"Progressive Victoria" about to run over the Songhees. Was there ever a Songhees man with feathers in his hair, fringed buckskin, and a peace pipe? Source: Vincent's Victoria.
I mentioned it in a comment the other day so you may have seen it already, but there are a couple of great posts at the blog “Vincent’s Victoria“. The first post is the already-mentioned review of John Lutz’s talk “Getting the Indians Out of Town: Race and Space in Victoria’s History” – Victoria, British Columbia, that is, better known as World Headquarters to this blog. In Vincent’s post we find out about the slow process by which First Nations had their presence in the city core steadily reduced, mainly by moving the reserves, but through other means too. The post then discusses the “Signs of Lekwungen” project which I posted on before. it’s really a shame I didn’t hear about John’s talk until after he had given it – there are other talks in the series but his would have been the most interesting to regular readers here.
The second post is extremely interesting, as it uses editorial cartoons from the Victoria Daily Times newspaper to tell the story of the movement of the Songhees reserve in 1910.
Posted in archives, First Nations, history, Northwest Coast, Vancouver Island
Tagged archives, british columbia, Esquimalt, First Nations, Northwest Coast, Songhees, Victoria BC, Victoria Daily Times
Signs of Lekwungen "Walk in Two Worlds", near corner of Fort and Wharf Street in Victoria. Source: Flickr.com user ngawangchodron
The city of Victoria in collaboration with the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations has fairly recently created a series of outdoor art installations which mark culturally-significant places. As the City’s online brochure explains,
Established in 2008, the Signs of Lekwungen (pronounced Le-KWUNG-en) is an interpretive walkway along the Inner Harbour and surrounding areas that honours the art, history and culture of the Coast Salish people who have resided in the Victoria area for hundreds of years.
The Songhees and Esquimalt Nations are part of the Coast Salish family and are descendants of the Lekwungen family groups. Lekwungen is the original language of this land.
The Signs of Lekwungen consist of seven unique site markers – bronze castings of original cedar carvings, conceptualized and carved by Coast Salish artist, Butch Dick. The markers depict spindle whorls that were traditionally used by Coast Salish women to spin wool. The spindle whorl was considered the foundation of a Coast Salish family.
Posted in First Nations, history, Northwest Coast, Vancouver Island
Tagged art, Butch Dick, Esquimalt, First Nations, Lekwungen, Songhees, Spindle Whorls, Victoria BC
1936 Field Trip by the Vancouver Natural History Society to Musqueam. Source: Vancouver Public Library. VPL Accession Number: 19483
In Vancouver this Sunday, September 19 at 1.00 there is a guided walk of the Ancient Salmon Stream and Musqueam Village, starting at Jericho Beach (details here) with Victor Guerin, “a cultural/linguistic consultant and historian, a member of the Musqueam First Nation and a speaker of the Musqueam dialect of the Central Coast Salish language Halkomelem. He has been learning about his people’s culture and history his entire life, including some 16 years of consultation and documentation with family elders and 4 years formal training in the Musqueam language with linguistic analysts at UBC.”
This talk/walk is one in a series from the False Creek Watershed Society, most of which look like they hold promise for an interesting conversation between historical ecology, traditional knowledge, and landscape development. It would be good to see connections built or strengthened between restoration groups and archaeologists, who share many of the same values. You can see the other talks and walks they sponsor here – two of them are actually today, Saturday September 18th. OK, go to those as well!
The other upcoming event is the Archaeology Society of B.C. monthly public lecture in Victoria, which is on Tuesday 21 September. This month’s speaker is Grant Keddie from the Royal B.C. Museum.
