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
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