Recently, a rare, ancient Salish war club was discovered by a resident of British Columbia, Canada in his backyard! Mark Lake was clearing up his backyard after a heavy storm had hit his home at Gartley Point, near the seaside village of Royston in Vancouver Island, when he found a worked piece of wood sticking out from the base of his maple tree. After careful examination, the artifact was determined to be an ancient Salish war club, reported the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation .
After it was determined that this was a rare Salish war club, the finder, Mark Lake (left), “returned” the artifact to its rightful owners, the K’omoks First Nation. Chief Nicole Rempel (middle) of the K’omoks First Nation proudly accepted the war club from Mark and his wife. ( K’omoks First Nation )
The Salish War Club Was Returned to the K’omoks First Nation
Mark Lake’s friends directed him to the K’omoks First Nation , which Chief Nicole Rempel of the K’omoks First Nation called it “pretty exciting.”
“I’ve worked with various people repatriating artifacts since 2013 for our nation and I hadn’t seen a piece like this, completely intact. It helps us understand more about our ancestors in the way that we live, the tools that we created. It truly must have been a labour of love to have made something so intricate, and with so little tools , back in those times, so it really gives us a bit more information about who we were, who our ancestors were in the past,” she said.
Lake knew about settler-colonialism and its ill-effects on Native Americans. He said he felt that the objective was to treasure the artifact and so he immediately returned it to its rightful owners , the K’omoks First Nation people.
He commented how open the K’omoks have been about sharing information and including him in the process. The next plan is to involve archaeologists. “We can do some geotechnical testing on the club, or geochemistry, which would figure out what kind of stone it was made of and what region it came from or whether it was traded,” Rempel added.
Rempel was quick to commend Lake’s integrity and felt that this is a blueprint for all future discoveries. “I just really encourage everyone that finds an artifact or ancestral remains for that matter to reach out to the local Indigenous communities because it’s really just building our database of knowledge and identifying who we are and who we were,” she said.
With further collaboration and sharing of technical resources, there is likely to be a date fixed for the age of the Salish war club , which will determine which part of Coast Salish history it emanates from. Additionally, chemical composition and DNA analysis will reveal more about the club and its secrets.
The K’omoks First Nation people in a dance that is shared by many Salish tribes along the northwest coast, extending from south British Columbia to northern Oregon section. ( Coast Funds )
The Coast Salish People: An Interconnected History
The broader and older term Salish refers to west coast Native Americans speaking any of 24 separate local languages. The Salish peoples have occupied present-day southwestern British Columbia and western Washington, USA, for more than 10,000 years, including the territories of Puget Sound, the San Juan Islands, the Gulf Islands, the Strait of Juan de Fuca , the Strait of Georgia, and the Pacific coast of Washington and northern Oregon.
The Salish people “name” in modern times has shifted to distinct tribes, often with new names. These tribes, which includes the K’omoks First Nation tribe, share many customs and traditions. They are especially well-known for their strong kinship ties, and political and environmental partnerships, according to The Canadian Encyclopedia . Today, there are over 25,000 Salish people in total.
The Salish tribes also share strong ethnic and cultural ties, including marital ties, feasting, ceremonies, and shared territory. In the cold, harsh winters they lived in fixed traditional houses. In the summers, even today, the Salish transitioned to living in temporary camps in large, shed roof houses, called plank houses.
Some of the Salish tribes were known for their nomadic lifestyle. The nomadic Salish lived on fishing, and gathering nuts, berries, fruits, and vegetables and moved slowly from one area to another.
Salish tribal knowledge and traditions were mostly transmitted orally and have survived for many generations. Their stories are marked with vivid natural details that are also figures of worship, especially salmon and red cedar.
Top image: This Native American Salish war club was found in a British Columbia backyard by Canadian Mark Lake, who returned it to its rightful owners, the K’omoks First Nation people. Source: K’omoks First Nation
By Sahir Pandey