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Museum features stone artifacts

Exhibit displays some items unearthed during archaeology excavations
Laura Walz

A new display at Powell River Historical Museum and Archives includes artifacts unearthed during archaeology excavations in the traditional territory of Tla’amin (Sliammon) First Nation.

Students and professors from Simon Fraser University (SFU), through a partnership with Tla’amin, have been excavating sites in the Powell River area for five summers.

Debbie Dan, museum curator, said Dr. Barbara Winter, a SFU professor who is the curator of the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at the university, offered to redo one of the two large cases in Powell River’s museum that contain aboriginal displays to showcase some of the artifacts.

Both cases featuring tools, baskets and materials that illustrate several aspects of traditional Tla’amin life have been redone. The artifacts include hand mauls, stone mortars, spear and arrow points, sinkers, weights and fish hooks.

Winter came to Powell River and worked on the display, along with an archaeology student, Dan and Jen Gomez, a museum volunteer. “There are some new stone items that were found by the archaeology project that are on display in the case, along with some of the items that we’ve had in the museum for many years,” Dan said.

There is signage in the case that provides information, Dan added, and photos that show fish traps and clam gardens will be displayed in the near future.

Dan said that Michelle Washington, land use planning coordinator with the Sliammon Treaty Society, also assisted with the display, ensuring that it was educational for the public.

The museum had a lunch yesterday, June 19, for elders, to show an appreciation for their contributions to the updated exhibit. “They felt it represents Sliammon better, because it tells more of a story and it’s more culturally accurate,” said Brandon Peters, the museum’s outreach coordinator and a Tla’amin community member. “The elders have given testimonials to further educate the public and the display reflects that.”

The display celebrates day-to-day life, Peters added. “Regular people often are overlooked,” he said. “We want to celebrate the regular person, the people who live their lives day-to-day, because it’s their testimonies that are often unheard.”

That’s part of the reason for the luncheon, Peters said. “We want to thank them for sharing their lives, experiences and culture with us. It’s to help tell a story.”

Students from School District 47 are expected to view the exhibit as part of Aboriginal Day festivities, which take place on Thursday, June 21 at Willingdon Beach. The event includes activities such as native art, weaving, dancing, a puppet show and musical entertainment.