The Department of Anthropology at the University of Northern British Columbia recently finished excavating the remains of an ancient fishing village on the Babine River 100 km northeast of Smithers. The project was part of a continuing partnership between the Department, the University, and the Lake Babine Nation (LBN).
“We recovered a tremendous amount of interesting data, including over 400 artifacts made from stone, bone, bark and metal,” says UNBC Anthropology Professor Farid Rahemtulla who directed the project. “The nature of these materials indicates potentially a large time span of use for the house, from ancient times to European contact and into more recent times.”
A crew including several UNBC student volunteers spent six weeks in July, August, and September excavating the remains of one of the many long houses at the ancient fishing village.
“Contributing to such a project at an undergraduate level was extremely valuable in developing skills and experiencing the time, work, and emotions that are put into a project,” says UNBC Anthropology student Delaney Prysnuk. “Understanding and applying the concepts and politics that we are taught in class in a real life situation is very important.”
In 2010, the village was the focus of UNBC’s Archaeology Field School, which revealed that the settlement was at least 1,300 years old. As a result of those findings, the LBN invited the Department to conduct a more research-intensive excavation, funded by the LBN Treaty Office.
Lake Babine Nation expressed its appreciation for the efforts of Dr. Rahemtulla and said it is pleased to see the protocol agreement between Lake Babine and UNBC resulting in such mutually beneficial projects. “These findings confirm the histories that our elders have passed on to us,” says Chief Wilfred Adam of Lake Babine Nation. “It is gratifying to see multi-year projects such as this one moving ahead. We look forward to working with UNBC on many more projects in the future.”
Dr. Rahemtulla says the next step will be to conduct a number of analyses, and some of the UNBC graduate students on the crew will use the information for their thesis research. When the results become available, the group plans to publish the work and give public presentations about the project.