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Message-Id: <199504132113.QAA02492@info.tamu.edu>
Date: Thu, 13 Apr 1995 16:11:54 -0500
Sender: NATIVE-L Aboriginal Peoples: news & information <NATIVE-L@TAMVM1.TAMU.EDU>
From: indig.canada@gnosys.svle.ma.us
Subject: 4,000 year-old campsite in Ontario
Original Sender: SUSAN ODONNELL <SENSO@cardiff.ac.uk>

4,000 year-old campsite in Ontario

A Canadian Press report and a comment upon it, 13 April 1995


This forwarded article is written in that horrid let's examine the dead culture tone of voice, which I hate. If anyone can offer an Indigenous perspective on this event, please post it here. Thanks.


Clues to past in campsite

By the Canadian Press, Fort Erie, Ontario, Tuesday April 11 1995

Scientists digging at an ancient campsite are uncovering clues about life in southern Ontario 4,000 years ago.

This is the best opportunity we have had so far to learn what life was like in what we call the Genesee period, said archeologist Ron Williamson.

Hunter-gatherers from as far away as Vermont would congregate at the river mouth to fish, hunt, collect the flint-like chert from the river bank and bury their dead.

Workers excavating a parking lot in southern Ontario last month discovered the bones of a person who may have lived as early as 2000 BC.

The archeological dig has since uncovered the remains of four dogs, countless flint spear and axe points, the bones of the now extinct passenger pigeon, some ceramic pottery and the post holes of an early native hut.

The archeological crew believes they've unearthed convincing evidence that the spot was a summer campsite for generations of native North Americans for more than 2,000 years.

The discovery of ancient items isn't new in this border town along the Niagara River. For almost two decades, anyone pushing a shovel into the ground was likely to come up with an arrowhead, native bones or a military burial ground.

The early campground probably encompasses about 20 hectares, Williamson said.

This was a town in prehistoric times. There are probably 150 dark stained areas in the area, which were garbage pits containing evidence of continuing habitation here from 2000 BC to about 400 AD, he said.

One of his prized exhibits is the perfectly preserved skull of a camp dog from a refuse pit. Smaller and leaner than a German shepherd with erect ears and a pointed nose, the dogs were used as hunters, watchdogs and companions.

Williamson said he expects evidence at the site will force archeologists to start thinking of the Fort Erie area as a massive gathering place for inhabitants of the lower Great Lakes basin.

Williamson's team will spend the summer removing artifacts, bones and organic material for analysis.

Message-Id: <199504190651.BAA05580@info.tamu.edu>
Date: Tue, 18 Apr 1995 11:10:41 EST
Sender: NATIVE-L Aboriginal Peoples: news " information <NATIVE-L@TAMVM1.TAMU.EDU>
From: indig.canada@gnosys.svle.ma.us
Subject: Re: 4,000 year-old campsite in Ontario
Original Sender: paul_antone@pch.gc.ca


I am an Aboriginal person and would like to respond to your statement re: this site.

Although I am not familiar with this specific site, I have worked on sites of similar and older age. While we cannot state exactly who these people were, we certainly can say that they were Aboriginal as well. There are no records, written (or verbal that I know of) that go back this far. The name of the culture has been assigned by the arch/anthro community to provide a basis for describing differing cultural attributes found throughout southern Ontario. I am familiar with the archaeologist doing the work there and he has been the Ontario chair of the Aboriginal Heritage Committee of the Canadian Archaeological Society (this group is trying to develop a code of ethics for archaeologist in Canada working in and around Aboriginal communities). Since Ron has worked a lot with different First Nation communities, I doubt (at least I hope) very much that he didn't present the site in the context of extinct culture. It was probably the way the press (read reporter) chose to present it. I myself have been in this position.

We cannot say that the people who occupied the site went on to become one of the groups that later emerged in southern Ontario or eastern New York - there is no basis for this statement. But to say they are extinct may not be totally correct either. It is just as likely that their culture evolved into one of the known cultures as it is that they were displaced geographically or died out. It is without a doubt that the Niagara drainage basin was an important area in pre-contact times for travel into and out of southern Ontario as was the Walpole Island area to the west (bordering Michigan).