Sacred and revered by local First Nations, Spotted Lake is a natural wonder | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Sacred and revered by local First Nations, Spotted Lake is a natural wonder

Spotted Lake is a cultural and spiritual place revered by First Nations peoples for centuries.
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It’s a small lake with a big reputation for its uniqueness.

Spotted Lake, located in the Richter Pass west of Osoyoos, is considered a sacred mineral lake by the Okanagan Nation and has been considered a revered place for healing for centuries by some First Nations.

Spotted Lake is a unique natural formation, a lake rich in minerals including calcium, sodium sulphates and magnesium sulphate.

According to information supplied by the British Columbia visitor centre, the spots form on the lake in the summer when evaporation concentrates the minerals.

The concentrated minerals form visible spots that shift in size and colour as the concentrations change with blue, green or yellow hues.

A 51 acre plot of land surrounding the lake was returned to local First Nations in 2001, and is now part of Osoyoos Indian Band. Native beliefs are that each different circle holds its own unique medicinal and healing properties.

Known as “klilxw", Okanagan elders and chiefs met in 1979 and put together a statement of Okanagan tribal chiefs that reflected native thoughts and feelings about the lake, the Okanagan Nation Alliance says on its web page.

Ceremonial cairns too numerous to count were erected around the lake, signifying the many healing visits made by natives. Many have sunken into the soil, leaving only the tops visible. The chiefs also noted ancestral stories of cures the lake has provided both physically and spiritually through the ages.

More recent history involves Chinese labourers who extracted a ton of mineral a day from the lake during a period of time in World War 1. The minerals were shipped to Eastern Canada to make ammunition.

The best season to see the lake’s unique spots is in summer,  as the water begins to evaporate and leave briny pools behind.

Access to Spotted Lake, which is just off Highway 3, is monitored by the Okanagan Nation Alliance. Permission should be sought by contacting the Okanagan Nation Alliance before visiting the lake.

—This story was originally published in July 2019

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