Tag Archives: anthropology

The shíshálh Archaeological Research Project blog is back.

shíshálh Archaeological Research Project Blog

shíshálh Archaeological Research Project Blog. Nice trowel handle! Click to visit blog.

Just a quick note to let you know the shíshálh Archaeological Research Project blog is back up and running.  I mentioned this blog before; I gather it (and perhaps the project) didn’t run last year, so it’s good to see it back.  This year it will be written by the participating students on the project. Taking place in shíshálh territory on B.C.’s “‘sunshine coast'”, the dig is now directed by (lifelong fan of both the Senators and Leafs) Dr. Terence Clark of the Canadian Museum of History (formerly the Canadian Museum of Civilization – that’s another story).  Anyway, for now, if you want to keep up to date with the shíshálh blog then I recommend clicking the “follow this blog by email” button on the right of their front page.  No spam, and you’ll be notified of the posts as they happen.

If you know of any other recent project blogs from the NW then let me know and I will link to them also.

    Gary Coupland (left) training students on transit use and archaeological survey/mapping. Photo: shíshálh blog.

Dr. Gary Coupland, U. Toronto (left) training students on transit use and archaeological survey/mapping. Photo: shíshálh blog.

Northwest Anthropological Conference 2013 – Portland March 27-30

View of reconstructed Cathlapotle Chinookan Plankhouse relatively close to Portland.

View of reconstructed Cathlapotle Chinookan Plankhouse relatively close to Portland. Click for source.

The 2013 Northwest Anthropology conference is coming up soon at the end of March, but it’s not too late to submit a symposium proposal (deadline January 28th) or contribute a paper (deadline February 8th).

NWAC is always an excellent conference which draws on Anthropology broadly but with a hefty dose of archaeology, sometimes mostly archaeology.  I’ve noticed in the past it also draws a lot of participation from Tribal and First Nations groups, from consulting and government archaeologists, interested laypeople, as well as academics of all levels from undergrads to retirees.  In that sense it is far more multi-vocal than the “really big conferences” tend to be.  It also has a tradition of very reasonable fees and hotel rates and this year is no exception.  Add on Portland’s status as microbrewery capital of (probably) the entire world and what’s not to like?

The conference is hosted by the excellent Department of Anthropology at Portland State University, with lead organization apparently by occasional blog commenter (and Professor Emeritus) Ken Ames.

The Canadian Archaeological Association conference is also coming up locally in May (at Whistler), so more on that in due course, but just for now, the call for sessions is open until January 31st.

Highlights from the Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi Project

Screenshot from the online document about Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi, showing his iron-bladed “man’s tool”, and a small copper bead found with the body. Source: Royal BC Museum.

Many readers of this ever-more occasional blog will be aware of the exciting and profound discovery in 1999 of the well-preserved remains of a young man frozen in a glacier in Northwestern British Columbia.  Found within the traditional territory of the Champagne-Aishihik First Nation, the man was given the name Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi, or “Long Ago Person Found.”  In the spirit of discovering what messages from the past that Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi might bearing, a remarkable collaborative research project was commenced. Results of this study have been presented at numerous conferences and in the scientific literature, but a landmark event hopefully just around the corner is the publication of a book recounting all the cultural and scientific knowledge borne into the present by this unfortunate young man.

While we wait for the book, it is very exciting to see that the Royal BC Museum has made a non-technical, well-illustrated overview document online which tells the main threads of the story of Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi. (edit, try this link instead, RBCM seems to have killed this document?)

Continue reading

Newsflash: Facebook is Good for Something

Lolota, the son of Zickchuse, - Snoqualmie - 1890

I’m a bit of a reluctant user of “facebook”, mostly because of their user-hostile and byzantine privacy policies.  However, increasingly people are using its easy interface to create really useful web pages, many of which you don’t need to be a member of facebook or logged in to enjoy.  There are some quite specific archaeology ones relevant to the Northwest Coast which I will review some other time.  Today, I want to focus on a remarkable compendium of historic photos of North American indigenous people.  There are almost 200 separate galleries, many with more than fifty pictures in them (do the math), under the auspices of the group administrator Jonathan Holmes, who takes an active role in the discussions and comments.  This is an enormous investment of time and effort, especially as many of the pictures have notes (hover your mouse over the picture) and in a remarkable number the identity of the subject is named and contextualized.  This is not a mere link dump for pictures – the over 20,000 comments reflect many positive reviews from Tribal and First Nations members (e.g., Tahltan) and members of the general public, (as well as some cranky comments from six year olds and racists). Continue reading

Long term salmon resilience

Salmon lice infestation. Source: Georgia Strait Alliance.

I’ve just dipped into an interesting paper (PDF) by Sarah Campbell and Virginia Butler, which explores 7,500 years of relationship between First Nations and Pacific Salmon.  While, as ever, the archaeological evidence is discontinuous and somewhat patchy, the authors reach profound conclusions that go far beyond the usual archaeological focus on the past, as if the past still exists other than in the present.

The Northwest Coast was estimated to have the second highest indigenous population density in North America (after California) at European contact, with population estimates ranging from 102,100 to 210,100 (Ubelaker 2006). Haggan et al. (2006) propose an annual average per person consumption rate of 230 kg/yr based on two 19th- century estimates. At this rate, 200,000 people would annually consume 46,000 metric tons (50,706 tons) of salmon, comparable in magnitude to the average yearly commercial catch between 1901 and 2000 (Jones 2002). (emphasis added)

Continue reading

Yukon River Canoe Project 2009 Blog

Work on the log begins. Source: Yukon Canoe Project.

I just found an interesting blog that traces a community project to carve a Tlingit style dugout canoe on the banks of the Yukon River near Whitehorse:

Nineteen young Yukon carvers made history by creating a 30-foot red cedar dugout canoe. Under the leadership of Tlingit Master Carver Wayne Price, the carvers went on a journey of discovery.

An island on the east side of the Yukon River became their home for the next two months as went go back on the land to learn the traditional techniques for carving a dugout canoe.

Continue reading

In-SHUCK-ch Cedar Bark Stripping Gallery

Pulling a cedar bark strip. The scarred face will heal in a highly characteristic way. Source: In-SHUCK-ch live.com (click)

I came across a nice set of 18 pictures of members of the In-SHUCK-ch First Nation stripping cedar bark for use in traditional manufactures, especially basketry, cordage, matting, and clothing.  This nation is on the lower Fraser in the general Lillooet-Harrison Lake area.  It’s true you have to turn your head sideways on a lot of the pictures, but at the same time you would have to crane your head way back if you were stripping bark, so that’s ok.  Continue reading