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.
Coast Salish artifacts for sale at Granny and Grumpa’s store, Abbotsford, B.C.. Photo: B. Thom
I like hanging around junk shops as much as anyone, in fact more than most, if my new Monkey-Darwin-Skull office lamp is anything to go by. Very occasionally will I see a local archaeological artifact in one of these shops. However, my colleague at my day job (yes I have a job, honest), Dr. Brian Thom, sent me some pictures and an account of his encounter with a very large collection of Coast Salish artifacts. And they’re for sale.
Now, Brian may have the most magnificent Star Trek memorabilia collection to sit squarely atop the 49th parallel, but no sites were harmed in his collecting behaviour. The law around the ownership and sale of ancient artifacts in B.C. is regrettably unclear (as was hashed out in the fractious comments of this previous blog post and here too: 1, 2, 3). As I note lower down, below Brian’s comments, some of the clearest direction on this front comes not from the Act, but from recent public statements from BC Archaeology Branch director Justine Batten. It’s always tempting to write some huge essay when I’m trying to figure something out, but it’d be better to let Brian kick things off. His commentary and links are below, reproduced with his permission.
Posted in Archaeology, Cultural Resource Management, First Nations, history, Lower Mainland, Northwest Coast
Tagged Abbotsford, Coast Salish, collecting, collectors, CRM, Cultural Resource Management, Fraser River, looting, Salish Sea, Sto:lo
One of the benefits of running this blog is I get to decide what counts as Northwest Coast Archaeology, and today I’m including the amazing Nunalleq site in SW Alaska. Strengthening my claim this belongs to the NW Coast is that the indispensable Dr. Madonna Moss of U. Oregon has been working there lately – which makes it NW Coast, right? Q.E.D. Anyway the project has been running for about five years, and their blog for three, so there is lots to read up on, and see. The site, lying in Yup’ik territory, contains deposits (house and otherwise) up to around 2,000 years old and has been rapidly eroding of late. What started as a salvage project quickly turned into a major effort as deposits of incredible richness were encountered, with preservation enhanced by frozen soil/permafrost. I’m currently in a fairly remote spot with slow internet and bandwidth constraints, so I am just going to link to a few highlights of the blog and let you explore the rest.
Posted in alaska, anthropology, Archaeology, Cultural Resource Management, fieldwork, First Nations, Technology
Tagged alaska, Archaeology, Arctic, community based archaeology, CRM, Cultural Resource Management, Nunalleq, permafrost, Yup'ik
Grace Islet human burial cairn intersected by concrete house foundation. The cairn is said to be under the plywood and concrete square structure. Could there be a more poignant picture of the present day management of archaeological sites in this province? Source: Grace Islet on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/graceislet
Grace Islet – Shmukw’elu – is a small island (map, pic) in Ganges Harbour, Saltspring Island. It is a Coast Salish cemetery, and it is a settler construction site. How do we reconcile these contradictory uses of this island? I’ve been hesitant to post about this case because I know it’s a long and complicated story of how we got to 2014, when we see burial cairns being literally encased into concrete house foundations. I am quite sure that many people of goodwill made many decisions that seemed right to them at the time. I don’t know what all these decisions are, what happened when, exactly, what the consultant said, how the house owner sleeps at night – I just don’t know all these variables and I am schooled in the idea you should know everything before you say anything. It’s clear though that, somehow, the practice of archaeology in this province led to the Grace Islet outcome. Shouldn’t we try to understand the process? That’s fine in principle, but can be silencing in the face of complexity: as Pierre Bourdieu wrote, “the most successful ideological efforts are those which have no need for words, and then ask no more than complicitous silence.” No more silence, then.
Posted in Archaeology, Cultural Resource Management, First Nations, Northwest Coast, Vancouver Island
Tagged Archaeology Branch, burial cairns, burials, cemeteries, CRM, Cultural Resource Management, Grace Islet, Saltspring Island
Click to play Sacred Ground video.
Archaeological encounters with human remains bring into sharp relief the competing values surrounding cultural heritage. It doesn’t always go well – powerful emotions are uncovered alongside the burials. So it’s refreshing and informative to come across a short video, Sacred Ground: In honour and in memory of our ancestors, made by Crossroads Cultural Resource Management, which follows the aftermath of the accidental disturbance of human remains at Hagwilget, on the
Skeena Bulkley River.
