From influencing the seasonal camps of early First Nations to the location of communities today, land and water dictate where people settle in the Columbia Basin. Depending on the resources available—the amount of wild game that travel through, for example, or the amount of sunlight in winter months—settlement patterns have hardly changed. That’s because there is very little land available for both food production and settlement within the Basin.
People have lived in the Basin for more than 10,000 years, including these First Nations:
Okanagan Nation Alliance
Living on the Land and Water
Most First Nations activities—hunting, gathering, fishing and preparing food for storage—were seasonal, followed food supplies and depended in part on what transportation routes were available.
Explorers and Settlers
Explorer and map-maker David Thompson first documented the Basin. In 1807, Thompson arrived near present-day Golden by crossing the Continental Divide at Howse Pass. He then spent the next four years looking for the outlet of the Columbia River at the Pacific Ocean.
Many others would follow his maps, including hunters seeking furs and miners in search of gold and silver. Mining became so important that permanent settlements and transportation routes were established, and industries moved in to support the new residents.