Dr. Peggy J. Blair (2005) gives and excellent outline of the history of how scientists have felt entitled to desecrate Indigenous peoples burial sites. Her article gives a legal overview in the Canadian context speaking about many sites which have been destroyed due to archaeology and development. This article was written for the Scow Institute: The Scow Institute is a non-partisan organization dedicated to addressing public misconceptions about issues relating to Aboriginal people and Aboriginal rights. For more information, please visit our website at http://www.scowinstitute.ca.
“For several centuries, Western scientists have disinterred Aboriginal human remains and cultural items for collection and study. Often, the everyday and sacred objects found in burial grounds have been retained in private collections and museums rather than being returned to or re-buried in their community of origin. Under current federal legislation, unless those holding such items agree to return them voluntarily, little can be done.” (1)
“To Aboriginal peoples, burial grounds are not archaeological sites, and human bones are neither artifacts to be displayed in museums, nor scientific resources to be mined; the remains of ancient ancestors are to be accorded proper respect. For many Aboriginal cultures, the belief that a spiritual ‘essence’ remains bound to the body after death means that remains should never be disturbed. The Anishnabe of south-western Ontario traditionally believed that humans consisted of three parts – a corporeal body that decayed and disappeared after death, a soul that traveled to the land of the souls, and a shadow spirit that roamed around the earth but generally remained with the grave. According to these beliefs, a disturbance of the grave disturbs the shadow spirit.” (3)
“In Ontario, both the Cemeteries Act and the Funeral, Burial and Cremation Services Act require that once an ‘unapproved Aboriginal cemetery’ is discovered, negotiations must take place resulting in a site disposition agreement.27 Section 68 of the Ontario Cemeteries Act prohibits the disturbance of a ‘burial site or artifacts associated with the human remains’ except on the instruction of the coroner or under one of these agreements.” (6)
“Litigation to prevent development has generally been unsuccessful. For some Aboriginal peoples, their inability to protect burial sites has resulted in blockades and occupations, even violence. As the Royal Commission has pointed out, Aboriginal groups often have little influence in deciding priorities for development or preservation. As the commission concluded, ‘[a]ll too often, Aboriginal peoples’ desire or need for access to traditional sites for traditional activities has led to conflict with officials’.41 A new ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada calls on provincial governments as well as the federal government to consult with Aboriginal peoples and to accommodate their rights. The impact of this direction from the Supreme Court on Aboriginal burial grounds is still not known.” (10)
Prior to settlement by Europeans, the areas now known as the Junction and Baby Point were forested by white pines. While the Wendat and Mississauga inhabited this land for periods of time, it remains a small part of the traditional homeland of the Iroquoian peoples, the Erie/Neutrals and Six Nations. The Junction as we know it, is part of an important Indigenous Peoples trade route that travels along the ancient shoreline of Lake Iroquois from Montreal to Detroit being used as such for at least 10,000 years. The Iroquois Lake Trail also intersected another ancient Indigenous Trade Route, the Carrying Place Trail, which followed the east side of the Humber, Onguiaahra Eagua, ( Little Thundering Waters), passing through the Erie/Neutral, Seneca, and Mohawk village of Taiaiako’n to Lake Simcoe, formerly Lake Toronto. The passageway from the west side of the Humber to the east side was at the village of Taiaiako’n , village at the crossing, which is where Toronto ( Gi:yondo, or Tondo) , got its name, meaning log in the water. There was a great white pine that laid across the Humber River where the people could cross the river and continue their journey on the Carrying Place Trail to the Lake Iroquois Trail. Traces of the existence of former trails remain in the road names: Indian Road, formerly a north-south trail, linking it with the Lake Iroquois Trail and Indian Road Crescent. The Indian Road Trail is now known as Parkside and Keele, a trail that was used by Indigenous peoples to travel to the area known as High Park, to bury their dead, as there are many burial and ceremonial mounds in High Park and area around the park . Indian Trail Road was renamed Parkside Drive and another street just to the east of Parkside Dr., was then renamed Indian Rd.
