This is the first Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) www.ienearth.org conference
to be held in Canada. The outdoor camping conference will be held on traditional lands of the Okanagan Nation of
the Penticton Band of First Nations. It is a beautiful land, easily accessible right off Highway 97 South, approximately
3 miles (6 km) outside of the town of Penticton. From the conference site, you could see the Skaha Lake. Penticton
is about a hours drive from the United States – Canadian border on Highway 97, north of Omak, Washington. From
Spokane to Penticton it is 236 miles. From Calgary, Alberta it is 670 km or 419 miles. From Vancouver, BC, it is
390 km or 244 miles and from Seattle it is 315 miles. The weekend following the conference is the well known Omak
Stampede, Suicide Run and Rodeo in Omak, Washington. Sometimes they have the Omak Pow-Wow at the same time.
The town of Penticton is in the Okanagan Valley, surrounded by mountains. Penticton is known for its peach, apple,
cherry, apricot, plum, grape and pear orchards. Visitor information for Penticton is 1-800-663-5052. We must let
you know that in the summer time, the town of Penticton is a tourist trap with near 50 hotels, RV parks, and resorts,
water slides, beaches, etc. Even though Penticton is surrounded by mountains and pine trees, expect temperatures
to be in the 90+ degrees F. Evenings are much cooler. Bring shade and your tent. Penticton has a small airport.
Kelowna, 49 miles away has a larger regional airport. Free shuttles will be scheduled daily for persons arriving
at either of these airports. Contact us later in July for shuttle schedules.
The conference site will have plenty of camping space. In August, the grass will probably have turned brown and
campfire restrictions will most likely be in effect. Camp stoves will be allowed, however, no open fires, except
for the sacred fire and sweat lodge fires. Drinking water will be available and shower facilities. The higher elevation
area surrounding the conference site has cougar and grizzly bears in the area, so hiking in the higher elevations
will be restricted. The local Okanagan Warrior Society will patrol the area on horseback and provide camp security.
The En’owkin Centre’ and the Penticton First Nations are our host. En’owkin (pronounced en-OW-kin) describes an
Okanagan process which pursues the challenge to build solutions collaboratively using diversity to create new insight.
En’owkin Centre’ was established in 1979 by seven Bands of the Okanagan Nation to preserve, perpetuate and promote
Okanagan knowledge through education. Both the En’owkin Centre’ and the community of the Penticton Band maintain
strong Okanagan spiritual conviction of the sacred and interconnection of all life. The Centre has been involved
in cultural and environmental research, Indigenous knowledge, community development, language training, publishing,
arts, video production and many other areas. The Okanagan Confederacy are known for being defenders of their aboriginal
rights in Canada.
The Penticton Band and the Okanagan Nation Confederacy that extends throughout the Okanagan Valley and into the
Washington state areas that include the Colville tribe are proud people that still maintain their close connection
to the land and the rivers. However, colonial development in their homelands from the agricultural industry, dams
and water diversions, mining, timber industry and tourism have depleted their traditional sources of fishing grounds,
created pesticide and mercury contamination, and changed their landscape from years of clearcutting practices.
But the Penticton Band have challenged these obstacles and have been effective at developing sustainable forest
management practices and through ceremony are helping to restore salmon spawning grounds.
This year, once again, we will be conducting a Water Ceremony that will be lead by the Indigenous women. Please
bring a bottled sample of water from either your water faucet, well, spring, river, lake or ocean. During the Water
Ceremony, your water will be merged into a clay vessel and ceremony will take place to pray for the sacred waters
of the four directions. The meeting of heart and mind of Indigenous Peoples and their non-Indigenous supporters
from the four directions will further strengthen our voice to defend the sacredness of our Mother Earth.