Chief Bitterroot is “the Chief for things under the ground.” The bitterroot, a beautiful yet peculiar plant that only comes out above ground once a year, can only be found in certain parts of the Okanagan. The harvesting window of the bitterroot lasts only two weeks, after which the bitterroot cannot be used and retreats to the underground world of roots.
Chief Bitterroot represents the land; that is where it grows. It is from the land that it gathers its nutrients, and it is into the land that the bitterroot retreats to wait until the proper time to reappear. First Nations People have always endured a complex relationship with the land; a relationship that others seldom understand and is often the focus of treaties and land settlements. Without the land none of the animals or plants that we rely on for food would be able to survive. Even the mighty spring salmon comes inland from the sea to spawn her eggs. To the First Nation person, the land is precious; the land is sacred and the preservation of land is a communal responsibility.
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