Tag Archives: SFU

Public Talks on Quadra Island, Monday June 16

Quadra Clam Gardens.  Source: Groesbeck et al. PLOS-1, 2014.

Quadra Island Clam Gardens. Source: Groesbeck et al. PLOS-1, 2014.

Nuyumbalees Cultural Centre and Discovery Passage SeaLife Society present:

1. Sea Level History of the Discovery Islands.
Daryl Fedje, University of Victoria

2. Quadra Island’s Ancient Clam Gardens.
Dana Lepofsky, Simon Fraser University

Monday, June 16th | 7 pm Quadra Island Community Centre

So I usually limit my announcements of public talks to those happening in the Victoria backyard of Blog World Headquarters but it so happens there is one exceptional one coming up on Quadra Island, where I’ll be spending the next week.  The talk, actually two talks, will focus on two archaeological projects underway up there.  The poster advertising the talks is here, or you can read more below.

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ASBC Victoria talk: Tuesday May 20, Michelle Puckett on Quadra Is. Clam Gardens

Gwaii Haanas clam garden.

Clam garden in southern Haida Gwaii.  Note the rock wall forming the flat terrace feature.

Transforming the Beach, Transforming our Thinking: Ancient Clam Gardens of Northern Quadra Island, BC.

Michelle Puckett (presenter) and Amy Groesbeck, Dana Lepofsky, Anne Salomon, Kirsten Rowell, Nicole Smith and Sue Formosa

Tuesday, May 20th, 7:30pm at the University of Victoria, Cornett Building, Room B129.  All welcome, free.

SFU graduate student Michelle Puckett (formerly UVIC’s own) is giving the May ASBC Victoria talk – “clam gardens”.  These intertidal features have taken NW Coast archaeology by storm over the last 15 years or so.  Each one is a deliberate alteration of the beach in order to enhance shellfish productivity.  Hundreds of these are now known, and as archaeologists’ eyes become more tuned to this site type I expect hundreds more to be recorded.  Being, in effect, a kind of mariculture or aquaculture, these are important not only to our understanding of long term histories on the coast (they challenge the anthropological type “hunter-gatherer”) but they will also become important in land claims, I am sure. Click below to read the abstract and bio for this talk.

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Essay on the CBC – Stone Bowl Auction Controversy

Screenshot of iPINCH website

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!

Buy Your Piece of BC Archaeological History

Sisiutl for Sale

I was browsing to price out some used skiffs, and look what I found – a custom built archaeological research vessel — only $99,000.  (I wonder what she cost to build?) The listing is here, with a PDF backup for posterity here.

I don’t have any memories of the Sisiutl —  never stepped on board — but I know she is close to the hearts of many SFU faculty and former students.

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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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The Bill Reid Centre For Northwest Coast Art Studies

Gwayasdums house under construction 1899. Source: SFU.

The Bill Reid Centre for Northwest Coast Art Studies is part of the Department of Archaeology and First Nation Studies at Simon Fraser University, although it is physically located in downtown Vancouver. It  currently shares space with the Bill Reid Gallery on Hornby St., near SFU’s Harbour Centre Campus. They have a website that looks to be growing fast with some good content – and despite the name of the centre, it is not only about Haida Art, or even just about Art:

A major activity of the Centre is to visually document through photographs, drawings and other works, the depth and richness of Northwest Coast Art in the hundreds of communities in which monumental architecture and sculpture were recorded.

I’ll point out a few highlights and make some comments “after the jump”

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Lasqueti Island Archaeology

Projectile points and other artifacts from Lasqueti Island.

So many of the Gulf Island of the BC Coast are essentially unknown to archaeologists.  This goes for the larger ones as well as the small: I’d count Lasqueti, Hornby, Texada, Saturna, and Prevost Islands among those, while even major islands like Mayne Island and Quadra Island are often known only from one site, dug long ago.

This doesn’t mean there hasn’t been any work, or that there aren’t interesting and revealing collections of archaeological material already in existence.  So it is great to see that Dana Lepofsky of SFU has put together a small web site on the archaeology of Lasqueti Island.  She deftly combines some ethnographic and traditional practice information with a series of photographs of private collections of artifacts.  Among these are projectile points apparently assignable to the Charles Phase, which dates around 5400 to 3600 years ago.  Also note the beautiful ground stone adze or chisel in this picture: the luminous green nephrite (B.C. “jade”) would have been imported from the Central Fraser River, probably no closer than the Hope area.  This flaked and ground sandstone club is an unusual find, probably used in hunting or fishing, but perhaps also in warfare.

If you click the photographs, then a window will open; if you click the “image details” link on the pop-up window then you will be taken to more information about that photo, if available.  There are also two PDFs linked, one to the role of herring in traditional subsistence, and another on mapping a fishtrap.  These stem from Lepofsky’s ongoing work (and excellent website) in Tla’amin territory on the Sunshine Coast (previously), where she will be running an archaeological fieldschool again this summer.  While this only scratches the surface of Lasqueti Archaeology, it does point to the usefulness of looking at what citizens have picked up over the years as a guide to some of the time depth and activities of an area.

Sadly, of course, some of the artifacts picked up may have resulted from, or even caused, unnecessary disturbances to the archaeological record.  Lepofsky provides a helpful “call before you dig” article as well – specific to Lasqueti yet applicable elsewhere.  In typical Dana fashion, as a Lasquetian herself, the number to call is her own!

Lasqueti Island intertidal fishtrap. Photo: Dana Lepofsky.