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The Syilx Okanagan People

The syilx okanagan people have been around since time immemorial, long before the arrival of the Europeans.

The original people of the Okanagan are known as the syilx speaking people – the “okanagans” and according to their history they have been here since the beginning of people on this land.

We recognize the Penticton Indian Band and the traditional, ancestral, unceded territory of the syilx Okanagan People, on whose lands we live, learn, and do our work.​​

Their history was passed on from one person to another and from generation to generation. It is a history of the meaning of being syilx, rather than a history of dates.

The syilx Okanagan Nation is comprised of seven member communities in the Southern Interior of British Columbia. Their members share the same land, nsyilxcən language, culture, and customs. They are a distinct and sovereign Nation.

Their nsyilxcən language and syilx okanagan culture respectfully honour the natural laws of the tmixw – that which gives us life. For those who would like to learn more about the language, the En’owkin Centre offers a Certificate, Diploma and Bachelor of nsyilxcn Language Fluency.

From the nsyilxcən word snpintktn, the name Penticton has been commonly translated as “a place to stay forever,” but more accurately means “a place where people have always been all year long,” or “The Always Place”. You can watch here as Sukmamayam Qwyqwayaxn, from the Senpaq’ci̓n Cultural Team, breaks down the origin of the name “Penticton” and it’s significance to Okanagan people.

According to Anona Kampe (sknir̓mn or Buttercup) of the Penticton Indian Band, it was called snpintktn or ‘The Always Place’ “because this particular place within the syilx Okanagan Nation is plentiful of traditional foods. Plenty of good hunting, fishing, gathering of roots, berries and medicines from the land. Many folks from throughout the Nation would often travel here to snpintktn to harvest for sustenance.”

Watch Anona go into more detail about the name and history of snpintktn here:


You can learn more about syilx Okanagan culture from Anona Kampe through a variety of sessions and presentations she offers. Visit

Penticton Indian Band

snpintktn (the Penticton Indian Band) represents one of the seven communities of the Okanagan Nation. The other six communities being Upper Similkameen, Lower Similkameen, Osoyoos Indian Band, Westbank Indian Band, Okanagan Indian Band, and Upper Nicola Indian Band.

snpintktn (Penticton Indian Band) is located on beautiful bench land in the southwestern portion of the Okanagan Valley. The rolling hillsides add to the beauty of the landscape and provide a number of developable bench lands.

En’owkin Centre

The En’owkin Centre is a dynamic institution, which puts into practice the principles of self-determination and the validation of cultural aspirations and identity. An Indigenous cultural, educational, ecological and creative arts organization, En’owkin plays a lead role in the development and implementation of Indigenous knowledge and systems, both at the community and international levels.

The word En’owkin is an Okanagan concept, which describes a respectful dialogue of clarification, conflict resolution and group commitment, to come to the best solution; essentially, consensus.

Located on the Penticton Indian Band reserve, En’owkin’s unique building design reflects a traditional Okanagan winter home also known as a pit house. It is a gathering place where families and community members can replenish themselves spiritually and is also a teaching place where story, co-operation, craft and artistry come together.

The En’owkin Centre, in collaboration with Nicola Valley Institute of Technology (NVIT) and University of British Columbia Okanagan (UBCO), created a Bachelor of nsyilxcn Language Fluency (BNLF), which is designed to work closely with the syilx community to provide a comprehensive and high-quality education in nsyilxcən. There is also a certificate and diploma program available. Learn more about the Bachelor of nsyilxcn Language Fluency (BNLF) here.