Tse'k'wa Heritage Society has partnered with University of Northern British Columbia to offer a 2024 field school at Tse'k'wa National Historic Site in May and June. A virtual info session was hosted Feb. 9 for interested students.
Also known as the Charlie Lake Cave, the national historic site has been an Indigenous gathering place for more than 12,000 years, a sacred and spiritual place for the stakeholder First Nations of Doig River, Prophet River and West Moberly, with their ancestors first using the site to hold ceremonies.
It's one of the few sites in Canada with a complete record of highly-preserved animal bones and artifacts from the end of the last ice age to the modern day.
The field-school will use a community-based approach and participants will receive six university-level credits from UNBC.
"They will learn about Dane-zaa cultural history from local Knowledge Keepers as well as: hands-on training in field-testing and excavation methods in a research setting, archaeological science analysis, and skills that are applicable in Cultural Resource Management," explains a Facebook post.
Funding may be available to support program fees for indigenous participants, adds the post, and the society can be contacted for more information. The last field school was hosted in May 2022, the first new dig at the site in over 30 years.
During the 2022 dig, UNBC students and community members from local First Nations discovered flakes of stone tools, picking up where Simon Fraser University professor and bone expert Dr. Jon Driver left off in the 1990s, who also took part in the field school.
In 2022, Driver told the Alaska Highway News that they’ve only scratched the surface of the cave’s scientific potential and was pleased to see the site in the hands of Doig River, Prophet River and West Moberly First Nations, who purchased it in 2012.
“What I find so great is that the site’s protected, the three nations got together, they bought the land, they now own the site that’s incredibly important for their history, and they control what goes on here,” he said. “And so this can be a centrepiece for talking about their traditional knowledge, their culture, their history, and passing that on not just for their communities, but also for the broader public.”
“You’ve got one of the most critically important scientific sites in Canada here, it’s incredible. I think that will sink in as the interpretative side of this develops,” said Driver.