M’CHIGEENG—On Thursday, October 6, the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation (OCF) launched the first phase of the Anishinaabe Archeology Project based on the 1950s archaeological dig (and site notes from the late 1980s of Dr. Thor Conway on behalf of the province) of the massive Odawa settlement in Providence Bay dating from 1450-1600 (the late Juntunen period).
Curator Anong Beam told the assembled group that within the OCF holdings, a trove of information and pieces from the dig was rediscovered and it was decided to bring them to light in a permanent exhibit. The OCF has since put out a call for more of the pieces from the dig to be brought back home, with two boxes arriving that very day at the Foundation.
“We’re hopeful about how things will go; there’s been a lot of tracking things down,” the curator said.
“There were 123 different vessels recovered at the site (by Dr. Conway’s team in the 1980s),” Ms. Beam explained, noting that these pieces tell the story of the Anishinaabe’s oft-disputed works in ceramics. This site produced large faunal (plant and animal) remains, ceramic vessels and trade goods showing the patterns of diet and trade in this region, dating from pre-European contact and after.
Storage pits containing balls of clay ready to be made into vessels were found near the sites of habitation. The vessels were used for cooking and storage as well as the rendering of maple sap into maple syrup.
“We’re casting the net wider,” she added, noting that the Royal Ontario Museum also has some ceramic pottery in its keeping belonging to the Providence Bay site.
The Providence Bay site, known as Bk-Hn-3, was the largest archaeological site in the Lake Huron region at over two acres with three longhouses and a successful commercial fishery.
“It’s a really exciting project,” Ms. Beam added. Because of the cultural resonance of some of the pieces, elder and community input will be sought before making certain items or information a part of the display.
The new display discusses the ceramics of the time, the commercial fishery that, just like today, had its main catch as whitefish. Suckers were also a staple and the flora and fauna found at the site as well as the kinds of animal remains associated with the people are more pieces of this pre-contact puzzle. Examples of beads were also found at Bk-Hn-3
The hope is for the Anishinaabe Archeology Project to be a permanent display that just keeps growing with each passing year.
The OCF is open from Monday to Friday, 8:30 am to 4 pm.