Le musée autochtone primé d’Eeyou Istchee, institut culturel et vitrine de l’histoire des Cris de la baie James. Nous sommes heureux de votre présence, et d’avoir la possibilité de vous faire connaître notre culture.
La communauté a demandé une expertise archéologique avant la construction d’une route qui traverserait les terres de la famille Kakbat. Ce projet nous a permis de découvrir, avec l’aide d’Aînés et de collaborateurs cris, cinq nouveaux sites archéologiques.
Une intervention importante a eu lieu dans le secteur Assinika du territoire de la famille Bosum, et dans le secteur d’Uupimskaau Paaushtikuu. Nous avons découvert neuf sites archéologiques, qui sont maintenant “actifs”
Nous avons travaillé dans deux sections différentes du site Smokey Hill, à l’étang Sanders, à l’île Charlton, au fort Charles et dans d”autres sites.
La vision de l’archéologie de l’Institut culturel cri Aanischaaukamikw (ICCA) se focalise sur des projets en collaboration avec les communautés cries, et soutient celles-ci dans un éventail de projets relatifs au patrimoine culturel cri et à des lieux donnés sur le territoire. Ce projet se déroule à Oujé-Bougoumou.
The vision of the archaeology of Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute (ACCI) focuses on collaborative projects with the Cree communities and supports them in a range of projects that relate to Cree cultural heritage and places on the land. This project is taking place in Oujé-Bougoumou.
Over the decades, collaborative projects—some multi-year programs—have been carried out with all of the Cree communities in Eeyou Istchee. In this perspective, on February 10, 2016, David Denton, former archaeologists of the CNG Archaeology Unit, approached the Oujé-Bougoumou Cree Nation (OBCN) Chief and Council with a proposition for a collaborative archaeology project that would reflect the needs and interests of the community. The presentation included a suggestion for the systematic archaeological survey of Oujé-Bougoumou Category IA lands, over a period of several years. Comments from the Council members identified two areas as being priorities for Oujé-Bougoumou with respect to archaeology:
1. The area of the proposed small hydropower facility at the Upimiskaau Paawishtikuu, the rapids on the Chibougamau River between Opemiska Lake and Barlow Lake;
2. The area of the Assinica Cree Heritage Park. At this point in time, it was felt that our mutual interests would best be served by a project close to our home base at Oujé-Bougoumou, indicating that for the CNG Archaeology Unit, the former of the two projects would be most suitable. As a result, on July 12, 2016, it was proposed to the OBCN Chief and Council that the CNG Archaeology Unit carry out an archaeological survey and site evaluation in the general area of the proposed mini hydro project. The proposal was accepted and four seasons of archaeological work have been completed since then, one in 2016 and two others in 2017, 2018 and 2019 respectively.
The archaeological work carried out at Upimiskaau Paawishtikuu (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019) was initiated in the hope that this project would be useful and interesting for the community of Oujé-Bougoumou. At the same time, it was considered a prime opportunity to carry out a research project close to ACCI. The archaeology project also provides an opportunity for the community to explore a part of its ancient history in collaboration with the archaeologists. Eventually, educational activities could be associated with the excavation of a sample of the sites. For example, students could participate in the excavations or school classes could visit the site. Also, a program could eventually be set up in collaboration with ACCI for tourists visiting the community to participate in the excavations.
The Upimiskaau Paawishtikuu is an important historical area for two reasons: people travelling on this portion of the Chibougamau River in the summer would have had to pass this spot and take the portage in one direction or another. As local resident Charlie (Bobby) Capasisit expressed it, “Everybody travelled through here in the past.” The area of the rapids is also an important spawning area for both sucker and walleye that likely attracted people, especially in the spring spawning season. The archaeological potential of the area is suggested by the presence of archaeological sites recorded during surveys associated with the construction of the hydroelectric lines in the 1980s. Finally, the chance discovery of surface artifacts during an initial visual inspection in July 2016 by CNG archaeologists also suggested that we would be likely to find archaeological evidence of ancient Cree occupation in this area.
In 2016, the team was composed by an archaeologist and two members to the Oujé-Bougoumou Cree Nation. Including one of the tallymen of the trapline concerned. With their help, we relocated five of the sites found in 1988 and we add a new site downstream the rapids.
In 2017, the archaeological work was carried out between August 6 to September 27, 2017. Archaeologist Dario Izaguirre carried out the field work assisted by four land users from Oujé-Bougoumou. This season we discovered five new sites, several places showing traces of occupation in recent times and we relocated the last two sites of 1988. We also start the excavation of one of the sites located upstream of the rapids behind Arthur’s Bosum camp.
