March 15th, 2012
The Vancouver Sun reports on the future of a development in that city that is up in the air because it is being built on what is likely a native burial site. The Musqueam First Nation is protesting further development and some community members are preventing access to the site.
The development sits on the Marpole midden, an old Musqueam village site that band manager Ken McGregor described as one of the largest and most significant archeological sites in North America.
Archeologist Lan Ham, who works with the Musqueam, said the area was a very important Musqueam settlement pre-contact. The abundance of artifacts, including beads and carvings, is evidence of the wealth of the settlement. That fact was well known, with many residents as early as the 1880s scouring the land for collectors' items and artifacts, he said.
The band wants to preserve what is left of the midden, which has been subject to development in the past, including the Fraser Arms Hotel. When further development was proposed for that site, the Musqueam bought the hotel and the land to preserve the midden.
Musqueam has had numerous discussions with various levels of government over the years to discuss preserving the area as a cultural heritage park "which would preserve its integrity and tell its story for all Canadians," McGregor said.
The First Nations Summit (FNS), a forum comprised of a majority of B.C.'s First Nations and tribal councils, backed Musqueam in its opposition to the development.
"The FNS is disappointed that B.C. and Canada have demonstrated a lack of political will to protect this important and ancient site," representatives of the FNS wrote in a release on Tuesday.