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FNSS Curriculum Integration Project Click here to download this lesson.
Bonny-Lynn Donovan (MS-Word format.)

Grade: 2/3
Lesson 2: The Historical Development of the Penticton Indian Reserve - Pre-Contact
Time: 2 x 40 minutes or 1 x 80 minutes

Topic: Life on the Penticton Indian Reserve prior to contact with the Europeans.

Rationale: Students will learn through an in depth study how the original inhabitants of Penticton (members of theOkanagan First Nation) lived, prior to contact with Europeans. Students will better understand the adaptationwhich occurred through an exchange of knowledge between First Nations People and the newcomers.

Materials and Resources

  • Okanagan First Nation Historical Notes
  • First Nations Archaeology Kit, Penticton Museum
  • Copy of Neekna and Chemai by Jeannette C. Armstrong
  • 'Settling the Okanagan' video (teacher's use only)

Main concepts

  • The Okanagan First Nation people are the original inhabitants of the Okanagan Valley and have lived in their traditional territory for thousands of years.
  • The Okanagan's survival depended on seasonal hunting, fishing, and gathering
  • Penticton was originally a winter village

Intended Learning Outcomes
This lesson is an introductory lesson and is meant to be used with the 4 other lessons in the series, to address the following Learning Outcomes:

  • Describe the historical development of various BC communities
  • Describe the development of various BC communities in relation to their location and availability of resources.

Vocabulary in Material:

shells used as ornaments or currency.
most important plant to theOkanagan First Nation people. A root that is harvested during the spring.
symbols painted on rock that tell a story and/or vision.
reeds that grow in swampy areas and are used to make mats.
great-grandmother in the Okanagan language.
present day Oliver - means bottom of Okanagan Lake (definition courtesy of Delphine Derickson, while she was a student at the En'Owkin Centre in 1993).
a language family which the following First nations belong to: Okanagan, Nl'aka'pamux (Thompson/Couteau), Secwepemc (Shuswap), and Stl'atl'imc (Lillooet)

Teacher Preparation
As part of the teachers' preparation it is recommended that classroom teachers preview the video, 'Settling the Okanagan' in preparation for the series of lessons on the Penticton Indian Reserve (video not recommended for Grade 2-3 audience).

A further part of the preparation for the classroom teacher is to select an item from the Penticton Museum's Archaeology kit and present it to the class.

Planned Learning Activities

  • Use the 5W's (who, what, where, when, and why) to begin a discussion about the item(s) in the kit.
  • Focus on who made the tools. Ask questions about who were the first people to live in Penticton. Use the Okanagan First Nation historical notes and map (see Lesson #1 as a reference).
  • Introduce the book, Neekna and Chemai, a children's book written by Jeannette C. Armstrong, a member of the Okanagan First Nation. Ms. Armstrong lives on the Penticton Indian Reserve.
  • After reading the book as a whole class, ask students to list information from the book that tells how Okanagan First Nation people lived before non-native settlers arrived. A chart with different headings could be used, for example: Food  Clothing  Housing and/or a chart with seasonal activities listed under Fall  Winter  Spring  Summer. A comparison between the traditional seasonal activities of the Okanagan people and the seasonal activities of the students could be made.
  • As a final activity, students could complete a diagram, divided into 4 parts and illustrate the various traditional seasonal activities of the Okanagan First Nation.

Look for evidence of students' abilities to:

  • Identify who are the original inhabitants of the Okanagan Valley (Penticton included)
  • Identify length of time the Okanagan First Nation people have lived in the Okanagan Valley
  • Identify traditional seasonal activities of the Okanagan First Nation people

Invite members of the Penticton Indian Reserve community to share stories, traditions, artifacts that are meaningful to their heritage (Suggested Instructional Strategy from Grade 2 to 3 Society and Culture curriculum organizer). For example, invite Ms. Armstrong to be a guest author and invite her to read Neekna and Chemai to the class and discuss the Okanagan First Nation's way of life before non-native settlers came to the Okanagan Valley.

Other Integration Opportunities
Have students do reports on the 4 main traditional foods of the Okanagan First Nation: bitterroot, Saskatoon berries, salmon, and bear. Children could incorporate information about the 4 foods from the Okanagan legend, 'How Food Was Given', with scientific information about the 2 plants and animals. A possible scientific resource for research on bitterroot and Saskatoon berries is Ethnobotany of the Okanagan-Colville Indians of British Columbia and Washington by Nancy Turner, Randy Bouchard, and Dorothy Kennedy. 1980.

