CTVNews.ca | June 21, 2016
A team of archeologists on the banks of the Red River have collected evidence that the First Nations people of the Prairies, long thought to be nomadic, were Canada’s first settled farmers.
The site, located in Lockport, Man., may well be the location of Canada’s earliest farm and the only known indigenous agricultural settlement in western Canada.
A group of nine anthropology students from the University of Manitoba helping with the research have made a number of exciting discoveries during the five-week dig, including fragments of pottery, bone, and tools dating as far back as 1200 A.D.
“They’re finding bits of ceramic, bits of bone fragments,” Robyn Neufeldt, an anthropology professor at the university, told CTV News. “We’ve actually found bone tools and an arrowhead.”
The artifacts will be sent to labs across Canada and the United States for further testing.
“(The site) roughly dates to the time of the Vikings,” said University of Manitoba archeology professor Robert Beardsell — a period known as “the medieval warming period.”
At that time, global temperatures were rising, particularly in the North Atlantic region. In North America, that meant nomadic tribes that had traditionally followed bison herds began to settle and started cultivating crops.
The Lockport site may well be Canada’s earliest example of this settlement process. Researchers say the Red River provided the settlers with fish, while fertile ground beside it made the prefect spot for growing crops.
“(The settlers) were certainly involved with corn and beans — probably squash and probably sunflowers as well,” said Leigh Syms, a former curator at the Manitoba Museum.
The current dig is considered the archeologists’ last chance to collect artifacts because the Red River is quickly eroding the land around it.
The team also has only a few days left before their permit to dig on provincial park land expires.
With a report from CTV’s Manitoba Bureau Chief Jill Macyshon