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«Amazay Lake Photo by Patrice Halley Draft Submission to the Kemess North Joint Review Panel May, 2007 Report Prepared By: Loraine Littlefield Linda ...»

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‘We hunt and gather seasonally, preserving foods and gathering herbs for Indian medicine. We are concerned about the herbicide spraying and mining in our trapline because of all the toxins that are left behind on the ground and environment.’(E-B3, TLHLHF-20) ‘Porcupines are no longer around because of logging, [I’m] afraid that this might happen to the beaver, moose or other animals. There are hardly any frogs and many are deformed (Frogs are the barometer of this world) what are happening to them?’ (E-E1, TL-HLHF-04) ‘Our traditional territory is being destroyed, without political say.’ (E-D2, TL-HLHF-03) ‘Used to do a lot of hunting up in the Kemess area but after what I witnessed at Cheney mines some of the animals had no fur, the fat on the meat was all mushy (Caribou, groundhog etc)’ (E-D5, TL-HLHF-03) ‘All animals and plants should be protected for the future generations. Environmental studies should be done in all traditional territories and should be protected not only for us but for the future of our children.’ (E-E1, TL-HLHF-12) ‘The companies made a huge mess on our traditional land with no intentions of ever helping clean up the waste’ (E-D3, TL-HLHF-07) ‘Salmon and porcupine are decreasing. The animals are not so fat anymore.’ (H-B4, TL-HLHF-01) ‘The wildlife might give us some kind of disease from the spraying and logging, Long time ago we didn’t have to worry about harm in the traditional food.’ (H-C6, TL-HLHF Too much logging and mining disrupting animals and habitat.’ (H-B4, TL-HLHF-06) ‘The logging companies have taken out old growth forests that many people use for medicinal plants, medicinal plants that you can’t find in the new growth area.

Major concern is clean waters for us, all life and the ecosystem.’ (E-D4, TK-HLHF-12) ‘I am concerned about the younger generation. The problems that we are facing today will only get more severe for them.’ (E-D5, TK-HLHF-06) ‘Our people are afraid of Kemess and Duncan Lake what the impacts will be.’ (E-C4, TK-HLHF-19) Healthy Land Healthy Future: Preliminary Results By Dr. Lito Arocena November 2006 Water and soil were sampled and analysed for contents of 29 elements namely: silver, aluminium, arsenic, boron, barium, calcium, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, copper, iron, mercury, potassium, lithium, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, sodium, nickel, phosphorus, lead, antimony, selenium, silicone, tin, strontium, titanium, vanadium, and zinc. Many of these elements when present at elevated levels in the environment are associated with impairment of human, plant and animal health and in extreme cases can increase mortality. Preliminary results of the analyses were compared with the 2002 Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines for Agricultural Purposes for Soils and Irrigation Use for Water to assess the environmental health in many areas within the traditional food gathering areas in Takla Lake and Tsay Keh First Nation territories.

Results for both water and soil samples showed that some elements have concentrations higher than the Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines. For water samples, elements with concentrations higher than the Irrigation Use guidelines are aluminum, chromium and manganese. Sampling areas showing elevated levels of at least one of the above elements are Tsay Keh, Lovell Cove, Takla Lake, Bear Lake, Bulkley House, Cassa Lake, Bralorne Mine, Silver Mountain, Kemess, Driftwood River, and Baker's mine (Table 1). Other results for water samples show that arsenic, mercury, lead, antimony and selenium contents in some samples might higher than the guidelines. Further testing is required to confirm contamination at these sites. For soils, elements with higher concentrations than guidelines are boron, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, copper, molybdenum, nickel,vanadium and zinc. The sampling areas with at least one of the elements is higher than guidelines are Tsay Keh region, Bulkley Landing, Leo Creek, Bulkley House, Kemess Down, Driftwoof River, Lovell Cove and Baker's Mine (Table 2).

–  –  –

Archaeology arguably has two different meanings. First, there is the scientific meaning. Today, archaeology is a science aimed at answering specific questions, usually about human behaviour.

