‘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

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

Two new COVID-19 cases reported in Interior Health

The total number of Interior Health cases since the beginning of the pandemic is now at 522

Local wakesurfers hit the podium, will compete at world championship

Local wakesurfers hit the podium during a national competition at Lake Okanagan… Continue reading

It happened in 1913

Sept. 20 - 26: Compiled by Dave Humphrey from the newspapers at the Cranbrook History Centre and Archives

A Winter’s Tale: Live theatre returns to Cranbrook with “Almost, Maine”

Cranbrook Community Theatre presentation, opening Friday, shows us how we leave each other, and how we make our way back

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

2 British Columbians arrested, 3 at large in massive Alberta drug bust

Eight people are facing 33 charges in what police have dubbed Project Incumbent

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

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

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Trudeau ‘disappointed’ by RCMP treatment of Sikh officers over mask issue

World Sikh Organization of Canada said taking Sikh officers off the front lines constitutes discrimination

Liberals reach deal with NDP on COVID-19 aid bill, likely averting election

NDP and the Liberals have reached an agreement on COVID-19 sick-leave

Most Read