Indiana Jones Would Not Have Done Things This Way
By Jacqueline S. Homan
On September 2009, Archeological Services, Inc. (ASI), a firm owned by de-licensed archeologist Ron Williamson, presented a 19-page report to the City of Toronto Parks & Forestry Department concerning a contested mound site in High Park known as the Snake Mounds — a site that the Iroquois community holds is an ancient burial ground dating back 3,000 years or more.
The archeological report containing obscure, abstract jargon among its litany of big words, for which a glossary of terms was conveniently omitted, was prepared by Brian Narhi, Project Historian and David Robertson, Senior Archeologist and Project Manager, Debbie Steiss (Ron Williamson’s wife), Senior Archeologist & Partner, and Andrea Carnevale, Staff Archeologist. It claims that no evidence of any artifacts were found during ASI’s field investigation of Picnic Area 7 and the Snake Mounds portion of the park commonly referred to as the “Bike Pit” where BMX dirt bike ramps were built on the contested site. The executive summary reads as follows:
“The Stage 1-2 Archeological Resources Assessment of the High Park “Bike Pit” and Picnic Area 7 has been carried out in advance of any park management activities that may result in landscape alteration in either area. The Stage 1 assessment entailed consideration of the proximity of the previously registered archeological sites, the original environmental setting of the park, and its 19th and 20th century development history. The Stage 2 assessment involved completion of test pit surveys within both areas. No archeological remains were encountered during the field investigations. Accordingly, this report recommends that the Bike Pit and Picnic Area 7 may be cleared of any further archeological concern, with the proviso that the appropriate authorities must be notified should deeply buried archeological or human remains be encountered during any future work on the property.”
There are a few major problems with this report. First, there is only the say-so of ASI that 40 test pits of a depth of 6”-10” deep each were dug throughout the site on Friday September 4th 2009 before Labor Day weekend. Curiously, the team did all of this test-pit digging within a span of three to four hours, quitting before noon — as normal for archeological field work on a Friday. What an amazing feat when you consider that no automation or machinery was employed to aid in their expedition.
Moreover, standard industry practice is that you dig until you hit clay. You don’t hit clay at 6”- 10” in Ontario, Canada. Further, no pictures document this “work.” There is only a picture of one test pit, and that one was dug on the outer perimeter of the Snake Mound in a location where nobody goes because it not conveniently accessible and it is overgrown with poison ivy.
Why would these “professionals” with their $64 million dollar vocabularies and their ability to compose lofty, intimidating word salads that merely serve to baffle the public, fail to use their impressive educations — signified by their fancy degrees commensurate with the intellectual prowess they claim to possess — choose the wrong area for their one and only test pit that was shown in the report?
Why choose the poison ivy patch on the outer region that is in a remote area where it is unlikely that anything would turn up? That leaves one wondering whether these “professionals” are really as smart and competent as they say they are. Or did they purposely choose an area for their test pit that was unlikely to support the Iroquois community’s claims of a burial site, knowing that they should have instead dug in the middle while deliberately misleading the public with their word salad that amounts to verbal fertilizer?
In their report they use terms like “Stage 1”, “Stage 2”, “flutings”, and “drumlinized” without defining them for lay people to be able to understand, even if they read it with an Oxford dictionary on hand to look up half of the jargon they used. There can be only two possible reasons for doing that. Either they want to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes to get away with something, or they want to puff themselves up with self-importance like peacocks showing off their plumage with the specific intent of belittling and disparaging the Iroquois First Nations community who advanced the claim of a historical burial site just to make the Native community look bad.
Yet, it is precisely these types of highly educated and economically successful professionals that always seem to float to the top of the socio-economic pool — just like excrement.
It takes an enormous amount of ego and shameless narcissism for privileged people to knowingly, consciously, and deliberately use their social class privileges, prestige, and advanced educations to get over on others — especially others who overwhelmingly rank among the most downtrodden in society — without any regard for their human rights; including their right to culture.
Stage 1 means doing a cursory walk-about, looking on the surface for any archeological remains on the ground. Stage 2 means doing a small, shallow test pit, digging only 6”-10” deep. Had ASI done a Stage 1 in the mounds area itself, the area where the BMX bike ramps were built, they would have found what I, myself, a volunteer, a parks department worker, and those in the First Nations community found during the week of the peace and restoration camp this past May. They would have found the large chunks of obsidian, arrowheads, the large amounts of red and yellow ochre (which are not commonly found in such large quantities as natural deposits in this area as this had to be harvested and transported from elsewhere), the bone fragment; or the marine sea shells (these were also used in some funerary rites) that are consistent with a salian coastal plane environment — not consistent with downtown Toronto, or the shores of fresh water bodies such as Lake Ontario or Lake Erie. [See more about the artifacts on the Taiaiako’n Historical Preservation Society website.]
