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.
Dr. Gary Coupland, U. Toronto (left) training students on transit use and archaeological survey/mapping. Photo: shíshálh blog.
Posted in Archaeology, fieldwork, First Nations, Lower Mainland, Northwest Coast, Teaching
Tagged anthropology, Archaeology, blogs, fieldwork, Sechelt, shíshálh, students, Sunshine Coast
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.
Posted in anthropology, Archaeology, Cultural Resource Management, Northwest Interior, Northwest Coast, Oregon
Tagged anthropology, Archaeology, CAA, Canadian Archaeological Association, CRM, Northwest Anthropological Conference, NWAC, pdx, Portland State University
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.
[Edit Nov 2017: The Book is now available, also through Amazon, etc.]
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?)
Posted in anthropology, Archaeology, Cultural Resource Management, First Nations, Northwest Interior
Tagged anthropology, Archaeology, Champagne-Aishihik First Nation, glaciers, ice patches, KDT, Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi, RBCM, Royal BC Museum, Tatsenshini-Alsek
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)
Posted in anthropology, Archaeology, Northwest Coast, palaeontology, Uncategorized
Tagged anthropology, Archaeology, conservation, First Nations, fishing, Northwest Coast, palaeoenvironment, salmon, zooarchaeology
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.
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
Posted in anthropology, Archaeology, Northwest Interior, pics
Tagged anthropology, Archaeology, cedar, CMT, Culturally Modified Tree, First Nations, In-SHUCK-ch First Nation, organic technology, Salish
Eulachon. Source: Sitnews.net
I often use eulachon (Thaleichthys pacificus, a small, anadramous smelt) as an example of “archaeologically-invisible” food. They are also known as “candlefish”, on account of being so oily that a wick jammed down their throat will burn like a candle.
These small fish run by the millions up rivers to spawn, where they could be intercepted. Traditionally, many or most eulachon would be processed into eulachon oil, or grease: a highly nutritious, calorie-dense substance that preserved very well and could also be used to preserve other foods such as berries. The means of processing was to put them into a large container, perhaps an old canoe, known colloquially as a “stink box”, let them “rest” there for a week, and then heat them up, enabling the oil to rise and then be skimmed off, or pressed out. The residue (bones, guts, brains, etc.) would then be returned to the river and few or no bones would make it away from the processing site. In this way, eulachon provided a staple food, a nutritional supplement, a means of preservation, and an extremely valuable trade item – when Alexander Mackenzie arrived near Bella Coola in 1793, “Over Land, From Canada”, he did so on one of the well-worn grease trails that linked coast to interior. Since the fish arrive in the early Spring, they were hailed as starvation busters in lean years. Nonetheless, archaeologically they are almost invisible, relative to their importance.
Haisla eulachon catch from the Kemano River. Source: living landscapes.
It is therefore sobering to read that U.S. President Obama has listed the Columbia River eulachon as an endangered species: eulachon are becoming almost invisible relative to the real world now, it seems.
Posted in anthropology, First Nations, history, Northwest Coast, Oregon
Tagged aboriginal fisheries, anthropology, eulachon, First Nations, fishery management, fishing, history, Nass River, Northwest Coast, Nuxalk, oolichan, oolikan, Oregon, smelt, traditional use
Argillite and ivory compote attributed to Haida master carver Charles Edenshaw. Height: 30 cm. Source: Liverpool Museum.
I only have a short post today since I am up to my neck in alligators, courtesy of my day job. So, take a moment and check out the spectacular argillite compote (a pedestaled serving dish), attributed to Haida master carver Da.axiigang, Charles Edenshaw. This particular dish is in the collection of the Liverpool Museum – an institution that holds a collection donated by well-known coastal collector, casual ethnographer, and (apparently) former Liverpudlian, Dr. Charles Newcombe – many of the items in their Northwest Coast section must come from this source. It is one of the more striking pieces of Argillite I have seen in that the form is so clearly derived from silverware: it is sublimely ridiculous, and I can’t help but feel that Edenshaw was in on the joke. Yes, he would make what would sell, but a piece like this makes me wonder if he wasn’t slyly pulling the touristic leg, somewhat.
Posted in anthropology, history, Northwest Coast
Tagged anthropology, argillite, art, artifacts, british columbia, Haida Art, ivory, LIverpool, museums, Northwest Coast
Overview map of Coast Salish Villages of Puget Sound. Click to go to the page of interactive maps at coastsalishmap.org
Tom Dailey has put together a large and very interesting site which documents the Coast Salish villages of Puget Sound. The core of the site is a series of clickable maps (see the left hand side black/white map grid), each of which is marked with little village icons. Clicking on these icons takes you to a master document with a synopsis of the settlement name and, usually, a couple of sentences about the village. These are referenced to scholarly literature and other sources. It is striking to see all these villages on one map, and notable how many are shown on rivers and lakes.
Posted in anthropology, Archaeology, Northwest Coast, Washington State
Tagged anthropology, Bellingham, Coast Salish, household archaeology, houses, Olympic Peninsula, Puget Sound, Salish Sea, San Juan Islands, Seattle, Straits Salish