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Breaking ground

July 23, 2014

We have woken up to a drizzly morning and are now getting ready to leave for another day on site. Yesterday, we managed to almost finish removing the backfill, except for a relatively thin layer of permafrost soil, which should have melted by now. With the help of our outstanding local crew, we have now moved around 50 cubic meters of dirt by hand. This means that the site will be ready for excavation before the end of the week, in advance of the main student crew! We will also be able to open new ground very soon – possibly as early as today we’ll start de-turfing the new area! Meantime, we’ve had visits from many local residents, welcoming us back to Quinhagak. John Smith, who carved some beautiful things for us last year, came in for a chat with Rick and they both poured over the photos of artefacts from last year – these are the artefacts we’ve spent the spring cleaning, cataloguing and conserving.

This is a very busy season for the local community, as it is berry picking season. Everyone is driving around in their ‘Hondas’, coming and going from their traditional patches of berries and greens. This year the crop of salmon berries is low due to lack of cold weather last winter. Annie has told me that this year there was a week of winter and then a week of summer during the cold season, and very little snow. Annie is a basket maker (among lots of other things) and has showed me the kinds of grasses she collects by the beach for basketry making. We have a huge collection of baskets and mats from Nunalleq, as well as evidence for vegetable material being added as temper to the pottery, so it is very interesting to learn more about these grasses.



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