ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA
Nanaimo Branch Spring 2003
Since the last edition of the Digger there have been many developments worth noting. More deliberate destruction of archaeological sites has occurred this past fall and winter and many issues have arisen regarding ethics and responsibility in presenting and preserving British Columbia Heritage. T.W. Paterson, a history columnist for the Harbour City Star reminded us of how much education of the public (and people in the public eye) is required in order to help preserve our past. ASBC-NB has confronted T.W. Paterson with a letter to the Harbour City Star editor and to T.W. Paterson, testing his historical and unethical recommendations.
Members Colleen Parsley and Julie Cowie have been hard at work on the advocacy front, by contacting the Provincial Archaeology Branch regarding an advertisement (for artifacts) in the local paper, and the destruction of an archaeological site on Pender Island.
Colleen Parsley has been working to put together an Educational Taskforce on Archaeology. The intention is to protect sites through educating citizens who have had minimal exposure to archaeology and to try to stop the spread of misinformation and commonly held myths such as "Archaeologists get to keep the things they dig up" and "What's the biggest dinosaur bone you've ever dug up?". The Educational Taskforce is investigating the possibility of conducting an archaeology program that would involve the public in excavating an archaeological site in the Nanaimo area. The main purpose of the project is to teach respect for other cultures and our collective heritage and also to foster a spirit in the public that will not tolerate those who pot hunt, loot and negatively impact archaeological sites. This project has the potential to provide positive benefits on many levels in our community. If any members are interested in joining the taskforce please contact Colleen Parsley at email@example.com or call (250) 753-0417.
Although there is no proposed date for the Special meeting with ASBC-Vancouver that we requested, the Nanaimo branch is moving forward. Our membership is growing (near 50) and once again our lecture series is proving to be very popular, with close to full attendance each Month.
Before I sign off, I must let everyone know that an extraordinary member of our executive committee has stepped down. Barrie McDonald has stated that he no longer will hold a Director’s position. This is very unfortunate for our Society, as Barrie has been a wonderful inclusion at our meetings and has always brought a level head and logical opinions to our decisions. He has been a great help to me in the early stages of my term as President, always being supportive, yet critical enough to keep me on track. We will all miss his presence at the meetings. Barrie, you are always welcome back!
- Stephen Thomas Colborne
GENERAL MEETING Saturday, June 7, 2003 TIME AND PLACE TO BE
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
Saturday, June 7, 2003
TIME AND PLACE TO BE ANNOUNCED
Bones, Totems and Middens
2002/03 ASBC-Nanaimo Branch Lecture Series
All lectures are held at Malaspina University-College in the Education/Social Sciences Building (356) in Room 111 from 7-9 PM. Lectures are open to everyone. Membership for the year (includes the full lecture series and the quarterly publication The Midden) is as follows: $24 Family, $19 Individual, and $14 Student/Senior. Non-members will be asked to pay $5.00 per lecture at the door. Refreshments are available.
March 14, 2003
SPEAKER: Brian C. Vivian
TITLE: Title: Before the Golden Stool: The Archaeology of the Asante Kingdom, Ghana
In 1700 AD the Asante peoples emerged victorious from a battle with the ruling Kingdom of Denkyira and went on to establish the Asante Kingdom. As local chieftains coalesced around the symbol of the Golden Stool the Asante went on to establish the richest and most powerful kingdom in the region of Ghana, West Africa. In 1816 a British Trade Envoy returned from the capital city of Kumasi and provided the first written account of visually rich and splendorous sights to be found there. As the British vied for control of the then Gold Coast Colony over the next 100 years, accounts of the powerful Asante Kingdom became common place, and today the Asante remain one of the most publicized kingdoms in all of Africa. Yet the irony remains that little is known of who these people were and what life was like in Asante prior to 1816. The Asante Archaeological Project was initiated in 1985 by Professor Peter Shinnie through the University of Calgary. The lecture discussed the success of the Asante Archaeological Project in elucidating a greater understanding of Asante culture through time and tracing back the development of this culture over the last thousand years.
Brian Vivian was born in Nanaimo and grew up in Cedar. Since finishing a Bachelor of Arts degree at Simon Fraser University in 1981 he has worked as a professional archaeologist on a variety of research and consulting positions in British Columbia, Alberta, California, New Mexico, the Canadian High Arctic and in Ghana, West Africa.
April 11, 2003
SPEAKER: Brenda Clark
TITLE: Title: Bones of
Contention: Archaeology as a Forensic Science
Skulls that are found in storage lockers and department store washrooms, clandestine graves and documentation of crimes against humanity. All of these situations are included in the realm of forensic archaeology. This talk will focus on the application of archaeology (and anthropology) to medicolegal investigations of death on the local and international scene.
Brenda Clark is a bio-archaeologist with a particular interest in the recovery and analysis of human skeletal remains. She began her professional archaeological career as an Arctic archaeologist and museum curator but since coming to BC, has assisted the coroner and various law enforcement agencies in assessing the forensic significance of accidentally found human remains.
