A Hat Makers Bone Tool

Introduction Many of the artifacts recovered by archaeologists have no ethnographic counterpart in museum collections. Most Indigenous ethnographic artifacts are made of wood. Rarer examples of bone or antler artifacts in ethnographic collections, with documentation, become important to help identify the use of some archaeological artifacts. The Bone Tool One unique artifact, in the Indigenous collections of the Royal B.C. Museum, is a bone tool described as a hat makers’ knife. The example was collected by Kwakwaka’wakw, George Hunt, in 1899, and sold to Charles Newcombe in 1901. Its ethnic origin is identified as Nahwitti, Kwakwaka’wakw. This artifact, number RBCM1252 (old #19074), was listed in the original catalogue by Charles Newcombe as: “Bone knife (Kwetani). Of the mountain goat. Used … Continue reading “A Hat Makers Bone Tool”

A Tsunami Spear Point

Polynesia to British Columbia By Grant Keddie. Introduction In 1972, I observed the pointed distal end of a broken wooded spear in the collection of the Royal B.C. Museum. Based on its general shape and design patterns, it appeared to be of Pacific Island origin. The wood was most like the Pacific hardwoods Calophyllum inophyllum or Acasia koa. At first, I assumed the artifact must have been buried with some more recent historic debris, but after observing the accession records and talking to the finder, a different picture began to emerge. It was found buried in Tsunami deposits in the Port Renfrew area on the west coast of Vancouver Island. This makes it the first known pre-contact Polynesian artifact found … Continue reading “A Tsunami Spear Point”

The Usdis Stone

The use of this very heavy stone is unknown. It was collected from the old village of Usdis on Rivers Inlet in 1910. It has not been weighed, but I could barely lift it, and estimate it weighs about 200 lbs. There is no Indigenous source information of the use of this stone, but it would likely have been used for a ceremonial purpose. One suggested speculation is that in may have been used in a test of strength performance. The grooves on its side suggest that it was tied down, possibly on a wooden platform inside a house. It has a face like a mountain sheep and raven-like bird head designs carved on its sides. Provenance Charles Newcomb recorded … Continue reading “The Usdis Stone”

Stone Masks and Stone Wearers

I have long thought that many of the seated human stone figures found in British Columbia are wearing masks. Some figures have faces that are a mixture of human and other animal features. Several of the stone figures are wearing what appear to be a mask separated from their facial area (Figures 5-9). I would also propose that there are small stone masks (Figures 1-3), with attachment holes on their sides, that were worn on some of the small stone figures. We need to consider that seated human stone and other stone ritual figures may be only one component of a ritual object, that included other components of perishable material such as wood, feathers or woven fibres, as well as … Continue reading “Stone Masks and Stone Wearers”

Stone Human Seated Figurine Bowls

Part 3. Cowichan to Courtney Part three includes 12 bowls from locations between Cowichan and Courtney on Vancouver Island, with a few close Gulf Islands included. This is not a complete listing, as there are a number of seated human stone bowls or fragments from private collections that are not included here. Some individuals with private collections, for various reasons, do not want their names made public. I have only included previous owner names here. Many of the images I have copied over the last 50 years from various sources for different purposes. The current location of some and the names of photographers is not known. Porlier Pass Bowl This bowl (Figure 1 & 2), is now in a private … Continue reading “Stone Human Seated Figurine Bowls”

Stone Human Seated Figure Bowls.  Part 2. North Saanich Peninsula

by Grant Keddie Preface for Part 2. Part 2, includes eight seated human figure bowls from the Saanich Peninsula north of Victoria on Vancouver Island. There are a few others from private collections believed to be from this general region that are not included here. The north Saanich Peninsula region, especially the area around Tsehum Harbour on the east side, was an important cultural centre in the past. There are several large archaeological shellmidden sites in Tsehum Harbour on the north side of the town of Sidney and a large shellmidden just to the south along Bazan Bay. Tsehum Harbour is an area protected from the weather as well as a location providing access to a diversity of local environments. … Continue reading “Stone Human Seated Figure Bowls.  Part 2. North Saanich Peninsula”

Stone Human Seated Figurine Bowls

Part 1. Victoria to Sooke. One of things I find fascinating is how humans have represented themselves in ancient times. In S. W. British Columbia and N. W. Washington State, stone seated human figurine bowls have been of most interest in this regard (Duff 1956; 1975; Carlson 1983; Keddie 1983; 2003; Wright 1991; Hanna 1996). These stone figures have been used in various kinds of rituals that will allow us to potentially observe regional differences and diffusion of cultures in the past. All cultures are influenced by their neighbours and these objects are one of the puzzle pieces that will allow us to reconstruct some of those ancient patterns of connection. The finding of most of these stone figures has … Continue reading “Stone Human Seated Figurine Bowls”

The Capital Iron Site, DcRu-116. Victoria Harbour.

January 25, 2018. By Grant Keddie. The remains of an ancient village, in the form of a shell midden, are located around the intersection of Store and Chatham Street off Victoria’s upper harbour. The site, listed as DcRu-116,   was on a rocky bluff on the east side of the Harbour between the Johnson Street and Point Ellis (Bay Street) Bridges. This specific location on a rocky bluff with a good view up the Harbour would suggest the site was chosen for defensive purposes. Archaeological Excavations In 1976, buried shell midden was discovered during the removal of massive amounts of overburden for building a new facility next to the Capital Iron building at 1900 Store Street. On an emergency basis, volunteers … Continue reading “The Capital Iron Site, DcRu-116. Victoria Harbour.”

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”