Creating Connections: Paul First Nation History

Today, RETROactive is pleased to feature a community-created heritage project!

The Paul First Nation History website and Facebook page is the brainchild of Jaelin Rask. A Paul First Nation member who today lives on-reserve, Jaelin was raised primarily in Calgary, geographically and culturally-distanced from his Indigenous heritage. As an adult, Jaelin received a number of historical documents from his late paternal grandfather, David Bird (who served as Chief of Paul First Nation from 1952 to 1955), spurring his interest in genealogy and his father’s family history.

Jaelin Rask (Photo provided by: Jaelin Rask).

“Little by little” Jaelin’s document collection grew, aided by trips to the archives and conversations with community members. Word of his work travelled fast throughout the Nation, and Jaelin found his social media inboxes full of requests Read more

Beading the Way: Adornment and the Quest for Cultural Survival

Adornment reflects a symbolic visual language that includes materials and designs that contain communally understood messages. That is, the clothing or items we wear convey information about us to other people. The expression of these messages through clothing, tattoos, jewelry, or body paint, conveys information about an individual, group, society, or religion. Beading, and other embroidery techniques, can be seen as one aspect of adornment for Indigenous groups, and one that played a central role in cultural preservation for many groups post-European contact.

Beads have been found in the archaeological record as early as 40,000 years ago, and are staples in decorative adornment. Beads can be fashioned from many different natural materials including plant seeds, stone, gems, shell, bone, or metal. While plant-based seeds are the easiest to manufacture due to their availability, beads made from bone, metal, gems, or semi-precious stone require more effort and technology to produce, and are therefore more highly valued.

Prior to European contact, Woodland and Plains cultures of North America decorated the skins of animals, tree bark, and their own bodies with locally available and traded materials. Materials such as seeds, berries, porcupine quills, moose hair, Read more

‘Pollen’ me back into history!: What Pollen can tell us about Archaeological Sites

Anyone with allergies knows when spring begins, and plants start pollinating, the offensive ‘dust’ can wreak havoc. However, one of the great things with pollen, from an archaeological perspective, is the fact that it gets dispersed annually. This means that each year, the ‘signature’ of the pollen released tells us about the landscape at the time. Plants have evolved to reproduce with pollen in several ways, and one that is highly effective is pollinating via the wind.

Pollen being released from a flower which will be carried by the wind. Plant Pollen is available through the CC0 Public Domain.

When the wind transports pollen it gets dispersed across the landscape, sometimes even getting caught within puddles. Inevitably, many pollen grains get caught in lakes and accumulate in the sediments. When it settles on the bottom of a lake basin, it stays there and is preserved for researchers to find hundreds, and even thousands, of years later. All this Read more

Pronghorn Traps on the Northern Plains of Alberta

“The antelope possesses an unconquerable inquisitiveness, of which hunters often take advantage…The hunter, getting as near the animal as is practicable, conceals himself by lying down, then fixing a handkerchief or cap upon the end of his ramrod, continues to wave it, remaining concealed. The animal, after a long contest between curiosity and fear, at length approaches near enough to become a sacrifice to the former.” (James 1905, vol. 2, pp. 227)

On two different flights over southeastern Alberta, separated by about thirty years, unusual stone features were observed on the landscape. Upon further inspection by archaeologists, it was determined that these two sites are the remnants of drive lanes and traps that were used for the communal hunting of pronghorn (Antilocapra americana, also commonly referred to as antelope).

While it is commonly known that bison were one of the greatest resources for precontact North American Indigenous groups, it is important to note that before European arrival, it is thought that there were just as many pronghorn as bison in North America. They were an important resource as well, particularly for people living in the Great Basin region of the United States, as pronghorn were one of the largest game animals available in that region. For Plains groups, bison were preferred for meat (and there is abundant archaeological evidence of this in the many bison kill sites across the Plains), however, pronghorn were valued for their hides to make clothing and other items.

Communal antelope hunting is documented in many historical accounts both in the Great Basin and on the Plains. These accounts describe wood and brush drive lines that led to fenced enclosures and to pit traps excavated in the ground. Hunters disguised themselves as antelope, wolf or other animals to get close to the herds and then drove the animals into Read more

HONOURING ALBERTA’S HERITAGE HEROES

Who are the heritage heroes in your community? Help us celebrate the outstanding contributions of Albertans to the promotion and preservation of Alberta’s heritage. Nominate an individual, organization or project for an Alberta Historical Resources Foundation heritage award. Complete your nominations now.  Deadline for submission is July 15.

Awards will be presented in the Heritage Conservation, Heritage Awareness and Outstanding Achievement categories. In addition, the Foundation is proud to introduce the Indigenous Heritage and Youth Heritage Awards this year. Awards will be presented during an awards ceremony on October 25, 2018 at the Government House in Edmonton.

For a copy of the guidelines and nomination form, visit https://alberta.ca/heritage-awards.aspx or contact the Program Coordinator at 780-431-2305 (toll-free by first dialing 310-000) or Carina.Naranjilla@gov.ab.ca.

National Indigenous Peoples Day 2018

Aanii! Tânsi! Óki! Abawasded! Edlónat’e! Tawnshi! * Da Neh Chi?**

Tomorrow, the Historic Resources Management Branch is glad to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day. Held each year on June 21 and renamed last year from National Aboriginal Day, National Indigenous Peoples Day recognizes the historic and present-day contributions, success and cultures of First Nation, Inuit and Metis communities across Canada.

Edmonton is once again hosting the free-to-attend Indigenous Peoples Festival, this year in Victoria Park from 11:00 AM to 8:00 PM. The event includes a pow-wow, main stage concerts, artisan marketplace and food vendors. There are also events throughout the week at City Centre Mall, Edmonton International Airport and the Art Gallery of Alberta (free admission on June 21 for all visitors as well!).

In Calgary, there are performances, displays and workshops at both the National Music Centre’s Studio Bell and Arts Commons, or venture west to take in the parade in Canmore or an evening medicine walk at the Banff Centre with Metis guide Brenda Holder. In southern Alberta, Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump is offering special programming, with opportunities for guided tours, performances, food sampling, and story sharing with Blackfoot Elders.

There are celebrations in communities across the province: check this listing to find the gathering closest to you. Is your community hosting an event for National Indigenous Peoples Day? Leave a comment on this post with the details!

On this day, and all days, we express our gratitude to the Indigenous communities in Alberta that we have the privilege of learning from and working with. Your history, culture, stories, goals and perspectives make our understanding of Alberta’s heritage so much richer.

Written By: Laura Golebiowski, Aboriginal Consultation Adviser

* “Hello!” in Anishinaabemowin, Cree, Blackfoot, Nakoda, Dene and Michif

** “How are you” in Beaver

Title Image: Driftpile Cree Nation Pow Wow. Photo credit: Ron Ganzeveld, Government of Alberta.

The Archaeological Survey in Numbers – 2017 Update!

This week’s post is an update on archaeological project and site data for 2017 from the Archaeological Survey. Click the image below and zoom to see the full size infographic.

Note on archaeological sites: the site counts for 2017 are not yet final. They are constantly being updated as consultants and researchers submit their records to the Archaeological Survey. Stay tuned to RETROactive for up-to-date numbers.

See previous infographics from this series here:

Archaeology and Development: Statistics from the Historic Resources Management Branch

Archaeological Survey in Numbers Part One: Archaeological Permits

Archaeological Survey in Numbers Part Two : Archaeological Permit Holders and Companies

Archaeological Survey in Numbers Part Three : Archaeological Site Investigation

Written By: Colleen Haukaas (Archaeological Survey)