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Aboriginal artifact bid renewed

Lyle and Mary Dalen display wire, iron and telegraph pole insulators, the product of an archaeological dig at Cedarvale east of Terrace. - STAFF PHOTO
Lyle and Mary Dalen display wire, iron and telegraph pole insulators, the product of an archaeological dig at Cedarvale east of Terrace.
— image credit: STAFF PHOTO

A SMALL museum at Cedarvale east of Terrace has renewed efforts to secure native artifacts discovered during CN rail siding work last year.

Despite an earlier refusal, the Meanskinisht Village Historical Association, in a Dec. 20, 2012 letter to a CN aboriginal affairs manager, has asked once again for the artifacts.

The siding work, on the north side of the Skeena River and across the river from present day Cedarvale, took place in and around a settlement called Meanskinisht, founded by a missionary called Robert Tomlinson in the late 1880s near the location of an aboriginal village called Gitlusec.

Association members say they have a connection to the artifacts because family members lived at Gitsulec before Tomlinson arrived and purchased land in the area from Tomlinson later on.

“The descendants of this association have a direct link with the artifacts uncovered,” say members Mary Dalen and son Lyle in the letter.

The siding work is part of CN’s network expansion to handle increased traffic in and out of the port at Prince Rupert.

An archaeologist hired by CN during the work now has possession of the artifacts.

CN officials say they did contact relevant aboriginal authorities in the area and signed an agreement with Arthur Matthews, the Gitxsan chief who has responsibility for the area in which the siding work was carried out.

“An observer of the chief was on site at all times. The artifacts are currently in the custody of the archaeologist who completed the work,” said CN official Emily Hamer of the agreement CN signed with Matthews. “CN and the Gitxsan chief agreed that all artifacts discovered will be housed in a museum setting owned by the Gitxsan chiefs,” she said.

Hamer added that CN has been in extensive contact with Mary Dalen.

CN did give the historical association several boxes of railway-associated material uncovered during construction.

The material consists mostly of bolts, twisted metal and glass insulators but not any aboriginal artifacts.

 

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