Tag Archives: Wild Archaeology

Wild Archaeology season finale: Inuit of Rigolet, Part 2

On this, the final episode of Season 1 of Wild Archaeology, we return to Double Mer site in Rigolet, Nfld. This last locale is referred to as a historical site as it contains artifacts from only the last few hundred years.

First, we visit the lab situated within The Net Loft town museum. It is here that Dr. Lisa Rankin and her team clean, preserve and catalogue each day’s various finds. Because the lab is located in the museum, anyone from the town is able to wander in and see what the archaeologists have recently unearthed. Lisa explains some of the more interesting artifacts include several that illustrate the meshing of European and Inuit cultures.

Dr. Rudy explains this site, in particular, was ideal for their final adventure because it helps to illustrate how archaeologists interpret artifacts as they view them in concert with other finds. A picture unfolds when viewing the artifacts as a larger canvas rather than separate and isolated items. It is when viewed in this context that we are able to understand how the people at this particular location once lived.

Then we return to the dig site, and Jacob first finds an iron nail used in the construction of the sod-covered homes. Later, he finds exactly what he was hoping to: an iron knife blade that was manufactured in Europe and would have been traded for. Later, Jenifer finds a gun-flint that was also manufactured in Europe.

We also get a flavour for the local  fauna. Jacob and Jenifer have the opportunity to try raw sea urchin. Something tells me that Jacob will not have sea urchin on his “must have again” list.

As a final farewell to Season 1, Jenifer  and Jacob share their bittersweet thoughts about their experiences and all that they have learned throughout their journeys as they explored Indigenous cultures across Canada.

Thank you to Dr. Rudy, Jacob, Jenifer, and all of the crew behind Wild Archaeology. I have thoroughly enjoyed watching and learning from your experiences. Now, all of you go get busy and make Season 2!

You can return and stream season one of Wild Archaeology here at  APTN.

If you are curious to learn more about Double Mer, you can listen to this CBC radio segment from Labrador Morning that aired on August 21, 2014.


An interview with Jenifer Brousseau of Wild Archaeology

I recently caught up with Jenifer Brousseau, co-host of APTN’s Wild Archaeology, and we had a quick chat about her time on the show. Jenifer shared some funny behind-the-scenes stories and also talked about how this remarkable experience continues to shape her life today.

What was the most challenging aspect of this show for you, and what was the reward?
Jenifer Brousseau: Everything from a technical aspect was challenging because we visited remote areas from coast to coast to coast. Every terrain we trekked on was always a challenge. From climbing mountains up the Squamish, B.C., in the very first episode to trekking on the tundra at Richards Island, NWT. The tundra was really difficult because you cannot go fast. It is bumpy like moguls on a ski hill so you have to walk carefully or you will break your ankle. But each of those challenges was a part of the beauty in it; being able to do these physical challenges. But at the end, it was like Christmas because you would go somewhere and you find these amazing artifacts and you think that trek was just so worth it.

Can you tell me one of your funniest memories that viewers did not get to see?
That would have to be the time a bottle washed up on shore when we were at Calvert Island, B.C. It was the mystery of the finger in the bottle, or what was rumoured to be a finger. The freaked out the archaeology students who found it while having a fire on a beach.  Rumours spread quickly throughout camp and we thought this might be one wild episode gone sideways. Everyone discussing the story behind this finger. Dr. Farid Rahemtulla of the Hakai Institute was finally found, and examined the finger only to discover that the finger was actually just a parsnip.

Now that some time has passed since filming ended more than a year ago, what for you is the most memorable experience?
Going to the Pacific West Coast and experiencing the beauty that we saw there was incredible, and then going to the old long house and being on sacred ground there was a highlight. But one thing that really stood out for me was the day we went to Head-Smashed-In, AB, and we sat in the teepee with Reg Crowshoe. You only see a portion of it in the show, but we sat in that teepee with him for most of the day. I remember at the end of the day, going out for dinner and not feeling hungry because I had sat listening to Reg Crowshoe all day long and I was full. I think when you sit with an elder and you hear the richness of these stories it is like being fed a big steak dinner, but for your soul.

Having had this opportunity to participate in Wild Archaeology, what are you personally taking forward?
I have worked in our communities for many years with youth and young people doing workshops, but I have always been on my own journey of my own reclamation. I grew up with a sense of identity crisis, not knowing who I am, not feeling comfortable in my own skin. I didn’t understand our history and growing up I didn’t feel that I knew much.  And while I have been on this journey on Wild Archaeology, I still had my work in my communities. So this has been a journey of my own reclamation.

One of the major things outside of Wild Archaeology, I am also artistic director of Imagi’Nation Collective, which offers youth mentoring, suicide prevention and life promotion workshops. And I think a lot of what this show has done for me has been really magical for me  because I can use this reclamation that I have had in going on this journey and learning all that I have learned about my history. The history of First Nations people, the history of my ancestors has been this beautiful tapestry that has unfolded before me.

Just recognizing the beauty of where I come from  and the strength that I come from, the resilience that I come from, the creativity that I come from  are all amazing things. As I share in the work that I do promoting life and suicide prevention, these are things that I can impart. I toured with a production of a play that I wrote seven years ago called ‘Beneath the Surface,’ and I think that there is a real irony in that what I do as a host on Wild Archaeology because as I dig beneath the surface but in this play, I talk about our stories and traumas and our healing. Now on Wild Archaeology I talk about our resilience and our strength and my own personal reclamation. It is a really beautiful tie-in for who I am what I do and what I can share with Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canada.