The Canadian Archaeological Association has asked whether Malaspina's Department of Anthropology wishes tohost the 2005 annual meeting (May). Many helping hands will be needed (registration, tech support, general organization, etc.). The membership of ASBCNB is being asked whether they are interested in assisting should Malaspina be selected as CAA hosts. Imogene Lim (University-College Professor, MUC) is the contact for this.
The Archaeology Branch Library has been boxed up (meaning that these sources are no longer available to us). Perhaps this might be a matter to once more write a letter expressing dismay and concern to your provincial government.
It appears as though we lost the BC Heritage Trust. Details are available at the URL provided below and in press releases on line with the Ministry of Community, Aboriginal and Women's Services.
In May the ASBC Nanaimo Branch will again present the "Discover Archaeology" Interactive Bone Display in conjunction with the Nanaimo District Museum. This features a hands-on display of various animal skeletal materials, as well as a chance for people to make bone and stone tools. More information will be coming soon. There will be a chance to participate in this project, so stay tuned! For details of the display last May, please visit our website at http://www.nisa.com/~asbcnb/ndm.html
A REVIEW OF ARTICLES PUBLISHED IN LOCAL NEWSPAPERS
The following article occurred in the Cowichan Valley Citizen newspaper on Saturday February 15, 2003:
Local First Nations chiefs have filed a complaint with the RCMP against a South Pender Island resort they say destroyed an ancient archaeological settlement and cemetery. The recorded archaeological site, estimated to be between 4,000 and 5,000 years old, was removed and dumped behind a new development at Poets Cove at Bedwell Harbour resort, the chiefs said Wednesday. Representatives of the Cowichan, Lyackson, Tseycum, and Tsartlip nations, along with the staff from the Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group (HTG), traveled to the site Monday to assess the damage.
They say much of the shell midden, which is protected by the Heritage Conservation Act, appears to have been used as a roadbed. The remaining archaeological materials have been piled up in a parking lot and along the back of the development, they said.
HTG spokesperson Shana Robinson said the organization that represents six Cowichan Valley First Nations is concerned because south Pender is included in the HTG’s Statement of Intent in treaty negotiations. Robert Morales, chief negotiator for the HTG, said the settlement and cemetery was a recorded archaeological site. Under the Heritage Conservation Act, private landowners are responsible to ensure such sites aren’t altered, he said. “There needs to be an understanding that the destruction of this site is not only a loss for First Nations’ culture but it is a loss for our world heritage.” RCMP shut down the development until Friday. The province has been asked to investigate a possible breach of the Heritage Conservation Act. Developer Bill James of Victoria said he consulted archaeologists and First Nations before building. The shutdown is costing them between $75,000 and $100,000 a day and he’s considering legal action. He said one prehistoric, female hipbone is all that’s been found.
(Condensed version of the article entitled “Native cemetery may bury Wal-Mart plans” by Scott Brown in the Cowichan Valley Citizen March 16, 2003)
Wal-Mart’s plans to expand to the area in Duncan known as “the Mound” might be halted by the possibility of a First Nations’ cemetery adjacent to the property. The S’amuna’ Hw’nuchalewum treaty group, who has currently split from the Cowichan Tribes, claims that there is a graveyard several meters to the southwest of the Mound. There are no records of a graveyard being present but Ken Williams, an elder in the breakaway group, says his mother had passed down the information to him. The late Duncan pioneer Les Talbot also told him that wooden grave markers that were in that location were burned down during a brush fire.
Wal-Mart executives have been contacted by the S’amuna’ Hw’nuchalewum, in hopes that the group may be included in any expansion negotiations. The claim is that the proposed building looks like it may actually be on top of the cemetery area, although Cowichan Tribes contests this fact. The group does not want to stop Wal-Mart building on the site and proposes slight changes to the building plan to accommodate the cemetery, if it exists. Wal-Mart has stated they will not desecrate gravesites and will work with all the parties involved to ensure concerns are met.
The S’amuna’ Hw’nuchalewum have said that they would pay for any archaeological study of the “sacred area”. The Mound itself has been thoroughly investigated by archaeologists, including using ground-penetrating radar. Nothing was found.
Following is a short description of the proposal by Colleen Parsley:
EDUCATIONAL TASKFORCE ON ARCHAEOLOGY
This proposal includes supervised participation of the public on an actual archaeological dig, site tours would also be featured, involving interpretation of the site in context within the larger cultural and archaeological picture. The proposed project area is in Snuneymuxw First Nations territory. The main thrust of the project is to stress the sensitivity of the cultural record through time and how archaeology is the scientific means for understanding the material record. Hopefully people will realize that they destroy the context when they disturb sites and that the ‘trinket’ they are taking is a priceless object that is part of a larger picture that no one has a right to own.
To those who are in arrears, please remember to pay your membership dues! Only members in good standing receive the Midden.