At first blush, a luxury resort seems an unlikely place to learn about First Nations culture and sacred beliefs. But Spirit Ridge Lodge at Nk’Mip Resort — located between Osoyoos Lake and the starkly beautiful Anarchist Mountains of British Columbia’s South Okanagan Valley — is not your average high-end getaway.
Situated on Osoyoos Indian Band land and in Canada’s only true desert, the deluxe lodge happily co-exists with the band’s many additional business ventures, including an RV park and campground, a championship golf course and an award-winning winery. But there’s also a celebrated interpretive centre offering a full menu of Indigenous experiences.
The Spirit Ridge property itself is dotted with an abundance of First Nations detail, from bilingual traffic signs in English and the local Okanagan language to dramatic iron, stone and wood-carved artworks of sacred creatures such as bears, eagles, salmon and turtles. Overhead, impressive figural sculptures depicting Indigenous imagery look out from rooftop perches. Collectively, these totems act as ever-present reminders of exactly who stewards this land.
To some, of course, the band’s ancient culture and successful business operations might seem like an odd juxtaposition. But for Chief Clarence Louie — the driving force behind the band’s entrepreneurial tenacity — economic prosperity is vital. “We have to make money so that we have more opportunity,” he said in an interview with the Aboriginal Women’s Business Entrepreneurship Network. “When you have money, you’re able to protect your artifacts, you’re able to promote your heritage and culture.”