The Geography of Memory

Reclaiming the Cultural, Natural and Spiritual History of the Snayackstx (Sinixt) First People

ISBN 9781771605212
Softcover | Publication Date: October 4, 2022
Book Dimensions: 6 in. x 9 in.
280 Pages

About the Book

A provocative, historical investigation into the displacement of the Snayackstx (Sinixt) First People of British Columbia’s West Kootenays.


This compact book records a quest for understanding, to find the story behind the Snayackstx (Sinixt) First Nation. Known in the United States as the Arrow Lakes Indians of the Colville Confederated Tribes, the tribe lived along the upper Columbia River and its tributaries for thousands of years. In a story unique to First Nations in Canada, the Canadian federal government declared them “extinct” in 1956, eliminating with the stroke of a pen this tribe’s ability to legally access 80 per cent of their trans-boundary traditional territory.


Part travelogue, part cultural history, the book details the culture, place names, practices, and landscape features of this lost tribe of British Columbia, through a contemporary lens that presents all readers with an opportunity to participate in reconciliation.

About the Author(s)

Eileen Delehanty Pearkes explores landscape and the human imagination, with a focus on the history of the upper Columbia River and its tributaries. Born in the United States, educated at Stanford University (BA English) and the University of British Columbia (MA English), her work resists nationality and insists on truth. Popular online columns on the western Canadian landscape stress the need for reconciliation of people with land. She has spent over two decades working alongside the Sinixt to bring awareness to their story. In 2014 she curated an extensive exhibit on the history of the Upper Columbia River system in Canada for Touchstones Nelson museum and the Columbia Basin Trust. It details dramatic ecological and social changes in British Columbia, both before and after the Columbia River Treaty (1961–64), and won an award of excellence from the Canadian Museum Association. Eileen has published two books with RMB: The Geography of Memory: Reclaiming the Cultural, Natural, and Spiritual History of the Snayackstx (Sinixt) First People and A River Captured: The Columbia River Treaty and Catastrophic Change. A dual citizen, Eileen divides her time between California and Nelson, British Columbia.


“Lim̓ lm̓ tx (thank you), Eileen, for your ability to stand still, your ability to listen. The land not only remembers, it speaks a truth that our people have lived.” — Shelley Boyd, Sinixt/Arrow Lakes Cultural Facilitator