The Oldest Elk on Vancouver Island

Introduction The elk or wapiti (Cervus canadensis) has long been important to Indigenous peoples as both a source of food, clothing and raw materials and were likely hunted by Indigenous peoples when they first appeared on Vancouver Island. The ancestors of today’s North American elk expanded from Siberia into the new world (Meirav et. al. 2014). They may have taken both inland and coast routes. How long they have existed on Vancouver Island is a subject of interest that has yet to be determined. Could elk have survived on the Island since the last interglacial period? The Changing Climate We do not have much detail on what food resources would be available to elk during the cold periods of the … Continue reading “The Oldest Elk on Vancouver Island”

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”

Mastodon. In the Royal B.C. Museum Collection

By Grant Keddie. 2016. Introduction Included here are notes on three mastodon (Mammut americanum) molars in the Royal B.C. Museum Collection and one private collection specimen. Three are from the South-East Corner of Vancouver Island and one from the Yukon Territory. Two of these have been found in the same locations as a larger number of mammoth remains. Although there are interglacial deposits in the areas where the mastodon remains of southeastern Vancouver were found, most of the fossil bearing layers have been deposited in front of the advancing glaciers during cold conditions between about 22,000 and 18,000 years ago. Later around 16,000 to 15,000 years ago ice sheets from the Fraser glaciation passed over the area depositing layers of … Continue reading “Mastodon. In the Royal B.C. Museum Collection”

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”

Mistaken Indigenous Wool Dogs

By Grant Keddie. June 3, 2023. Introduction It has occasionally been assumed that photographs of small white dogs with Indigenous people or on Indigenous reserves in late 19th and early 20th century are “wool dogs”. This is not likely the case as these dogs had become extinct as a physical type before this time period. The dog images referred to above do not fit specific characteristics of the wool dogs and are most likely one of several varieties of small white dogs introduced from Europe as far back as the 1850s. See Appendix 1 for the images and commentary on dogs suggested as wool dogs. In 19th century British Columbia non-Indigenous dogs were brought here by explorers, gold miners, surveyors, … Continue reading “Mistaken Indigenous Wool Dogs”

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”

Pallatsis. A Special Place in Lekwungen Tradition

By Grant Keddie. For the Indigenous Lekwungen of greater Victoria there are two special places associated with the acquiring of spirit power. One is at the Gorge waterfalls under the Tillicum bridge and one here in the downtown core of Victoria. This is the location of Songhees Point – the rocks sticking out into Victoria Harbour across from Laurel Point. Pallatsis (p’alac’as) “place of cradle” is the name given by Songhees Sophie Micheal and Ned Williams for Songhees Point In traditional culture the natural and supernatural worlds are inseparable; each is intrinsically a part of the other. Pallatsis, was a sacred place where people deposited the cradles of children who had reached the walking stage and put there to ensure … Continue reading “Pallatsis. A Special Place in Lekwungen Tradition”

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”