Glaciers brought mountain to man, study on B.C. First Nations tools finds

VANCOUVER -- First Nations in British Columbia were once believed to have travelled long distances to find prized volcanic rock for tools, but a new study of an ancient village suggests the mountain actually came to them.

See Full Article

Archeologist Colin Grier has been studying the Gulf Island village site at Dionisio Point on Galiano Island for almost two decades, but it wasn't until his team picked up a few dark stones on the beach that they began questioning the theory of travelling for stones to make tools.

The associate professor at Washington State University's anthropology department said the team tested the beach stones, the debris from stone toolmaking at the site and the volcanic rock from Mount Garibaldi over 100 kilometres away on British Columbia's mainland.

The chemical fingerprint matched.

Grier said the finding dispels the theory that the villagers went all the way to Mount Garibaldi between 600 and 1,500 years ago to get the stone for their tools. Instead, the rock came to their beach thousands of years before.

"It was picked right off the local beach, brought there by glaciers, conveniently, 12,000 years ago," he said.

Grier co-authored the study published in the September issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science.

It said the volcanic rock was difficult to fashion into a tool, but it kept a better edge and required less retouching during use compared with obsidian or chert, a silica rock.

"We conclude the high-quality tool stones were readily available in secondary glacial till deposits at the Dionisio Point locality," the study said.

Grier said the beach stones -- while not the highest quality -- made it much more possible for the villagers to be self-sufficient because the material for tools was easily accessible.

"You could go down to the local corner hardware store rather than having to pick up and pack the canoe up and head off to the Super WalMart on the mainland," he chuckled.

That didn't mean the First Nations did not travel at all. In fact, other studies showed they often trekked to other villages on Vancouver Island and the mainland, Grier said.

There is a lot of evidence that many island villagers went to the Fraser River to fish for salmon during the summer.

"The villages they were living in were likely inhabited through the winter, after they had dried all their salmon and bought it back," Grier said.

The Dionisio Point village, part of a protected provincial park and only accessible by boat, is considered one of the best preserved village sites on the entire B.C. coast.

"It's an amazing element of the archeological record of British Columbia and Canada, and really, of the world," said Grier, a Canadian who lives on Galiano when he's not working in Washington state.

The Gulf Islands sit right along the Canada-U.S. border between Vancouver Island and B.C.'s mainland.

Grier said the islands are a treasure trove of archeological sites with new discoveries taking place all the time, giving more hints about what ancient Coast Salish life was like hundreds of years ago.



Advertisements

Latest Tech & Science News

  • Content reviewers scan Facebook's 'unpleasant underbelly'

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Sarah Katz's eyes dart around the Palo Alto, Calif., coffee shop. "Am I OK to speak here?" she said, not wanting to offend anyone within earshot with what she was about to describe. "I don't want to, like, bother people. Source
  • Hope fading for whale beached in Newfoundland: 'Maybe it wants to die'

    Tech & Science CTV News
    HARBOUR GRACE, N.L. -- A stranded whale was freed by a rescue team in eastern Newfoundland on Monday -- only to beach itself again in Conception Bay near Harbour Grace. Wayne Ledwell of Whale Release and Strandings said his group was called to the community's harbour early Monday when residents spotted the adult minke whale in distress. Source
  • Hope fading for whale beached in Newfoundland: 'The animal may die here'

    Tech & Science CTV News
    HARBOUR GRACE, N.L. -- Hope was fading for a beached whale as night fell Monday on a small coastal community in eastern Newfoundland. Wayne Ledwell of Whale Release and Strandings said the adult minke whale had been freed Monday morning, but instead of heading for the open waters of Conception Bay, it turned around and was stranded again in shallow waters near the town of Harbour Grace. Source
  • Warned 30 years ago, global warming 'is in our living room'

    Tech & Science CTV News
    SALIDA, Colo. -- We were warned. On June 23, 1988, a sultry day in Washington, James Hansen told Congress and the world that global warming wasn't approaching -- it had already arrived. The testimony of the top NASA scientist, said Rice University historian Douglas Brinkley, was "the opening salvo of the age of climate change. Source
  • Critics question video game loot boxes, but industry says it's doing enough

    Tech & Science CTV News
    TORONTO -- "Loot boxes." Until recently, the only people likely to have heard of them were gamers. But loot boxes and other similar microtransactions in games are earning the industry billions of dollars, and they're now generating a new controversy in the mainstream. Source
  • Trump announces new U.S. military branch: 'Space Force'

    Tech & Science CBC News
    President Donald Trump announced Monday that he is directing the Pentagon to create the "Space Force" as an independent service branch. Trump said "we are going to have the space force" which he deemed a "separate but equal" branch of the military. Source
  • Waterloo 'ideas lab' startup lures president away from Dalhousie University

    Tech & Science CTV News
    HALIFAX -- The president of Dalhousie University has announced he's leaving the East Coast to lead a startup "ideas lab" in Waterloo's tech mecca. Dalhousie said Richard Florizone will be leading the new Quantum Valley Ideas Lab, a non-profit focused on quantum devices and their applications. Source
  • Research shows diet shift of beluga whales in Alaska inlet

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Beluga whales in Alaska's Cook Inlet may have changed their diet over five decades from saltwater prey to fish and crustaceans influenced by freshwater, according to a study by University of Alaska Fairbanks researchers. An analysis of isotopes in beluga bone and teeth showed belugas formerly fed on prey that had little contact with freshwater. Source
  • Canada temporarily shuts fishing areas to help right whales

    Tech & Science CTV News
    NEWPORT, Que. -- The Canadian government says it is taking steps to protect endangered North Atlantic right whales from encounters with fishing vessels and gear. The whales are one of the world's rarest marine mammals, and they have struggled with high mortality in recent years, especially in Canadian waters. Source
  • Expiring fish farm tenures could go month-to-month: Marine Harvest

    Tech & Science CTV News
    VANCOUVER - Twenty contentious salmon farms will remain in the troubled waters of the Broughton Archipelago for at least another two months. While some may be expecting the provincial government to either expel the farms or grant them permission to stay, when their tenures expire on Wednesday, the company that owns them said it's likely they'll continue operating on a month-to-month basis. Source