ASI’s report refutes the claim that the Snake Mounds is an ancient burial site because, in their collective “expert” opinion, ASI’s team of archeologists think that the Snake Mound site in High Park was formed naturally by wind, water, and glacier retreat; using the term “drumlinized” to describe that.
But that doesn’t square with what others have found at the Snake Mound site. You would not find obsidian, mica, white clay, marine animal shells, or an arrowhead or a bone fragment or a piece of an ancient stone plate (commonly used in these sorts of burial mounds as a marker) in a drumlin. Nor would a drumlin have hollowed out subterranean chambers, which you can tell by walking over. Any rock or other substance left by glacial retreat in a drumlin would be consistent with those typically found in an area of glacial retreat.
So how did they miss all that?
Had these highly educated “professionals” chosen their test pit another 3-4 feet in towards the center from the outer-most rim, they would have found what we found: The first arrowhead, followed by the second arrowhead that was uncovered in the middle of the mound during the peace camp’s deconstruction of the BMX dirt bike ramps. So how did ASI’s team of “experts” miss all that? Did they deliberately want to miss it, and if so, whose interests are being served?
Owing to environmental assessments and policy, archeologists are only required to test 10% of any given site under question. How convenient that ASI picked the most obscure, outer-most region to do their test pit where you’re not likely to find anything. Coincidence?
The executive summary of their report clears the City of Toronto of any responsibility to protect the Snake Mound site, and gives the city the green light to develop that portion of the park in any way they want — including perhaps even selling off that portion of the park to wealthy private real estate developers. Who stands to benefit under that scenario, and at whose loss and expense?
Let’s be honest, shall we. It is no secret that government and a phalanx of upper-middle class highly credentialed experts serve the interests of those who have been the most enriched and who have received the most societal benefits from an entire system of unearned privileges — the sine qua non of colonialism, feudalism, and capitalism.
And it is also no secret that the winners of this same system conveniently created the rules to favor the most privileged, dismissing aboriginal people’s oral histories by only recognizing documentation including confusing and intimidating word salads that really don’t say anything or serve any function other than to uphold and perpetuate a system of unearned privileges designed to enrich a few at the expense of the many under the habiliments of “democracy.”
Magwood Park: Thunderbird Mound (estimated to be 6,000 years old.)
Below the old Erie/Neutral, Seneca and Mohawk village site of Taiaiagon (which was destroyed in 1687 by Marquis de Denonville, Governer of New France) within Baby Point Road area where 5,000 people once resided, in the ravine that leads into Magwood Park is another ancient Effigy Earthwork Burial Mound. Soil erosion and pedestrian traffic has been a problem here as well, even though it is off of the beaten track.
The Haudenosaunee of Six Nation’s Confederacy of the Grand River, who through longstanding agreements with the Erie/Neutrals, are sworn protectors and stewards of the ancestors. Events of desecration of Bear Mound, the thunderbird Mound (AjGu-44), and more recently at Snake/Serpent Mound have forced the Taiaiako’n Historical Preservation Services, through Rastia’ta’non:ha and his team, to step up surveillance and protection of these sites.
After the last Glacial period of about 12,500 B.C., the people known as the Clovis culture, a Paleo-Indian cultural group had established themselves from east of the Mississippi to the Atlantic coast, particularly around Lake Erie (Oswego) and Lake Ontario (Cadarakut). These people were the ancestors of the Erie/Neutrals. Within the Woodland Period (700 B.C. – 1615 A.D), they became more sedentary and agricultural, and so were able to take greater care of their dead, as well as take the time to build mounds to honor and bury them. Some mounds were used for medicine ceremonies, some were for burials, and both could be used for the purpose of interpreting the celestial calendar and for navigation. These particular mounds here in toronto directly correspond to the same set of mounds in Ohio (Erie/Neutral), which represent all of the clans.
