Is one lithic chip enough?

letter to the editor from P. Spear, Barriere, BC - Is one lithic chip enough?

To the editor;

The recent article regarding a lithic chip and its repercussions was read with a bit of shock. I have had a lifelong interest (since I was 10 years old) in archaeology and cultures worldwide, but specifically northwest and Canadian native culture.

I fully support the protection and preservation of important artifacts, sites, languages, etc. The situation presented in the recent North Thompson Star/Journal is, however, hard to believe if all the facts were given to the District of Barriere and the author of the article.

On reading it, I was looking for more signs or indicators noted other than ‘one’ lithic chip. My opinion as an amateur, was that even a handful of lithic chips or a couple of flakes, points or a solitary stone tool would not be sufficient to halt progress.

To paraphrase a university publication “a tool of a shape or style accepted as an early culture – indicates presence in a general area, but may not always indicate an early — site”.

To ensure I was not way off base in my thoughts, a phone call was made to a native acquaintance (who was career trained and worked in this field). They confirmed my opinion, and stated much more significant findings, ie: “relics or more usually human remains would be the norm in project delays”.

There are many places in the District of Barriere that could warrant more attention. Lithic chips, and even the odd stone tool might be found if one knew what they were looking for and kept a sharp eye out.

Currently, and over the centuries, many sites world-wide have been desecrated, both accidentally and intentionally in the name of progress (or other reasons like religion), usually by the latest culture or political ideology. We have not been immune to this in B.C.

Therefore:

1. Has the criteria for project delays in these instances changed?

Or 2. Has more been discovered and we are not party to that information?

Or 3. Is a person or persons (NOT District of Barriere NOR Simpcw First Nation) acting in their own interests?

The solution as I see it would be to immediately continue excavations, but to use a little more caution, stop (until proper action is determined and approved) if ONLY reasonable or significant finds are present. This allows for progress on the project while local native culture can be preserved.

PS – This really amateur archaeologist wonders – how much material was moved and to what depth, when creating the airfield runway or the highway, or any other major movement of soil ie: fill brought in from another location. I suspect the possibility, none of this may have been previously researched prior to the find, assuming this was the area in question.

P. Spear

Barriere, B.C.