Some Prehistoric Sites in BC

The Glenrose Cannery Site


>>>---->The Glenrose Site, Fraser River, British Columbia Source: The Prehistory of the Northwest Coast, R.G. Matson and Gary Coupland, Academic Press, San Diego, 1995. The Glenrose Site is situated along the Fraser River, British Columbia, less than 10 miles from the Pacific coast. The site is representative of the Old Cordilleran Culture which dates to between 9,000 and 5,000 years ago in the Pacific Northwest of North America. The majority of the finds at the site were stone tools. Nearly half of the assemblage constisted of large cobble tools (choppers). It is possible that these large cobble tools were used to harvest mussels. Most of the remaining artifacts were flake tools, such as scrapers, but a few leaf-shaped lanceolate biface projectile points were recovered as well. A few ground stone tools are represented, as well some antler and bone tools, including a barbed antler point. Animal remains from the site show thatelk was themost important hunted game, but deer, canis, beaver, and harbor seal bones were present as well. Fish remains were also uncovered and included salmon, sturgeon, flatfish, eulachon, stickleback and peamouth. The animal and fish bones both indicate a late spring and early summer occupation time for the site. It appears that this site was regularly visited on a seasonal basis. 

Glenrose Site beach and strata layers in the Fraser River bank. 

Other culturally related sites from the same time period have established that the Old Cordilleran peoples hunted sea mammals and fished deep ocean waters. They also harvested salmon during the spawning seasons in interior sites along the major rivers.


The Keatley Creek Site

>>>---->       The Keatley Creek site is an unusually large prehistoric housepit village site located on the terraces of the Fraser River, about 20 km upstream from the town of Lillooet, British Columbia. Archaeological investigations were undertaken at the site by Dr. Brian Hayden of Simon Fraser University between 1986 and 1996. The results of this research have provideda insight into the lives and times of early residents at Keatley Creek.   The goal of the Fraser River Investigations into Corporate Group Archaeology Project was to understand the economic and social organization that made large villages and households possible prehistorically. In order to answer such questions, special attention had to be paid to formation processes and the nature of sediments encountered in housepit remains. Project results indicate that the 'Classic Lillooet' villages were exceptionally well situated to obtain and trade large numbers of salmon of prime quality for drying and preservation. Evidence of trade with the coast is abundant at the site, as well as evidence for ownership of resources, wealth, accumulation, and hierarchial socioeconomic organization. On the basis of the analysis of fish remains at the site, it appears that large households probably owned or restricted access to some of the most lucrative fishing and hunting areas.        Initial occupationsat Keatley Creek occured during the Middle Prehistoric period (7,000 to 4,800 years before present). Microblades as well as both Lehman and Lochnore type projectile points occur in localized areas beneath housepit rim middens; however, excavated areas are extremely limited and at present there is no clear indication of any housepit structures from this time period. The first definite housepits appear to have been constructed during the Shuswap horizon (4,800 to 2,400 BP) since many housepit middens have exclusively Shuswap style projectile points in their bottom levels. However, it appears to be during the Plateau (2,400 to 1,200 BP) and the early Kamloops (1,200 to 1,000 BP) horizons that the site was most extensively occupied. Over 115 house sized depressions at the site date to these time periods. The largest of these house depressions range from 18 - 21 meters in diameter, and constitute some of the largest constructions known from the British Columbia Interior, and from western Canada. The core area of the site is about 4 hectares, although sporadic occurrences of houses and features occur for almost a kilometer along the terrace. The Keatley Creek site is the largest remaining site of a series of unusually large prehistoric housepit villages in the vicinity of Lillooet that include the Bell site and the Bridge River site. Still others have been destroyed.       All of the large Classic Lillooet sites appear to have been abandoned about 1,100 years BP. It has been suggested that this was most likely due to a major landslide on the Fraser River that may have blocked salmon runs for years or decades and thereby destroyed the subsistence and trade economy of the remarkable Lillooet communities.       Based on the undisturbed nature of rim middens and some datable interior storage pits, the large housepits such as Housepit 7 appear to have attained their maximum dimensions by at least the Plateau horizon, and may well have been close to their maximim size even in Shuswap horizontimes.


>>>---->      The lower Stein is exceptional in terms of density and diversity of archaeological sites. Concentrations of archaeological sites are thought to be greater than any area in the Interior Plateau. Seventy-eight archaeological sites have been identified within the lower Stein basin.

"Cultural heritage" in the park often means the physical and spiritual remains of activities that were, or are still, being practiced for the purposes of ritual, ceremonial, spiritual, economic or cultural well-being and the maintenance of Nlaka’pamux traditions.

Cultural heritage features in the park include archaeological sites, features and related remains; ancient trails; pictograph and petroglyph sites; rock alignments and cairns, tree drawings and carvings; culturally modified trees; spirit caves; burial places; hunting blinds and drive fences; sacred and spiritual places and landscape features; spirit quest and power sites; legend, myth and oral history sites; birthing sites; puberty sites; battle sites; canoe sites; lithic resource procurement sites; traplines and trappers' cabins; camps and village sites; lithic scatter sites; trail markers, and more.

Basic information on cultural heritage sites is lacking and there is no comprehensive inventory of these sites in the park.

Nlaka’pamux history and cultural continuity constitutes the primary cultural feature of the park. Contained within their natural surroundings, the park's cultural heritage resources are of major significance to a growing segment of the non-aboriginal population seeking to understand and appreciate indigenous culture and history. The Lytton First Nation has stated its willingness to share this rich legacy with those visiting their land, but make the special request that visitors to the valley act with the utmost care and respect.

Many Nlaka’pamux creation legends tell of supernatural beings known as "transformers" who traveled the land when the world was new and accomplished heroic and creative feats. Sesukii'n and Seku'lia were part of the group of transformers known as the "Shkwitkwatl" that came from Shuswap country and reached Styne Creek (the Stein River) one day at dusk and found a number of people living in an underground lodge just north of the creek where dogs began to howl when they approached. There, they transformed a man who made fun of them, his house, and the people living there, into stone. Upon leaving, Sesukli'n left the mark of his right foot on a stone. A little farther down the river, Seku'lia left the mark of his left foot. These impressions of human feet can still be seen in the woods near the Stein River.

As reminders of their passing, the Shkwitkwtl also changed the "spetakl people" (prehuman people with animal characteristics and gifted in magic) into real animals and into rocks and boulders with remarkable shapes. Many "legend rocks", as they are referred to by native elders, are visible today in the Stein Valley Nlaka’pamux Heritage Park.

Another reminder of the mythological age are certain rock paintings in the valley said to have been made by the "Shkwitkwatl" and still visible today. The majority of the rock paintings for which the valley is famous, however, were made by the ancestors of the Nlaka’pamux people at special places on the land which are recognized to possess a high level of "spirit power". Most of these are found on cliffs or boulders at the base of rock talus slopes beside the aboriginal trail that follows the river through the mountains. The exceptions are a number of painted caves located high above the river on steep mountain slopes.

This incalculable cultural wealth is reflected in the theme "Stein Valley Nlaka’pamux Heritage Park: A Living Museum of Cultural and Natural History". Planing and management of the park will be guided by this theme and will be designed to complement and highlight the historical and cultural presence of the Lytton Nlaka’pamux in the Stein watershed, as well as to preserve, maintain and encourage traditional aboriginal sustenance, cultural and ceremonial activities in the area.

Preservation, protection, presentation and proper management of the cultural heritage resources within the Stein watershed will be a primary goal and focus of the management plan.