Historical and ethnographic accounts document the Sinixt as the native inhabitants of the Upper Columbia River drainage at the time of the arrival of Europeans in the 19th century. Through displacement and historical circumstance, the band was declared extinct in Canada in 1956, and Sinixt people lost their designation under the Indian Act. In the 1980s, activists returned to their traditional territory to protect threatened gravesites, and some have stayed on to seek official recognition as Aboriginal people of Canada. In this film, the voices of Sinixt people and local residents of the West Kootenay come together to explain webs of ancestral responsibility and attachment to the land. Their ongoing struggle highlights the complexities of legislating ethnic identity the continuing impact of this colonial process.
This project was begun with funding from the Digital Humanities Initiative (DHi) and Hamilton College in Clinton, NY (Check out dhinitiative.org/projects/search/ to see more of the related undergraduate projects led by Dr. Nathan Goodale) and completed through a grant from Fulbright Canada with support from Simon Frasier University in Burnaby, BC.