Posted in anthropology, Archaeology, Cultural Resource Management, fieldwork, First Nations, Northwest Interior
Tagged alaska, Bulkley River, burial, cemeteries, CRM, Cultural Resource Management, Gitxsan, Hagwilget, human remains, reburial, Skeena River, Wet'suwet'en
Archaeology Crew at Quatsino: Cave at Heater Point. Source: bcmarinetrails.org
How does the general public perceive archaeologists? There’s a lot of ways to get at this question, not least the comments section of any newspaper article! But a positive and slightly unusual perspective is found in this article by Stephanie Meinke at the BC Marine Trails website. In the course of establishing some new marine trails in the Quatsino Sound area of NW Vancouver Island (map), concern arose that there might be archaeological sites at some of the campsites. Kayakers generally having solid ethics about leaving no trace, but all the same there might be some unintentional impacts. So an archaeological consulting team (Kennedy Richard and Morgan Bartlett) was hired to assess these spots with potential impact. They were guided by Stephanie and by Janis Leach of Recreation Sites and Trails BC, as well as by two field assistants from the Quatsino First Nation: Mark Wallas and Mark Hunt.
The article gives something of a participant-observation view of the archaeological consulting business in its coastal survey guise, as well as some nice pictures of gorgeous scenery.
Posted in Archaeology, Cultural Resource Management, fieldwork, Northwest Coast, Vancouver Island
Tagged CRM, Cultural Resource Management, impact assessment, kayaking, Quatsino, Quatsino Sound, trails
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
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
Archaeological Science on Haida Gwaii.
So I’ve never posted job ads here before and I may never do so again, but there are two ones posted right now with a lot of potential for readers of this blog: one is an archaeological position with the Council of the Haida Nation (PDF), the other a tenure track position in archaeological sciences at Washington State University.
Posted in Archaeology, Cultural Resource Management, First Nations, Haida Gwaii, Northwest Interior, Northwest Coast, Teaching, Uncategorized, Washington State
Tagged Archaeology, CHN, Council of the Haida Nation, CRM, Cultural Resource Management, Haida Gwaii, jobs, Washington State University, WSU
Parks Canada - UVIC Archaeological Project in the Intertidal Zone, 2010.
Next up for the local (Victoria) branch of the Archaeological Society of B.C. is a Tuesday, October 18th talk by Daryl Fedje of Parks Canada Archaeology. Details below; it is free and open to the public. I know of some of this research to be presented and if I can add an editorial comment:it is now clearly demonstrated that the intertidal zone has very high potential for un-disturbed archaeological deposits, some of which show exceptional preservation. These include not only classic “waterlogged sites” with woody preservation, but also numerous water-saturated shell middens, and even the remains of intact house features. I think it’s probable that in the Salish Sea at least, the intertidal zone is a hugely unappreciated zone of interest and I hope the Archaeology Branch and Consulting Archaeologists are working together to make sure it gets a thorough examination. And, if they aren’t, then it would be welcome if First Nations were to apply pressure by demanding routine subsurface testing in intertidal zones as a minimum requirement for shoreline archaeological assessments, perhaps commenting to this effect when reviewing permit applications. Anyway:
Intertidal Archaeology in the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve
October 18th, 2011, 7:30
pm Pacific Forestry Centre,
506 West Burnside Road (Map)
FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.
Abstract: Recent investigations in the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve included a focus on the intertidal zone. Analyses of cultural and paleoecological data obtained from these investigations has resulted in a more detailed sea level history for the area and, discovery of a suite of archaeological sites associated with sea levels slightly lower than modern. These now-intertidal sites include intact shell middens and apparent house features dating as early as 4,000 years ago.
Bio: The Victoria ASBC Branch president writes, “Daryl Fedje is a long-time archaeologist with Parks Canada, now based in Sidney, B.C. He is widely published, with a respected international reputation. Research in the Gulf Islands that he directs, co-directs, or facilitates is some of the most current work relevant to the Victoria region – but of course with wider ramifications.“
Posted in Archaeology, Cultural Resource Management, Northwest Coast, Shell Middens, underwater archaeology, Vancouver Island
Tagged Archaeological Society of BC, ASBC, CRM, Gulf Islands, Intertidal, Salish Sea, waterlogged sites, wet sites