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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Okanagan Syilx historical and contemporary salmon distribution : underpinning social and governance structures Good Water, Dallas


The Okanagan Syilx people reside on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border. The study of Okanagan Syilx salmon distribution practices underpinning social and governance structures is the focus of this research. The purpose is to examine gaps in contemporary management of salmon resources. I argue that historical Okanagan Syilx salmon distribution was reinforced by a complexity of multifaceted social and governance mechanics that provided equity and land sustainability for community, vital to contemporary Syilx management access and distribution. My research questions ask, first: what are the social and governance structures that underpinned and supported Syilx historical resource management and distribution? second: what were the changes that impacted Syilx historic access activities and how did they evolve into modern day governance reservation politics that resulted in governance law and historic tenets now missing? and third, how can understanding both historical and contemporary Syilx distribution methods facilitate and improve contemporary management of Syilx salmon distribution practices? The literature reviewed includes historical, ethnographic, ethnohistorical archival sources as well as contemporary research. A mixed-methods approach incorporates the literature search which focused on the first two research questions. The Enowkinwixw Process, a traditional Syilx analysis procedure, was used as an Indigenous research method to address historical social and governance structures and activities to inform present day management practices. I apply an Okanagan Syilx Nested System (parts-to-whole) analysis lens and the Enowkinwixw Four Oppositional Dynamics (of a living system) to examine and privilege historical salmon distribution practices acknowledging earlier social and governance structure. Research findings confirmed that the Okanagan Syilx historical practice of salmon distribution to external neighbouring tribes and internally in the band communities, although different from each other, were focused on equitable procedures and sustainability. Findings related to Syilx contemporary salmon distribution, although intended to be fair, were not and require re-visiting and re-organizing by the Syilx people. Research concludes that historical Syilx salmon distribution was reinforced by ceremonial protocols for community and inter-nation sharing to ensure health and wellbeing for the land and the people. Research also concludes that historical practices will strengthen and inform contemporary social cohesion and sustainable governance mechanics.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International