“Secwépemc (“the spread-out people”), a nation of 32 Salish speaking communities that have been divided into 17 bands by the Indian Act, are 10,000 people strong and growing. Before contact with Europeans, the original population is estimated at 25,000-33,000 people, drastically reduced to 7,000 due to the 1862 smallpox epidemic. Traditional Secwépemc territory spans approximately 180,000 squared kilometres (112,000 squared miles) which includes the headwaters of the two largest river systems in British Columbia; the Columbia and Fraser River valleys, and extends south to the Arrow Lakes. Secwépemc have occupied their territory, Secwepemcúĺecw, for well over 10,000 years and have never signed away, ceded or sold their land or territory.”
(Statement from the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council and the Secwépemc Lakes Elders Advisory Committee).