Archaeological Findings Presentation Brings Out A Crowd Thursday, February 28
More than 85 community members, staff, and members of Chief and Council, attended the Lands and Resources’ presentation “Archaeological Investigations at the Bailey Bridge Site” on Thursday, February 28 at Úll̓us Community Complex. Kúkwpi7 Skalúlmecw Chief Dean Nelson, Cultural Technician Johnny Jones, and Douglas College-based anthropologist Bill Angelbeck were on hand to comment on the findings from summer 2018’s archaeological digs, the fourth in a series of digs on Líl̓wat Territory that began in 2015. The February 28 presentation featured the findings of the 2018 dig but also revisited findings of the 2000 and 2007 investigations in the area.
Additionally, the political chief addressed the repatriation of an important Lil̓wat7úl artefact, a Twinfish Bowl that has been returned to Líl̓wat Nation from the Vancouver Museum.
Johnny Jones and Bill Angelbeck spoke to the process of the dig, the area that explored and the findings. The dig took place at the Bailey Bridge site on the Birkenhead River near Yecwláo7 (Lokla), Qwal’ímak (Birkenhead River) and Sptacw (Spetch). The site, which is approximately 7 km from Mount Currie, revealed a village consisting of 13 pit houses, two that are almost 14 metres across. Radio carbon dating, from carbon found in the remains of cooking fires, has revealed the Bailey Bridge site to be approximately 2,600 years old. Among the finding include arrowheads, stone beads, and rock tools.
The Bailey Bridge site continues to be of cultural significance as witnessed by the numerous cedars onsite that have been stripped for weaving. An essential part of the work is connecting Lil̓wat7úl stories and Nt̓ákmen to the findings.
Illustrating this connection, Jonny Jones told a story of the Saínux Clan, a group of half fish/half humans that resided at Sai̓nuk Village, up the Pemberton Valley near Spierings Auto. He told one story that related to the Twinfish Bowl.
“A young man was told that he had to get a twinhead fish if he was going to find love. The boy, who had trained for four years, made a cherry bark rope so he wouldn’t fall into the river. He got the fish. The people told him not to drop the fish into the s7ístken as it would flood the s7ístken. He did this anyway and they all perished.”
All three speakers expressed wonder at the dig, not only for what it revealed but also for what might be revealed as the investigation continues. For example, a collection of artefacts, including a votive candleholder and paper, and a pottery bowl marked “DEER WOMAN” on the bottom, assumed to be less than 50 years old, were also found at the site. Whether these items were ceremonial remains unknown. Angelbeck encouraged anyone with knowledge of the lands usage to come forward and tell their stories.
Angelbeck pointed out the Centennial museum has approximately 50 to 60 Lil̓wat7úl statuettes that have been dated between 1,500 and 2,500 years old, reflecting the ages of objects found at the Bailey Bridget site.
After addressing the importance of the Bailey Bridge dig findings, Kúkwpi7 Skalúlmecw turned his attention to the repatriation of a Twinfish Bowl that was housed at the Vancouver Museum.
“This is the beginning of reclaiming our identity and culture,” Kúkwpi7 Skalúlmecw said. “It’s very touching to get this back.”
The return of the item was the result of a letter the chief sent out to a variety of museums in 2018. When he went to retrieve the Twinfish Bowl he was struck by the number of Lil̓wat7úl artefacts the museum had.
“When I saw it [the Twinfish Bowl] on a table with a bunch of other artefacts of ours, I said, ‘Can we take them home?’ They said, “Yes, they’re yours, but we have to verify them.”
Nelson also spoke to local repatriation and how many people residing in the valley may have artefacts in their homes as well as pieces that are in local museums. “These are things that have to come home, come together and be celebrated.”
The use of the Twinfish Bowl is as yet unknown. However, what is certain is that some material was burned in the bowl; the resulting charcoal has been sent out for carbon dating.
The evening, which featured a delicious and diverse potluck dinner, opened with a prayer from Elder Ronnie Lester, who also commented at the end of the evening. Of the reclaimed artefacts he said, “Feel their power, their aura, they are trying to tell you there are more but there is more work to find them. If we really see they will show themselves to us.”
The evening concluded with enthusiastic and uplifting drumming and singing from members of the community and Líl̓wat Nation’s council.
Previous archaeological digs have taken place at Edes Lake, Sampson Creek and Driftwood Bay. Future investigations are planned to take place at Salal Creek, Meager Creek and Signal Hill.
Kukwstumulhckalap to all those who attended the event and the food they shared. It was a special evening and we look forward to more in the future.
Read the entire “Archaeological Investigations at the Bailey Bridge Site” by scrolling through the embedded PDF below. (Due to the size of the file loading may take a moment or two.)