Shuswap leaders from the Southern and Central Interior gathered Friday at TIB's powwow grounds to sign a unity protocol to work together on higher-level issues.
"Thirteen of 17 chiefs are here today," said Tk'emlups Indian Band chief Shane Gottfriedson.
"It's a very significant point in our history. We've not taken a step this far as a nation."
There are two tribal councils within the Shuswap Nation. Several other bands are independent.
But a proposed community plan for the Green Lake area in the South Cariboo several years ago brought the Shuswap groups together. Shuswap representatives said local governments were treating bands as bystanders rather than holders of aboriginal rights and title.
While the northern Shuswap bands around 100 Mile House continue in treaty negotiations — negotiations that Shuswap bands in Kamloops believe are contrary to their interests — Gottfriedson said the signing is bringing them together on other issues.
Those include rights and title, preservation of traditional areas and desire to foster the Shuswap language.