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Okanagan family, c. 1918
Regions with significant populations
 Canada ( British Columbia),
 United States ( Washington)
English, Okanagan (Nsyilxcn)
Related ethnic groups
Colville, Sanpoil, Nespelem, Sinixt, Wenatchi, Entiat, Methow, Palus, Sinkiuse-Columbia, and the Nez Perce of Chief Joseph's band

The Okanagan people, also spelled Okanogan, are a First Nations and Native American people whose traditional territory spans the U.S.-Canada boundary in Washington state and British Columbia in the Okanagan Country region. They call themselves the Syilx, a term now widely used. They are part of the Interior Salish ethnological and linguistic grouping. The Okanagan are closely related to the Spokan, Sinixt, Nez Perce, Pend Oreille, Secwepemc and Nlaka'pamux peoples of the same Northwest Plateau region.


  • History 1
  • Language 2
  • Governments 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7


When the Chief Tonasket as a separate group from the majority of the Okanagan, whose communities remain in Canada. The Okanagan Tribal Alliance, however, incorporates the American branch of the Okanagan. The latter are part of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville, a multi-tribal government in Washington state.

The bounds of Okanagan territory are roughly the basin of Colville Indian Reservation, where the Okanagan people are sometimes known as Colvilles.

The today Upper Nicola Indian Band, an Okanagan group of the Nicola Valley, which was at the northwestern perimeter of Okanagan territory, are known in their dialect as the Spaxomin, and are joint members in a historic alliance with neighbouring communities of the Nlaka'pamux in the region known as the Nicola Country, which is named after the 19th Century chief who founded the alliance, Nicola. This alliance today is manifested in the Nicola Tribal Association.



See also


Further reading

  • Armstrong, Jeannette, and Lee Maracle, Okanagan Rights Committee; Delphine Derickson, Okanagan Indian Education Resource Society, We Get Our Living Like Milk from the Land, Theytus Books, 1994
  •  Available online through the Washington State Library's Classics in Washington History collection Includes: Okanagon tales by James A. Teit and Okanagon tales by Marian K. Gould.
  • Carstens, Peter. The Queen's People: A Study of Hegemony, Coercion, and Accommodation Among the Okanagan of Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1991. ISBN 0-8020-5893-0
  • Robinson, Harry, and Wendy C. Wickwire. Nature Power: In the Spirit of an Okanagan Storyteller. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1992. ISBN 1-55054-060-2

External links

  • Map of Okanagan territory
  • Okanagan Tribal Alliance Homepage (
    • "Original People", a Syilx account of their history
    • Westbank First Nation homepage
    • Okanagan Indian Band homepage
    • Penticton Indian Band homepage
    • Osoyoos Indian Band homepage
    • Lower Similkameen Indian Band homepage
    • Upper Nicola Indian Band homepage
  • The bear woman: Okanagan legend about a woman kidnapped by a grizzly bear
  • Dirty boy: Okanagan legend about a woman who married the sun
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