The Osoyoos Indian Band, was formed on November 21,1877. As part of the Okanagan Nation, an Interior Salish speaking people, the Osoyoos Band members are strong, independent and proud, possessing a rich heritage in British Columbia.The Osoyoos Indian band consists of approximately 450 members. Improvements and modernization are everywhere, yet traditions and heritage play an important part in daily life.
A Development Council was formed in 1992 to oversee the development of the Band's own businesses. Chief Clarence Louie, who has led the Band for 25 years, holds the philosophy that the single most important key to First Nation self-reliance is education & economic development.
The Osoyoos Indian Band reserve inhabits some of the last large tracts of desert lands left in Canada. This northern arm of the Great Basin Desert is rapidly disappearing due to urbanization and agricultural expansion. The South Okanagan lands are significant for the diversity and rarity of animal and plant species extending from the dry grasslands of the BC interior to the south desert areas of the western USA.
Moreover these lands are home to more than 23 species of plants and animals currently at risk, such as the Western rattlesnake, the Burrowing Owl, Arrow-leaf, Balsam-root and Antelope Brush. This rare ecosystem offers significant opportunities for ecotourism. A newly constructed desert interpretive and heritage centre has recently opened across from the Nk'Mip Cellars site, where the Band is exploring the ability to protect the remaining Nk'Mip Desert and its threatened species.
A program to restore habitat and reintroduce species at risk on the land now in place. Visitors can follow trails that wander the sage desert habitat to a forest grove where a traditional tule mat teepee, an underground pit house and a sweat lodge have been recreated. Along sections of the trail system are interpretive signs that point out plant life and describe both the terrain and the history of the Okanagan people.