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  • Secwepemc
  • Shuswap
Location and extent of Secwepemcúĺecw
Total population
6,755 (Including those of mixed ancestry)[1] (2016)
Regions with significant populations
Canada (British Columbia)
Secwepemctsín, English, Secwepemcékst
Related ethnic groups
other Salish
Secwépemc (Shuswap)

The Secwépemc (/ʃəxhwɛpˈmɪx/ shəkh-whep-MIKH;[2] Secwepemc: [ʃəˈxʷɛpməx] or [səˈxʷɛpməx]), known in English as the Shuswap people /ˈʃʃwɑːp/ SHOOSH-wahp, are a First Nations people residing in the interior of the Canadian province of British Columbia. They speak one of the Salishan languages, known as Secwepemctsín or Shuswap.

Secwepemcúĺecw, the traditional territory or country of the Shuswap people, ranges from the eastern Chilcotin Plateau, bordering Tŝilhqot'in Country, and the Cariboo Plateau southeast through Thompson Country to Kamloops. It spans the Selkirk Mountains and Big Bend of the Columbia River to include the northern part of the Columbia Valley region. Their traditional territory covers approximately 145,000 square kilometres.[3] Traditionally, they depended on hunting, trading and fishing to support their communities.[3]

History, language and culture[edit]

They speak one of the Salishan languages. Based on the number of people who speak their Shuswap language, the Secwepemc are likely the most numerous of the Interior Salish peoples of British Columbia.[4]

Their traditional language is Shuswap, also known as Secwepemctsín (Salishan pronunciation: [ʃəxwəpməxtˈʃin]). In the early 21st century, it is spoken by more than 1,600 people.[4] The First Nation is working to revitalize use of this language. For instance, Secwepemctsín is being taught in Chief Atahm School, which offers an immersion program to students from K-9. In addition, Simon Fraser University offers a university studies program teaching students Secwepemc language and culture.[5] The program focuses on the language, culture, and traditions of the Secwepemc people.[5]

The Secwepemc have always stressed the importance of recognizing their title to the land. In 1910, the Secwepemc Chiefs addressed a memorial to Prime Minister Laurier. Their paper laid out the cumulative grievances of the Secwepemc, based on the previous 50 years of European-Canadian settlement in their territory. Since the late 20th century, the Secwepmc people have created a number of organizations, institutions, and initiatives to help their people, including the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council and Secwepemc Cultural Education Society.[3]

Captive slaves were historically an important commodity to the Secwepemc, and the Secwepemc would raid other bands, and then sell the captives back in exchange for salmon. Very few captives were kept as household slaves.[6]

Traditional Shuswap tribal divisions and bands[edit]

  • Setlemuk (Setlomuk, Sétlhemx) or Cañon Division, or Canyon Shuswap, west of the Fraser River, from about Churn Creek to beyond Riske Creek. Subdivisions: Riskie Creek, North Canyon, South Canyon, Chilcotin Mouth.[7][8] The 1862 Pacific Northwest smallpox epidemic almost wiped out the Canyon Shuswap. The survivors joined with the Alkali Lake band (Esketemc).
  • Skstellnemuk (Sxstélenemx) or Shuswap Lake Division, on the Upper South Thompson River, Shuswap Lake, and Spallumcheen River. Subdivisions: South Thompson, Adams Lake (now Sexqeltqin), Shuswap Lake, Spallumcheen, Arrow Lake.[7][8] Now known as the Neskonlith Indian Band.
  • Stietamuk (Styétemx, "interior people") or Lake Division, the interior of the plateau between Fraser and North Thompson rivers. Subdivisions: Lake la Hache, Green Timber, and Canim Lake (Tsq'escen').[7][8] Only the last band survived the diseases of the 1800s, absorbing the surviving members of the Green Timber band. The few survivors of the Lac La Hache band merged with the Williams Lake Band (T’exelcemc)
  • Stkamlulepsemuk or Kamloops Division, the people of Kamloops and Savona. Subdivisions: Savona or Deadman's Creek, Kamloops (Stkamluleps).[7][8]
  • Stlemhulehamuk or Fraser River Division, in the valley of Fraser River from High Bar to Soda Creek, including the people of Clinton. Subdivisions: Soda Creek, Buckskin Creek, Williams Lake (T'exelc) or Sugar Cane, Alkali Lake (Esketemc), Dog Creek, Canoe Creek, Empire Valley, Big Bar, High Bar (Llenlleney'ten), Clinton.[7][8]
  • Texqa'kallt (Tqéqeltkemx) or North Thompson Division, people of the North Thompson region. Subdivisions: Upper North Thompson, Lower North Thompson, Kinbaskets.[7][8] The Kinbasket or Kenpésqt are an offshoot of the Upper North Thompson and Shuswap Lake division, and are now called the Shuswap band Kenpesq't
  • Zaktcinemuk (Sexcinemx) or Bonaparte Division, in the valley of the Bonaparte River to near Ashcroft on the main Thompson, Cache Creek, Loon Lake, the lower part of Hat Creek, through Marble Canyon to Pavilion, and on both sides of the Fraser River near that point. Subdivisions: Pavilion (Ts'kw'aylaxw First Nation), Bonaparte River (now Stuctwesecm, "people of Stuctuws"), and Main Thompson (Snekwaˀetkwemx), who became extinct as a people during the late 19th century.[7][8]

Notable Secwépemc people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Data Tables, 2016 Census". Statistics Canada. 25 October 2017. Retrieved 26 September 2018.
  2. ^ "First Nations Peoples of British Columbia". Government of British Columbia – Ministry of Education. Retrieved 2013-05-14.
  3. ^ a b c "Secwepemc Cultural Education Society". Archived from the original on 1998-11-11. Retrieved 2017-11-02.
  4. ^ a b Statistics Canada: 2006 Census Archived 2013-10-16 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ a b Ignace, Ron (2013). "Partners in Success: The Simon Fraser University and Secwepemc First Nations Studies Program". Journal of University Continuing Education. 2: 28.
  6. ^ Cannon, Aubrey (1992). Hayden, Brian (ed.). Conflict and Salmon on the Interior Plateau of British Columbia. UBC Press. p. 516. ISBN 9780774804059. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Shuswap
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Handbook of North American Indians, V. 12, Plateau, Opseg 5

External links[edit]