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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

People watch burning funeral pyres of their relatives who died of COVID-19 in a ground that has been converted into a crematorium in New Delhi, India, Thursday, May 6, 2021. Infections in India hit another grim daily record that day as demand for medical oxygen jumped seven-fold and the government denied reports that it was slow in distributing life-saving supplies from abroad. (AP Photo/Ishant Chauhan)
Liam’s Lowdown: Tell us more how COVID-19 is impacting B.C.

Compared to other provinces, B.C. releases less data on COVID-19 infections and vaccinations

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
65 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Overall, B.C. is seeing a decrease in COVID-19 cases

The five graduating members of the Vernon-based Thompson Okanagan Lakers U18AAA girls hockey team – Jessica Engelbrecht (from left), Makenna Howe, Cheree Peters, Jayden Perpelitz, and Alexis Bishop – have all committed to collegiate hockey programs in Canada and the U.S. (Photo submitted)
Vernon-based hockey squad sends 5 to college ranks

Thompson Okanagan U18AAA Lakers players heading to Canadian and U.S. programs

Richard Green writes poetry under the nom de plume Rick the Poet Warrior. Homeless, Green sometimes spends his summers in Revelstoke but winters in Victoria, travelling to Ontario to visit his sister whenever he can. (Jocelyn Doll - Revelstoke Review)
Revelstoke nomad pens poetry, offers insight into homelessness

Rick the Poet Warrior’s books can be found online as well as at the Revelstoke library

(Pixabay photo)
NHL bracket challenge supporting Indigenous awards at Okanagan College

One or more Indigenous students experiencing financial barriers will be able to receive an award

Sisters Audrey Cunningham and Donna Erdman, join the Vernon Kalamalka Chorus singing in their cars, tuned into the radio, under the direction of Debbie Parmenter. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
VIDEO: Okanagan choir steers around COVID with ‘carbershop’ twist

Singers find a unique way to practice during pandemic restrictions

Keith MacIntyre - BC Libertarian
Penticton’s Keith MacIntyre new leader of the B.C. Libertarian Party

The Penticton businessman was voted in by members of the party on May 8

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a 'person of interest' in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
Man sought in suspicious Kootenay death found in Lake Country

Philip Toner is a person of interest in the death of Brenda Ware

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A Falkland man will present a 600+ signature petition to the Columbia Shuswap Regional District board Thursday, May 20, opposing dog control in Electoral Area D, which includes Falkland, Silver Creek, Salmon Valley and Ranchero/Deep Creek. (File photo)
600-plus sign Falkland man’s petition against dog control

Similar bylaw rejected by 200 public hearing attendees when topic came up 9 years ago

Thompson Rivers University campus is in Kamloops, B.C. (KTW file photo)
Thompson Rivers the 1st B.C. university to supply free menstrual products

The university will offer the products this September

Fraser Health is using ‘targeted’ vaccination clinics in high-risk areas of the Lower Mainland. (Fraser Health photo)
B.C.’s COVID-19 decrease continues, 515 new cases Tuesday

426 seriously ill people in hospital, up from 415 Monday

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP reported to 287 mental health calls between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 1. (Black Press files)
‘It’s not the police’s responsibility to deal with mental health calls’: Vernon RCMP

RCMP remind public to take care of mental health and well-being, while better solutions are sought

Notes of hope, encouragement and camaraderie were left on the message board inside the kitchen of TacoTime. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Adiós, Taco Tuesday: Kelowna residents flock to TacoTime on restaurant’s final day

‘We don’t need another Starbucks. We need tacos on Tuesday, with extra hot sauce’

Most Read