Posted in Archaeology, history, Lower Mainland, Northwest Coast, Uncategorized, Vancouver Island
Tagged Archaeological Society of British Columbia, ASBC, historical ecology, Public Archaeology, Public Education, Vancouver, Victoria BC
Burial cairn on Race Rocks. Source: RaceRocks.com
While I was away over the summer the local free paper, the Victoria News, did a (to my mind) high quality series on reburial and respect in Songhees and Esquimalt communities (cache). The three articles by Lisa Weighton include comments from numerous aboriginal spiritual and political leaders, and sensitively describes how Straits Salish faith asserts that the dead are always with the living. The dead do not conveniently depart to some other place, but continue in a world alongside and intersecting the world of the living.
Hence ancestral remains are not something belonging to a past which can be “gotten over” but are very much part of the present world. Laying a person to rest, or back to rest after disturbance, requires food, clothing and prayer. I don’t pretend to understand the concept well, but I have been to some such ceremonies and the power of the moment is impossible to deny. In my limited experience the article fairly represents the spiritual and emotional needs that must be met under the sad circumstance of disturbing the dead. It is incumbent on archaeologists and all citizens to not only work to minimize disturbance of the dead but to respect traditional practices. It has been impressed on me that such practices are meant to protect us, the living, First Nations or not, as well as to give comfort and respect to the dead. This should now be considered absolutely part of mainstream archaeology.
Posted in anthropology, Archaeology, Cultural Resource Management, First Nations, Vancouver Island
Tagged Archaeology, british columbia, Cultural Resource Management, Esquimalt, First Nations, reburial, repatriation, Songhees, Victoria BC
Screenshot of "From the Islander" blog
The Hallmark Society sponsored a nice blog called “From the Islander” through the summer of 2010. This is a retrospective set of commentaries about excerpts from the weekend newspaper insert “The Islander”, which used to be published in the Victoria Daily Colonist and the Victoria Times-Colonist. There’s not any archaeology that I have seen, and surprisingly (or not) there is no coverage of First Nations, but all the same it is an interesting read if you have a shine for Vancouver Island history, and a well-done, informative blog. Apparently the Hallmark Society (or the blogger, who goes by wpbradley and was their summer student intern) has digitized a fair bit of The Islander and indexed it here – though full text is not available for the most part.
Cover of Dan Savard's new book. The RBCM caption reads: "This man has been variously identified as a chief from four different areas of BC’s interior, including possibly Tyee Jim from the central interior (tyee means “chief” in Chinook, a trade language). John Wallace Jones or Thomas McNabb Jones photograph, about 1897." Source of this photo: Amazon.ca
There is an exciting new book in the pipeline on early photography and First Nations of the historic period. The author, Dan Savard, is senior collections manager of the Royal BC Museum’s anthropology audio and visual collection. The promotional blurb reads:
On a winter’s day in 1889, Tsimshian Chief Arthur Wellington Clah visited Hannah and Richard Maynard’s photography studio in Victoria to have his portrait taken. “Rebekah ask if I going likeness house,” Chief Clah wrote in his diary, “So I go, to give myself likeness. Rebekah stand longside me.” In Images from the Likeness House, Dan Savard explores the relationship between First Peoples in British Columbia, Alaska and Washington and the photographers who made images of them from the late 1850s to the 1920s.
I won’t be here (have some bottom sampling to attend to in Haida Gwaii), but Dan is giving a free public lecture and will sign copies of his book next week at the RBCM.
Posted in anthropology, archives, First Nations, history, Northwest Interior, Northwest Coast, pics
Tagged First Nations, photography, Public Education, RBCM, Royal BC Museum, Victoria, Victoria BC
Detail of Capt. Vancouver's 1792 chart showing the "supposed strait of Juan de Fuca". Source: viHistory
vihistory is a web site designed to aid in historical research of Vancouver Island, at which it succeeds admirably. You should poke around and have fun with their census data and the other worthy, if dreary, pursuits it affords the serious scholar.
