Archaeological Project Digs Into the Past

Slocan Narrows Project Back for Another Year


In the shadow of the towering Valhalla Mountains in the Slocan Valley, post-secondary students and educators are meticulously documenting the human history of our region that stretches back more than 3,000 years.

The Slocan Narrows Archaeological Project is once again bustling with activity along the shores of the Slocan River, just north of Lemon Creek. Funded through Hamilton College in central New York—with support from the Slocan Valley Rail Trail, Columbia Basin Trust, the local Sinixt people and Selkirk College—the six-week archeological field school has nine students, three teaching assistants and two project coordinators carefully digging through an amazing array of pithouses that provide vital links to the past.

Slocan Valley Dig

Dr. Nathan Goodale (left) and Alissa Nauman (right) at the Slocan Narrows Pithouse Village where the Slocan Narrows Archaeological Project has been taking place since mid-June. The Hamilton College educators are heading up the project which involves nine post-secondary students and three teaching assistants excavating and documenting the pithouses found along the Slocan River.

“This site is important because the Slocan River is one of the last un-dammed rivers in the Upper Columbia system,” explains Dr. Nathan Goodale, Associate Professor of Anthropology the Hamilton College who is co-directing the project. “The fact that this site exists is significant because it’s probably the last big cluster of pithouses remaining in this area. It’s also significant because of the amount of knowledge that we have gained from it, it has intact deposits and is relatively undisturbed.”

Work on the Slocan Narrows Pithouse Village has been taking place since 2000 when archeologists from the University of Montana and University of Lethbridge began the process of mapping out and exploring the footprints of the past. Almost 40 housepits have been identified and radiocarbon dating has revealed that four different periods of occupation exist stretching from approximately 3,105 years ago to the late 18th Century.

Public Invited to Take a Peek

As was the case in 2013, the site has received several visits from school and community groups over the last few weeks. That aspect of the project will climax on July 12 with the Archaeology Open House which invites anybody interested to visit the site.

“The archeology belongs to everyone and we are very excited to be able to come here on a regular basis to learn more,” says Nauman. “An important part of that is sharing with the public what’s going on here. It’s on a public rail trail and provides a great opportunity to share our research results and what was going on here in the distant past.”

The open house will take place between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on July 12. The Slocan Narrows Pithouse Village can be found by taking Highway 6 north from Winlaw. Cross Lemon Creek and then look for Lindsay Road where signs will be set up to indicate parking. Wearing comfortable shoes and packing bug spray is recommended.

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