Research questions might address subsistence patterns, movement of people, the rise and fall of technologies, societies and peoples. In this way, archaeology is a science, and in this way, archaeological sites can be evaluated on their scientific value, that is, how much information would further investigation of a particular site contribute to the overall “archaeological record”?

To First Nations generally and to the Tse Keh Nay people specifically, archaeology is more than a scientific approach to studying human behaviour. Archaeology is a way to show children, grandchildren, and the world that Tse Keh Nay ancestors lived on and with the land. An archaeological site in Tse Keh Nay territory is not just a depression in the ground for cooking “ground-hog”, a hearth at a habitation site, a scatter of refuse lithics or a funerary site consisting of human bones. Using knowledge of Sekani laws, spirituality, traditions and beliefs, Tse Keh Nay people connect, on a deeper level, with an archaeological site. To a Tse Keh Nay person, the depression in the ground is a place where an ancestor roasted and savoured the delicacy of a “ground-hog”, having hunted and killed the animal to feed his wife, children and extended family.





It is the location where ancestors chose to rest and live, at least for a while. The hearth site represents the home and family, where ancestors cooked, ate, kept warm and told stories. The scatter of lithics is the place where the hunters felt safe to rest a while, to sharpen their weapons and possibly to perform a sacred ceremony to assist them in their hunt. Finally, the burial site is a sacred place, where someone passed from this life into the next, where the family grieved and made their peace, and where they can still go and pay their respects.

As a result of the knowledge passed on from the ancestors and through their own experiences on their land, archaeological sites have great meaning to Tse Keh Nay people. They are an expression of connections to ancestors, culture, history and land. In short, the archaeological sites left by Tse Keh Nay ancestors are an expression of today’s Tse Keh Nay’s aboriginal rights and title.

Unfortunately, the archaeological process in British Columbia is often at odds with the First Nation understanding of archaeology. An archaeologist, hired by a proponent to conduct a study to assess the impact a development might have on an archaeological site, must assign a “value” or “significance evaluation” to the site. This is not an enviable task. The archaeologist must consider the scientific significance, that is, the potential that the site might contribute valuable information to the archaeological record. He is supposed to consider the historic significance, or the possibility that the site might contribute valuable information to the historic record. He needs to consider public significance, or the potential for that site to enhance public awareness, interest, understanding etc. about the historic or prehistoric past. He must consider the economic significance of a site, or whether the site might generate monetary benefits or employment through its development as a historic or prehistoric site. And finally, he must consider the ethnic significance of a site. This is the significance or the value of a site to an ethnically distinct group or community. The archaeologist must look at all these factors and make a recommendation to the Provincial Government and the proponent about the value of a site. The result of this valuation plays a large role in determining how a development will proceed. If it is low, then generally, the development can proceed, often with little or no further archaeological work. If it is high, then it is possible that the development will need to accommodate the site. Because of the importance of this valuation, it seems unfair that Tse Keh Nay people are not asked about the significance of their sites, for the Tse Keh Nay are the only ones who can define the ethnic significance of a Tse Keh Nay site.

At no time have the Tse Keh Nay people suggested that the archaeological sites around Amazay, Thutade, and the Kemess mine sites are of low significance, and in fact, they have argued that they are important and that more archaeological work must be conducted, in cooperation with Tse Keh Nay people. Others support this assessment. For example, Harris (1984:36) suggests that “there are areas promising rich archaeological evidence which may eventually shed light on the prehistory of the Sekani. These include the Caribou Hide Trail and Thutade Lake west of Fort Ware, areas where Black located the northern Sekani.” Harris (1984:37) also notes that “until archeological research is undertaken in these and other areas, the argument over the date of the occupation of the [Rocky Mountain] Trench cannot be satisfactorily resolved.” Simonsen (in Tsay Keh Dene 2002:172) says that the “Thutade Lake area is rich in evidence of past aboriginal use and occupation – both in the form of recent and contemporary traditional use sites, as well as sites with archaeological deposits and remains.” Simonsen (2006) maintains this position today. Craig (2006:1-2) in his summary of the archaeological inventory of Amazay Lake, notes that the “Archaeological Potential Assessment” is ‘high’ and that is is “highly probable that there are more CMTs present throughout the study area” (Craig 2006:11).