One feature which is not immediately clear on first glance, perhaps deliberately as has entertainment potential, is a large selection of very high-resolution maps and images which you can download from this page. The file sizes are large, of course, but increasingly that is less of an obstacle in the past. The maps are mostly of historic Victoria, but there are some regional maps such as telegraph and lighthouse maps of British Columbia, and a couple of maps of Nanaimo. As usual, I have surfed through the maps so you don’t have to – and some of them are remarkably fun, and informative.
Posted in anthropology, archives, First Nations, history, Miscellaneous, Northwest Interior, Northwest Coast, Vancouver Island
Tagged Captain Vancouver, cartography, dioramas, Esquimalt, ethnohistory, Fort Victoria, history, maps, Nanaimo, Songhees, Victoria, Victoria BC
Victoria 1859. Source: LOC
In 1846, the Oregon Treaty established the boundary between British and American territory west of the Rockies (and unintentionally established the benchmark date for whether archaeological sites are automatically protected under the Heritage Conservation Act, but that’s another story). Vancouver Island was to remain in British hands in its entirety, but otherwise the 49th parallel was to be the boundary on land. The ocean boundary through the Salish Sea was resolved later, after the armed standoff on San Juan Island known as the “Pig War“. An International Boundary Commission was struck, with the mandate of surveying the 49th parallel and one of its base camp headquarters in 1858 and 1859 was Esquimalt. At this time, a series of photographs of the young Fort Victoria and surrounding buildings were taken, some of the earliest photographs from British Columbia I know of – including some remarkable pictures of First Nations people.
Posted in archives, First Nations, history, Northwest Coast, Vancouver Island
Tagged Boundary Commission, british columbia, Esquimalt, Fort Victoria, history, Library of Congress, Oregon Treaty, Songhees, Victoria, Victoria BC
If you are in Victoria, this is a reminder that the RBCM open house is today and tomorrow, at which they will explain about their “zoning application”, which I hope means they will also be ready to explain what they plan on doing with the rezoned land (I commented on this previously). I see in today’s Times-Colonist they lost $491,000 last year, and are projecting no travelling shows until 2012, except the Terracotta Army. That and the British Museum exhibit each cost about 3 million dollars to mount, as an off-the-shelf travelling exhibit here for a few months. How much permanent exhibit could one buy for $3,00,000, which would pay for itself every day of the year? I know they have been forced into a particular niche by funding constraints and all – but it seems to me they are in a financial and existential crisis. Therefore I hope they are sincere about gathering meaningful public input because I suspect regular readers of this blog have a lot to say about it.
When: March 6 & 7 2010
Where: Royal BC Museum
675 Belleville Street
Newcombe Conference Hall
What to Expect: Open House hours between Noon – 3:00 pm. Zoning project team members will be on-site to answer any questions, and/or have a conversation with you about zoning the Royal BC Museum site.
Proposed changes to the RBCM: the clear white structure to the back left is the new curatorial tower & archives; to the right is a new entrance and multi-functional area. Source: Times-Colonist.
The Victoria Times-Colonist had a story Saturday that the Royal B.C. Museum is proposing a major expansion, in which theirs quare footage would more than double, from 379,000 to 895,000 square feet. The curatorial tower and the low-rise archives building on the NW side of the block would be demolished, replaced by a new multi-function complex which would also form the entrance to the museum. The collections and curatorial facilities, and the archives, would move to a new 14 story building to the south of the current museum. The RBCM C.E.O, Pauline Rafferty (an archaeologist by training) notes that ““We are now at a crossroads. We have outgrown our on-site storage facilities and significant artifacts are stored below sea level.” The article estimates the cost will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars which is easy to believe. The Times-Colonist weighs in with a strong editorial of support, citing the collapse of the Cologne archives last year with irreparable damage to the history of that City. So: no-brainer, right?
Posted in anthropology, Archaeology, archives, Cultural Resource Management, history, Northwest Interior, Northwest Coast, Teaching, Vancouver Island
Tagged anthropology, Archaeology, CRM, museums, Public Archaeology, RBCM, Royal BC Museum, Vancouver Island, Victoria BC