Daily Archives: February 17, 2010

Boundary Maintenance

Headland with wooden markers. Click to zoom.

This is one of my favourite pictures of B.C. Archaeology, even though  it doesn’t look like much.  It’s a bit fuzzy: I took it with a zoom lens in about 1985 , rounding a headland in a small boat  on the Central Coast.  In fact, you might think it doesn’t look all that archaeological.  Look closer: sticking up to the right of the white triangle you can see the carved head of a pole.

The white triangle is a standard device used by Fisheries to demarcate the different fishing zones on the coast, for management purposes.  On one side of the triangle there might be different catch limits or closures or seasons of harvest enforced than on the other.

I don’t know much about the pole, but its location on such a prominent headland, facing the open Pacific, next stop Japan, is suggestive it marked a change of territory, a boundary shift, a movement from the control of one lineage or house to another. You don’t often see such a pole away from a village site.

Both wooden markers may ultimately serve the same purpose: boundary maintenance between zones of control; advertisements for power; watchful symbols of formal rights; the means of resource management.  It is intriguing and almost poetic to see them standing, side by side, on the same headland, guarding the same water.

Detail of wooden markers.