As one might expect, throughout the history of this land, the greater Toronto area was home to several Nations of Indigenous Peoples, namely the Erie/Neutral (Erie: “people of the Cat Nation”), and evidence of their village life still remain in some areas. Most of these sites have been destroyed from the developments of the city during the past two centuries; however, some sites still remain intact. When they bcame uncovered, and are rediscovered either by passers-by or by construction crews, archaeologists and Indigenous Peoples are to be contacted and consulted.
In High Park, fifty seven such mounds have been identified. These are not village sites; they are burial mound sites. Burial Mound Earthworks were built by the Erie/Neutral and Iroquois as by their predecessors the Hopia (Hopewell). The Anishnabe were a group of northern Indigenous peoples who were nomadic and did not traditonally live on land that would support building earthworks, as they lived north of the Canadian shield.
Two sites in particular are quite outstanding, but for different reasons. One is exposed and unprotected by vegetation, and so is easily viewed and accessed, and therein lies the problem (Bear Mound Complex): because it is not naturally protected, it is open to wear and tear from pedestrian traffic. The Province of Ontario, through the Ministry of culture, has deemed it an archaeological site (AjGu-45), in 2003. Another one of the other 56 sites, has been almost totally destroyed due to off-road bike enthusiasts, who unwittingly and illegally created an off road bike jump course at the southeastern corner of the park on the Snake/Serpent Mound.
We have an updated file from the Ministry of Culture from January 17, 2011.
Ron Williamson has not had a license since Dec 31, 2000 because of overdue Archaeological Fieldwork Reports for Licenses, 1992-010, 1993-016, 1995-020, 1997-017, and 2000-16.
I will attach the last page to this letter as it is important. Williamson, missed out on the grand parenting option, as he would have had to have all of the outstanding reports into the Ministry before the end of December 2003, which he did not.
A letter dated November 6, 2003 states that their records still indicate that he has overdue reports, They also indicated that several ASI staff members have overdue reports and have received the same notice as Williamson.
Williamson did not hold an archaeological license when he was working in Red Hill Valley, the Dannanani site in Vaughan, Skanantut in Vaughan, High Park, or any other sites he has worked on since 2001. He has also told some archaeologists last year that he got his license back. His licensing file with the Ministry of Culture, indicates otherwise, as it does not contain a license since 2000.
On his website: Archaeological Services Inc.- Ron Williamson
Archaeological Services Inc. was founded in 1980 by Ron Williamson and remains a 100% Canadian owned private corporation. In 2002, Williamson entered into a partnership with Martin Cooper, Robert MacDonald, Robert Pihl and Deborah Steiss, all of whom are active in the management of the corporation. All of the partners are practicing archaeologists, whom collectively, have over 150 years of hands-on experience in the field of archaeology and project management.
Since his non-licensing he has directed and participated in:
The use of other archaeologists licenses who formerly worked for him in order to do archaeological reports on sites he has directed. *The Ministry is quite clear that licenses are not transferable to another person, and companies or corporations can not be licensed, only individual archaeologists.
He has also used coercion and force to take away projects from other bona-fide licensed archaeologists.
Founding First Nations Circle-Ron Williamson Dog and Pony Show used by Williamson to take away sites from other Bona fide licensed archaeologists
Peace Bridge site excavation, 2004, Elmbank cemetary, Toronto Master plan ( Toronto Master Plan ) Huson Site, Mantle Site, Cultural Landscape Study, City of Hamilton, Red Hill Valley Expressway, Hamilton, Ontario, Skandatut, City of Vaughan, Dannanai Site, City of Vaughan, High Park, City of Toronto.
Mr. Williamson and ASI have participated in the destruction of hundreds of indigenous sites for the sake of new developments. He claims to have consulted with the appropriate Indigenous Communities, meanwhile his emphasis is consulting with the Huron-Wendat of Wendake. He has also changed and altered the history of many Iroquoian sites by classifying them all Huron-Wendat, when in fact they belong to other Iroquoian groups not associated with the Huron-Wendat. That way he feels he has satisfied the Duty to Consult with FN. There have also been many instances where he nor ASI has not notified the Huron-Wendat upon verifying the classification of the site.
