The Thompson Okanagan is rich with heritage from the region’s aboriginal peoples. History, artwork, cuisine and story-telling are just a few of the fascinating topics waiting to be explored in our First Nation’s cultural centres. We invite you to tour interpretive centres, botanical gardens and reconstructed villages, stay at modern lodges, resorts, inns and campgrounds nearby or along the way.
Day 1 — Vancouver to Hedley (3.5 hours)
Arrive in Hedley via Highway 1 and 3. Continue 45 minutes on Highway #3 to the south Okanagan Valley town of Osoyoos.
You can take a tour, enjoy a tasting or just relax on their patio and enjoy the view.
The Osoyoos Indian Band has embodied their success and heritage in several projects. Most notable is the Nk’Mip Heritage Cultural Centre. This beautiful building is built into a hillside and features terrific views of the southern Okanagan Valley. Here you will be immersed in the Okanagan First Nation’s habitation with on-site tours of a traditional village, performing arts theatre, water gardens and interactive displays. You can walk through the interpretive desert ecological zone located close by. To minimize impacts on this fragile ecosystem, you can view this conservation area on specially designed trails, bridges and viewing spots. The centre is also home to rattlesnake research and tagging programs.
Be sure not to miss Nk’mip Cellars located next door to the Nk’Mip Heritage Cultural Centre. Nk’mip Cellars is North America’s first Aboriginal owned and operated winery. You can take a tour, enjoy a tasting or just relax on their patio and enjoy the view. Enjoy your evening in Osoyoos at the suggested accommodations Watermark Beach Resort. Have dinner in downtown Osoyoos and then soak in the late evening sun on a stroll along the Pioneer Walkway located along Osoyoos Lake.
Overnight in Osoyoos.
Day 2 — Osoyoos to Chase — Little Shuswap Lake (3 hours)
Arrive at Quaaout Resort via Highway 97 and 1
Owned by the Little Shuswap Indian Band, Quaaout Resort Conference Centre and Talking Rock Golf Course are located on the shores of Little Shuswap Lake and make for a perfect lunch time stop. It could also be an overnight stay if you wish to extend this itinerary as the hotel provides many activities and reasons to explore in a peaceful serene setting. There is a convenient self-directed native nature walk, handcrafted First Nations arts and crafts in the hotel gift shop and the Quaaout dining room offers menu items which honor the First Nations traditions of the region such as Venison, Cedar Board Salmon Steak, buffalo ragout and our traditional “chicken or Salmon” in Clay (24hrs notice required for chicken or Bird in clay).
Proceed 40 minutes on Highway #1 to Kamloops, to experience the rich cultural history of the Secwepemc people at the Secwepemc Museum and Heritage Park. Museum exhibits incorporate the oral history and legends of the Secwepemc People, along with historical photographs, illustrations, and artifacts. The outdoor exhibit, located in the 12-acre Native Heritage Park on the banks of the South Thompson River features trails that lead visitors through the archaeological remains of a 2,000-year old Secwepemc winter village site, four reconstructed winter pit houses, and a summer village. The Secwepemc ethno botanical gardens, located in the Heritage Park, represent the ecosystem found within the Secwepemc territory.
Travel Trade Partners:
Quaaout Lodge and Talking Rock Golf Resort
Overnight in Kamloops.
Day 3 — Kamloops to Lillooet (2.0 hours)
Depart on the Trans Canada Highway #1 for Highway #97 and Highway #99
Arrive at Historic Hat Creek Ranch 10 kilometers north of Cache Creek. This provincial heritage site offers a rare opportunity to explore original buildings of a key location in the transportation history of the Cariboo but as important, it presents the story of thousands of years of habitation in the valley by people of the Shuswap Nation and their more recent contribution to the growth of the ranching industry. Here in the dry rain shadow climate, east of the Coast Range mountains, a unique blend of cultures has evolved in a landscape of sage, bunchgrass and Ponderosa pines. The result is one of the most distinctive heritage sites in British Columbia. A brief walk along beautiful Hat Creek will take you to the Native Village, where First Nations members share their fascinating history and culture and interpret the many original displays that are shown on the site, which include an authentic Kekuli (pit house), the traditional winter home of the Shuswap built half above and half below ground. Guided tours are available.
For those wishing to experience a unique aspect of the Shuswap native heritage, Hat Creek Ranch offers overnight stays in a Kekuli lodge that can comfortably accommodate 18-20 adults or 20-25 children. The Kekuli is located in a beautiful, secluded section of the ranch at the junction of Hat Creek and the Bonaparte River and includes outdoor washrooms, a fire pit, storage facilities, and sweat lodge.
Depart for Lillooet (1 hour) via Highway #99.
While venturing through Lillooet, a stop is recommended to view the Jade Monuments Project located at the Visitor Information Centre. British Columbia is the number one source of jade in the world today and jade is part of the geographical history of the region and can still be found on the shores of local rivers and in surrounding mountains. The local First Nation community used jade as a trade staple – trading north, south and west within other indigenous communities. First Nation peoples made axes, deer scrapers and other tools for daily use from jade. Ceremonial figures were also carved from this gemstone and are documented in historical records and to this day continue to work with this precious stone. The Visitor Information Centre also doubles as Lillooet’s museum and provides fascinating exhibits, images and documents of aboriginal settlement and the town’s early growth as a result of the gold rush.
First Nations PowWows to consider when planning your trip to the Thompson Okanagan:
- Bonaparte Traditional Powwow — 2nd weekend in August / Historic Hat Creek Ranch Cache Creek
- Kamloopa Powwow — 1st weekend in August / Kamloops
- Skw’lax Powwow — 3rd weekend in July / Chase
- Shackan Traditional Powwow — 2nd weekend in September / Merritt