into the shrubby Antelope Brush and Sagebrush habitats. The taller, darker Antelope Brush (Purshia tridentata) in the photo below has a very limited distribution in BC, extending north of Osoyoos to about Kelowna and also just north of Cranbrook in the Rocky Mountain Trench
Purshia has a dry, stringy bark and is highly flammable.
The leaves have 3 teeth on the ends like Sagebrush, hence the species name for both is “tridentata.” Sagebrush is Artemisia tridentata.
The lighter-coloured leaves of Sagebrush which is also more aromatic. The oils make it equally susceptible to fire.
Various routes allow exploration of habitats with impressive rocky bluffs in the background where California Bighorn Sheep may be seen.Outdoor signs explain a variety of natural history features. It is a treat to happen on these large scale displays. These summer tulee mat teepee-style homes were part of a village display complex also featuring the partially underground winter homes.
Sweat lodge – an important part of Syilx culture.
Tanning of hides to provide valuable raw material for practical products for daily life.
These 2 dimensional sculptures depict the gathering of plant foods. The black silhouette style is very effective.
Digging sticks were used in some cases.
Patches of Ponderosa Pines provide shady relief although not needed on the smokey day we visited.