The Secwépemc (/ʃəˈhwɛpəm/ shə-WHEP-əm;[2][3] Secwepemc: [ʃəˈxʷɛpməx] or [səˈxwɛpməx]), known in English as the Shuswap people /ˈʃʃwɑːp/, are a First Nations people residing in the Canadian province of British Columbia. Secwepemcúĺecw, their country, ranges from the eastern Chilcotin Plateau and the Cariboo Plateau southeast through the Thompson Country to Kamloops and the Shuswap Country, and spans the Selkirk Mountains and Big Bend of the Columbia River to include the northern part of the Columbia Valley region. The country's traditional territory covers approximately 145,000 square kilometres.[4] They relied heavily on hunting, trading and fishing to support their communities.[4] The Secwepemc are perhaps the most numerous of the Interior Salish peoples of British Columbia if based upon the numbers who speak their language.[5]

Location and extent of Secwepemcúĺecw on Turtle Island (North America)
Total population
6,755 (Including those of mixed ancestry)[1] (2016)
Regions with significant populations
Canada (British Columbia)
Shuswap, English
Related ethnic groups
other Salish

Their traditional language is Shuswap, known as Secwepemctsín (Salish pronunciation: [ʃəxwəpməxtˈʃin]), which is currently spoken by over 1,600 people.[5] Secwepemctsín is being revitalized by the efforts of organizations such as Chief Atahm School, which offers an immersion program until the ninth grade. In addition, Simon Fraser University now offers a University program teaching students about Secwepemc language as well as culture.[6] The program hopes to focus on learning the language, culture, and traditions of the Secwepemc people.[6]

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. The memorial laid out the grievances of the Secwepemc stemming from the previous 50 years of settlement. The Secwepmc people have created a number of organizations, institutions, and initiatives including the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council and Secwepemc Cultural Education Society.[4]

Traditional Shuswap tribal divisions and bands

  1. Setlemuk (Setlomuk, Sétlhemx) or Cañon Division, or Canyon Shuswap, west of the Fraser, from about Churn Creek to beyond Riske Creek. Subdivisions: Riskie Creek, North Canyon, South Canyon, Chilcotin Mouth.[7][8] The smallpox epidemic of 1862 almost wiped out the Canyon Shuswap. The surviving Canyon Shuswaps joined with the Alkali Lake band (Esketemc).
  2. Skstellnemuk (Sxstélenemx) or Shuswap Lake Division, on the Upper South Thompson, 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.
  3. 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 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)
  4. Stkamlulepsemuk or Kamloops Division, the people of Kamloops and Savona. Subdivisions: Savona or Deadman's Creek, Kamloops (Stkamluleps).[7][8]
  5. 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]
  6. Tekkakalt (Tqéqeltkemx) or North Thompson Division, people of the North Thompson region. Subdivisions: Upper North Thompson, Lower North Thompson, Kinbaskets.[7][8] The Kinbaskets or Kenpésqt are an offshoot of the Upper North Thompson and Shuswap Lake division, and are now called the Shuswap band Kenpesq't
  7. 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 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 during the late 19th cent.[7][8]

Notable Secwepemc people

See also


  1. "Data Tables, 2016 Census". Statistics Canada. Retrieved 26 September 2018.
  2. The "c"s are pronounced as "h"s.
  3. "First Nations Peoples of British Columbia". Government of British Columbia – Ministry of Education. Retrieved 2013-05-14.
  4. "Secwepemc Cultural Education Society". Archived from the original on 1998-11-11. Retrieved 2017-11-02.
  5. Statistics Canada: 2006 Census Archived 2013-10-16 at the Wayback Machine
  6. Ignace, Ron (2013). "Partners in Success: The Simon Fraser University and Secwepemc First Nations Studies Program". Journal of University Continuing Education. 2: 28.
  7. Shuswap
  8. Handbook of North American Indians, V. 12, Plateau, Opseg 5
  9. Ignace, Marianne Boelscher (1998). Walker Jr., Deward E. (ed.). Handbook of North American Indians [Shuswap]. 12. Washington: Smithsonian Institution. pp. 203–219. ISBN 0-16-049514-8.
  10. Dawson, George Mercer (1891). Notes on the Shuswap People of British Columbia. p. 16.
  11. Teit, James A. (1900). "The Thompson Indians of British Columbia". In Boas, Franz (ed.). Memoir of the American Museum of Natural History: Publications of Jesup North Pacific Expedition. Vol. I, Part IV. New York: G.E. Stechert & Co.
  12. Smith, Harlan I. (1900). "Archaeology of the Thompson River Region". In Boas, Franz (ed.). Memoir of the American Museum of Natural History: Publications of Jesup North Pacific Expedition. Vol. I, Part VI. New York: G.E. Stechert & Co.
  13. Teit, James A. (1909). "The Shuswap". In Boas, Franz (ed.). Memoir of the American Museum of Natural History: Publications of Jesup North Pacific Expedition. Vol. II, Part VII. New York: G.E. Stechert & Co. p. 471.
  14. Teit, James A. (1912). "The Mythology of the Thompson Indians". In Boas, Franz (ed.). Memoir of the American Museum of Natural History: Publications of Jesup North Pacific Expedition. Vol. VIII, Part II. New York: G.E. Stechert & Co.
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