In 2018, the field work involved the continued evaluation and excavation of the DlFq-1 site. This work was under the responsibility of Dario Izaguirre, assisted by Francis Marcoux and Josephine Diamond from Waskaganish. The team of technicians included seven members of the Cree community of Oujé-Bougoumou.
In 2019 we continued the project, this time under the ACCI archaeology department. The digging work has been carried out on a site downstream of the rapids. The team was formed by an archaeologist, an assistant and two technicians from the community of Oujé-Bougoumou.
All this work permits us to discover many new evidence of ancient Cree occupations of the Upimiskaau Paawishtikuu area. In fact, most of the site shows traces including fireplaces, stone tools workshops and a varied gamma of stone tools. Concerning the stone tools, this area shows a very interesting characteristic. Most of the tools are made in a local raw material that we called rhyolite. Even if the area is not too far, relatively, from Waapushukamikw (la Colline-Blanche), the presence of Mistassini Quartzite is not significative. In other words, the Eeyou travelling by this section of the Chibougamau River knew very well the land and their resources. Over 200 artifacts are in Miatassini Quartzite and 3000 in rhyolite.
Unfortunately, none of the site has been producing any charcoal sample that we can use for a date. However, it is clear that the tools found during the excavation are older than the presence of the Europeans in the area.
The km 13 Archaeological Site.
This site has been the subject of four archaeological interventions over time. Following its discovery in 1977, in 2016, an archaeological inventory was conducted resulting in the discovery of artifacts under knees. This leads to the excavations of 2017 and 2018, carried out by the archaeologists in collaboration with the band council of the community of Oujé-Bougoumou.
Excavations took in September 2017 and 2018, including a team formed by an archaeologist and 7 Cree technicians. The excavations were concentrated in order to understand the cultural history, the pattern of occupation and the possible cultural affiliations of the site. This intervention has identified a number of human occupation indices, including two areas of combustion containing reddened and fire-cracked rocks, several finished tools, blanks, preforms and polished tools.
During the excavations of 2017 and 2018, we noticed the presence of areas showing traces of reddened soil in the south part of the site this evidence made us suspect the presence of three fireplaces and several zones showing traces of the places where people intentionally start a fire. However, despite the degree of structuration of the stones none of these fire places produce animal bones or samples of charcoal allowing us to date the occupations of the site.
Some 5865 artifacts were found at the site between 2016 and 2018, most of them coming from the excavation of 30 square metres. The archaeological collection of this site is mostly composed of stone artifacts.
Unlike most sites in Eeyou Istchee, this site shows a very homogeneous distribution of raw materials. The people living at this site have used almost exclusively materials favourable for the manufacture of chipped stone tools. Most artifacts are made of a kind of local material similar to the rhyolite, probably collected somewhere around the site. It should be noted that the benches and ridges in the area contains some veins of a material similar to the bocks of raw material found in the excavation.
Given the number of artifacts present on the site we will not give a description of each artifact. We decided to show only a sample of most representative artifacts including arrowheads, scrapers, knives, and others.
The knives or knife fragments found on the site are all chipped. We can observe among these objects four fragments of knives in rhyolite. Together these fragments are part of two complete knives. That knife was broken at the final step of their fabrication. It is evident that the flintknapper has hit the rock at the bad point, causing the rupture of artifacts. The other knife is one of Mistassini quartzite. It is a beautiful piece having a lanceolate shape and showing a very nice chipping technique. In contrast with the others, this one is complete. The last objects in this category are a tip of a knife in rhyolite.
With one exception, all arrowheads on this site are made of rhyolite. The first one was found during the 2016 survey. It is made of a very thin blade of Mistassini quartzite and its shape remembers the Box Base or Gros water points both associated with occupations dating back to the Archaic Period, roughly 2000 years old. However, there are no other elements on the site that could associate this one with an occupation of the archaic period.
The second tip is made of rhyolite and resembles closely to the small biface described above. However, in the case of this point, the biface was provided with a peduncle. As regards its shape, the point in question is asymmetric and it reminds the small knives of Sanders Pond (Waskaganish) site. However, unlike the Sanders Pond knives it is rhyolite and has no polishing marks.
Twelve Side-scrapers and end scrapers have been found at the site all those artifacts are the evidence of human activities on the site.
