Friday, February 8, 2008

Kliluk the Spotted Lake

Kliluk the Spotted Lake, Osoyoos Okanogan Canada

Kliluk the Spotted LakeSpotted Lake image courtesy: liembo

Hot spot buns

Ever seen or even heard of a spotted lake; if not; come to Osoyoos Okanogan Valley Canada; it can be seen from high way no 3 about 5 miles west of Osoyoos. The lake that lies spread in 38 acres; is there to surprise you, it has spots of all hues; milky white, pale yellow, parrot green or even navy blue! The variety is not only in colors; but shapes also vary from bun shaped spots to bread shaped ones! This Spotted Lake is more like a gigantic pond than a lake; it is a sacred spot for the Okanogan Indians not a picnic spot or a place for bathers.

Okanogan (Okanagan)

Okanogan is an area located between the border of US and British Columbia region of Canada. It is the warmest places in Canada; inhabited by Okanogan Indian tribes who speak Syilx language. The boundaries of Okanogan come roughly between Okanogan River and Okanogan Lake along with the Basin of Similkameen River. The Okanogan Valley is an ancient wine making center. Kelowna, Penticton, Vernon and Osoyoos are its four territories. Okanogan has the credit of having the highest mountain in Canada and waterfall twice as high as Niagara.


A territory of the Okanogan First Nation (First Nation is a word used in Canada to denote special areas for the protection of culture of Indigenous people); located in the South Central Interior of British Columbia, it is known as the pocket desert of Canada with warm winter and hot summer. The Osoyoos Lake is the known for its warm waters and remains as a tourist spot. Osoyoos is home to Canada’s best wines and fresh fruits. This area has one more treasure for its credit; the strange natural phenomena found no where else in the world; The Spotted Lake.

Bye! Bye! Doctors, we have our lake!

This small sized lake is a sacred site for the native Indians, who believe that its holy water has the power to heal wounds, sprains, skin diseases and body aches. When ill they simply come to the lake and sit immersed in its water applying its water all over their body; they are doing it for time immemorial and avail free medical benefits from their own holy lake. They have their ‘Kliluk’; Scabies, warts, infections and all other sorts of skin ailments have no place in their life. No drugs, no surgery, no heavy bills and the fowl smell of hospitals!

The richest in minerals

Kliluk the Spotted Lakespotted lake image courtesy: liembo

The spotted lake is actually a pool with mineral rich water (it is one of the most mineral rich waters found in the world); these minerals are mostly sulfates of magnesium (epsum), calcium, sodium etc. Other minerals like silver, titanium and eight other minerals have found in traces. During summer the water of the lake diminishes allowing the mineral-rich mud to form crystal lumps in strange shapes and colors. The therapeutic effect of the several minerals dissolved in its water is known for tribes who live on its shores.

A truce for a holy-dip!

From ancient times the tribes even when engaged in wars reached in temporary truce so that their warriors could have a therapeutic bath to heal their wounds in the medicinal waters of the holy lake! In its long life how many tribal life would have saved by this holy lake? If they consider it holy it is only reciprocation.

Played a role in the world war

During the First World War its mud was dredged out and carted off to the munition factories located away in East Canada. It is said that laborers from far away China were engaged for this duty.

Smith the Bourgeois!

The Spotted Lake was owned by one Ernest Smith and family as it was located in a ranch belonged to them; moreover it was located out of the boundaries of the Indian Reserve. The tribals who were not aware of the tussles of ownership went on using the lake as the forefathers used it.

Tribals on a spot

Kliluk the Spotted LakeSpotted Lake image courtesy: liembo

One day Mr. Smith had an idea “why can’t I utilize this lake and its medicinal powers for making some money?” He decided to construct a spa beside the lake and necessary arrangements were being made. Smelling some rats; the tribals objected to the plan. As tension mounted government agencies like Ministry for Indian Affairs had to interfere for buying this lake for the tribals, a rate was fixed; $ 500,000.

It was in 1979 the dialogue took place (the following dialogue is imaginary)

A dialogue that end nowhere

Welfare Minister to the tribals “You pay the money and own it, only 50,000 bucks”!

Indians “why? We no pay, it’s our lake; we use it for generations”.

Smith “But I am not willing to part with the lake even if you give me the money”.

Welfare Minister; ok then let’s see; you are not going to do anything with the lake, Mr. Smith; bye!

The discussion was over; leaving Mr. Smith on one side and angry Indians on the other side; Minister got in his car and drove off.

The aftermath

Minister left with a red face; he banned the works for spa indefinitely. Years passed; and Smiths siblings wanted some hard cash; lake was for them a dead cow yielding no milk, the ‘wretched Indians’ use it but don’t pay! They approached the Supreme Court and got clearance for developing the lake. First thing they did was to invite tenders for extracting about 10,000 tons of mineral mud from the lake and ship to some city in US spas. Had their project materialized within months the whole lake would have got transplanted to metropolitan spas and spotted lake would have become a gaping hole between the mountains!

Lived happily ever after!

By that time the lake became a hot subject among politicians, ecologists as well as politicians. Government agencies stood by the rights of the tribals and succeeded in clinching a deal with the descendants of Smith. ‘Okanogan Nation Alliance’ and Indian Affairs Department together paid the Smiths their money and got the lake for the First Nation of the Indian Tribes. Now they are a bit possessive about the lake and reluctant to turn it in to a picnic spot, the tribal knowledge has it that money is not everything.

Let them have their lake

Fortunately the Spotted Lake and its surroundings have been kept away from the hustle and bustle of tourism. The original inhabitants are wise enough to keep it as such, let the lake live long, and cure the ills of the people who live around it! As a health spot for the poor tribals sans pills, injections, sedatives and heavy bills!


Anonymous said...

It's a beautiful lake! Too bad it can't be used in a way that everyone can enjoy the theraputic powers yet keep it in the condition it is.

Rathnashikamani said...

Nice to know such wonderful lake!