The Penticton Indian and Syilx Okanagan People have taken care of all lands, waters and tmixʷ (all living things) within Syilx Territory since time immemorial. During the time of st'elsqilxʷ, the Syilx People were wished here by the Creator, K̓ʷuləncútn. Humans did not have the natural instincts that were inherent in all timixʷ which allowed them to survive and live upon and with tmxʷulaxʷ. Instead, K̓ʷuləncútn gave our first peoples memories - memories that have been passed from generation to generation for thousands of years.
The first peoples were also born without fur to keep them warm, without claws and sharp teeth to protect themselves, and without agility and speed to catch food. Recognizing this, the animal people sacrificed themselves so that the Syilx People could have and use them to survive within the world. By way of these gifts, a covenant was made with the Syilx; in exchange for the knowledge shared by K̓ʷuləncútn and the sacrifices made by the animal people, the Syilx People were given an important and critical responsibility: to take care of tmxʷulaxʷ and timixʷ. This responsibility has been upheld for hundreds of generations and continues to this day.
For countless generations, the Syilx have been one with the land, plants and animals. We have lived our lives in accordance with a set of deeply ingrained ethical principles which govern the way we take care of ourselves and our relatives. Our principles and protocols are applied in all instances of our lives.
There are many protocols associated with the utilization of fire on the land. Prescribed burning and forest fuel management are a critical part of Syilx land management and have been implemented in collaboration with tmixw for thousands of years. Specially trained fire keepers hold sacred knowledge regarding these protocols and bring that knowledge to bear when undertaking landscape level planning prescribed burning plans and processes.