Recently, Ron Williamson responds by saying” He says he doesn’t need one. That his staff who do the “field work” do have licenses “.
According to Ron Williamson’s curriculum vitae, he has worked on at least 26 sites, while not being licensed. That doesn’t account for all the sites either or the rest of his unlincensed staff have worked on without the supervision of a licensed archaeologist.
There is a conspiracy by Williamson and ASI to control all of the archaeology in Ontario. He is known by some as a “twistorian”, a person who twists history to promote his own agenda. In the meantime , while twsiting the history of Indigenous peoples, the true history of the first peoples and their ancestors is lost.
Here are some examples of Ron Williamson and ASI’s site destruction:
Red Hill Valley:
Copper Axe 4,500 years old -Pea Hill- 2005
Some examples of his assessments:
Williamson and ASI have mostly only ever excavated 10% of an archaeological site, many times missing entire village sites and burial sites. He spent 6 months excavating a Paleo site (10,000 yrs old) on the top of the Mountain in the Red Hill Valley, Hamilton On, looking for bones. Of course he did not find any, as the Paleo people did not bury their dead, but cremated instead. Therefore he would not have found any human remains any way. He left many artifacts exposed for the general public to take, and a spear point was found by another individual that Williamson and his staff had left behind. Many of the artifacts that Williamson did not want ended up in the Hamilton City garbage.
Williamson also claimed that “no burials had been found in the Red Hill Valley” according to an article in the Hamilton Spectator. Meanwhile, he brought in a backhoe and levelled a mound called “Pea Hill” within 2 hrs, when there was red ochre, bone fragments, and a 4,500 year old copper axe head (Celt) found. He also made public statements about other known mounds in the Red Hill Valley, stating they are a result of construction residue from the sewer work done in the ’50′s. Pictures taken of his test pitting shows clearly that there was no attempt by Ron Williamson and ASI to truly verify if they were mounds or not. As the test pitting was done at the base of the mounds, where there would be the likelihood of soil being pushed onto the mound, in order to cover up the mound. There were also Arial photographs from the 40′s and 50′s showing the mounds there, meanwhile, the same Arial photographs were “airbrushed” to show the mounds not there until the mid ’50′s. A Manitoba maple tree that was growing out of the top of one of the mounds had been dated, from 1888, making it impossible for the mound to have been made by construction residue as Williamson and ASI have suggested.
At the Dannannai site in Vaughan, Williamson claims that the red ochre staining found between the poles of one of the longhouses (wolf clan Seneca) was a fire burn mark. If it was as Williamson suggested, having a fire that close to the longhouse wall would have burnt the longhouse down. The so-called burn mark, had been found dug by ASI a year later, and burial removed, as it was actually a clan mother burial, something commonly done by the Seneca people to bury their clan mothers between the poles in the longhouses.
There are many other examples of Williamson and ASI doing sloppy work by missing village sites and burial sites, leaving it to developers to find when they have unearthed them, which costs more delays, and opposition from Indigenous Communities leading to lawsuits. Many other archaeologists have been called in to clean up Ron Williamsons and ASI messes.
High Park for example, he and ASI did their test pitting in a picnic area near one of the mounds, but not a part of the mound. As they stated their finds, were “inconclusive”, therefore have used that information to try to disprove the mounds in High Park. Our traditional people are incensed by ASI’s statements, as they are basically calling our Clan mothers and people who have known about these sacred places for generations and held ceremonies there, liars. No we are not the liars; it is Ron Williamson and ASI who are the liars! As Mr. Williamson claims that all of his staff is licensed by his statement made publicly, that is actually not the case.
In consulting with other archaeologists in Southern Ontario, many have never seen red ochre before or have limited experience with it, which is a commonly used burial substance in many cultures throughout the world, not limited to North America. That in itself is a scary thought. What this shows us is that many of our ancestors resting places have been destroyed because they don’t know what red ochre looks like, and a clear sign of burials whether or not there are any human remains. In some cases because of soil types, there will not be any human remains or only small fragments. That doesn’t mean that these places are not sacred and special to us. They are, and should be respected as such just like any other cemetery.
