Gabriola Petroglyph Design Elements. Source: Adams 2003.
One recent M.A. thesis I was really looking forward to reading is by Amanda Adams entitled Visions cast on stone : a stylistic analysis of the petroglyphs of Gabriola Island, B.C., from UBC Anthropology 2003, and available for free download here.
I was particularly interested to read the instructions she received on proper deportment when visiting the rock art:
Sites were visited in a manner and with a personal code of conduct adhering to Snuneymuxw wishes. Petroglyph sites were not visited at either dawn or dusk. A respectful demeanor was expected as was an “open heart and mind” (Bill Seward, Snuneymuxw elder, personal communication 2002). I was asked to give my full attention to the petroglyphs and their sacredness, not allowing daily distractions to interfere with my concentration on the ancient imagery. These expectations were met to the best of my ability. (18-19)
While many archaeologists are under the impression that there is little to no ethnographic information about petroglyphs, I have long felt that more likely such knowledge is private or highly privileged and not readily shareable. In this self-serving sense, it was gratifying to see that Adams was able to record some such information:
Snuneymuxw Elder, Bill Seward, asserts that many petroglyphs were made by shamans, hunters and vision seekers (personal communication 2002) while Elder Ellen White maintains that the carvings were places where people both sought and gained power. She explained that “men would be stripped – even in cold weather and laid on top of each petroglyph – learning the spirit world, connecting to the area.” She also noted that the pitted ‘dots’ surrounding several of the carvings were “points of access”, places where one could dip their fingers into pools of “energy” and reservoirs of strength (Archaeology Forum group tour 2002). (p 13)
Another welcome aspect of Adams’ thesis is her direct comparison to portable art. Continue reading
Posted in anthropology, Archaeology, dSpace, First Nations, Northwest Coast, Vancouver Island
Tagged art, dSpace, Gabriola Island, Gulf Islands, Marpole, Northwest Coast, petroglyphs, rock art, Salish Sea, Snuneymuxw
Haida Town of Chaatl. Source: NMC
There is an interesting archive of interview transcripts housed in dSpace at the University of Regina. Most of the interviews were by CBC Radio’s Imbert Orchard and so share the flaws of Journalism and Anthropology. The preamble says,
The original intent of The Indian History Film Project was to conduct interviews with First Nations elders across Canada and to produce a television series portraying Canadian history from a First Nations’ perspective.
The Indian History Film Project was an initiative of Direction Films and was conceived and developed by Tony Snowsill. The project leaders were Tony Snowsill and Christine Welsh. The project evolved over time, and eventually it was decided to access libraries and archives across the country to incorporate existing interviews with First Nations elders. All interviews, whether original or archival, were cross indexed by word and theme and housed in the C.P.R.C [Canadian Plains Research Centre].
A number of these interviews are with Haida people, notably Solomon Wilson and Florence Edenshaw, who discussed her arranged marriage, the meaning of Tow Hill, and the artistic tradition of her family, the Edenshaws and Davidsons. It appears tapes of these are also available through the BC Archives, but not online.
Note: anytime you see (Indian) it means that a Haida word was not transcribed — an eerie effect. Searching for British Columbia brings up 91 documents.
The following excerpt from an interview with Solomon Wilson of Skidegate sees him relating a tale of smallpox blankets:
Posted in anthropology, archives, dSpace, First Nations, Northwest Interior, Northwest Coast
Tagged archives, BC Interior, british columbia, dSpace, First Nations, Haida, Haida Gwaii, history, museums, Northwest Coast
The Globe and Mail has a story on the (in progress) digitization and internet posting of UBC’s complete run of over 35,500 theses and dissertations – with an arch response by SFU’s Dean of Libraries (or whatever). As I’ve been noting, numerous other universities have these schemes as well, usually some flavour of the dSpace software package. Typically, University of Toronto calls it T-Space. Dissertations there do not seem to be online unless you are a library card holder, though strictly speaking they are not in T-Space either I don’t think. Nonetheless, they obviously have a digital copy mounted on a server.
Posted in Archaeology, archives, Cultural Resource Management, dSpace
Tagged Archaeology, archives, copyright, dSpace, libraries, SFU, ubc, uvic
Salmon Petroglyph at Jack Point. From Lundy (1974: 111)
There is a wonderful trend of institutions putting old, grey literature online. One widely used platform for doing this is called “dSpace”, though the approach exists under other names. Some of the best of this material are graduate theses and dissertations. These are freely available if you walk into the University library, but may be essentially unavailable in any other form. Unlike a lot of digital initiatives, the majority of these are not limited to students and faculty, but can be accessed by anyone – provided you know they are there. Consider Doris Lundy’s monumental MA thesis on NW Coast Rock Art, obtained in 1974 from SFU. Most of this 350+ page thesis was never published in any form. Now you can download the whole thing from SFU (4 meg PDF). Despite being a rocky scan, the entire text is searchable. There is some digital protection applied but I found it simple to save a copy to my hard drive. The image to the left is the famous salmon petroglyph at Jack Point near Nanaimo in Snuneymuxw territory. This is the petroglyph that would be painted with ochre and adorned with eagle down by ritualists if the salmon runs were late or meagre – one of the only such works which has specific beliefs recorded for it.
Let me know if you have problems downloading this: it works for me on and off campus, so I presume anyone can do it.
Posted in Archaeology, archives, dSpace, Northwest Coast, Vancouver Island
Tagged Archaeology, dSpace, fishing, Northwest Coast, petroglyphs, pictographs, rock art