The Okanagan Lake Creature
The True Origins of the Ogopogo
Sasquatch, Yeti, Loch Ness Monster… around the world there are many stories of undocumented creatures. In Canada, the Okanagan Lake Creature, known either as the Ogopogo or the Nx̌aʔx̌ʔitkʷ (pronounced N-ha-ha-eet-kw), is the most famous of them all!
The Syilx People who live in the Okanagan Valley first drew pictographs (rock carvings) depicting this mysterious sea serpent thousands of years ago. The first non-Indigenous settlers to the region also recorded seeing the Lake Creature in the late 1800s. At some point in the 1920s these settlers gave the name “Ogopogo” to the Lake Creature known to the Syilx People as the Nx̌aʔx̌ʔitkʷ. Since then there have been over 200 credible sightings of the Nx̌aʔx̌ʔitkʷ or the Ogopogo.
People have always been fascinated with the Okanagan Lake Creature - at one point there really was a $1,000,000 reward for its capture! In 1989 the Government of British Columbia gave the “Ogopogo” protection under the Wildlife Act. Today millions of tourists visit the Okanagan region each year, many of which come to catch a glimpse of the Lake Creature!
The Syilx People’s understanding of the Nx̌aʔx̌ʔitkʷ is the true origin of the Okanagan Lake Creature and the Ogopogo. It is a sacred entity, more than a simple sea serpent or lake monster. It is the “spirit of the lake” and a symbol of sustainability - of interconnection between the people, the land and the water. It is not to be feared, but rather something to respect. Recapturing the Syilx vision of the Nx̌aʔx̌ʔitkʷ allows for a better understanding of the Okanagan Valley as a whole.
The book Ogopogo: And the Mysterious Stranger is based on the author Don Lever’s own personal encounter with the Okanagan Lake Creature. It is an imaginative interpretation that is not meant to take away from the story of the Nx̌aʔx̌ʔitkʷ as the true origins of the Ogopogo. A portion of the proceeds from this book go towards the Kwu x̌ast program, run by the Okanagan Nation Alliance. Kwu x̌ast is a prevention initiative that creates a space for children to safely express and explore their creativity through a variety of art forms and settings. To learn more about the Kwu x̌ast program and the Okanagan Nation Alliance please visit them online at: https://www.syilx.org/
Helpful Resources for Further Reading
Don’t call him Ogopogo, call him by his name, Nx̌ax̌aitkʷ’, says Syilx Elder (indiginews.com)
Okanagan Nation Alliance expected to take over copyright of ‘Ogopogo’ | Globalnews.ca