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

 

Just Posted

Y2Y report warns of growing tension between industry and environment in Revelstoke

It includes 18 recommendations for land use, tourism, forestry, climate change and First Nations.

Healing with honesty: Justice served 40 years later

Revelstoke senior gets house arrest for sexually assaulting stepdaughter

UPDATE: Trans-Canada Highway closure extended until 4 p.m. east of Revelstoke

The highway was closed after a head-on collision between trucks early Dec. 6

Avalanche control west of Revelstoke today

Highway 1 to be closed for two hours

VIDEO: SNL skewers Trudeau’s mockery of Trump in high school cafeteria sketch

The three world leaders won’t let Trump sit at the cool kids’ table

B.C. VIEWS: An engine that hums right along

First Nations are leading a new surge of investment in B.C.

Brain injury from domestic abuse a ‘public health crisis,’ says B.C. researcher

Nearly 80% of the domestic violence victims who reported to police last year were woman

Summerland college operated from 1906 to 1915

Ritchie Hall and Morton Hall were constructed for Okanagan Baptist College

Campbell River mom’s iPhone containing priceless photos stolen from Victoria hospital parkade

The phone contained photos, heartbeat recordings of her late son

Miller nets winner as Canucks edge Sabres 6-5 in OT

Roussel, Leivo tally two apiece for Vancouver

‘Norovirus-like’ outbreak interrupts Bantam hockey showcase in Greater Victoria

Several athletes were sent home, quarantined on the ferry

$578: that’s how much your first distracted driving ticket will cost with recent premium hikes

Over 50 per cent of Canadians admitted to using phone while driving last year, according to study

WorkSafe BC to investigate explosion at Princeton facility

Explosion at Envirogreen waste reclamation plant occurred Nov. 27

Most Read