The Osoyoos Indian Band last weekend discovered racist slurs and swear words left on historical pictographs. (Okanagan Indian Band)

The Osoyoos Indian Band last weekend discovered racist slurs and swear words left on historical pictographs. (Okanagan Indian Band)

Osoyoos Indian Band chief proposes prison time for racist vandals

“They want people to get upset, and angry, and saddened… That’s the reaction racists want, isn’t it?”

Chain link fences with razor wire, trail cams, and more patrols are being considered by Osoyoos Indian Band (OIB) council as a way to protect sacred sites from further vandalism.

On Wednesday OIB Chief Clarence Louie voiced his disapproval of a recent act of vandalism which left racist slurs and swear words on pictographs of both historical and spiritual significance to the Okanagan Nation.

An OIB member discovered the vandalism last weekend, and news of the crime has has since rapidly spread.

Louie said his reaction to the crime, one of “ongoing, systemic racism,” was one that the vandals would likely have wanted.

“They (vandals) want people to get upset, and angry, and saddened… That’s the reaction racists want, isn’t it? I think that’s what they want. I’m not a psychologist but why do people go around, they hide, they don’t do it in public. They go in and damage people’s property. Why do they do that? Because they want a reaction, I assume,” said Louie.

Significance of the pictographs

Pictographs and rock art, Louie explained, can be found throughout the Okanagan and tribal territory in the U.S. and Canada.

Historically, pictographs have been used as a way to convey a message or an idea over countless centuries.

“They’re of cultural significance, spiritual significance, historical significance, they’re not normal — I guess some people call them art. Some of the imagery there is not about art, it’s about spirituality,” said Louie.

“Of course no one knows who the artist was, no one knows when they were painted, but they’re significant. Some images you can guess what they are, but some are abstract, some are spiritual.”

Repairing the damage

Since discovering the graffiti, OIB Chief and Council has been planning ways to move forward and further protect these sacred areas.

Recently Louie has spoken with experts in B.C. and Alberta to specialize in removing vandalism from rocks. Some say there are products that may be able to remove the paint.

Most of the swear words, Louie explained, were not on the pictographs themselves, and this will be easier to deal with. However paint put directly on the rock paintings will be more of an issue.

The chief is hopeful they will be able to restore the paintings to their original state.

“I’m glad to hear; the person I talked to on the phone yesterday from Alberta said there is stuff that can get paint off of paint, and still leave the original rock painting there,” he said.

Accountability

Figuring out who might have done this is extremely hard without witnesses, explained Louie. He added it’s hard to charge someone if they don’t confess to their crimes.

Louie said this isn’t the first time someone has ripped off, stolen from, or vandalized their land.

“Whenever this has happened before, again there’s been no witnesses, there’s not much of an investigation the cops can do because who they talk to? All that’s left behind is the swear words.

Rather than ‘justice’, a term the chief called ‘soft’ and non-specific, Louie proposed a five-year prison sentence for the those responsible.

“I was asked, well do you want justice to whoever did this? I said no, I don’t want justice to whoever did this criminal activity, I want them locked up in jail for at least five years,” said Louie.

He said he is baffled by how many trespass on their reserves. Even as Louie and others were leaving the historical site on the weekend, they noticed several cyclists biking through their reserve.

The individual responsible, Louie explained, broke several laws, beginning when they trespassed on OIB land, passing by several ‘no trespassing’ signs.

“I’m sure every res (reservation) has this problem, where non-natives think Indian reserves are public land and they can just drive anywhere they want… our reserve roads are not public roads, they’re like somebody’s private driveway, it’s just that they’re a lot longer, that’s the only difference,” said Louie.

Louie said it’s a mindset within the public that needs to change. He said their signs which read ‘private property’ and ‘no trespassing’ should garner just as much respect and significance as they do anywhere else.

“That’s (vandalism) just part of ongoing racism, systemic racism that people don’t even notice. It’s been there so long.”

@PentictonNews
editor@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

crime

Just Posted

Coal Creek and forested land near Fernie, B.C. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Elk Valley Regional Land Trust inks deal with Community Foundation of Kootenay Rockies

Donations to the trusts project to secure forested land in the Elk Valley can now be made through the CFKR

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League met for their AGM and announced a number of new initiatives, new awards and changes in their executive committee, as well as the starting date for the 2021-22 season. Paul Rodgers file.
KIJHL announces start dates for 2021-22 season

Season set to begin Oct. 1 with league still following all health guidelines

Students from EIDES in Fernie with a cheque for $500 from the East Kootenay Community Credit Union (EKC). (Image courtesy of EKC)
East Kootenay students get outdoors to learn

A donation from the EKC allowed schools in the region to buy outdoor learning kits

Calvin Dickson photo.
Severe thunderstorm watch in effect for East Kootenay

Conditions favourable for the development of thunderstorms, hail and heavy rain

The Independent Investigations Office of BC is looking into a Castlegar incident. File photo
Police watchdog investigating Castlegar incident

IIO: Woman sustained a reportedly self-inflicted injury

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

B.C. ambulance station in Revelstoke is expected to get a new system called the Scheduled On-Call (SOC) this fall. (Liam Harrap - Revelstoke Review)
B.C. ambulance changes could put Revelstoke residents at risk, warn local paramedics

Paramedics said to expect a substantial increase in ambulance response time starting this fall

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Most Read