Discovery shows ‘ancestors developed techniques as their needs required’

Crews on the Highway 97 project between Oyama and Winfield have unearthed thousands of First Nations artifacts.

Byron Louis

A glimpse into the Okanagan’s ancient past has been revealed.

Crews on the Highway 97 project between Oyama and Winfield have unearthed thousands of First Nations artifacts, including some that may be 6,000 years old.

“There is the perception that history started with the arrival of Father Charles Pandosy and there was nothing before that,” said Byron Louis, chief of the Okanagan Indian Band.

“But some of our stories go back to the end of the ice age.”

Louis said the discovery will challenge educators and residents to reconsider pre-contact history in the region.

“There wasn’t a spot in the Okanagan our people didn’t occupy.”

Louis was also intrigued by the discovery of what may have been a fishing net.

“That shows innovation,” he said, adding that his ancestors developed techniques as their needs required.

Among the other artifacts found were arrowheads, spear points and stones used as hammers.

Archeological work along the new highway route above Wood Lake was done by Golder Associates.

Cataloguing of the artifacts will soon get underway.

The Okanagan Indian Band will ultimately assist in determining where the artifacts will be permanently kept, whether it is at a museum or a university.

“We want to make sure they are safely stored and they preserve the more delicate items,” said Louis.

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