Tag Archives: Heiltsuk

Stone Foundations and Tent Platforms in NW Coast Archaeology

Tlingit house with stone wall foundation near Juneau, Alaska.  Source: SHI Archives, Richard Wood collection. http://goo.gl/hH9Pfl

Tlingit house with stone wall foundation. “Photograph of a Taku village homes, photo likely by Partridge, circa 1887. Village site was located on the mainland across from Douglas Island, south of present-day Juneau”: SHI Archives, Richard Wood collection. http://goo.gl/hH9Pfl

We’re a little obsessed with wooden architecture in the NW Coast archaeology world – with good reason, I guess, since monumental wooden houses are such a prominent feature of the recent past. I suppose we sometimes stereotype these houses a little – a point some commenters made in the Houses on Stilts post here a while back – we think: “large rectangular house squatting in midden supported by giant house posts.” Not always the case, certainly not through time.

In general, we may underestimate large scale constructions in stone.  Burial cairns and mounds (one of Darcy’s consists of 18 dump-trucks worth of soil), rock wall defensive sites, trench embankments, canoe runs, fish traps, and of course, clam gardens, all involved massive deployments of stone, with associated labour investments and creation of a durable built environment. Anyway, we’ve recently been running into enigmatic rock structures on the central coast and Quadra Island, and in particular, the possibility of dwelling structures partially based on stone walls.  So it’s quite cool to run across the picture above from the SHI photo collections, showing a Taku Tlingit house from the historic period, sitting on a platform which has a stone wall as a foundation.

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Visit to the UNBC Fieldschool on Calvert Island

Deep unit at ElTa-4, Calvert Island.

Deep unit at Luxvbalis, EjTa-4, Calvert Island.

This blog’s world headquarters has temporarily moved out to the central coast, where yours truly is tagging along with Dr. Duncan McLaren and his team working on the early period archaeology and landscape history of the Hakai area.  The project is sponsored in very generous style by the Hakai Beach Institute, which also funds and facilitates a variety of research on the cultural and natural history of this beautiful and sensitive area. One of the other Hakai projects is an archaeological fieldschool directed by Dr. Farid Rahemtulla of the University of Northern BC.  I wrote about this fieldschool once before and you can get some background on this site (EjTa-4, Luxvbalis) at that link. The site is in the traditional territory of the Heiltsuk and Wuikinuxv First Nations.  Yesterday I had the chance to visit the site, get shown around by Farid, and hang out at the screens with his great students – and to be the annoying guy with a camera.

So it’s a really deep site.  Above you can see Kira Cari in this years main excavation unit.  They are expanding a unit from last year which went down 4.7 metres or so without bottoming out. As of yesterday, they are about 2.4 units down.  Basal dates so far are in the 6-7,000 year old range but this might get older since the bottom is not yet reached and there may be older cultural deposits intact in the intertidal zone as well. Continue reading

Weir on the River Koeye

Building Koeye Weir. Photo by Grant Callegari via indiegogo.

Building Koeye Weir. Photo by Grant Callegari via indiegogo.

There’s a pretty amazing new construction on the  on the Koeye River (pronounced roughly “kwaay”) on the central coast of B.C. (map).  A team has built a traditional style wooden-weir across the river, and are using it for fishery management – trapping, counting, measuring, and gently releasing salmon at the end (and start) of their life cycle. The construction has been documented at the willatlas.com blog, including some amazing photos, and there are posts on the Hakai Beach Institute blog as well. Even better, there is a short documentary.  This is actually is a teaser for a longer documentary, which is in the fund-raising stage, and I don’t mind using this blog as a platform to bring this really great project to people’s attention.  You can see their fundraising page here.

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ASBC Victoria – Public Talk Tue Nov 15th: Duncan McLaren on Early Archaeology of the Central Coast

Duncan McLaren using Livingstone core on Castor Poop Lake on Porcher Island, B.C.. Daryl Fedje holds the leash.

Next up for the local (Victoria) branch of the Archaeological Society of B.C. is a Tuesday, November 15th talk by Dr. Duncan McLaren of Cordillera Archaeology and the Anthropology Department at University of Victoria.  Duncan’s highly successful  Ph.D. thesis was an interdisciplinary, geoarchaeological approach to the early occupation of the Dundas Island group on the northern B.C. coast. He is now in the early stages of applying a similar research program to the Central Coast of B.C., which promises great advances in knowledge.

The talk is free and open to the public, and you don’t need to be an ASBC member to attend.

Early Period Archaeology and Landscapes on the Central Coast of British Columbia

November 15th, 2011, 7:30 pm
Pacific Forestry Centre,

506 West Burnside Road (Map)

FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.

Namu Reburials

SFU Archaeology instructor Rudy Reimer holds a small replica of the handmade bentwood boxes that will be used to store ancestral Aboriginal remains. Source: SFU flickr stream.

There have been several newspaper stories recently noting the impending repatriation and reburial of human remains excavated from the famous Namu village site of the Heiltsuk Nation, on the central coast of B.C.   For example, here is one from the Vancouver Sun (PDF), another from the Globe and Mail (PDF) and a media release from Simon Fraser University itself, whose archaeology department conducted most of the excavations at this large site in the 1970s and 1980s, mainly under the direction of Roy Carlson. As ever, each newspaper source contains slightly different information.

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Old site on Calvert Island, Central Coast of B.C.

UNBC student Cory Hackett excavates a unit in shell midden (photo credit: B. Alway, via UNBC)

There’s a good, recent article in the Globe and Mail (PDF) on some exciting preliminary findings by Dr Farid Rahemtulla of UNBC at a site on Calvert Island (map).

The site, thought to be the “lost village” of Luxvbalis, is in territory of the Heiltsuk and Wuikinuxv (formerly Oweekeenow/Awikenox) peoples.  The project was intended to re-locate this village, which figures prominently in Oral History.  Continue reading

Arborglyph

calvert island face

Carved face on a Calvert Island tree. Photo: Dan Leen.

I’ve mentioned Dan Leen’s excellent web page before.  When I was on Teredo N. with him I heard many excellent stories including how he came across a spectacular carved tree on Calvert Island, near Namu.  Finally I get to see what he meant.  This strikes me as the work of a trippy bush hippy (and maybe Dan himself, heh) more than a NW Coast thing, but it is fun nonetheless.

Incidentally, “Arborglyph” is a Frankenstein word melding Greek and Latin roots and should probably be replaced with “dendroglyph”, which is also easier to say.