Louie Wilson commanding the shovel bums on Quadra Island. Source: qmackie
There’s a cool new video just released about research in the Discovery Islands, mainly Quadra Island, on the central east coast of Vancouver Island (map). The video was produced through the Hakai Institute, a philanthropic organization which over the past decade or so has been funding a lot of primary research in ecology, geology, culture and archaeology on the B.C. Coast. The archaeological project in the video was focused on the terminal Pleistocene and earliest Holocene, with an effort to document long-term sea level history for Quadra Island, and then use LiDAR-derived base maps to help with predictive modelling and other tools to find old sites on old coastal landforms. That was the plan! I mean, of course the real plan was that grad students would do as much of the brainwork as possible, Daryl would dig, and high-quality coffee would be made.
Stone wall fishing structure being used near Hagwilget, LowerBulkley River just upstream of confluence with Skeena River at ‘Ksan and Gitanmaax, Wet’suwet’en Territory, ca. 1910. Source: BC Archives https://goo.gl/EKKB2S
This post is just a random collection of lesser-known historic images of fish weirs and traps from the Northwest Coast and Interior. There’s lots to learn for archaeologists from historic pictures generally, but the way that images circulate and are reproduced means we often see the same ones over and over again. I’ve found a few archival pics which may be familiar to some, but possibly novel to many.
For example, the picture above shows a surprisingly large (to me) stone weir near Hagwilget Canyon, which is a major fishing station on the Bulkley River. I think it must be in the large kidney-shaped pool just downstream of the bridge (map). While the main structure may be partially or wholly a natural cobble bar feature, to the left there is a smaller weir that definitely appears cultural. Note the drying structures and smoke houses in the background, detail below.
We discussed Hagwilget once before when looking at the incredible bridge which used to span the river. At that time I complained about copyright claims, and my opinion still holds when it comes to material digitized by public agencies. Anyway, the successor to the original Hagwilget bridge bridge was not much more reassuring, and even the present day bridge is pretty hairy for the faint of butt. Continue reading
Cover, Volume 1, Number 1 (Nov. 1968) of the ASBC newsletter, soon to become The Midden.
As many readers will know, The Midden is the newsletter and journal of the Archaeological Society of B.C. The ASBC has fallen on some hard times in recent years with the Nanaimo Branch and the Vancouver Executive Branch both falling by the wayside. Luckily, the Victoria Branch, in recent years largely run by Graduate Students out of the Archaeology Lab at the University of Victoria, has retained its vitality and, after a hiatus and some thin issues, has recently started producing The Midden in its full glory again.
Even better news, the entire back run of The Midden since its first issue in 1968 is now available open access and online, with the exception that the most recent six months will be available to members only. It is to the enormous credit of the Victoria Group, who I have occasionally observed in their toils from faraway perch in Blog World Headquarters, that the ASBC and The Midden continue to express the vision of its founders over fifty years ago. The core group of the Victoria ASBC in recent years has including longtime members Pete Dady, Tom Bown and the late Gerry Merner, and more recently (and spearheading the digitization project) Jacob Earnshaw, Nicole Westre, Cal Abbott, Seonaid Duffield, and Colton Vogelaar (recent UVIC grads), and Genevieve Hill of the RBCM. Thanks also to the UVIC Library for hosting the journal. (If I’ve forgotten someone then apologies, and I will add them, just let me know). The ASBC has always been run by volunteers and has played a huge role in public education and promotion of archaeology in the Northwest, so the long-standing members and volunteers should also be thanked – of particular note perhaps, long-standing editor in the 1980s and 1990s, Kathryn Bernick.
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.
Footprint (left) enhanced in purple right from the intertidal zone excavations at Calvert Island. Photo and enhancement: Joanne McSporran
This months Archaeological Society of BC monthly lecture in Victoria should be excellent. Sorry for the short notice but it is tomorrow, Tuesday 18th, at 7.30, at UVIC. Details below or on this PDF. It is free and open to the public.
Hakai Institute Scholar and UVIC Anthropology Assistant Professor Dr. Duncan McLaren will be outlining some of the incredible finds from his Hakai Ancient Landscapes Archaeological Project (HALAP). Duncan set out to find early period sites on an area of the coast with relatively little long-term sea level change, following on from his highly successful UVIC dissertation research in the Dundas Group. The area chosen for the new project was the Hakai Pass / Northern Calvert Island area, not far from the well-known archaeological site of Namu. Duncan will present some of his results, including newly investigated sites with more than 11,000 years of continuous occupation, intriguing lithic and other finds from the intertidal zone, and most intriguingly perhaps, a series of footprints from the intertidal zone which may well be terminal Pleistocene in age – perhaps more than 13,000 years old.
