The Similkameen Valley is an important area for collecting ochre, which is used by the Similkameen people and other First Nations groups to make paint for pictographs, as well as for spiritual and ceremonial purposes that are very important to our people.
For thousands of years the Similkameen people traded ochre and other goods with the surrounding First Nations groups up and down the west coast of North America – as far south as Navaho territory, and as far east as Blackfoot territory on prairies.
The ochre was used to create pictographs, or rock art, throughout this area. The ochre was ground and mixed with water or a binding agent like bear grease to make paint. In fact, the area between Hedley and Princeton in the Similkameen Valley has the one of the densest concentrations of pictographs in BC.