The Ogopogo is known in the Okanagan as a large green mythical lake monster similar to the Loch Ness Monster. The name Ogopogo originated from the imaginations of Clark Cumberland and Mark Strong, folk singers who performed “The Ogo Pogo: The Funny Foxtrot” (1924). The lyrics of which describe “the funny little Ogo-pogo. His mother was an earwig and his father was a whale.” Since then, stories of a ferocious lake monster have been spun into legends of a man-eating demon that requires offerings of flesh in order to ensure safe travel across the lake. For nearly a century, increasing notoriety of the Ogopogo gave rise to this popular urban myth. Images of the Ogopogo can be found on logos of sports teams, restaurants, various local businesses, and even children’s books all over the Okanagan valley as tourist bait. Often, the Ogopogo is mistakenly seen as synonymous with the syilx people’s n’x̌ax̌aitkʷ.
n’x̌ax̌aitkʷ is a benevolent lake spirit; it does not eat people nor does it need offerings of flesh, this was a misunderstanding by the early settlers who saw us put a small piece of meat into the water as a sign of respect to the water. We respected the lake spirit and offered tobacco, sage and on the odd occasion a small piece of meat, never out of fear but as a gesture of thanks for the gifts of the water. Our spirituality is rooted as a reciprocating relationship between us, the water, and all it provides. n’x̌ax̌aitkʷ is not respected because it can take on the shape of a giant serpent, but because it’s truest form is the water itself, water that sustains us, cleanses us, heals us and reminds us that our connection to water is sacred and deep, this is because we are made up of water and we came into the world from the sacred water of our mothers womb. Water reminds us to be mindful for what we do around water as what we do upstream affects our neighbors downstream.
"WATER SPIRIT" Coralee Miller (Artist)
"SACRED WATER" Coralee Miller (Artist)
*Information on The Ogopogo and n’x̌ax̌aitkʷ has been generously provided by Sncewips Heritage Museum. We would like to express our gratitude for allowing us to post this on our website. Lı̓mləmt.