Locating Ye'yumnuts within Cowichan territories
The oral and archaeological records of Ye’yumnuts points to its many integral connections to the larger Cowichan cultural and natural landscape.
Below is an interactive map (which has a legend that can be viewed by clicking on the icon in the upper left corner) which provides examples of some of these connections. Wander the map to see traditional food resources, neighbouring communities, and the source locations for some of the materials that artifacts found at Ye'yumnuts were made from.
The different layers of each map can be viewed in the thumbnail map windows by clicking on the icon in the upper left corner.
The map may be expanded and viewed in full screen mode by clicking on the icon in the upper right corner.
Ye'yumnuts and Food Resources
Ye'yumnuts is not an isolated site on its own, it is integrally connected to broader Cowichan territories and beyond. We can see this from the remains of food and food preparation found in the archaeological excavations. By connecting these remains to their nearby sources we can see the connections between Ye’yumnuts and the surrounding environment. For example, archaeological excavations came across remains of herring, lingcod, salmon, halibut and shellfish. Evidence of camas pit cooking was also found on the site.
To show where these resources are found, the map shows a "proximity analysis". These are lines representing what is a 3 hour and 8 hour travel from Ye'yumnuts by foot and canoe. Though we may not know exactly which places were used for harvesting these resources, people living at Ye'yumnuts could easily have travelled these distances as part of their daily lives.
Garry oak meadows, clam beds and some salmon and lingcod fishing areas, as well as all of the surrounding Cowichan settlements, are within the 3 hour area, indicating a close connection to Ye'yumnuts.
Most of the fishing areas for salmon and halibut, and all herring fishing areas, are slightly further afield. Notably, all of the herring fishing areas and the majority of herring spawning sites are in the 8 hour area, even though herring is the most prevalent species in the archaeological record of Ye'yumnuts. For the people of Ye'yumnuts to be eating so much herring there must have been a lot of movement and political connections between communities.
The data about nearby fishing sites come from data about contemporary commercial and recreational harvesting. This contemporary data is used as a proxy for where productive fishing areas for specific species are. The areas of productive clam beaches are shown in proxy by intertidal areas in the area. The proximity lines are approximate only and assume overland travel of 4 km/hr and over water travel of 6 km/hr.
Belongings made from rare and precious stone
Ye'yumnuts is also connected to places hundreds of kilometers away. These connections are preserved in the archaeological record as artifacts whose origins can be traced. Jade form the mid-Fraser Valley and obsidian from Newberry Volcano in what is now the state of Oregon show some of the larger trade and travel networks that the people of Ye'yumnuts were connected to. Luschiim, a Cowichan Elder, discusses how these relationships included multi-year stays and inter-marriage, suggesting strong social ties over long distances.
Ye'yumnuts and Garry Oak habitat
Garry oak habitats are extremely important ecosystems on southeast Vancouver Island that are now largely endangered. Ye'yumnuts is located at one of the remnants of these remarkable plant communities. There is good information about the historic extent of Garry Oak habitat from an 1850s land survey. The green areas on the map show how widely these ecosystems, which have been so important for Cowichan food systems, were spread across the landscape.
Ye'yumnuts & Property Boundaries
Through colonization, boundaries have been imposed on Ye'yumnuts through privatization of land and subdivision. The changing boundaries are one way in which the colonial history of the Cowichan Valley is visible at Ye'yumnuts.
This animated map tracks the subdivision and privatization of the area surrounding Ye'yumnuts. The first colonial division and privatization of the unceded Cowichan land occurred in 1860. The ensuing subdivision of these parcels is represented by a contemporary map of private property boundaries. The final graphic shows the current boundary line of Ye'yumnuts in the context of the surrounding properties. In a way the archaeological excavations further subdivided Ye'yumnuts into components like feature A and B (not shown to protect the exact location of these features). The map animation can raise questions. What are the implications of drawing boundaries around places? How do boundaries shape our relationships with places and people?
Privatization and impositions of boundaries might mean a separation of the connections between nature and culture that the above map show. Dividing up and selling land can separate people from the land base that supported their livelihoods, and it limits where Cowichan Tribes can exert control over their traditional territory. Consider the different perspectives of relationship with the land that Cowichan Elder Luschiim discusses as opposed to how Garry oak meadows are characterized in this 1850s land survey as "good farmland". Conversely, the imposition of "archaeological boundaries" in the initial archaeological work has created an area in which the Cowichan First Nation can exert control. Boundaries are not simple: they shape our relationship to the land in many different ways.