Category Archives: Northwest Interior

The Rough Guide to the B.C. Gold Rushes

Anderson's map Kamloops area 1858. Note R. aux Chapeaux (Hat Creek) and R. de la Cache (Cache Creek to west; Shushwap Lake (Kamloops Lake) and the North Branch (of the Thompson River).

Anderson’s map of the Kamloops area 1858. Note R. aux Chapeaux (Hat Creek) and R. de la Cache (Cache Creek) to west; Shushwap Lake (Kamloops Lake) and the North Branch (of the Thompson River). Kumcheen / Little Fork, just upstream of Spence’s Bridge at the Nicola – Thompson confluence, lower left.

There were a lot of ways to make money from the B.C. Gold rushes which started in the mid 1850s. One of these was to publish a guide book to help prospecters enter the Gold Fields from starting points at The Dalles on the lower Columbia River or at Fort Langley, east of present-day Vancouver. Few were better prepared to write such a guide book (price: $1.50) than Alexander Caulfield Anderson, who had at least a decade of experience surveying for accessible routes into the interior of BC, especially Brigade Trails along which horse trains could pass.

The Gold Rush was, of course, one the of the main spearheads of colonialism and instigated or continued a lot of painful dispossession of Interior First Nations.  Anderson’s guide, available online (lower resolution 20 meg PDF direct download) can be read in many ways, but it is a valuable document of a slice of time (it is dated May 3rd, 1858, a watershed year in the history of B.C.), just as the middle Fraser Gold Rush was gaining steam but before the Cariboo Rush of the 1860s. It’s a pragmatic guide that gives landmarks, travel times, names of First Nations’ villages, where to catch sturgeon, how to hire a canoe, and other practical information and, of course, it includes an interesting map on the last pages, showing overland routes into and around the Interior.

Continue reading

Compilation of Work from Tse’K’wa (Charlie Lake Cave)

Cover of TseK'Wa Site Compilation, downloadable from Simon Fraser University

Cover of TseK’Wa Site Compilation showing “fluted point’ – the document is downloadable from Simon Fraser University

Charlie Lake Cave, also known as Tse’K’wa (the Rock House), is one of the best known archaeological sites in Western North America. Lying in the far NE of British Columbia, it containins a “fluted” projectile point, evidence of bison and small mammal/bird hunting, and shows basal dates of ca. 12,500 years ago. For decades it has been a key link in the understanding of the post-glacial occupation of the Americas.  It lies in the “Ice Free Corridor” which is a major focus of continuing research into the earliest periods in North America, and while the situation is very much unresolved, its safe to say that not everyone thinks the corridor was the route of first peoples into the Americas

It’s very cool and welcome, therefore, to see that many of the major scientific papers from this site (many authored or co-authored by Knut Fladmark and Jon Driver – two of B.C.’s pre-eminent archaeologists) are now downloadable for free from Simon Fraser University. The download is on this page, which contains a link to a PDF or an ePUB – but be aware that the PDF is about 100 megs.

The download itself is not the only cool thing of note here, though.

Continue reading

The BC Archaeology Survey

Republic of Archaeology, B.C. Archaeology Survey, 2016.

Republic of Archaeology: B.C. Archaeology Survey, 2016.

There’s a survey being taken of BC Archaeologists, First Nation, and other interest groups such as museum professionals, realtors, developers, and interested members of the public.  it’s a fairly detailed survey with some quite specific questions about the regulatory and legal process of Archaeology and “Cultural Resource Management” in BC. The survey is run by Joanne Hammond, M.A., an archaeologist based in Kamloops, who also runs the Republic of Archaeology website, which is worth a look in its own right.  The survey is only open for another 10 days or so,until December 31st.

I took the survey a few weeks ago and I expect if there is sufficient participation then the results will be quite revealing about the present and future of the practice of Archaeology in B.C.  If you’ve read this blog much (not that it is getting updated, but still) you’ll know that the context of Archaeology in BC often becomes quite political, and charged with structural as well as unintended conflicts of interest, or the appearance thereof. Working in the colonial landscape we know that those “who control the past” assume upon themselves a lot of power and influence. Is the way that archaeology happens in this Province – almost always in a relationship to development – the best it could be?  Take the survey to add your voice.

