2008 Malaspina and Sunshine Coast

Tla'amin-SFU Field School in Archaeology & Heritage Stewardship 2008 Season Report & 2009 Prospectus

In June and July 2009, Simon Fraser University and Tla'Amin First Nation will embark on the first year of a collaborative heritage program focused on both the Tla'Amin Reserve on the Sunshine Coast and the Malaspina Complex, in the heart of Tla'Amin First Nation Territory (http://www.sliammontreaty.com/). While the Tla'Amin have extensive oral knowledge about their history, this area is largely unknown from an archaeological perspective. The project creates an exceptional opportunity for bringing together oral traditions with information from archaeological and archival investigations.

The project will be conducted in the context of SFU's summer field school as well as elder and youth programs being conducted by the Tla'Amin. On the SFU side, the project will be directed by Dana Lepofsky and John R. Welch. Together, John and Dana have over 30 years of archaeological and other heritage experience working with and for First Nations communities, including 20 years spent directing field schools.

As community consultations concerning every aspect of the project will continue to unfold, the effort is being guided by commitments to people, place, learning, and capacity building. Our over-arching goals are:

  1. To form a meaningful partnership between Tla'Amin First Nation and the Department of Archaeology, Simon Fraser University, and other partners.
  2. To explore and enhance knowledge about Tla'Amin lands and heritage through archaeological site identification, documentation, and investigation.
  3. To train Tla'Amin youth and SFU students in archaeology and heritage stewardship.
  4. To increase awareness of and knowledge about Tla'Amin history both within the Tla'Amin community and in regional, academic, and resource management communities.
  5. To encourage the exchange of heritage knowledge and experiences between Tla'Amin elders and Tla'Amin youth.
  6. To advance to Tla'Amin goals of self-governance and self-determination.

We have planned an ambitious field season which will evolve around two main components:

  1. Excavation of an archaeological site on the Tla'Amin Reserve just north of Powell River. We are interested in tracing the full range of land uses in an area easily accessible to Tla'Amin members and guests. To do this, we will start by excavating one site that is meaningful to the community. In conjunction with this excavation, we will consult with elders and written records about how the site and surrounding area was used. This combination of information will provide a rich and detailed history of one portion of the Tla'Amin traditional territory. Throughout this summer, we will be offering tours of the excavation to local schools groups and to visitors from Tla'Amin, Powell River, and Lund.
  2. A mapping program of archaeological sites in the Malaspina Complex (including Lancelot Inlet, Malaspina Inlet, Okeover Inlet, Theodosia Inlet and outlying islands in the vicinity of Grace Harbour). This area is extraordinarily rich in number and kind of archaeological sites, including fish traps, major and minor residential settlements, pictographs, clam gardens, and refuge sites. Not surprisingly, this area is of great heritage importance to the Tla'Amin and many of the Tla'Amin elders have a strong connection to the main settlement at Grace Harbour. Over 50 sites have been recorded here, but little is known about their specific attributes and all require improved documentation. Further, since there has been no systematic archaeological survey of this region, many sites are undoubtedly unrecorded. We will make maps of sites and dig "cores" into select sites to get charcoal to get an estimate of site age.

Admission to the field school is by application to the Department of Archaeology. Students must meet the following prerequisites (or equivalents): Arch 131, 201, and one Group I course (Arch 372, 373, 376, 471). Admission is based upon a ranking of the applicants using four criteria: 1) cumulative grade point average; 2) total credits; 3) number of courses in archaeology; 4) references. Please note that we will be camping in a remote area and sometimes surveying through thickly forested or steep terrain. If you have any concerns about your abilities to participate in the field work, or any other questions about the course, please contact Dana (dlepofsk@sfu.ca) or John (welch@sfu.ca). Application deadline is 7 March 2008. The admit list will be posted by student number on MPX 9611 by 14 March 2008.