Thus, many people, knowledgeable of the Amazay area, have argued that there is great archaeological potential for the Thutade region and that the information is potentially very important to learning more about Sekani prehistory. Given this, it is important to protect those few archaeological sites that have been found. Sekani ancestors did not leave a big “foot print” on the lands and it seems ridiculous to place a low scientific value on archaeological sites that are actually rare.

To assist the Panel in understanding the history of archaeological work around the Thutade area, the following is a summary of the archaeological work and known archaeological sites around Amazay and Thutade lakes. This summary is followed by a discussion of Tse Keh Nay concerns regarding the Archaeological Impact Assessments and comments from the Provincial Archaeology Branch regarding the Kemess North mine and Amazay Lake.

Known Archaeological Sites and Previous Archaeological Studies Over the past 15 years, at least six separate studies have been conducted in the vicinity of the Kemess facilities. These are discussed below, by date, followed by a table identifying the known archaeological sites.

1. Antiquus Archaeological Impact Assessment, 1992 (report 1993) In September, 1993, Antiquus conducted an Archaeological Impact Assessment for the Kemess South Copper-Gold Project with “six experienced archaeologists” (Rousseau 1993:11). Their objective was to “identify all archaeological sites” within the Kemess development impact zones (Rousseau 1993:i). The impact zones included the 62 km “Sloane Connector Road” Right of Way along the Sustut River, and the mine operations areas in the Thutade region. No archaeological sites were identified along the 62 km Sloane Connector and three sites were identified in the other project areas (summarized in Table X). Two of these sites are “small lithic scatters’ that Antiquus rates as having medium significance. The final lithic scatter was considered a hunting camp and was given a low rating. All three sites were given considerable antiquity; 200 years BP to greater than 3500 years BP. 31

2. Antiquus Archaeological Impact Assessment, 1996 (report 1997)

In July and August, 1996, Antiquus Archaeological Consultants Ltd., conducted another Archaeological Impact Assessment for the Kemess south project. “Between July 21 and August 15, 1996, [they] conducted an archaeological impact assessment study at the request of Kemess Mines Inc… and Royal Oak Mines (Rousseau 1997:v). The study area included the development site at the current Kemess South mine, the Sloane Loadout Facility and the Right of Way Corridor for the power lines. Their goal was to identify all archaeological sites within these areas. This study area was very large, especially the transmission corridor which was 380 km long. Only two archaeological sites were identified, one at the mine’s development site, (HfSq-2) and another, large site that was recorded as a post-contact site, consisting of a trail and log bridge (HbSr-8) at the Sloane Loadout Facility, outside the current area of impact (summarized in Table X).

Site HfSq-2

This archaeological site was found within the development site at Kemess South. It consisted of lithic remains (basalt cobble and two basalt flakes). According to the report, eleven shovel tests were conducted within the perimeter of the huge development site. One shovel test resulted in the recovered lithics. The report notes that this site was threatened by the development, but assigned the site a “low” overall archaeological significance rating, even though they recognized that its proximity to another archaeological site was evidence of use in the area. The report stated that no further archaeological work was required at this location, even though only eleven shovel tests were conducted and the area was going to be greatly changed by the building of Kemess facilities.

BP means “before present” which relates dates to 1950. For example, 3500 BP means 3500 years before 1950.

–  –  –

Throughout the report, the authors continually refer to this site as a “post-contact site”.

However, late in the report, Rousseau (1997) notes that, after discussion with the Provincial Archaeology Branch, it is believed that the trail is likely an aboriginal “grease trail” that would pre-date 1846 and automatically receive protection under the Heritage Conservation Act. Based on this, their recommendation is complete avoidance of the site, or, if avoidance is impossible, they recommended a systematic data recovery program. Interestingly though, all photos and references to the site, prior to the “Management Recommendations” at the end of the report, label the site as historic. Arguably, this is misleading. Nevertheless, although associated with Kemess operations, this site is outside the current area of impact.



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