Screenshot of iPINCH website
I’ve posted a couple of times (1, 2) on the proposed, callous use of a seated human figure bowl as a reality TV show prop. Well, worse than a prop, since the idea is to auction off this sensitive cultural property in pursuit of TV ratings and the advertizing dollars which follow. It’s sort of unfathomably insensitive and stupid, doubly maddening since it’s the CBC, a crown corporation and an entity which really should know better.
Anyway, there’s an interesting and insightful essay by Emily Benson on the IPinCH blog which adds a lot of thoughtful commentary and context for this issue:
The example of the seated human figure bowl and media discussions around it, reflect a broader set of questions and issues related to historical and contemporary relations between Indigenous peoples and settlers in Canada. This case reflects the importance of challenging both public and anthropological conceptions regarding the treatment of Indigenous peoples’ cultural heritage. Explicitly recognizing the relationship of descendant communities to their ancestral /sacred sites and objects, and their rights regarding their cultural heritage, are fundamental to doing so. Key to shifting these perspectives are recognizing the significance of cultural heritage sites and objects to living peoples, and their rights to make decisions regarding their heritage.
It’s part of IPinCH‘s* occasional series “Appropriation of the Month” – most entries are not about the NW Coast but nonetheless many readers here will find a lot of food for thought over there. I particularly encourage you to go over and leave some comments on the bowl issue!
Posted in anthropology, Archaeology, Cultural Resource Management, First Nations, history, Northwest Coast
Tagged appropriation, CBC, ethics, four rooms, iPinch, Reality TV, SFU, Stone Bowls
Screenshot from Times-Colonist of Qualicum bowl which may be subjected to reality TV auction by CBC. Click to enlarge.
The Times-Colonist has another article (PDF) on the seated human figure bowl which may go up for auction as part of a crass CBC reality TV show. The new article has some good information about the bowl from Grant Keddie and reactions from the B.C. Archaeology Branch and the CBC. Thanks to twoeyes for posting this article in comments in the prior post; I thought it needed a new entry of its own.
The bowl was apparently found in Qualicum Beach in 1988, and is known to the Royal BC Museum – it has been photographed by them (see screenshot above). I’m not sure if there has been any publications about this bowl, if the Qualicum First Nation knew about it before this mini-controversy, or what has been said to the owner about the importance of the item. The Times-Colonist does have some interesting quotes from those involved.
Posted in anthropology, Archaeology, Cultural Resource Management, First Nations, Northwest Coast, Uncategorized, Vancouver Island
Tagged Archaeology, Archaeology Branch, CBC, Qualicum, RBCM, Reality TV, repatriation, Royal BC Museum, Stone Bowls, TV
Screen shot of human seated figure bowl on boardroom table. Is this a “wild and wacky [sic] object”? Source: Times Colonist.
This short piece
) in the Times Colonist caught my eye, and not in a good way. First, a private citizen apparently owns a large human seated figure bowl, an artifact of immense cultural significance, and is apparently willing to enter a process leading to its sale. That’s bad news and potentially extremely inflammatory, especially in the context of the CBC reality T.V, show “Four Rooms
: “four rooms. four buyers. four chances to make a fortune”).
It’s crass and disrespectful to treat these objects like this. The picture above of one casually manhandled on a boardroom table, apparent scrape marks down its side, is angry-making! These objects routinely have handling, viewing, and storage restrictions in museums and at cultural centres.
Posted in anthropology, Archaeology, Cultural Resource Management, First Nations, Northwest Coast
Tagged Archaeology, art, auctions, Bowls, CBC, First Nations, repatriation, sculpture, Stone Bowls, television
Unusual serrated stone tool from Gitwangak area site, perhaps used for cedar processing. Source: CBC
There’s a nice audio interview and slide show from the CBC with Jenny Lewis of Kleanza Consulting archaeologists about a dig going on along the Skeena River near Gitwangak (Kitwanga) in Gitxan Territory. The project is apparently a CN Rail siding repair and there have been many, many stone tools found, including some in stratified setting with carbon dates associated.
Remarkably, Lewis asserts that they have material dating to around 9,000 years ago, in addition to the more recent finds. This would certainly make it amongst the oldest, if not the oldest, archaeological material known from the Skeena River area, although it is not specified how the earliest date estimates were arrived at. The well-known sites in the Kitselas Canyon, for example, are generally all within the last 5,000 years if memory serves me right. Continue reading
Posted in Archaeology, Cultural Resource Management, Northwest Interior
Tagged Archaeology, CBC, CN Rail, CRM, Cultural Resource Management, Gitwangak, Gitxsan, Kitwanga, Kleanza, Skeena River
Excavation of house foundations at Englishman River. Source: CBC
Hmm, I just noticed today is the first anniversary of this blog. Mind you, it was a slow and intermittent affair at first but with more regular posting has come steady increase in readership.
But you know who else had a birthday on April 20th?
With that in mind, what better way to celebrate than by checking out the firestorm brewing on the Englishman River, where some landowners, perhaps wilfully ignorant, have had an unfortunate series of events transpire regarding an archaeological site on their property. The Archaeology Branch has responded to the story with a terse memo.
A little background to start:
All archaeological sites in B.C. dating to before 1846 A.D. are protected under the Heritage Conservation Act. This is true whether or not they are known to the Archaeology Branch or unknown and unrecorded. In some ways, then, it is not relevant that the site under these people’s house was first recorded, I am told, in 1975. Even if it was first discovered by the application of a backhoe in April 2010, it would be accorded the same protection under the law. The fact that the landowners claim to have not known about the site until recently is an interesting issue that does not really materially affect the facts of this case. And, under the standard procedures in place, they are indeed responsible for paying the costs of the archaeological investigations, in this case reported to be $35,000. Whether or not they have the money also doesn’t affect the facts of the case – incidentally, these people who self-portray as poor and unemployed are finding archaeology because they are building a new house on their property, which must be costing them several hundred thousand dollars.
So, these facts may not actually alter the legal responsibilities, but they do however very strongly affect the way this issue is seen to be unfolding.
Posted in Archaeology, Cultural Resource Management, First Nations, Northwest Coast, Vancouver Island
Tagged Archaeology Branch, british columbia, CBC, CRM, Cultural Resource Management, ethics, Heritage Conservation Act, Liberal Government of BC, Vancouver Island
Skeena River pole ca. 1920s: On back: ""Named Waum Gana'o 14' high / erected 1845 / 4 Bottom figure, is of the big hog, upside down." Source: USASK."
The University of Saskatchewan has a comprehensive Indigenous Studies portal, with links to a massive corpus of published and unpublished documents – some of which are available online, free of institutional restriction. One section which I found interesting was the large collection of pamphlets and booklets. I know this web site isn’t always 100% archaeological – but you can’t separate the practice of archaeology from the social context in which it occurs. Among these pamphlets are:
- CBC Radio and Department of Indian Affairs 1939: The Indians Speak to Canada (transcript of a remarkable series of 1939 CBC radio broadcasts in which aboriginal people address the nation; Haida representative Rev. Peter Kelly starts on page 28; White Man’s Burden is found in the closing remarks by the Minister of Mines and Resources)
Posted in anthropology, Archaeology, First Nations, history, Northwest Interior, Northwest Coast
Tagged anthropology, british columbia, CBC, ephemera, First Nations, history, Northwest Interior, Northwest Coast, pamphlets