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The Management of Archaeological Heritage

My Wednesday night class on BC First Nations discussed BC archaeology this week. A small part of the lecture and conversation revolved around the role played by the BC Provincial Government in maintaining the Provincial Heritage Registry, a database which houses information about the archaeological sites recorded in the province. Some students expressed concern and possible conflicts of interest related to government’s control of archaeological information, most of which relates to past native activities, and the government’s position as adversary to First Nations in the BC Treaty Process and other land claims decisions.

In an amazing quirk of timing, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs released a letter calling on the government to move responsibility for the Archaeology Branch into the new Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation for precisely the kinds of reasons my students identified. The letter was written in support of an initial call for this change by the Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group, located on Vancouver Island.

The interest in the move stems from the following:

The UBCIC fully agrees with the Hul’qumin’num Treaty Group that the recent reorganization of the Archaeology Branch to the “Ministry of Tourism, Sports and Arts” as yet another demotion for First Nations heritage conservation in the long-term trend of declining political priority in British Columbia.

The complete letter is posted here.

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