Bryn Andrew Letham
Grant TypePost PhD Research Grant
Institutional AffiliationSimon Fraser U.
Grant numberGr. 9951
Approve DateOctober 24, 2019
Project TitleLetham, Bryn (Simon Fraser U.) "Bridging Past and Present at Gitga’at Cultural Keystone Places on the Pacific Northwest Coast"
The Northwest Coast of North America has a remarkable record of long-term persistent settlement of particular places on the order of millennia. These places are often culturally significant to local Indigenous peoples, who have deep-time oral histories of these locations, and often have present-day connections through occupation, use, and management. I will assess the time-depth and nature of different archaeological patterns of continuity at two ancient village sites in the territory of the Gitga’at First Nation, on the north coast of British Columbia, Canada. Though they are no longer occupied as villages, these places are integral to Gitga’at identity as harvesting locations and places within the memories of their Elders. This study explores how and why certain locations have long-term histories of persistent settlement, and the different ways in which the past “bridges” to the present to generate powerful places around which people gravitate. I suggest that peoples’ investments in places created powerful, socially significant “anchors” wherein both the practice of creating those places and the histories of those practices coalesce to generate sustained and resilient occupation over the long term. Through focusing on place-making, I propose more rigorous theory and method for exploring the concept of “continuity” in archaeology.