Resources Used and Supplementary Materials Available

  1. Ellis, Kathleen. 1950. Tom and Mina Ellis: Notes on their lives by Kathleen W. Ellis. Okanagan Historical Society.
  2. Okanagan Nation Alliance. 1998. Okanagan Nation Territory Map. www.syilx.org
  3. Thomson, Duane. 1996. The Response of Okanagan Indians to European Settlement. royal.okanagan.bc.ca
  4. Union of BC Indian Chiefs. 1913 map of Penticton Indian Reserve from unpublished paper entitled, Cut-Off: The Story of Penticton Indian Lands.
  5. Webber, J. 1990. Okanagan Sources. Penticton: Theytus Books.
  6. Armstrong, J. C. 1991. Neekna and Chemai. Penticton: Theytus Books. ISBN 0-919441-15-7
  7. 'How Food Was Given' from Kou-Skelowh/We Are the People: A Trilogy of Okanagan Legends. 1991. Penticton: Theytus Books. ISBN 0-919441-81-5

Both school kits are designed for teachers to use in their classrooms. They contain touchable museum artifacts with corresponding information, photographs, maps, newspapers, books, suggested projects, and teaching guides. They are available for one to two week loan-out periods. To book, call the Museum at 490-2451. Kits are available to teachers outside School District 67. The museum will courier the kits to the borrower; however, it is the responsibility of the individual teacher to cover all costs of shipping, including insurance.

  1. First Nations Archeology Kit. Penticton Museum & Archives.
    Contains a variety of Okanagan First Nation artifacts: arrowheads, scrapers, and bitterroot.
  2. Local Pioneer History Kit
    Contains an assortment of pioneer-related artifacts: iron, buttonhook, and slate.


  1. 'A Field Trip to the Penticton Indian Reserve'. 1981. Instructional Material Centre, School District 67. IC'004, Barcode 9988. 30 minutes.
  2. 'How Can I Keep On Singing?' 2001. Moving Images Video Project. 2408 E. Valley Street Seattle WA 98112 (206) 323-9461. www.movingimages.org
  3. 'Settling The Okanagan'. 1999. Straight Arrow Productions. Contact: Tracey Jack, c/o En'Owkin Centre. R.R. #2 Site 50, Comp. 08 Penticton, BC V2A 6J7. Phone (250) 493-7181, fax (250) 493-5302. Cost : $35.00


  1. The story of Wind Woman, as told by Jeannette C. Armstrong in the video, 'How Can I Keep On Singing?' "How the woman of the wind, banished by coyote, carried her eternally howling child tied to her back, as they moved forever through the treetops. Mother crooning to the child. How sometimes she would swoop down in anger, scattering berries off bushes".

Okanagan First Nation Historical Notes

  • The word Okanagan comes from an Interior-Salish word, Suknaqinx which means bring something to the top, or something is on top. (definition courtesy of Delphine Derickson, while she was a student at the En'Owkin Centre in 1993).
  • Okanagan First Nation people were the first inhabitants of the southern interior of British Columbia and northern Washington. They have lived in the Okanagan Valley for at least 3500 years and belong to the Interior-Salish language family.
  • The Okanagan First Nation people were involved in seasonal hunting, fishing, root digging, and berry picking. They spent the spring, summer, and fall hunting and gathering and preserving food for the winter.
  • Families would trade with one another and with other neighboring tribes to obtain items that were not available where they were. For example, Okanagan First Nation families, living in southern British Columbia, would trade with families living in northern Washington for a plant called camas, because it does not grow in southern British Columbia.

Present day Penticton was once an Okanagan First Nation village called Sn'pnktn which means usual gathering place or a place people always come back to. (Definition courtesy of Delphine Derickson, while she was a student at the En'Owkin Centre in 1993). Sn'pnktn was a winter village where Okanagan First Nationpeople would live from November to April. The winter lodge was a pit house, dug out of the ground. People had to enter and exit the lodges by ladder. Sn'pnktn was not the only winter village. There were several other winter villages located throughout the valley,e.g. Osoyoos, and Spallumcheen. Winter village sites wereselected based on the accessibility to water, fuel, and winter hunting grounds. "People referred to themselves as occupants of a particular winter village. In other words, the village was their address" (Webber, 1990, p.68).

Summative Criteria

Criteria Ratings Comments
Student demonstrates an understanding of who the original inhabitants of the Okanagan Valley were. (Through interaction and activities) 4 3 2 1  
Examples, ideas, anddetail were demonstratedthrough contrast/comparison issues, which show somedeeper understandingof the topic. 4 3 2 1  
Useful, accurate and relevant information is included on the map 4 3 2 1  
Map is clear and easy to follow 4 3 2 1  
Food 4 3 2 1  
Clothing 4 3 2 1  
Shelter 4 3 2 1  
Seasons 4 3 2 1  
Technology 4 3 2 1  
People interacting with environment 4 3 2 1  
Community involvement 4 3 2 1  
Title 4 3 2 1  
Group participationand cooperation. 4 3 2 1