2010 Malaspina Complex and Sunshine Coast

Tla'amin-SFU Field School in Archaeology & Heritage Stewardship 2009 Season Report (pdf)

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

Preliminary Analysis of the Kleh Kwa Num Animal Bones (pdf)

Application form (pdf)

In June and July 2010, Simon Fraser University and Tla'Amin First Nation will embark on the third 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 underground fighting house at Cochrane Bay in Malaspina Inlet north of Powell River. Initial testing and mapping of the site in 2009 revealed that the site is roughly 2000 years old, but the fighting house was not built until 900 years ago. The testing also found that granite cobbles and slabs were used as structural elements within the largest of the houses. The focus of this summer’s excavation will be on the largest fighting house at Cochrane. The main goals will be: the mapping and documentation of features associated with structure design; mapping and collection of artifacts; the collection of flotation samples for the recovery of botanical remains, bone fragments and microlithics; and the collection of additional radiocarbon samples. The Cochrane site will also be used for 3 – 7 weeks as the field school base camp.


  2. A mapping and testing program of archaeological sites in Desolation Sound. Over the past two field seasons (2008 and 2009), the Tla’amin-SFU Heritage and Archaeology Program has successfully located a large number of pre-recorded and unrecorded sites in Desolation Sound. The site types include major and minor residential settlements, refuges/fighting houses, intertidal resource harvesting features (i.e., fish traps and clam gardens), and pictographs. This component will focus on the residential settlements and the intertidal resource harvesting features. Fieldwork will involve survey, mapping, coring, and testing a sample of large (~10-12,000 m2), medium (~5000 m2) and small (<1000 m2) residential sites and the associated intertidal harvesting features within the study area. Work will also include the collection of radiocarbon samples and artifactual data to determine site correlations, ages and functions from earliest to most recent periods of use.

In addition to the above, our project always includes a significant amount of community outreach and education. In the past, this involved talking in elementary school classes, touring people of all ages around sites, hosting “Community Days” where people are invited to work with us in the field, and talking to the media.

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). Application deadline is 15 March 2010. The admit list will be posted by student number at the Archaeology General Office by 22 March 2010.