Any closing thoughts for young viewers out there?
I think in doing this project I had to have my eyes wide open and I think I would recommend: have your eyes wide open to learn our stories because that is where our foundation is. Knowledge is power and I have said this on the show: ‘When  you know the truth of who you are and where you have come from then you know the truth of where you are going and you can walk in that strength and understanding that you are the the result of the love of thousands and that is what our ancestors say to us.’

My thanks go out to Jenifer for taking the time to share her story with us at TV, Eh? I personally learned a lot as I listened to her story and her remarkable adventures on Wild Archaeology.

The final episode of Wild Archaeology can be seen Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. ET on APTN.


Wild Archaeology: Inuit of Rigolet, Part 1

Nope, Jenifer and Jacob are NOT AT ALL COMPETITIVE! We begin the penultimate episode of Wild Archaeology finishing up at the site in Sheshatshui.

SNAP! Jacob a.k.a. “artifact magnet” found a bi-face and then SNAP!, moments later, Jenifer found aher own bi-face in the exact same quadrant. We learn that Jacob’s Groswater and Dorset paleo Eskimo end blade is not native to the area of their dig and therefore  indicates an interaction between Inuit and Innu communities of Labrador happening at this site. Meanwhile, Jenifer’s is a locally crafted little red quartzite knife blade.

Then we head off to Rigolet to meet up with Dr. Lisa Rankin at Double Mer, an 18th-century Inuit site in Labrador demarked with semi-subterranean sod huts. What is unique to this site is it is a location that was a traditional meeting ground in the summer months for various ethnic groups. This site is also our first glimpse at post-European contact artifacts making an appearance with nails ideal for building the superstructure of the sod homes.

And, true to form, Jacob finds the first artifact, a piece of leather that has markings to indicate it had been sewn. Jenifer comes across a couple of decorated beads in her quadrant the likes of which had not been found previously.

We are down to the final episode next week, with Part 2 of Inuit of Rigolet. This has been such a fun adventure, I hate to see it end.

Wild Archaeology airs Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. ET on APTN.


Wild Archaeology: The Innu of Sheshatshui

This week on Wild Archaeology, the team headed to the very remote interior of Labrador to visit Northwest River and Sheshatshui to explore the traditional land of the Innu people. This geographic location is unique in that the water has been receding and what are now hills were once shoreline beaches.

The team worked with Scott Neilson, an archaeologist who has spent many years excavating in the area, conducting what is called a pedestrian survey of an area proximal to a previously researched site estimated to be approximately 3,200 years old. The pedestrian survey is a vital first step for an archaeological dig, as it allows the researcher an opportunity to understand the land and distinguish its features. Once the natural features are known, the atypical aspects reveal themselves which oftentimes reveal the artifacts left behind.

Sheshatshui is undergoing construction of new homes for the descendants of those who lived 2,900-3,400 years ago. Prior to each build, Scott and his team excavate the lot for artifacts. Much of the debris found in this area (discarded stone flakes created by tool making and sharpening techniques) are very small and some of the stone is not local to the area, indicating people travelled elsewhere in order to find stone suitable for tool making.

Part 2 of this dig will be seen next week.

Wild Archaeology airs Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. ET on APTN.


Wild Archaeology visits Head-Smashed-In

This week our intrepid explorers from Wild Archaeology headed to Head-Smashed-In, the oldest known buffalo jump—it goes back at least 6,000 years—located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Alberta. This particular site has been widely studied due to the deep connection between those communities in the plains and the buffalo.

Upon arrival on site we met Dr. Reg Crowshoe, a Piikani Elder, who described the story of Head-Smashed-In:

“Way back when Creator gave us the buffalo, Creator said, ‘You ask the buffalo to feed you.’ They couldn’t find the buffalo. They looked all over. Then one woman went to get water and she heard this song. So when she heard this song she seen it. It was a buffalo stone. She heard this buffalo stone singing. She took it and gave it to the elders and other sacred people. The sacred people said that buffalo stone is going to find us buffalo to eat. So there was a ceremony. That song was part of that ceremony.”

Dr. Crowshoe then summarized: “That story told us ‘You ask the buffalo for the rights to hunt buffalo.’ So when they went through the ceremony, that song that woman heard, that song was like a hunting permit in the white man world.”

Next, archaeologist Jack Brink described the science of how the plains people managed to drive a herd of buffalo through this narrow drive lane, taking advantage of their poor eyesight, and the optical illusion that the downhill run naturally creates. It was here at the end of a stampede, encouraged by the hunters, the buffalo would meet their demise, spilling over the ledge and falling to their deaths. These communal buffalo hunts necessitated the cooperation of hundreds of people, skinning, butchering, cooking and preserving the products the buffalo provided.

Jack then demonstrated how the lines of cairns, or what he calls traffic markers, were used to steer the herd through the final drive lane leading the buffalo to the jump. To illustrate how these markers worked, Jacob and Jenifer each constructed one from rocks and brush found from the vicinity. The object was to create a large peripheral mass using brush secured by rocks the buffalo would naturally avoid as they stampeded through what appeared to be a valley.

This episode, although no artifacts were found, was such a fascinating story to learn about. I am truly sad there are only three more episodes to cover this season. Each week I look forward to all that I learn, and I am still telling people, “you have to watch this show!”

Wild Archaeology airs Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. ET on APTN.