Panel from Petroglyph Park, Nanaimo. Source: danielleen.org
I’m about to disappear off the grid for a couple of weeks (fieldwork in Gwaii Haanas) but before I do, I want to give some publicity for the Annual BC Archaeology Forum. It’s great to have some advance notice of this and as you can see below it is co-hosted by VIU and the Snuneymuxw First Nation.
edit: they now have a website including the program.
British Columbia Archaeology Forum
Saturday, October 18th, 2014
We are pleased to announce that the 2014 British Columbia Archaeology Forum will be hosted by Vancouver Island University in the territory of the Snuneymuxw First Nation in Nanaimo, BC this coming October.
A reception will be held on the evening of Friday, October 17th, with Saturday the 18th reserved for a full day of speakers and presentations followed by an evening event, and optional Sunday excursions in the local area.
We are currently consulting with downtown hotels about the event and securing discounted rooms for forum participants; more information on this will be provided asap.
In the meantime, save the date — Saturday, October 18th, 2014 — and we’ll be in touch soon!
For more information, email: archforum2014 (at) gmail.com
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
Detail of 1858 Map of Fraser Gold Diggings. Click for full image.
From UBC, this interesting 1858 San Francisco broadsheet “The Pictorial Newsletter of California” (large JPG file). Most of the text is mundane births and deaths, but the map above from it is a lot of fun. It’s especially interesting to see the “Cowitchin” Village at New Westminster. Now, “Cowitchin” was often used as a generic term for many Coast Salish people in the early historic period. But note too, just upriver at Fort Langley, a “Ninnimuch” Village, presumably Snuneymuxw First Nation, also known historically as the “Nanaimo” people, whose core territory would be on east Central Vancouver Island. There are lots of reports of Vancouver Island nations paddling up and down past Fort Langley so its not that much of a surprise, but rather a nice testament to the extensive regional trade and, perhaps, permeable social networks in place across the greater Gulf of Georgia. It also makes me think the “Cowitchin Village” might indeed really be Cowichan. It’s notable the “Pinkslitsa River” (Harrison River) is the only lower tributary mapped, probably because it was an important route in and out of the middle Fraser, bypassing the canyon. It’s a nice map, it’s early, and I’d never seen it before, so thanks to UBC and their Early BC Newspapers page.
Detail of 1858 map showing "Cowitchin" and "Ninnimuch" Villages on Lower Fraser.
From the UBC notes: Pictorial News Letter of California: for the Steamer John L. Stephens San Francisco: Hutchings & Rosenfield; Charles F. Robbins, Printer, 1858
“Issued exactly one month after the first steamer left San Francisco headed for the Fraser (Bancroft p. 359), this appears to be the first separate publication relating to the Fraser River Gold Rush, and the first map published to illustrate the area for potential gold-seekers.”
You can also download a short PowerPoint file here, and there is an overview essay here.
Posted in anthropology, archives, First Nations, history, Lower Mainland, Northwest Coast, Vancouver Island
Tagged british columbia, Cowichan, Fraser River, Gold Rush, history, Snuneymuxw, ubc, Vancouver
Descanso Bay Rock Art, 1792. Source: U. Washington
From the University of Washington, an unexpected image of a large Gabriola Island rockshelter containing rock art, entititled:
Northwest Coast carvings on cliff near Descanso Bay, Gabriola Island, British Columbia, in engraving made 1792.
Cardero, Jose, b. 1767 or 8
Notes: Photograph of engraving of explorers and indians viewing a carved head and other petroglyphs on the side of a cliff. The caption says it is a view of a natural gallery, one hundred feet long, and ten feet wide near Descanso Bay.
Caption on image: Vista de una galeria natural, ce cien pies de largo y diez de ancho, en la inmediacion del puerto del Descanso, en el estrecho de Juan de Fuca Image from Alessandro Malaspina’s Viaje politico-cientifico alrededor del mundo, 1885, f.p. 200
I presume this is the “Malaspina Galleries” near the ferry terminal – I didn’t know there was rock art there though and maybe there isn’t, anymore. Perhaps this place, or this one? Or, perhaps the unusual pitted and pocked natural sandstone fooled the Spanish, though it sure looks like there is a large image in the middle of that engraving. Quick, Gabriolans, trot down there and check it out.
Malaspina Galleries, Gabriola Island. Photo: Kevin Oke.
Posted in Archaeology, First Nations, history, Northwest Coast, Vancouver Island
Tagged Gabriola Island, Malaspina, petroglyphs, pictographs, rock art, Salish Sea, Snuneymuxw, Spain
Gabriola Petroglyph. Source: The Gabriolan.ca
Another blog linked to me the other day: The Gabriolan. This is a lovely blog, whose mysterious author has a great eye for the quirky and beautiful things about that Island. I especially like the various pictures of unusual things found in the woods, like antlers on trees. On my quick browse through the site I noted the excellent photograph of a Gabriola Island petroglyph which I am posting above. This is not a petroglyph I am familiar with though I don’t have my books in front of me. I’ll look it up. With its double-rendered eyes and protruding ears, it may be Mouse-Woman. But anyway, anonymous Gabriolan, thanks for the link, and look after those petroglyphs.
Anthropomorphic petroglyph on Gabriola Island. Note how the patina of the rock has been disturbed by tracing.
Gabriola Island has some of the most spectacular and important petroglyphs in the world — and unfortunately, they are just as threatened by developers and development pressures, as I have noted before. Since these sites seem to not always matter as much as I think they should, it is nice to see an awestruck first person account by a person with no vested interest. Why on earth would those who purport to love and respect Gabriola Island and Snuneymuxw culture be so intent on diminishing this kind of experience?
Even so, I must comment on the destructive practice of rubbing, not so much through cloth but the scraping of the lines to remove weathering patina and lichen in order to take clearer photographs. This is a very unfortunate practice which hastens the disintegration of the rock art.