Finally, excavations helped to advance research on the occupation of the Opemiska Lake area. This site has gone from a simple discovery of some stone flakes to an exceptional site, as much by its geographical position than by the utilization of local stone in the construction of stone tools. In addition to the finished tools, there are a lot of blocs, blanks and preforms, which indicates that it was, among other things, a chipping stone tool workshop. However, despite their condition of the portage, few artifacts of the recent periods have been found.
Excavations have also helped to identify three combustion structures and two combustion areas. These structures were identified from a large depot of angular or red stones, over traces of red soil. However, bones are associated with these structures. It is also worth for the combustion areas.
From a chronological point of view, unfortunately we could not assign an accurate date to the site. This in part to the lack of reliable charcoal for dating and the absence of calcined bones. However, the lack of European and euro Canadian material and the small presence of recent artifacts, makes us assert that the occupation of the excavated part of the site, dates from the period pre-contact. This assertion is supported by the abundant presence of stone tools typical of the period before the arrival of Europeans.
Our research led us to conclude that this site was a place of production of tools in addition to being a place of passage. In addition, the sporadic presence of Mistassini quartzite (some finished tools and flakes). Demonstrates the passage of travellers from or having contact with the inhabitants of the Lake Mistassini area. The data collected to date suggest that DlFq-1 is linked to groups travelling on the waters of the Chibougamau River. However, they remain meager and only future research will help to better understand the cultural identity of the occupants of this site. Of course, we continue to believe that a new chapter in history is beginning to be written about a group of pioneers in the region of Ouje-Bougoumou in Eeyou Istchee.
This site was discovered during the 2016 prospecting and was excavated in 2019 by the team of archaeologists from ACCI in collaboration with the band council of the community of Oujé-Bougoumou.
The excavations included a team made up of an archaeologist and 3 Cree technicians. The excavations were aimed at understanding the history of The Path’s Site.
This site was discovered during the 2016 survey and was excavated in 2019 by the team of archaeologists from ACCI in collaboration with the band council of the community of Oujé-Bougoumou.
The excavations included a team made up of an archaeologist and 3 Cree technicians. The excavations were aimed at understanding the cultural history, function and possible cultural connections of the site.
This intervention made it possible to identify a certain number of signs of human occupation, the most important of which is the use of the site as a workshop for the production of stone tools.
On this site, and despite the large number of artifacts found, no charcoal was recovered, making dating of the site impossible.
Some 11,843 artifacts were found at the site during excavation, in just an area of 11 square metres. All these artifacts are made in this stone that we call rhyolite and that the artisans have collected in the vicinity of the site.
As for the km-13 site, the trail site shows a very homogeneous distribution of raw materials. Most (around 99%) of the artifacts are made of some kind of local material similar to rhyolite. Very little Mistassini quartzite was found there.
Even if the number of artifacts present on the site is considerable, most of these artifacts consist of stone debris produced during the making of stone tools. In this sense, only a few tool blanks have been collected, as well as other tools used for making stone points and knives.
This site, from an archaeological point of view, testify to what can be called a workshop for the manufacture of stone tools. It is remarkable the quantity of debris, fragments and blocks of raw material present on the site as well as the almost total absence of finished objects.
From a cultural point of view, the site is a good example of the knowledge that the ancestors of the Cree had of the territory. Their movements and their explorations in search of resources available for survival led this group of individuals to the discovery of a raw material that allowed them to make the tools on the spot and leave with the finished objects, leaving behind them as the vestiges of their work.
In this workshop one can easily see where the craftsman has sat down to work. You can see how he got rid of missed pieces or blocks of stone that did not show the right qualities for making a tool, and how he forgot hammerstones that helped him in his work.
As for the km-13 site, excavations on the trail site have made it possible to advance research on the occupation of the Lake Opémiska sector. However, from a chronological point of view, we find ourselves with the same problem as for the Km-13 site. Despite the care taken in the excavation work, we could not assign a precise date to the site due to the lack of reliable charcoal for dating and no outbreaks.
An interesting aspect of this site is the total absence of European, Euro-Canadian and recent material. This makes us affirm with certainty that the human activities taking place on the site date from the pre-contact period, given the abundance of debris of stone tools typical of the period before the arrival of Europeans.
With the excavation of this site, we have written another page in the history of human occupation in Oujé-Bougoumou and Eeyou Istchee.
Pour en savoir davantage sur certains des nouveaux projets en cours ou en développement, dont des sites archéologiques et des lieux de sépulture, le contrôle en EM-1 et la préparation d’une base de données archéologiques, veuillez consulter notre Blogue d’archéologie en cliquant ci-dessous.