First phase to protect ancient Cowichan native site complete, with eye toward eventual outdoor classroom

Partners want an outdoor classroom placed there

Eric McLay envisions kiosks, fencing, an outdoor classroom, interpretive signage and trails at the site of an ancient native village near Duncan.

McLay, who is an archaeologist, and members of a number of other groups recently spent two weeks preparing the site, called the Ye’yumnuts village, to eventually become an outdoor classroom that will highlight the history of the 2,000 year-old settlement.

He said the project received a BC 150 grant that allowed the various groups involved in the project, which include Cowichan Tribes, Nature Trust of BC, the province, School District 79 and the Municipality of North Cowichan, to do further work to protect and prepare the site for continued work that is still in the planning stages.

RELATED STORY: ANCIENT INDIGENOUS SETTLEMENT TO BECOME OUTDOOR CLASSROOM

The 2.4-hectare two-millennium old Ye’yumnuts village is located near the foot of Mount Prevost where archaeological evidence of ancient tools, homes, hearths and grave sites was first discovered in the 1990s.

The site was slated for a private residential development, which was called Timbercrest Estates, at the time, but work stopped with the discovery of dozens of human skeletons in the area.

For almost 25 years since then, the site was fought over until it was finally protected in a deal involving the B.C. and federal governments.

RELATED STORY: HUMAN BONES FOUND ON BC CONSTRUCTION SITE

McLay said the recent project involved implementing some longstanding heritage conservation and management at the site.

He said the work involved removing invasive plants, brush cutting, clearing and mowing the burial site area, placing a protective geotextile fabric over archaeologically sensitive areas, and finally capping the burial ground that has been found there with more than three feet of imported clean soil.

“Most importantly, after 25 years of exposure, the original bulldozer trench by Timbercrest Estates Ltd. was filled in and covered up in order to help protect the site and respectfully commemorate and manage it,” McLay said.

“In the next few weeks, this area will be seeded and restored with native grasses and flowers, and a protective split cedar rail fence will be installed. Future steps at Ye’yumnuts involve establishing new trail systems, an interpretive kiosk, outdoor classroom area, fencing and signage for public education about the site, along with curriculum development between the Cowichan Tribes, the Cowichan Valley school district and the University of Victoria. There are several designs in the development stage for the new heritage site park.”

McLay said the next step is to find more funding for the next stage of the project.

“I believe this heritage management work at Ye’yumnuts is a significant change toward how we publicly treat First Nation heritage sites in British Columbia,” McLay said.

“It reflects a movement from historical neglect, destruction and conflict toward working collaboratively to actively preserve, respect and learn about First Nations’ history for the future.”

It’s been estimated local indigenous people lived there for 600 years, then used the area as a large burial ground for another 600 years.

McLay said among the hundreds of artifacts excavated at the site were shells from the Island’s west coast, Jade from the Fraser River area, and obsidian from as far away as Idaho and Oregon, suggesting wide-ranging trade routes used by native peoples through the ages.

“The site has a lot of regional implications, and that’s why we want to set it up as an outdoor classroom for the public and students from the local schools,” he said.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Aquatic Centre renovations starting soon

More space promised for crowded fitness and aquatic areas

Mary Lowther column: Nutrition in our food on the decline

When crops don’t contain the minerals they need, they cannot provide other nutrients we depend on.

Sarah Simpson column: Bigger isn’t always better

One item there was a two-foot-tall candy cane.

Void of summer events going to be felt in Chemainus

CBIA cancels Classics Car Show and Canada Day celebrations

Land purchase brings early treaty benefit to Halalt First Nation

Ownership taken of Crofton Corners and Chemainus River Storage

11 new COVID-19 cases in B.C. as top doc urges caution amid ‘encouraging’ low rates

Dr. Bonnie Henry also announced that two care home outbreaks would be declared over

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Surrey mayor’s party under fire for ‘sickening’ tweet accusing northern B.C. RCMP of murder

Mayor Doug McCallum says tweet, Facebook post ‘sent out by unauthorized person’

Father’s Day Walk Run for prostate cancer will be virtual event this year throughout B.C.

The annual fundraiser for Prostate Cancer Foundation BC has brought in $2.5 million since 1999

Dr. Bonnie Henry announces official ban on overnight kids’ camps this summer

New ban comes after talking with other provincial health officials across the country, Henry says

Senior man in hospital after unprovoked wolf attack near Prince Rupert

Conservation officers are on site looking for the wolf

VIDEO: NASA astronauts blast off into space on SpaceX rocket

Marks NASA’s first human spaceflight launched from U.S. soil in nearly a decade

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

PHOTOS: U.S. cities brace for increasing unrest over police killing of George Floyd

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has fully mobilized the state’s National Guard

Most Read