New book sheds light on Secwépemc history dating back 10,000 years

By Adam Donnelly
November 20, 2017 - 3:42pm Updated: November 20, 2017 - 5:23pm

KAMLOOPS — Dr Ronald Ignace has been the elected Chief of the Skeetchestn Indian Band for the better part of three decades. During his time in that role, Ignace, and his wife Marianne have spent years researching the oral histories and traditions of the Secwépemc people for a number of different projects. This past week, the couple released a book, titled “Secwépemc People, Land, and Laws” which details the 10,000-year history of the Secwépemc nation.

It’s a simple title, but within the concept of the book, there’s a lot of information authors Marianne and Ron Ignace had to compile and distill down to fit into these pages.

“The Elders have been talking, telling us the history of our land, the history of who we are as a people, and how we’ve lived on the land,” Ron explained. “We’ve wanted to that their stories and give voice to them.”

The Ignace’s compiled oral histories from Secwépemc elders consulted historical accounts and used scientific research to help piece together the history of the land and the people who have dwelt were for several millennia.

“There was this incredible collective memory, which reached back 10,000 years to the floods at the end of the last ice age,” Marianne told CFJC Today.

On Sunday at the official launch and book signing event held at Chapters in Kamloops, 72 copies of the book were sold. For Marianne, it was hard to let go of the research and writing process that consumed over a decade of her life.

“It’s a hard thing to let go of as we’re living in the community,” she explained. “There’s always another story, another piece of information one of the Elders was telling us, so at some point, we just have to say ‘Okay, we’re taking it out of the gate now.’ It’s been a real adventure.”

For Kukpi7 Ron, the book is about sharing the rich history of the people who shaped this land since the end of the last ice age. He hopes the book can help heal the wounds his people suffered, caused by European colonization, while also setting an example for how modern society can benefit from looking back to the traditional ways of the Secwépemc nation.

“Our history has been distorted, and trivialized, so we want to take our history and make it front and centre on Shuswap territory.”

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