«Amazay Lake Photo by Patrice Halley Draft Submission to the Kemess North Joint Review Panel May, 2007 Report Prepared By: Loraine Littlefield Linda ...»
Transmission Right of Way
Antiquus conducted a survey along this 380 km corridor using low level aerial reconnaissance and aerial photographs to identify areas with medium to high archaeological potential. The on-the-ground survey included surface inspection and shovel tests. However, where Antiquus records the number of shovel tests, they seem to be limited. For example, in a study area consisting of approximately 1 km of right of way, only 8 shovel tests were done. Another of similar length included 10 shovel tests and finally, another study area around Thorne Lake, where there is a long history of Aboriginal Use, included only 3 shovel tests. Even with these limited number of shovel tests over such a vast area, Antiquus states (1997:49) that the “survey strategy covered a representative sample of terrain with greater than low archaeological site potential to give… a high level of confidence in the results.” The report states that “based on the negative results of the shovel testing program and the degree of prior disturbances it is recommended that no further archaeological work should be required” (1997:49).
3. Tsay Keh Dene Traditional Use Study, 2002
From 1999 to 2002, the Tsay Keh Dene worked with D.M. Cultural Services Ltd. of Victoria to conduct a Traditional Use Study. As part of this study, in August 2000, Archaeologist, Bjorn Simonsen, accompanied by Elders Jean Isaac and Vera Poole, traveled by helicopter to Thutade Lake. Their goal was to ground-truth the sites recorded in this study. While flying over the area of Thutade (and therefore the area around Amazay Lake), “physical evidence of past use could be readily seen” (Tsay Keh Dene 2002:164). A “number of these locations were… considered to have a high potential for the presence of archaeological remains” (Tsay Keh Dene 2002:164). However, due to time constraints, the field team did not have time to visit all of these high potential sites.
The Tsay Keh Dene Traditional Use Study author also notes that at least seven of the sites around Thutade Lake have potential for sub-surface material remains. During its short time in the field, the team visited 11 sites and flew over four sites. Of the fifteen sites, eleven were documented in the TUS as habitation sites of various antiquity and burial sites of up to 8 individuals.
Although the study area for the TUS ground-truthing did not include Amazay Lake, based on the assessment of the archaeologist Bjorn Simonsen, the report states that the “Thutade Lake area is rich in evidence of past aboriginal use and occupation – both in the form of recent and ontemporary traditional use sites, as well as sites with archaeological deposits and remains” (Tsay Keh Dene 2002:172). Additionally, under Recommendations and Future Research, the report authors state that the Traditional Use Study “recognized the need for a series of detailed traditional use and archaeological studies to take place through the Traditional Territory” (Tsay Keh Dene 2002:144).
4. Antiquus Archaeological Impact Assessment 2004
In June, 2004, four archaeologists from Antiquus Archaeological Consultants Ltd. conducted an Archaeological Impact Assessment in the proposed development areas for Kemess North. This summary will focus on the results of that work in the vicinity of Amazay Lake. To conduct the fieldwork, the four archaeologists spent six days with four First Nation representatives. During this time, their goal was to survey all medium to high archaeological potential areas and record all archaeological sites.
The results of the study were the identification of six sites (summarized in Table: Summary of Archaeological Sites): three pre-historic sites at the north end of Amazay Lake; one contemporary site at the south end of Amazay Lake; one contemporary site on the eastern shore of Amazay Lake;
and one pre-historic site at the north end of the proposed “North Dump” site, northeast of Amazay Lake.
It is the opinion of the Tse Keh Nay that the Antiquus report lacks information and that it makes generalizations that are problematic. The report states that the AIA was “designed and implemented to ensure that all archaeological concerns existing within the selected development areas were identified, recorded, assessed, and properly managed prior to initiation of any land-altering development activities.” (Will et al 2004:9). As noted below, later studies recorded other archaeological sites that were missed by Antiquus. The Antiquus report also lacks maps showing survey locations and traverses. There is a map showing the study area, but there is no information about what sections of the study area were examined. For the sites that Antiquus records, on numerous occasions, the number of shovel tests is approximated. For a development that intends to completely destroy an area, approximations are not acceptable. It is also interesting that the shovel tests conducted by Antiquus revealed no archaeological expression, while a later survey by Traces was successful in identifying a number of archaeological sites using this same method.
The Antiquus report does not record any Culturally Modified Trees (CMT). Although the Tse Keh Nay does not agree with the application of 1846 as a date to determine protection, it does recognize the Archaeology Branch’s position. Nevertheless, it is common practice to record all CMTs in a report, with a comment on their antiquity. Antiquus did not record the CMTs that were later documented at the north end of Amazay Lake, and in fact stated that “[n]o Culturally Modified Trees were identified during this study” (Will et al 2004:11). It is also interesting to note that two “contemporary sites” were recorded, even though they are not protected under the Heritage Conservation Act. According to Antiquus, these contemporary sites “are not archaeological sites” but were recorded “because they are of local interest and… if this area is going to be used, it's nice to have knowledge of the fact that they were once there” (EA Panel Hearing, Oct.30, 2006: 125).
The Tse Keh Nay question why the CMT’s were not afforded the same consideration.