Public talk in Portland, Oregon: The Kwädąy Dän Ts’ìnchį Project

View of the glacial edge high in the Tatsenshini where Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi was found in 1999.

View of the glacial edge high in the Tatsenshini where Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi was found in 1999. Photo credit: Al Mackie

[Edit: November 2017: The Book is now available, also through Amazon, etc.]

I don’t usually plug public talks in cities that don’t contain the Shining Tower of Blog HQ, but I’m making an exception for this one.  BlogBrother Alexander and BlogSisterInLaw Kjerstin are speaking on Tuesday evening in Portland on the topic of “The Kwädąy Dän Ts’ìnchį Project, a Collaborative Study of a Man Frozen in a Glacier and His Belongings.

Continue reading

Salmon fishing 11,500 years ago in central Alaska

Excavations at the Upper Sun River Site, Tanana Valley, Alaska. Photo: Ben Potter

Excavations at the Upward Sun River Site, Tanana Valley, Alaska. Photo: Ben Potter via adn.com

There’s been quite a bit of buzz surrounding a new paper by Carrin Halffman et al. documenting the use of  salmon at the Upward Sun River Site (more) which is on the Tanana River: a tributary of the Yukon River, but about 1,400 kilometres upstream from the ocean (and much further still from the paleo-rivermouth during Beringian times).  The authors report this as both the earliest evidence of salmon exploitation in the Americas, and the first evidence of Pleistocene salmon use.  The first I am on board with, the second I may quibble a little with lower down. (And this is all assuming we don’t consider eastern Beringia to be effectively part of Asia at this time!). But it’s a remarkable find and a very carefully researched and presented paper. [edit: be sure to read comments from Ben Potter below which tweaks some information in this post.]

Continue reading

A cool new cave site near Tumbler Ridge?

Inside of Cave near Tumbler Ridge with members of Saulteau First Nation. Source: Mark Hume, Globe and Mail.

Inside of Cave near Tumbler Ridge with members of Saulteau First Nation. Source: Mark Hume, Globe and Mail.

Tumbler Ridge is a small coal-mining town on the eastern flanks of the Rockies, where British Columbia starts to resemble Alberta. It’s not a million miles, in distance nor in generalized setting, from Fort St. John (map), where Charlie Lake Cave remains one of BC’s most significant archaeological sites.  Charlie Lake Cave has radiocarbon dates of up to 10,500 years old (PDF), or possibly as old as 12,750 calendrical years or thereabouts. With interesting finds such as a basally-thinned projectile point reminiscent of a fluted point, and the deliberate burial of two ravens from the lower layers (PDF), combined with it’s location in the “ice free corridor” has made this site really significant for regional cultural history (PDF) as well as for larger issues in the peopling of the Americas debate.  (And see the new introduction/context to the Raven paper by Driver here).  The Cave was recently purchased by local First Nations, which is an interesting development with the goal of protection and developing a cultural tourism site.

Anyway, this post is not actually about Charlie Lake Cave, just to introduce the archaeological potential of caves in this general part of the province, a potential that is not really been realized yet. It’s cool then to see pictures of a newly discovered cave with some superficial archaeological findings near Tumbler Ridge, as pictured above and outlined in this good article by Mark Hume in the Globe and Mail.

Continue reading

BC Archaeology Forum 2015 is October 16 – 18 at Musqueam

Just reusing the 2010 Archaeology Forum graphic here.

Just reusing the 2010 Archaeology Forum graphic here.

I think it was the day after the last Musqueam – Lab or Anthropology Archaeology Forum that I had to post this, so time flies, and not always exactly like a banana. In more recent dismal events, my laptop got disturbed, which, even though a quality it now shares with me, has disrupted this blog of the last week or two, not to mention my day job.  Anyway, I wanted to get out this announcment which twoeyes kindly forwarded a week or so ago: the 2015 BC Archy Forum is being co-hosted by the Musqueam Indian Band and the Laboratory of Archaeology at UBC, and runs from Friday October 16 to Sunday October 18.  So, soon.  What follows is the text of their announcement email within UBC circles.

Continue reading