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”

Francis Drake on the Northwest Coast of America. Introductory Notes. Part 1.

June 20, 2017. By Grant Keddie. Introduction Figure 1. Examples of the hundreds of books written about Sir Francis Drake. The Purpose of this article is to provide a background for those individuals who wish to understand more about the controversy regarding the voyage of Francis Drake to the Northwest Coast of North America. Where Drake landed on the Northwest Coast has been a subject of debate for over 170 years when it played a major role in the boundary settlement between Canada and the United States. Proper study of this topic would require the combined research of many experts in Spanish and English literary history, maritime history, First Nations cultures and language and the history of geography and map … Continue reading “Francis Drake on the Northwest Coast of America. Introductory Notes. Part 1.”

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”

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”

Old World New World

1999. By Grant Keddie When Europeans from the Old World came to the New World of the Americas in the 16th century, they observed thousands of native societies speaking a variety of languages. These cultures ranged from small, loosely organized bands of hunter-gatherers living in small settlements, to highly organized agricultural societies with large cities. Europeans tried to explain how these native cultures came to be in the New World. Scholars looked for clues in the main sources of informa­tion available – the Bible and the Greek and Roman classics. In 1535, a Spanish writer, Oviedo, added religious dogma to Plato’s story of the lost civilization of Atlantis. He asserted that Atlantis was a land mass extending from Spain to … Continue reading “Old World New World”

The use and distribution of labrets on the North Pacific Rim

Originally published in Syesis, 14, 59-80. 1981. By Grant Keddie This paper deals with the definition, categorization, and distribution of labrets. or lip plugs, and gives a regional synthesis of their history as known from both archaeological and ethnological studies on the Pacific Rim. from the Gulf of Georgia region in Canada to northern Japan. Key Index Worms: archaeology, categorization, distribution, labrets. North Pacific Rim Many problems are encountered when interpret­ing ethnographic, archaeological, and other written sources on labretifery. At present there is no consis­tent classification system used in describing labrets. A system of mutually exclusive terms is a necessity for entry into a computerized data base Part of the problem in the development of a classification sys­tem has been … Continue reading “The use and distribution of labrets on the North Pacific Rim”

Symbolism and Context: The World History of the Labret and Cultural Diffusion on the Pacific Rim

Paper originally presented at the Circum-Pacific Prehistory Conference Session VIII Prehistoric Trans-Pacific Contacts, Seattle Washington, U.S.A., August 1-6, 1989. By Grant Keddie Introduction The question of whether or not Asiatic cultures have influenced cultures of the New World is linked with the problem of how we tell whether cultural charge is internal or external. As Hodder points out “all change incorporates continuity and the archaeologist can emphasize one or the other at will”. The problem he suggests has been “the failure to identify continuity and change as social-symbolic processes”. There is, he argues, a “need for archaeologists to examine the origin and divergence of long-term cultural traditions” (1987a:8). I will present an overview of my ongoing studies on the long-term … Continue reading “Symbolism and Context: The World History of the Labret and Cultural Diffusion on the Pacific Rim”

Haida Gwaii to Hawaii

October 13, 2020 By Grant Keddie A Possible Case of a Haida Oral History that refers to an Ancient Voyage from the Northwest Coast to Hawaii. John Swanton, as part of The Jessup North Pacific Expedition, recorded a Haida story in the period between the winter and spring of 1900-01 from an old man, known only as Walter, who belonged to the Rear-Town-People of Yan. He considered the stories of Walter to be the most trustworthy. The narrative written in the Masset dialect of the Haida language and in English is entitled: Those Who Were Blown to Sea from Nasto. It tells the story of a man named Eagle, of the West Coast-Gi’tans – a principle Eagle family in this … Continue reading “Haida Gwaii to Hawaii”

Bird Leg Rings

Bird Leg Rings on the Northwest Coast? By Grant Keddie There are a variety of small artifacts found on the Northwest Coast that are often assumed to be forms of body adornment. Some of these likely had other functions. Three examples described here, might normally be assumed to be pendants. I think we should consider the possibility that these may have been used as bird leg rings for holding live decoy birds or pets. A common type of artifact in Polynesia is the kaka poria or bird leg ring made of stone or whale, bird and human bone. They were used to hold tame kaka birds (Nestor meridionalis) as a decoy for capturing wild birds in the forest (Phillips 1955:145). … Continue reading “Bird Leg Rings”