Another concern is that on Oct. 20, 2006 (EA Panel Hearing: 123-126), Mr. Mike Rousseau discussed the survey work at the south end of Amazay Lake. He states that there were “a number of terraces that extended up the side of the hill here” (123) that were initially noted as “extinct shoreline levels” (124). He then stated that his initial assessment of these terraces was incorrect and that these terraces were “artificial” and the result of placer mining in the 1960s and 1970s. Contrary to this assessment, Remi Farvacque, an archaeologist with a degree in Earth Sciences and experience in assessing Holocene geologic formations, notes in the Archaeological Report later
prepared by Traces that:
The Holocene drainage history of Amazay Lake is complex. Initially draining simultaneously to the south-east and south-west through two separate valleys, the waters of glacial Amazay Lake eventually breached a relict end moraine… constraining the lake at its north end. Down-cutting of this breach to the existing elevation of Amazay Lake’s outlet was not continuous, as lake levels stabilized on several occasions. These stand-stills of unknown age and duration, resulted in the creation of at least three terrace complexes, as observed in the course of our assessment. The highest of these terraces likely relates to the period when Amazay Lake drained to the south. The exception is at the south end of the lake, where these terrace complexes have cut into the glacio-fluvial outwash deposits such as river channels and levees are also well preserved. (Craig: 2006, per Remi Farvacque).
As a result of these conflicting opinions, the issue deserves greater investigation, as it is possible that Mr. Rousseau’s conclusion was incorrect and there is likely to be archaeological information available at the south end of Amazay.
In their report, Antiquus also makes generalizations about site significance that concern the Tse Keh Nay. In the report, Antiquus notes that it cannot speak on behalf of the First Nation and therefore cannot rate the ethnic significance of the archaeological sites. The Tse Keh Nay agree with this point. However, at least twice in their report, it is suggested that the overall “cultural significance” of a site is low, thus, indicating that Antiquus did consider ethnic significance in rating these archaeological sites.
Overall, it is the opinion of the Tse Keh Nay that the Archaeological Impact Assessment conducted by Antiquus Archaeological Consulting did not, as it set out to do, “ensure that all archaeological concerns existing within the selected development areas were identified, recorded, assessed, and properly managed prior to initiation of any land-altering development activities” (Will et al 2004:9).
The Tse Keh Nay believe that Antiquus missed important sites and information and that, based on the work of Traces, there is, at least, justification for further archaeological work in the area.
5. Dana Evaschuk Reconnaissance
For one day in November, 2005, Dana Evaschuk traveled with Chief John Allen French and Allan Teschuk of the Takla First Nation to Amazay Lake. In their short time at the north end of Amazay Lake, Evaschuk noted several CMTs. This was a simple reconnaissance, and not an assessment under archaeological permit, so no sub-surface testing was conducted. Nevertheless, the findings convinced the Tse Keh Nay Chiefs that further archaeological work was needed. To conduct this work, they hired Traces Archaeological Research and Consulting Ltd. (results noted below). The Evaschuk report also emphasizes that consultation was inadequate and should have been “conducted in order to determine the ethnic significance of the sites” (Evaschuk 2005:2).
6. Traces Archaeological Inventory Study In the Vicinity of Amazay Lake
In August, 2006, in cooperation with the Tse Keh Nay, archaeologists from Traces conducted an archaeological inventory around Amazay Lake, under permit 2006-294. In the preliminary report, Traces notes that three archaeological sites had been previously recorded around Amazay Lake.
During the four field days, Traces documented eight new archaeological sites and five cambium stripped lodgepole pine trees. The sites recorded by Traces include a hearth site, a cultural depression (roasting pit), lithic scatters, and a possible burial site. It also notes the existing camp area and the presence of a moose hide stretcher.
During the investigation, the archaeologists reviewed the sites to determine their current state.
Seven of the eight sites were recorded as being 100% intact. The only site that was not 100% intact was one that has been 60% destroyed by exploration road impacts. Finally, for five of the eight sites, Traces reports that “there are adjacent areas of high [archaeological] potential that may contain additional sub-surface cultural materials.” Thus, given that all except one of the sites are 100% intact, and given the comments about the area around these sites, it seems highly probable that the Amazay Lake area is a rich resource for further archaeological information, both from a cultural and scientific point of view.
Summary of Archaeological Sites
Concerns about the Northgate Minerals Archaeological Impact Assessment The recent AIA conducted by Antiquus and the letter and comments from Mr. Jim Pike of the Archaeology Branch conclude that the “project locality has received relatively low intensity and transitory (short term) human use over time” (Pike 2006:2). The Tse Keh Nay disagree and believe that while the Archaeology Branch can express opinions about the presence of physical expression of use and occupation, it does not have enough information to make sweeping statements about use. Not all use of the land leaves “physical evidence of past human use” but Mr. Pike explains that the Archaeology Branch only concerns itself with physical archaeological sites. Thus, the Branch is not authorized to make comments about other forms of use. These comments about the low level of use, in large part, are based on the low number of archaeological sites found in the region, yet it is readily recognized that there has been little formal archaeology conducted. In fact, in their 1993 report, Antiquus notes that the “immediate mine area is devoid of any previously recorded archaeological or heritage resources” (Yellowhorn 7).
It also states that “[f]urther work must be done to understand more fully the prehistory and history of the area (Yellowhorn 1993:7). Pair this with the methodological concerns about Antiquus’ work, which, until recently, has been the only archaeological firm working in the area, and the conclusion that there was low human use in the region seems even less valid.
In fact, in four days, Traces identified eight more archaeological sites in the Amazay area.
This more than doubles the number of pre-historic sites that Antiquus has identified in three separate studies, over more than 40 days, since 1992, over a much larger study area.
Additionally, Traces identified a number of areas with high potential for archaeological sites around Amazay Lake, and Bjorn Simonsen states, via the Tse Keh TUS, 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” (Tsay Keh Dene 2002:172). Finally, Harris notes in her thesis the high potential for archaeological resources in the area. If one considers these together, along with the information provided elsewhere in this report of the strong oral history of use and traditions around Amazay Lake, it seems obvious that it is a mistake to conclude that the area has received low intensity and transitory use. According to Tse Keh Nay oral history, experience and knowledge, the opposite is true. Amazay is at the heart of Tse Keh Nay territory.