‘Like finding a needle in a haystack’: Ancient arrowhead discovered near Williams Lake

Chief Willie Sellars says WLIB provided additional own-source revenue to rent a power screening plant (Rebecca Dyok photo)
(Rebecca Dyok photo)
Sugar Cane Archaeology field supervisor Brittany Cleminson holds a recently discovered projectile point from the early Nesikip Period (7500-6000 BP). (Rebecca Dyok photo)
Before the aid of a power screening plant field technicians would have to manually sift the soil through a tripod screen says Winston Alphonse with Jason Stonechild. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
A power screening plant was secured by the Williams Lake Indian to complete an artifact recovery south of Williams Lake. (Rebecca Dyok photo) A power screening plant was secured by the Williams Lake Indian to complete an artifact recovery south of Williams Lake. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
Winston Alphonse (left) with Jason Stonechild shows a recently found bi-face arrowhead. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
Three projectile points from the Nesikip, Shuswap, and Kamloops periods show the rich history lands south of Williams Lake hold.(Rebecca Dyok photo)

Ancient, stone-carved projectile pieces dating back several millennia continue to be exposed this week south of Williams Lake from the large piles of soil moved during work to put in a drainage ditch after a small landslide in the area last year.

A power screen plant was used by staff of Sugar Cane Archaelogy to mechanically sift through the dirt for the hidden gems, unearthing hundreds of finds which date back to when the mid-Fraser River area was occupied by large, First Nations villages.

This site has a southern exposure and a breathtaking view of the south-end waters of Williams Lake and the current community of Sugar Cane, home to about 350 members of the Williams Lake Indian Band (WLIB).

At her office located at Yorston Street in downtown Williams Lake on June 1, Sugar Cane Archaeology archaeologist Whitney Spearing showed three artifacts she said highlighted the recovery efforts over the last couple of days.

An intact arrowhead which she said is one of the oldest to have been recovered is believed to be from the Nesikip Period between 7,500 to 6,000 BP (before present).

This period, Spearing said, is associated with the development of a unique, cultural system including the use of micro-blades and notched projectile points.

“Being able to find a Nesikip point is like finding a needle in a haystack,” she said. “To my knowledge there is no other early Nesikip site in the Williams Lake area. There is one very old site up around the Soda Creek area so we do know that this may be one of two very, very old sites in the area.”

Thousands of artifacts varying in size had already been discovered at the Williams Lake site that was initially identified during the 2016-2019 Highway 97 four-laning project. Even more waited to be recovered from the terrain stabilization and erosion work last year.

Spearing said COVID-19 restrictions dashed their original plans of hosting a community archaeology day in which community members, elders and youth would help screen the piles for artifacts.

Not willing to leave hundreds of artifacts unrecovered, the Williams Lake Indian Band provided up to $25,000 to rent a power screening plant for one week from Abbotsford in order to process the soil with the help of an excavator and several field assistants.

Read More: Artifacts uncovered at Sugar Cane site near Williams Lake could be 4,000 years old

Read More: River valley flooding destroys archaeological sites, uncovers others

Likely the oldest projectile point ever recovered in Williams Lake and surrounding area, the piece was dated through a detailed examination and comparison with known cultural sequences for the Interior Plateau. Hard carbon dating which will further confirm the age of the point through a U.S. lab has currently been delayed due to the pandemic.

Also recovered with the help of the power screening plant was a point from the Shuswap Period of 3,500 to 2,400 BP, and a point from the Kamloops Period which is between 1,200 to 200 BP.

“What it really shows is the range,” Spearing added. “There’s over, give or take, 6,000 years worth of history at that site which increases our understanding. We initially thought the site was about 4,000 years old and now we know there’s at least an older component.”

Monday, June 1 was the last day of operation for the power screening plant which Black Press Media unfortunately did not get to witness in action as crew members at the site near Sutton Drive worked to unclog the machine from rain-saturated soil.

Stripped of the artifacts, the soil piles will now be leveled and hydro-seeded.

All of the artifacts, including the approximate 3,200 pieces discovered last year, will eventually be displayed at the WLIB Band Administration offices at Sugar Cane, which is under construction.

The new, 18,000 square foot building was the vision of current Chief Willie Sellars’ predecessor and mentor, former Chief Ann Louie.

“She dreamed of bringing our organization together under one roof in an environment that would inspire our staff and create pride in our community.”

– with files from Monica Lamb-Yorski, Black Press Media.


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
rebecca.dyok@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Cariboohistorical artifactsIndigenous

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

Just Posted

Nimpkish sold as Northern Sea Wolf resumes central coast route

The sale of the Nimpkish was official as of Sept. 20, 2020

Citing stability, B.C. Premier calls snap election for Oct. 24

John Horgan meets with Lieutenant Governor to request vote

BC Timber Sales’ operations on the North Island and Central Coast to be audited

The Forest Practices Board randomly chose the region to check for compliance to legislation

Williams Lake First Nation inks historic cannabis deal with B.C. government

The agreement paves the way for WLFN to sell cannabis to the government, and open stores across B.C.

Cariboo’s Strongest tests athletes’ mettle

Twenty men and three women took part

B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19

There have now been a total of 8,395 cases in B.C. since the pandemic began

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

Liberal effort to reset policy agenda panned by rivals as too much talk, not action

Trudeau said it’s ‘all too likely’ families won’t be able to gather for Thanksgiving next month

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

‘Show us the money’ for cannabis, local governments tell B.C.

Municipal tax, transit revenues falling as costs rise

‘It’s a boy’: Southern Resident killer whale calf born to J Pod is healthy, researchers say

J35 had previously done a ‘Tour of Grief,’ carrying her dead calf for 17 days

People ‘disgusted’ by COVID-19 election call, B.C. Liberal leader says

Andrew Wilkinson speaks to municipal leaders from Victoria

Most Read