Nk'Mip Desert and Heritage Centre

A visitor to the Nk'Mip Desert and Heritage Centre stops to smell some sage

First Nations people across Canada have unique spiritual connections with the land, waters and forest. The cultures that interpret this land in myth, legend, song and dance are passed down from generation to generation. Oral traditions and archaeological evidence reflect how skilled First Nation people in the interior of British Columbia (BC) were at harvesting the land's diverse resources.

Nk'Mip is the name of the place in which the Osoyoos people traditionally lived. They traveled in spring, summer and fall to long-known hunting and gathering areas where they lived in portable tule-mat lodges - teepees covered with rush mats. Men hunted and fished and women dug roots and picked berries.

In the winter, the Osoyoos people lived in underground pit-house villages. During this quieter season, the people ate dried fish, venison, roots and berries prepared for winter consumption. They also hunted big game and trapped small animals. Winter was the season for telling stories and making clothes, baskets, mats, tools and equipment needed for the next year.

The Nk'Mip Desert and Heritage Centre, owned and operated by the Osoyoos Indian Band, celebrates this history. The Nk'Mip Desert and Heritage Centre acknowledges the relationship the Osoyoos people share with the natural world through on-site cultural programs and guided desert tours. Through its research program, it also provides a unique perspective on the area's rattlesnake population. The centre is a celebration of the history and contemporary life of the Osoyoos people. Visitors to the centre can enjoy interactive programs, displays, guided tours and three kilometres of desert trails.

The Nk'Mip Desert and Heritage Centre, is only one component of the larger Nk'Mip project. It also includes trail rides, an RV park/campground and North America's only Aboriginal owned and operated winery. In the spring of 2004, the site will also include an executive style golf course and Spirit Ridge Lodge, a boutique hotel and spa.

The existence of such a centre not only reminds the visitor that the Osoyoos Indian Band is dedicated to maintaining their relationships with their natural surroundings, but that the Nk'Mip people are dedicated to sharing such teachings.

For information on the Nk'Mip Desert and Heritage Centre, visit Nk'Mip Desert Cultural Centre  .

Last year, over 8,000 people visited the Nk'Mip Desert and Heritage Centre.

The centre employs seven full-time staff year around and 13 full-time seasonal staff.

The centre has helped to create a number of spin-off businesses. These include a community arts and crafts market, a landscaping business, an indigenous-plant greenhouse and a website development business.