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    Indigenous Communities Get the Rights of “Ogopogo”, the Canadian Cousin of the Loch Ness Monster

    Ogopogo, or Naitaka, is part of a long list of creatures belonging to the accounts of the indigenous peoples of Canada and taken up by the European colonizers

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    “Ogopogo” supposedly lives in the waters of Okanagan Lake, in the Canadian province of British Columbia. This plesiosaur or giant horse-headed snake -according to testimonies- is the version in this North American country of Nessie, the famous Scottish creature. Recently, Vernon city councilors voted unanimously to transfer Ogopogo’s rights to a group of indigenous peoples in the area; the transaction took place in exchange for one dollar.

    In this way, the Okanagan Nations Alliance, made up of eight indigenous communities, obtains the copyright, title, interest and property of this monster also affectionately nicknamed Oggy. “It is simply the most understandable. The story comes from these groups and it makes perfect sense that they have these rights”,  said Victor Cumming, Mayor of Vernon.

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    Part of their spiritual teachings

    The indigenous peoples of the area maintain that the creature has been part of their spiritual teachings for centuries and refer to it as Naitaka, which means “being sacred in the water” in the Syilx language. The name Ogopogo began to be used in the early 20th century in reference to the lyrics of a British song.

    In 1990, the federal postal agency issued a postage stamp in honor of this mysterious lake animal. The most recent sighting, according to the local press, dates from May 2019. Experts have pointed out that the testimonies are explained by water currents or by the behavior of some animals, such as otters.

    The Ogopogo rights

    Vernon (about 440 kilometers from Vancouver) received the Ogopogo rights as a donation in 1956, three years after a resident first registered them. The authorities of this city indicated that they have never been used for commercial purposes; They only gave their endorsement for the monster to appear in two children’s books, although without any retribution. A new request – received in March – for Ogopogo to appear in another children’s play generated an encounter with indigenous groups.

    The leaders of these communities were unaware that the city of Vernon possessed such rights and raised the issue of cultural appropriation; They stated that it was “unacceptable” for third parties to register this element of their traditions as their own.

    Long list of creatures

    Ogopogo, or Naitaka, is part of a long list of creatures belonging to the stories of the indigenous peoples of Canada and taken up by the European colonizers. The Sasquatch, being of profuse fur, and the Waheela, a gigantic wolf, are two of them. In fact, the Loch Ness monster also has other Canadian “cousins”. Memphré swims in the Québec waters of Lake Memphrémagog, about 140 kilometers from Montreal. For its part, Manipogo (Gichi Ginebig in the Anishinaabe language) lives in the depths of Lake Manitoba.

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