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Using Beads to Share Stories About Indigenous History in BC

Updated: Mar 9

Students and educators in the Central Okanagan are using a beaded timeline to learn about the long history of indigenous people in BC. This activity was originally created by Suzanne Camp who works with the Aboriginal Education Department in SD #71. This visual representation of time is very impactful as we can see the length of time that Indigenous people have lived in BC as compared to European settlers.


We have scientific evidence that Indigenous people have lived in BC for 14,000 years although, as Anona Kampe (a gifted storyteller and a member of the Penticton Indian Band in the Okanagan Nation) shared in a recent webinar with educators, "our people believe that we have been here for at least 100,000 years.”


Anona also shared the evidence that has been found to show the history of Okanagan people in BC.

  • 3,500 ya → evidence of a village site found in Penticton

  • 7,000 ya - remains found at a winery in Naramata (dating 7,000 - 9,000 years)

  • 9,000 ya → evidence found, a skull, found in Kennewick, Washington (dating 9,000 - 10,000)

  • 12,000 ya → found a Columbian mammoth on a farm in Washington. Tools near the site that killed the mammoth are known to be tools that were used by Okanagan people.

Students have also been using the timeline to think about significance - what makes an event significant enough to include it in a timeline story? And, as Ari states, "whose stories are being told?" Students at Chute Lake Elementary are exploring this question and are thinking about whose stories are missing from the stories we tell about the history of BC and Canada?


This line of inquiry also led students to think about significant events that have happened in their own lives. They selected beads that represented those events and created their own beaded timeline bracelets. Next, they might think about: How is my story connected to our story?

Thank you so much to Anona for sharing your knowledge with us all, and thank you to the students and educators at Chute Lake Elementary, Chief Tomat Elementary, and Canyon Falls Middle School for sharing your thinking and learning with us.


To learn more about how to use a beaded timeline in your own classroom:

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