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”

Transfer of the Famous Kwah’s Dagger to the Nak’azdli People

Post Script, to article on Kwah’s Dagger. Transfer of the Famous Kwah’s Dagger to the Nak’azdli People. Grant Keddie. 2012. The Royal British Columbia Museum, had in its stewardship a famous dagger associated with the story of a prominent Nak’azdli First Nation, from the Fort St. James area of Northern B.C., known as Chief Kwah. I assisted the Nak’adzli Band and Parks Canada in a successful submission to the Monuments Board of Canada to have Chief Kwah recognized as a National Historic Figure. The story of the dagger is interwoven with the history of Sir James Douglas, K.C.B., the second Governor of the Colony of Vancouver Island and the first Governor of the Mainland Colony of British Columbia. The dagger … Continue reading “Transfer of the Famous Kwah’s Dagger to the Nak’azdli People”

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”

Bird Spears and Bird Arrows

Grant Keddie. 2023. Introduction The identification of bone projectile points found in archaeological sites that were used as components of bird spears and bird arrows are difficult to identify. This is due, in part, to the lack of Museum ethnographic examples with accurate documentation. Old traditional bird spears or arrows are rare in Museum collections. With the introduction of iron and the gun, the components of the spears and arrows changed and then they disappeared from use. Bird spears have several components: a shaft, a central bone point with up to five other bone points of several sizes or two bone points positioned at the same level on the distal end of the spear. Most of these are barbed but … Continue reading “Bird Spears and Bird Arrows”

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”

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 4. Thunderbird and Lightening Snake Iconography

By Grant Keddie. March 2023. Introduction The rigid distinction between culture and nature in historic western societies did not exist in Indigenous cultures. Animals were not just sources of food and raw materials but intelligent sentient beings as conscious and capable of understanding as humans and as capable in undertaking planned intentional activities. Symbolic presentations of animals or supernatural beings in both material artifacts and mythology, such as Thunderbird in his various transformations, are about relationships between what we see as the social world and natural world. In the indigenous cosmologies beings such as Thunderbird play a role as active participants in ecological relationships. Anthropologist Franz Boas felt that myth adjusts to the world and that it supports existing institutions … Continue reading “Spindle Whorls in British Columbia Part 4. Thunderbird and Lightening Snake Iconography”

Spindle Whorls of British Columbia Part 3. Large Historic Spindle Whorls in the Indigenous Collection of the Royal B.C. Museum.

By Grant Keddie. March 2023. [Part 4 in this series on Spindle Whorls in British Columbia will deal with the Thunderbird and Lightening Snake Iconography most relevant to Part 3] Introduction Large wooden spindle whorls from the historic post contact period were used primarily for twisting together two already twisted strands of fibre. The fibre consisting mostly of hair of mountain goat, domestic dogs, seal and other mammals as well as bird down and plant material such as the plume of the fireweed. Description of the Large Whorls in the Ethnology Collection There are 30 large spindles whorls in the Royal B.C. Museum Ethnology Collection. The term ethnology is used here to refer to non-archaeological artifacts in the Indigenous collections. … Continue reading “Spindle Whorls of British Columbia Part 3. Large Historic Spindle Whorls in the Indigenous Collection of the Royal B.C. Museum.”

Spindle Whorls of British Columbia: Part 2

October 11,2018. By Grant Keddie. Small Spindle Whorls in the Ethnology Collection of the Royal BC Museum Much of the attention in the literature has focused on the large spindle whorls used by speakers of languages in the Salish linguistic family on the south-eastern coast of British Columbia. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, small spindle whorls were found among peoples belonging to several of the larger linguistic families. The lack of iconography on most of these smaller spindles likely contributed to their being of less concern to researchers than the study of the larger whorls – many of which have geometric, anthropomorphic or zoomorphic design patterns. The resurgence of indigenous weaving with the use of large spindle whorls … Continue reading “Spindle Whorls of British Columbia: Part 2”