Thursday, August 07, 2014

Grace Point - Grace Lost is the Point.

 (Shared by Briony Penn in the Salt Spring Exchange followed by my response)
The following are excerpts from Dr. Darcy Mathews, archaeologist
in a letter responding to Mr. Slawsky's lawyer's inaccuracies sent to the CRD. (That letter formed the basis of Mr. Slawsky's op-ed.) Let's make this a real discussion Salt Spring with respect for all cultures.

"Re: Grace Islet Cemetery and the letter from Sharpray, Cramer, Fitterman, and Lamer, dated July 25, 2014
... I am an archaeologist with more than 20 years of experience, with specific expertise in Coast Salish funerary practices....I can offer some clarifications on the issues raised by Mr. Slawsky’s legal council in the aforementioned letter. I have a specialization in Coast Salish mortuary and funerary practices and in particular, I am one of the foremost experts in North Americaconcerning funerary petroforms (also called burial cairns), the kind of visible Coast Salish burials evident on Grace Islet...Burial cairns are arrangements of stone and soil placed over the bodily remains of the Coast Salish dead. This is one of many kinds of burial practices used through time in the Gulf Islands (Figure 1). Burial cairns are Coast Salish burial monuments. In our present day funerary tradition, headstones and other grave markers not only denote a burial location, but also convey something of the biography of the individual, and their connections to living kin, their religious affiliations, their socioeconomic status, and so forth... very complex ideas concerning kinship, and a process of making physical and historical connections to place, are invested in these funerary practices. They are sites not only marking the location of the individual dead, but together they speak to the creation of a communal place and space specifically for the dead. Incidentally, one of the cemeteries in my study was on a small islet very much like Grace Islet.
I visited Grace Islet on May 26, 2013, at the invitation of Dr. Stephen Acheson,project manager at the British Columbia Archaeology Branch. Dr. Acheson secured permission for us to access the islet. He asked for my expert opinion on the stone
archaeological features on the islet. We only had approximately 45 minutes on the islet, but I offered Dr. Acheson my professional assessment. Many of the stone arrangements that I saw on Grace Islet were consistent with funerary petroforms I have seen and recorded elsewhere in the region, including in the Gulf Islands (e.g., Eldridge andMathews 2005; Mathews 2014a; Mathews and McLay 2011), in greater Victoria (e.g., Mathews 2002; Mathews and Kilburn 2013; Mathews, et al. 2011) and in Metchosin (Mathews 2004a, b, 2006, 2014b). In total, I have seen approximately one thousand funerary petroforms—perhaps more than anyone else in British Columbia—and most of the stone features at Grace Islet are consistent in both the use of stone and overall morphology with burial cairns I have observed or recorded elsewhere. I made it clear that a detailed survey and analysis by a third-party specialist would be an appropriate measure prior to building. To my knowledge, this advice was not followed up on.

I made this recommendation because there were clearly definite funerary petroforms on the islet... In the absence of systematic and accepted contemporary methods used by professional archaeologists to identify buried human remains (e.g., ground penetrating radar, soil resistivity, geochemical methods, etc.), the burial cairn data presently offers the best and most immediate archaeological evidence for the use of Grace Islet as a cemetery. The house footprint envelops two of the burial cairns, and others are in the immediate vicinity. The observed human remains located outside of this footprint does not diminish the fact that the entirety of Grace Islet is a cemetery. This is where archaeologists should be using more sophisticated and systematic approaches, as well as looking for supporting evidence of human burial other than just skeletal remains, including the presence of stone associations such as burial cairns, the burial pit itself, personal objects sometimes associated with burials, and so forth....archaeologists familiar with the culture history of the Coast Salish ethnolinguistic area know that small islets were used as cemeteries (e.g., Jenness 1934). Finding human remains on a near-shore islet like Grace Islet should have triggered alarm bells for the involved archaeologists. It is not just burial cairns that were built on small islets. For example, just prior to and immediately after European contact, bodies were placed in wooden grave houses, wooden boxes, canoes, and even exposed on the ground surface. In these conditions, human remains would leave little or no archaeological trace (Lyman and Fox 1997). Human bone will begin to mechanically break down in as few as six years on ground surface exposure (Behrensmeyer 1978), although the specific time is dependent on local environmental factors as much as time (Lyman and Fox 1997; Lyman and Fox 1989). Given the generally shallow nature of the sediments at Grace Islet, even those bodies buried within below-ground inhumations were only one step away from being completely exposed to the agents of decay (Henderson 1987). With this in mind, hoping to find human remains by digging shovel tests, particularly when that approach is not statistically representative......the maxim “the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence” seems particularly appropriate.
This letter does not cover the full extent of the points raised by Mr. Slawasky’s legal council. But the objective archaeological evidence fully supports the assertions made by Coast Salish elders and other cultural experts that the entirety of Grace Islet is a cemetery. The burial cairns likely represent a fraction of the dead who were interred there over four or more millennia. The bodily remains of many of these people may no longer be present, or have not been identified so far, but enough contextual information exists to objectively and confidently call Grace Islet a cemetery. Unfortunately the archaeological work done at Grace Islet to date does not meet a minimum threshold of comprehensiveness and sophistication to make more specific statements concerning the number, ages, and locations of many human burials.
One final point I raise is a consideration of the spaces between and around the burial cairns at Grace Islet. Each of these burials is not an entity unto itself. Each burial cairn is part of a community of the dead. Dissecting these connections with house foundations and other facilities is to destroy the relationships between these individual burials. For many peoples—both Coast Salish and Euro Canadian—connections to their ancestral dead are foundational to social memories, genealogy, history, and a sense of place. To destroy, encapsulate, or bisect Coast Salish cemeteries like Grace Islet is to effect the same outcome on their living descendants. In other words: How we treat the dead speaks volumes about how we treat the living.
Darcy L. Mathews, Ph.D."

My response; "Blessings Briony and thank you for sharing relevant information. It is long overdue for people to Recognize, Re-examine and Realize they are only following and supporting Liars, Murderers and Thieves with their own claims of ownership of the Lands and Waters...That's why GOD gave it to me.
"I own all Land" and "I own all Water" (Phrases hidden in my name that i can spell it out for you non-believers).
your humble servant,
ancient ward vall clown"

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please keep profanity out of the conversation.