Marilyn James is a Smum iem Matriarch appointed by her Sinixt elders (e.g., Eva Orr) to uphold Sinixt protocols and laws in the Sinixt təmxʷúlaʔxʷ (homeland) under the laws of whuplak’n and smum iem. Her work has included the repatriation of 64 ancestral remains from museums and collections back to their rightful places in Nk̓ʕáwxtən, “a place for praying,” (Vallican) . She was the appointed spokesperson for the Sinixt Nation in Canada from 1990 to 2013. She continues her work as Smum iem Matriarch and knowledge-keeper for Sinixt. She is an accomplished storyteller of traditional and contemporary Sinixt stories as well as the co-author of Not Extinct: Keeping the Sinixt Way (Maa Press, 2018, 2021). Marilyn holds a Masters of Education from Simon Fraser University and has worked extensively in the field of curriculum development. She is an ardent advocate for her ancestors and the land and water of their təmxʷúlaʔxʷ.
More information about Smum iem and Autonomous Sinixt can be found at sinixt.org.
Both photos are by Louis Bockner