Archaeologists look to make B.C. Indigenous site an outdoor classroom

The 2.4-hectare two-millennium old Ye’yumnuts village was the focus of fight to protect the site

Eric McLay envisions kiosks, fencing, an outdoor classroom, interpretive signage and trails at the site of an ancient native village in Duncan, located in the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island.

McLay, who is an archaeologist, and members of a number of other groups recently spent two weeks preparing the site, called the Ye’yumnuts village, to eventually become an outdoor classroom that will highlight the history of the 2,000 year-old settlement.

He said the project received a BC 150 grant that allowed the various groups involved in the project, which include Cowichan Tribes, Nature Trust of BC, the province, School District 79 and the Municipality of North Cowichan, to do further work to protect and prepare the site for continued work that is still in the planning stages.

READ MORE: Ancient Indigenous settlement to become outdoor classroom

The 2.4-hectare two-millennium old Ye’yumnuts village is located near the foot of Mount Prevost where archaeological evidence of ancient tools, homes, hearths and grave sites was first discovered in the 1990s.

The site was slated for a private residential development, which was called Timbercrest Estates, at the time, but work stopped with the discovery of dozens of human skeletons in the area.

For almost 25 years since then, the site was fought over until it was finally protected in a deal involving the B.C. and federal governments.

READ MORE: Human bones found on B.C. construction site

McLay said the recent project involved implementing some longstanding heritage conservation and management at the site.

He said the work involved removing invasive plants, brush cutting, clearing and mowing the burial site area, placing a protective geotextile fabric over archaeologically sensitive areas, and finally capping the burial ground that has been found there with more than three feet of imported clean soil.

“Most importantly, after 25 years of exposure, the original bulldozer trench by Timbercrest Estates Ltd. was filled in and covered up in order to help protect the site and respectfully commemorate and manage it,” McLay said.

“In the next few weeks, this area will be seeded and restored with native grasses and flowers, and a protective split cedar rail fence will be installed. Future steps at Ye’yumnuts involve establishing new trail systems, an interpretive kiosk, outdoor classroom area, fencing and signage for public education about the site, along with curriculum development between the Cowichan Tribes, the Cowichan Valley school district and the University of Victoria. There are several designs in the development stage for the new heritage site park.”

McLay said the next step is to find more funding for the next stage of the project.

“I believe this heritage management work at Ye’yumnuts is a significant change toward how we publicly treat First Nation heritage sites in British Columbia,” McLay said.

“It reflects a movement from historical neglect, destruction and conflict toward working collaboratively to actively preserve, respect and learn about First Nations’ history for the future.”

It’s been estimated local indigenous people lived there for 600 years, then used the area as a large burial ground for another 600 years.

McLay said among the hundreds of artifacts excavated at the site were shells from the Island’s west coast, Jade from the Fraser River area, and obsidian from as far away as Idaho and Oregon, suggesting wide-ranging trade routes used by native peoples through the ages.

“The site has a lot of regional implications, and that’s why we want to set it up as an outdoor classroom for the public and students from the local schools,” he said.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Just Posted

From baseball stars to forest fires: Southeast Fire Centre water bomber has an interesting past

Tanker 489 is stationed in Castlegar this year, but in the 1960s it belonged to the L.A. Dodgers.

RDCK to implement new emergency alert notification system

System also includes sends alerts for water advisories

RDCK prepares anti-discrimination, anti-racism policies

Also: building codes, wildfire mitigation, parks openings, and Winlaw boardwalk

LETTER: Prepare a go-bag

From reader Jane Merks

Lost dog swims Columbia River multiple times searching for home

The dog was missing from his Castlegar home for three days.

B.C. identifies 20 new COVID-19 cases, travellers specified in count

Pandemic total 3,028 cases, 51 people from outside Canada

Survey, hotline launched amid probe into racist blood-alcohol guessing game at B.C. hospital

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to lead an investigation by Health Minister Adrian Dix

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

Filing deadline in RCMP sexual-harassment class-action extended due to COVID-19

Plaintiffs now have until January 2021 to submit claims for up to $222,000

Jamie Bacon pleads guilty to charge in Surrey Six case

The plea brings an end to a complex legal case that has spanned more than a decade

Hefty undeclared driver charges piling up, ICBC warns customers

Average extra penalty $2,971 after an at-fault accident

B.C. appeals judge’s decision to leave three clubhouses in Hells Angels hands

The province has filed two notices of appeal related to the B.C. Supreme Court decision

Conservation officers relocate Spirit bear known to roam northwestern B.C.

Bear roamed valley north of Terrace for many years

B.C. premier applauds call to decriminalize drug possession

Police shouldn’t struggle with health issues, Horgan says

Most Read