Tag Archives: Teaching

Videos of Gwaii Haanas Archaeology

Daryl braves the barrage of bras to set the Vancouver Aquarium straight on the value of dead fish over living fish. Click to play part 1.

Rockwash superstars Nicole and Daryl show off their cool wares in a couple of videos I just found online – I vaguely remember them going off to give this talk at the Vancouver Aquarium.  It’s in two parts: 1 and 2.  Nicole looks fabulous and Daryl has trimmed his beard!  Win-Win.  The projects they describe sure were a lot of fun to take part in.   There are a few other talks up including Lyle Dick and Norm Sloan on Sea Otters on the Gwaii Haanas Youtube Channel.

A sandhill crane is a tough act fo follow but Nicole hammers home the righteous message of dead fish. Click to play part 2.

NorthWord Archaeology

Layer 1: snow.  Layer 2: littermat.

Layer 1: snow. Layer 2: littermat.

I just found a pretty good article from NorthWord, a community newspaper that covers northern BC’s coast and interior.  Nice quotes and insights from Rick Budwha, Farid Rahemtulla and David Archer – but what caught my eye was the surreal photo used to illustrate the piece.  Is that a light dusting of snow on the clipboard?  Is that wind down the plumber-butt?  Is that a marginally insane unit location right in the root mat of a huge tree?  Is this winter impact assessment under Oil and Gas Commission guidelines? How did they establish the glorious sidelight?   Is there snow on the soles of their boots?  Could this be a painting?  I want to know more about this picture, dammit!

Tla’amin Archaeology

Toggling Composite Harpoon head, articulated in situ.

Toggling Composite Harpoon head, articulated in situ.

The Tla’amin (Sliammon)  First Nation on the Sunshine Coast (map) have been engaged in a wonderful community-based archaeology project with Dana Lepofsky at SFU and her team.  It’s not surprising when you think of what a great person Dana is – brilliant, yet nice, warm, generous. (Hi Dana!)

The website for this project is well worth browsing to see what meaningful partnerships with First Nations looks like.  I think it is a model for the future of BC Archaeology to work together – for then the project becomes not all about the past, but all about the present.  As they say – the past is over; it only exists in the present. Old things exist, but they exist now.   So how can we, as archaeologists, use our particular skills to help communities and the public appreciate the past as a meaningful part of the present, and hence of the future?  This impressive web site shows many great ways how.

Check out this page on Kleh Kwa Num – Scuttle Bay, for example, whih deftly points to the parallel stories of oral history, ethnohistory, and archaeology.  Or, this video of “what happens when an archaeological site is logged?”  As Elsie Paul, a Tl’amin elder says, their ancestral land was hammered for a century and what did aboriginal people get from it?  “Nothing”.  And as Dana says, it became very difficult to find intact archaeological sites around Powell River and the industrial areas, in particular.

These downloadable posters are also really well done, as is their prospectus/report (PDF) – very accessible stuff.   I do wish they didn’t use the silly flash interface for their pictures, though they do allow access to them otherwise – this project is really turning archaeology on its head!

Upside Down Archaeology in Tla'amin Territory.

Upside Down Archaeology in Tla'amin Territory.

Pickford on Excavation of “Indian Middens”

A.E. Pickford's ideal plan of an earth oven.

A.E. Pickford's ideal plan of an earth oven.

A.E. Pickford was the Assistant in Anthropology at the Royal BC Museum, when it was still known by its proper name of the Provincial Museum of Natural History and Anthropology.  Here I link to his indispensible 1947 article, “Archaeological Excavation of Indian Middens” – the examination of such middens by means of sampling.

The rationale for the publication is interesting:  “In case of private ownership, if a person is unable to restrain the impulse to dig on his own land, we urge that he shall adhere to some such principles as those which follow, then he will have the satisfaction of knowing that his work is well done and, when brought into focus with similar undertakings, will help to build up that sound formation of knowledge, without which the correct story of the early population of this country cannot be written.”

After encouraging the study of lofty topics such as racial and cultural origins, foods, housing …. etc., Pickford busts out his inner schoolmarm: “He who digs for relics alone may be likened to the child who tears a book apart in order to secure the coloured plates which it contains, being the while all unaware that in scattering the printed pages to the wind he is losing forever a valuable source of information about those same plates and the life which they represent”.

Reference: Report for the Year 1947.  Victoria: Provincial Museum of Natural History and Anthropology, Province of British Columbia, Department of Education.  [yes, education].

Aboriginal history a la mode.

Being a mere archaeologist and not a sophisticated type, I like to reduce complex topics to simplistic graphs.  I showed this one to the first class of my new course on the Archaeology of BC.     The numbers for this are based on the emerging 13,000+ (calibrated) year old archaeological finds in Haida Gwaii,  so I expect the red slice to keep on growing.

If I were a paranoid type, I’d liken it to Pac-Man just getting his teeth into a ghost.

Reverse the colours to get the relative number of BC historians vs BC archaeologists in Universities – though I am all for historical archaeology as well, not to mention history, and BC history in particular.   All really good things.  But it is striking nonetheless to consider how weighted we are institutionally towards  the green slice.  As I said to the students, hearing the BC government natter on obsessively on the radio and in newspaper ads last year about the “150th Anniversary of British Columbia” just made my blood boil every time.  Seriously, Premier, do you want a new relationship with First Nations?  How about acknowledging the red slice of pie?  How about a celebration of 130 centuries of BC history?  Call off the government lawyers and other PR flacks who seem to think the world began 150 years ago.

While we are on the topic of letting the facts speak in the tongue of numbers,  where I work, the ratio of BC archaeology faculty members to all regular faculty members = 1:800.  As the kids say, Hello?

PS: Archaeologists are quintessentially “shovel ready” so maybe some stimulus money goes well with pie.  Try it.