The research was carried out under the generous funding of the Hakai Institute and their Calvert Island research station, and with the active participation of the Heiltsuk and Wuikinuxv First Nations.
Details: Tuesday, Oct 18th , 7:30, Cornett B129, UVic Campus, Victoria. Map.
Duncan takes notes while Daryl Fedje works in the intertidal zone at the footprints site. Photo credit: Joanne McSporran
Posted in Archaeology, fieldwork, Northwest Coast, Uncategorized
Tagged Archaeology, british columbia, Calvert Island, footprints, Hakai Institute, Intertidal, pleistocene, wet sites
The regional journal BC Studies has a new special issue out focused on local archaeology. Entitled These Outer Shores, the edition is available for a reasonable price (20$) and two of the articles plus the forward are already open access, with the rest to follow in a couple of years. The publisher’s blurb gives a good sense of the edition:
Guest Edited by Alan D. McMillan and Iain McKechnie, These Outer Shores presents recent archaeological research along the outer coast, from southeast Alaska to the entrance to Juan de Fuca Strait. The authors challenge the long-held perception of the western edge of British Columbia as “peripheral” or “remote,” removed from major cultural developments emanating from more interior locations. Instead, recent fieldwork and analyses document a lengthy and persistent occupation of the outer shores over the past 13,000 years. Using a variety of modern approaches and techniques, the authors examine such topics as changing sea levels, human settlement history, fish and shellfish harvesting, whaling, and the integration of Indigenous oral history with archaeology.
Posted in alaska, Archaeology, First Nations, history, Lower Mainland, Northwest Coast, Vancouver Island, Washington State
Tagged alaska, Archaeology, BC Studies, british columbia, Coastal Archaeology, Washington State
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.”
Posted in Archaeology, Cultural Resource Management, First Nations, history, Northwest Interior, Northwest Coast, Oregon
Tagged Archaeology, british columbia, Champagne-Aishihik First Nation, glaciers, KDT, Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi, Oregon, Portland
Unusual object in the Mayne Island Museum, and two celts.
The above is maybe the most unusual object I saw in the archaeological cases in my visit to the Mayne Island museum. As you can see, it’s labelled as a “large stone abrader” and may well be, I suppose. It’s thin, an the reddish cast and sort of laminate structure of the rock makes me think it is schist, a material commonly used for flaked “slate” as well as for saws. If it’s an abrader, I’d say it’d be a saw, since no sign (on this face) of any smooth abraded areas. However, the general shape seems pretty elaborate for any abrader or saw from my experience. Maybe an elaborate ulu-style knife intended to be hafted across the neck. Or, what I was wondering when I was there, maybe triggered by a false association to the shape, was something like the ground slate mirrors from the North Coast. These would be polished to a sheen, then wetted, thus providing a reflection, and if memory serves (and it often doesn’t) were used in rituals more than for popping blackheads. But it doesn’t seem polished enough for that. All the same, the shape rings a bell and rather than spend too much time looking through old Syesis’s (Syeses? Syesisis?? ‘copies of the journal Syesis’ – phew) I’m throwing it out here for comment.
There’s a few other pictures form the museum below.
Posted in Archaeology, First Nations, Northwest Coast, Technology, Vancouver Island
Tagged Archaeology, artifacts, canoes, Coast Salish, Helen Point, mauls, Mayne Island, museums, Salish, Salish Sea, Woodworking
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.
Posted in Archaeology, Cultural Resource Management, Northwest Interior, Uncategorized
Tagged Archaeology, caves, Charlie Lake Cave, clovis, Fort St. John, pleistocene, Saulteau, Saulteau First Nation, Tumbler Ridge
If someone out there in webland makes a link to my blog, and then someone else clicks on that link, I might be able to tell which site is referring to me. Sometimes this leads to unexpected discoveries. One of these incoming links is a query to an artifact collecting forum (boo) from a collector in southern California, who found the above small sculpture in Chumash territory. As is so common in the collector world, there is no other contextual information about this piece, which to my eye, appears to be an early historic Haida carving in argillite. Knowledgeable readers may wish to weigh in below in the comments section about the motifs and provenance of this sculpture – there are more fairly low-quality pictures here. How it made its way to the Santa Barbara area is anyone’s guess, it may have been a simple curio bought by a tourist, or it may be a now-lost bit of evocative human history like the one I suggested here for Haida argillite found on San Juan Island.
Posted in Archaeology, California, Cultural Resource Management, Haida Gwaii, history, Northwest Coast
Tagged Archaeology, argillite, art, british columbia, California, Chumash, collecting, Haida, Haida Gwaii, pothunting, sculpture