There are other reports that have come in on Ron Williamson and ASI’s activities around the Brantford area, whereas in order to get a contract at a site, where no artifacts were previously found, he brought in artifacts from other sites and scattered them on the ground in order to get the contract for the site. On the other hand, there have been instances where artifacts have been found where he and his staff stated there wasn’t anything, and he lost his contracts as a result of this. Corruption Galore…the experiences and evidence against Williamson and ASI is mounting. As also we have been informed that the Mississaugas of the New Credit, have fully endorsed Williamson and ASI’s work of corruption. Is that endorsement because they know what he and his company have done to destroy our sites to support their false claims , or is it just plain ignorance on their part?
We have also been informed by officials from Wendake,Que (Wendat) that Ron Williamson and other members of his Founding First Nations Circle made a trip to meet with the people at Wendake, several years ago, claiming to have met with their “clan mothers” and that the Wendat “clan mothers” gave them their blessing on Ron Williamson’s work in Ontario. According to the Wendats, they have no clan mothers and have not had for a number of years. Therefore again Ron Williamson and the Founding First Nations Circle has misrepresented itself to many people as being wholly supported by certain Indigenous communities.
ASI and Ron Williamson are not professional archaeologists, as there is a difference between professional archaeologists and contract archaeologists.
A report from the Ontario Archeology Society journal that documents Aboriginal graves found at the North-West corner of High Park. (late 1990’s)
Proof that mounds in High Park are of ancestral to Iroquoian people. ** Note as proven by non-intrusive assessment of Bear Mound in 2008, the burial pits are not of Huron-Wendat origin, as the Huron-Wendat buried in group ossuaries. None of the mounds in High Park are ossuary style burials, therefore no relation to Huron-Wendat burial practices. Burial pits, are more closely associated with Erie/Neutral type burials and ancestral to them. Mound culture in High Park has been proven to be Meadowood Culture , ancestral to the Erie/Neutral, which therefore dispels ludicrous claims by Ron Willamson and David Donnelly, both non-native men who work on behalf of developers, and have been involved in site destruction of our ancestors, not site preservation as they claim. Also to address some of the articles naming “Bonehead” Ron Williamson as an “expert”, there is no iota of proof that the Ojibwa buried their dead in burial mounds. In fact the Meadowood Complex, people verified as burying their dead in High Park, are ancestral to Point Peninsula-Princess Point-Glen Meyer- Erie/Neutral. The Erie/Neutral are a separate group of Iroquoian people from the Huron-Wendat, as the remainder of the Erie/Neutral that survived the influx of diseases brought here by the newcomers, was taken into the Five Nations ( later Six Nations Confederacy). So you say the Iroquois did not bury their dead in mounds? Where is your proof ? As there is much documentation proving to the contrary, as the Meadowood one of the earlier mound builder cultures in Ontario did bury their dead in mounds and are ancestral to Iroquois people.
- Proof of In Situ Iroquoian Burials Serpent Mounds and Petroglyphs are of Iroquoian Origin
- Iroquoian burial mounds
- Ancient Iroquoian Burial Mounds
- Complexity of Burial Practices Ontario Iroquois
- Snake Mound Turtle Island News May 18, 2011
- Midwest Conferance on Archaeology
- High Park Maps and More Robert Orr Findings
- Orr Found 7 or 8 Human Skeletons High Park
- Orr finds Red Paint Burials in High Park 1921
- Red Paint Burials found by Robert Orr in High Park
- Bootes 1
- Bootes The Herdsman
- Muskogee People continue research into the Southeast’s past
- Non-invasive tools key to first mapping of early Louisiana culture
- Orion & Bootes
Article From the Toronto Star, September 10,2010
First Nation Seeks Ban on Archeological Dig Site
by Gail Swainson
Lawyers with the Huron-Wendat Nation are heading to court Friday seeking a temporary injunction to scrap all archeological approvals issued on digs at significant indigenous village sites, many of them in Greater Toronto.
The band council is seeking a one-month moratorium on all Stage Four archaeological approvals and a stop-work order on digs already on the books.
If granted the order would affect as many as three dozen sites across southern Ontario, including the nationally significant Skandatut in Vaughan, home to 2,000 Hurons 500 years ago. Most of the affected sites are Huron-Wendat, though village sites originally settled by Mohawk and Anishnabe are also involved.
