Tag Archives: Beacon Hill Park

Wapato, Camas, Tyee

4,000 year old Wapato tubers from archaeological site in Katzie territory.

The Tyee has a nice feature on invigoration of traditional use of Wapato (“Indian Potato”) and Camas.  I visited an open house at an archaeological site in Katzie territory a year or two ago and so here’s a couple of pictures of 4,000 year old Wapato tubers and a digging stick of presumably the same age which would have been used to help cultivate the wet beds.  At that site (almost completely destroyed by the new Golden Ears suburban commuter bridge), there were signs of the creation of enhanced “water gardens” for Wapato, and not just the harvesting of what occurs naturally.  Similarly, camas productivity was greatly enhanced by selective weeding and by the practice of tilling and selective bulb harvesting as well as deliberate burning to manage the camas fields.  All in all, exploitation of many plant foods (and shellfish) formed a practice intermediate between farming and gathering, and thereby are a powerful line of evidence for traditional use of large areas of SW British Columbia.  The Tyee article seems to me to be clear, accurate and informative.  I recommend it.

Tip of a wooden digging stick, ca. 4000 years old, Katzie territory. Two others of the dozens found can be seen in the background.

Camas and Cairns

Lekwungen women harvesting camas bulbs on Beacon Hill. Illustration by Victoria graphic artist Gordon Friesen.

Lekwungen women harvesting camas bulbs on Beacon Hill. Illustration by Victoria graphic artist Gordon Friesen. (Edit: a bunch of their pictures are down, even on their site. Click to go to story)

Two small articles look at the archaeology of Beacon Hill Park in central Victoria.   Camas country includes charming illustrations and a knowledgeable write-up by Janis Ringuette, who also summarizes the remarkable story of how Beacon Hill Park workers consolidated a series of burial cairns (in the 1980s, no less), in order to facilitate mowing.  As she aptly notes:

Parks and Recreation Committee Chairman Geoff Young promised an interpretative sign. He said the Committee had been planning a marker well before the stones were “accidently disturbed.” He agreed a sign was needed because “They just look like ordinary rocks on the surface. It’s not a spectacular site. You have to know them.” Parks Director Al Smith said, “It’s going to be one of the more interesting features of the park, especially when we get the marker in place. We should have something showing the Indians were the original owners of the land.”

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