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Xwe'etay Archaeology

Like most of the islands in the Salish Sea, Xwe’etay/Lasqueti Island has diverse and abundant Indigneous heritage sites. These sites take the form of small and large settlements, short term camps, lookout sites, burials, cultivated, managed, and modified landscapes and ecosystems, and isolated belongings (artifacts). They can be in all parts of the island, from the intertidal to the uplands.  


Our limited excavations and surveys indicate that Indigenous heritage sites range in age from the 18th century to 1000s of years ago—  when sea levels receded enough to make the island inhabitable. Collectively, these sites reflect the deep history of multiple generations of Indigenous Peoples, living on, connecting to, forming, and being formed by the island’s land and sea. 


Unfortunately, the record of Indigenous heritage sites on Xwe’etay/Lasqueti Island are being lost at a rapid rate. In the last 40 years, some of the islands most major and important sites have been almost completely destroyed with no archaeological investigations before hand. Thus, we have lost 1000s of years of history and details about generations of lives lived on the island.   


While we focus on Xwe’etay/Lasqueti Island in our project, the archaeological record and the social-ecological context in which it is nested, parallels that in many places in other Gulf Islands, throughout British Columbia and Canada, and indeed, the world.  


Coast Salish Ancient Burial Practices

Indigenous Knowledge combined with archaeological studies helps us better understand ancient Coast Salish practices for caring for the deceased. 

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Obsidian and Ancient Trade Relations on Xwe'etay

The XLAP team has submitted more obsidian (volcanic glass) collected on Xwe'etay to the SFU lab for analysis, which tells us about the trade and social relations of the "Island in the Middle of Everywhere."


Douglas Fir CMTs

Culturally modified trees (CMTs) are trees that have been modified in some way by humans. Modifications do not harm the tree, but rather, allow for a variety of sustainable uses depending on the tree species.

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As an important (and delicious) source of food for First Nations in BC, crabapples have been cultivated for thousands of years and are an element of First Nation heritage



Herring are a culturally and ecologically important forage fish species. They are necessary for the functioning of coastal Pacific ecosystems, and First Nations have depended on them for thousand of years

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Fish Traps

Fish traps are a complex fish harvesting system used by coastal First Nation people. They are an efficient, yet sustainable, means for procuring food along coastal areas


Ancient Sea Levels

Sea levels on Lasqueti Island and beyond have changed significantly over thousands of years. This poses challenges for archaeologists, but can also help us better understand ancient Indigenous geography 

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Obsidian and Trade Ancient Relations

Obsidian is a beautiful and highly valued volcanic glass. It can be used to track and better understand Indigenous trade relations


Clam Gardens

Clam gardens are an intertidal feature used by First Nations along coastal regions. By building up rock walls, the shallow habitat that clams thrive in is increased significantly. This results in high clam productivity and sustainable food security

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The Island in the Middle of Everywhere

Although people today often refer to Lasqueti Island as "in the middle of nowhere," it's actually more accurate to think of it as "in the middle of everywhere"

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