“Skandatut was one of the most important centres in Ontario and nobody has moved to protect it,” said David Donnelly, lawyer for the Huron-Wendat. “Friday, we are going to do our best to try and make that happen.”
Donnelly said the one-month excavation ban would buy the Huron-Wendat and other band councils enough time to go to the Superior Court of Justice asking for permanent protection for some of the most nationally significant First Nations villages.
This is just the latest volley in a battle between the Huron-Wendat and the province over protection of native heritage sites. The Huron-Wendat say Minister of Culture and Tourism Michael Chan is not doing enough to ensure such sites are not destroyed by development. “If the ministry won’t protect these sites, we’ll ask the courts to do it,” Donnelly added.
The Star has learned the ministry is introducing new guidelines on Jan. 1 requiring consultation with First Nations councils before archaeologists start their digs. But Donnelly says the new regulations are toothless and will do little to protect important sites from being paved over.
What’s more, advance notice given by Chan in a cable TV interview two weeks ago may give landowners an opportunity to jump ahead of the new regulations and rush through potentially destructive excavations, Donnelly said.
“That was an … insensitive, bone-headed move,” Donnelly said. “This says to the developers, ‘You now have a few months to push this through.’ Just watch. These sites will start to fall like dominoes.”
Ministry spokesperson Mukunthan Paramalingham said changes have been under discussion with various stakeholders for some time.
“We are aware of the concerns related to consultation by aboriginal communities. That is why the ministry is working toward the release of new standards and guidelines for consultant archeologists,” he said. “Aboriginal engagement will be a key part of the new standards and guidelines.”
The regulations, to be posted for 60 days on the ministry’s website before they come into effect, will require notification and consultation before development sites are archaeologically excavated, but not the protection and enforcement the Huron-Wendat were seeking.
Donnelly says being notified and consulted just isn’t enough. “The developers will invite the First Nations in for a chat and then, nine times out of ten, development will just go ahead.”
“We want the opportunity to get notification way in advance, like Rogers Cable does,” he said. “They get statutory notification and First Nations don’t, and that’s just racism.”
Skandatut, a 15th century Huron site on Pine Valley Dr. in Vaughan, has been under archaeological excavations with earth movers for at least a week.
It was declared a nationally significant historical and cultural village site by prominent archaeologists in 2006. The Huron-Wendat urged the province to halt a dig then happening at the site in hopes of preserving the village, believed to contain as many as 100 longhouses.
At the time, Donnelly called the wholesale destruction of native sites “a national disgrace.”
Two weeks ago, another partial Huron-Wendat village site in Vaughan was excavated with earth-moving equipment. The Huron-Wendat cried foul, saying they had not been consulted and had only learned about the dig by accident.
**Note: Skandatut is not an exclusive Huron-Wendat village site. Other archaeologists who have worked on the site prior to Williamson, have found Seneca pipes and Oneida pottery at the site.
This article also refers to the Dannanai site, another one of Williamson’s mis-classifications. Seneca and Erie/Neutral pottery chards have been found at the site by other archaeologists. This site is dated from the early 1400’s and is too early for Huron-Wendat.
Map from the 1870’s of High Park
Today one of the woman supporters shared some documentation on Leigh lines at other mound sites, including Snake or Serpent Mound Sites elsewhere. There has been overwhelming evidence at other Snake Mounds, of at least 8 Leigh lines to criss cross through the site.
I decided to dowse the Snake Mound site, since it has never been done. I found the site to very active. meaning that as a walked the site completely around the outer rim, the dowsing rods never stopped turning. This indicates that there is a lot of unnatural material in the soil (archaeological) throughout the whole site. I also located all of the Leigh lines, which there are 8, and adding the centre point which makes 9 ( E,SE,S,SW,W,NW,N,NE,Centre) They centre point is where there is water located under the ground. This even makes the Snake Mound even more special, as not too many places contain 9 points. The SW-NE Leigh line lines up with the Serpent Mound in Ohio and the Serpent Mound in Keene, Ont, as verified by mapping previously done. Native Science has proven the Snake Mound to be an important site, debunking all others who scoff at the idea that it is not a site.
Niawen skenon! Oneh!