2016 K'omoks/SFU Field School

The Department’s 2016 archaeological field school

was conducted in partnership with the K’omoks

First Nation in Courtenay, British Columbia.

Twenty-one SFU undergraduate students

participated in the field school which was directed

by Dr Robert Muir, Chris Springer (SFU PhD

Candidate) and Dr Jesse Morin (K’omoks Nation

Archaeologist). Prior to heading into the field,

students spent five weeks on campus completing

readings, assignments, exercises and attending

lectures in preparation for the research project. The

field component focused on excavation of a large

ancient village site situated at the mouth of the

Puntledge River. This site that we had the privilege

of investigating is known as Pentlatch, and is an

extremely important location to the K’omoks

Nation. The modern K’omoks First Nations is a

hybrid cultural group comprised of people with

Coast Salish (Pentlatch and K’ómoks) and

Kwakwaka’wakw (Lekwiltok) ancestry. The

Pentlatch were a Northern Coast Salish group

whose territory included the Comox Valley and

Baynes Sound, and the site of Pentlatch was one of

their principal villages.

For six weeks the students lived and worked at

Pentlatch, mapping the site, shovel testing to

determine the site boundaries and conducting

controlled excavations of selected portions of the

site. The students also participated in a tour of

several archaeological sites in the

Courtenay/Comox area guided by local

archaeologists and K’omoks community members.

Students then returned to SFU for two weeks of

laboratory work, sorting, cataloguing and

processing artiacts and other samples collected

during the field season.

The K’omoks Nation were generous hosts

throughout the field project, providing

accommodations (campgrounds) and other

assistance. The highlight of the project for many

students (and the directors) was a final feast

arranged for us by K’omoks Nation.

Robert Muir