Instrument discover spurs archaeological investigation of First Nation farming in Manitoba

Brandon College (BU) and the Manitoba Archaeological Society (MAS) are collaborating on an archaeological venture in hopes of unveiling the lives of pre-contact Indigenous farmers.

The joint analysis venture ought to be capable of present extra details about the way in which Indigenous individuals lived in southwestern Manitoba earlier than the arrival of Europeans.


BU Division of Anthropology Professor Dr. Mary Malainey mentioned the venture stems from a discover made out of Eric Olson, a fourth-year College of Manitoba scholar.

“In the summertime of 2018, he discovered a bison scapulae, which is a modified bone device. It might appear like a hoe which is used for gardening,” she mentioned on Tuesday.

“These bison scapula hoes are the very best archaeological proof of Indigenous maize, or corn, cultivation previous to European contact ever present in southwestern Manitoba,” she added.


Malainey and the MAS obtained the funds from the Manitoba Heritage Grant funding to assist the archaeological program on the Olson website, south of Melita.

“That is the second pre-contact farming website that we present in Manitoba and the high-level of preservation makes this venture essential,” mentioned Malainey.

“The truth that these supplies have been discovered within the creek mattress signifies that it’s being eroded. Once we excavate it, we will study rather a lot from it so, we wish to examine it as a lot as we will earlier than it’s disturbed.”


Preliminary testing of the location started in 2019, and a two-week analysis and public archaeology program will start beginning July 15. Excavation will likely be carried out round a workshop for making bone instruments.

Malainey mentioned that the general public is ready to go to the location on July 18, 19, 25 and 26 at 10 a.m. and midday.

“We’ve got invited individuals from First Nation communities in addition to college students from Brandon College to return and be a part of us,” she mentioned.


“We’ll level out totally different areas of the location the place actions are occurring. We may even present some artifacts which are dug up. If you’re extra adventurous, you may stroll down the slope and even assist us with our excavation.”

A deer scapula hoe.Mary Malainey/Brandon College

Mary Malainey /


Brandon College

Eric Olsen, who’s majoring in argro-ecology, was climbing together with his buddy when he discovered the bison scapulae alongside a creek bay.

“I used to be going to indicate him an archaeological website within the space and since it was so sizzling, the creek beds have been all dried up,” he mentioned.


“On our means again, we determined to search for artifacts and seems we discovered an necessary one.”

Olsen mentioned he didn’t notice that the supplies he discovered have been of significance at first.

“There have been a couple of that was simply on the floor. We discovered an enormous bison cranium and a scraper as properly. I didn’t truly know what it was, however I introduced it again and regarded it up,” he mentioned.


“I didn’t suppose it was that necessary at first as a result of from what I’ve learn, it’s suspected that there was Indigenous agriculture within the space. In my crop manufacturing course, there was a piece about First Nation farming, so I believed it confirmed that there was nothing within the space.”

Although Olsen was uncertain in regards to the artifacts, he determined to ship an e mail to Malainey who then confirmed that what he discovered was of significance.

— Nicole Wong covers northern and Indigenous points for the Winnipeg Solar below the Native Journalism Initiative, a federally funded program that helps the creation of authentic civic journalism.