Indigenous Combs of British Columbia

By Grant Keddie. Preface Combs are artifacts used by many cultures around the world over thousands of years. They are used primarily for disentangling and arranging the hair, but also as decorative items for holding the hair and head pieces, they have evolved into symbols of status or authority and cultural identity. To make a point, I show an extreme physical example of an Ashanti comb from Ghana in figure 1. Large Ashanti prestige combs were given by men to women as an act of devotion and commitment. In the 1970s, African combs took on a role in African American culture and politics where they became a sign of solidarity to the Black Power movement as a cultural statement. Combs … Continue reading “Indigenous Combs of British Columbia”

Lekwungen Resources. Part 2. Birds

By Grant Keddie Introduction The Lekwungen needed to be keen observers of the natural world of which they are part. Knowledge of bird behaviour was important not only to secure them as a source of food, but also to inform them about where the fish resources were. Birds were an import feature of ceremonial and religious life which included everything from their display on clothing and masks, to the mimicking of bird behavior in dances, and their role as mythic ancestors. Bird names were given to months as both indicators of time or as important food sources in that month. Birds were imbedded in Lekwungen culture. There are around 390 species of birds sighted in the Greater Victoria Region, many … Continue reading “Lekwungen Resources. Part 2. Birds”

A Lekwungen Herring Fishing site in Esquimalt Harbour: A Unique photograph in the Collection of the Royal B.C. Museum

By Grant Keddie. Nov 2016. 19th century photographic images in the Victoria region that show Lekwungen (Esquimalt and Songhees First Nations) undertaking traditional food gathering practices are rare. The only example of fishing is a photograph, taken in 1868, by Frederick Dally in Esquimalt harbour at the south entrance to Lang Cove (RBCM PN905). Lang Cove is located south of Skinner’s Cove, both of which are within the larger Constance Cove. This is the location of an ancient shellmidden as demonstrated by the scattered white clam shells seen in the image and later observed by the author at this location. This image (fig. 1 and close-up fig.2) of a man and woman at a herring fishing site is listed in … Continue reading “A Lekwungen Herring Fishing site in Esquimalt Harbour: A Unique photograph in the Collection of the Royal B.C. Museum”

A Cordova Bay Inland Indigenous Resource Site

In Greater Victoria, inland Indigenous resource sites have been recorded in the past as a result of people finding artifacts while digging in their yards or construction projects turning them up accidently. They general do not have the easier to distinguish features of fire altered rocks and shell layers that are common in ocean shoreline sites. Archaeological testing was generally not done in the past where there was no previous record of a site being at a specific location. Many individual artifacts have been found along creeks and around swamps in greater Victoria. This archaeological site, DdRu-82, is an uncommon exception in having a large number of artifacts found in a relatively small area. This Indigenous resource location was on … Continue reading “A Cordova Bay Inland Indigenous Resource Site”

Indigenous Use of Sling Stones in Warfare

By Grant Keddie Introduction Sling stones were used in warfare and for killing small mammals and birds throughout many parts of the world. Their use in warfare on the Northwest coast has been underemphasized. Figure 1, shows some of the many sling stones I collected at the base of an Indigenous defensive site, DcRu-123, at Lime Point in Victoria Harbour (Keddie 2023). Sling stones are often difficult to identify in Archaeological sites because they are not intentionally shaped by people and therefore not easy to identified as sling stones. The context in which they are found is important to provide clues that they were used as sling stones. In the case of Lime Point, they were highly concentrated just above … Continue reading “Indigenous Use of Sling Stones in Warfare”

The Lime Bay Indigenous Defensive Site

By Grant Keddie. May 26, 2023. This Archaeological site, DcRu-123, is located in the outer portions of Victoria’s Inner Harbour in the traditional territory of the Lək̓ʷəŋən people. It is located on Lime Point – a peninsula that once existed between Lime Bay and Mud Bay to the East of Catherine Street. Part of Lime Bay still exists, but Mud Bay is completely filled in and covered with condominiums. The site was, at least intermittently, occupied from twelve to five hundred years ago (Keddie 1983). This whole area of eastern Victoria West to the east of Alston Street was an historic Indigenous village and then Reserve of the Songhees from 1844 until they moved to a larger reserve off Esquimalt … Continue reading “The Lime Bay Indigenous Defensive Site”

The Human And Natural Modification Of Bone Assemblages From Mountain Caves And Rock Shelters On Vancouver Island

By Grant Keddie. 1995. Primarily Vancouver Island Marmot with Bear and Deer. Preface This document is intended as a working technical manuscript from which information will be extracted for other reports and publications related to the Vancouver Island Marmot Cave Project undertaken jointly by Mammologist Dave Nagorsen and myself. The bone element database, metric summaries, analysis and biogeographical data on modern marmots is not included here. Introduction This study represents the physical examination of thousands of discarded bone remains found on the surface in caves or rock shelters at four high elevation mountain hunting locations: the Mariner Cave (elevation 1220M), on Mariner Mountain and the Golden Hinde Rock Shelter (1420m) on Golden Hinde Mountain, both in Strathcona Provincial Park; Clayoquot … Continue reading “The Human And Natural Modification Of Bone Assemblages From Mountain Caves And Rock Shelters On Vancouver Island”

Mat Creasers and Cattails

By Grant Keddie.   April 10, 2023. Introduction Cattail (Typha latifolia) mats were one of the most prolific artifacts found in traditional cultures in coastal areas of southern British Columbia and northwestern Washington State. They were used to construct the walls and roofs of temporary shelters at fishing camps, for insulating walls in winter houses, as covers to protect canoes and their contents, for light baskets, for bedding, sitting on and as mats for storing food and preparing food on. What are called mat creasers were important tools used in the production of a number of these cultural items. A mat creaser was an important tool that, used in conjunction with a needle, crimped the split cattail reeds in order to … Continue reading “Mat Creasers and Cattails”

Spindle Whorls in British Columbia. Part 1.

December 6, 2016. By Grant Keddie. Introduction and Spindle Whorls in the Archaeology Collection of the Royal BC Museum Introduction In order to provide a broader understanding of the earlier history and origins of both historic and pre-contact spindle whorls used in British Columbia, I will provide a description with images of all the spindle whorls in the Archaeology and Ethnology collection of the Royal B.C. Museum. This will be presented in three Parts: (1) Introduction and Spindle Whorls in the Archaeology Collection of the Royal BC Museum. (2) Small Spindle Whorls in the Ethnology Collection of the Royal BC Museum. (3) Large Spindle whorls from speakers of the Salish language family in the Ethnology Collection of the Royal BC … Continue reading “Spindle Whorls in British Columbia. Part 1.”

Haida Argillite Carvers in Victoria

July 22, 2019. By Grant Keddie. Introduction The Haida were among the many Indigenous northern visitors to Victoria after 1853. Many came to work to get trade goods or wages to purchase European commodities. The Haida visitors brought carvings they made on Haida Gwaii. Many of these were made of argillite, a stone unique to Haida Gwaii (see appendix 1, What is Argillite). Argillite was used primarily after 1810, there are only a few examples of argillite being used for labrets in ancient times (Keddie 1981). Argillite plates, platters, mugs, goblets, knives and forks became popular as the Haida copied the European-style tableware used by the settlers. The citizens of Fort Victoria enthusiastically purchased these. On July 21, 1859 the … Continue reading “Haida Argillite Carvers in Victoria”