Knife found beneath Parliament to be returned to Algonquin nations in historic move

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OTTAWA – An ancient indigenous knife unearthed during the renovation of the Center Block will be the first artifact found on Parliament Hill to be returned under the leadership of the Algonquin people living in the Ottawa region.

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Archaeologists say the return of the stone knife, which is estimated to be 4,000 years old, is a historic step that officially recognized the indigenous peoples who inhabited the land – considered undisturbed territory – which is now the site of Parliament Hill.

Kitigan Zebi Anishinabeg, an Algonquin First Nation located about 130 kilometers north of Gatineau, Ky., and Algonquins of the Pikwanagan First Nation, about 150 kilometers west of Ottawa, share ownership of the artifacts.


It will be displayed on Parliament Hill when Center Block’s renovations are complete and the building reopens, which is not expected until at least 2030.

Until then, according to Doug Odjik, a member of the Kitigan Zibi Anishinaabeg Council, it will be shown in indigenous communities, including schools.

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The knife, shaped from an Onondaga chert excavated thousands of years ago in Ontario or New York State, is not the first indigenous artifact to be found in a parliamentary complex. Pieces of pottery and a shell bead were found on Parliament Hill in the 1990s.

However, Ian Badgley, manager of the archeology program at the National Capital Commission, said the discovery of the knife had inspired a new approach by the federal government to return First Nations artifacts.

“This is the first time that the Canadian government has accepted a pre-contact artifact as an indication of the use of Parliament Hill by indigenous populations,” said Badgley, who is also an archeological adviser to the two First Nations who used the knife. Will lead.

“It’s an artifact, but what’s really remarkable is how it has sparked interest in the Canadian government working with the Anishinaabe Algonquin.”

Jeremy Link, a spokesman for Public Services and Procurement Canada, said: “Discussions are underway on how to transfer joint ownership of this artifact to the communities.”

The discovery of the knife by archaeologists working on improvements to the Center Block coincided with the capital’s first Archaeological Area School for the purpose of training First Nations archaeologists. The field school, which this year excavated the site of an Algonquin camp in Ottawa, will now be an annual event near the capital.

First Nations plans to set up field schools across Canada to train archaeologists and to give indigenous peoples greater control over their own excavations.

For many thousands of years, the Ottawa Valley was a trading center for the First Nations of North America because of its location at the confluence of rivers, making travel by canoe easier. This has made the capital region a rich seam for archaeologists.

They have excavated pre-contact artifacts originating from all over North America, including shell beads and crocodile teeth, and stone-cut knives and other tools found off Ottawa. These were probably passed on as goods of trade by various indigenous communities over several seasons.

“The things that have been found in and around Ottawa have come from New York to the Hudson Bay to the west coast to California,” Odjic said. Band Council.

“The knife found on Parliament Hill is still a point. It is about two and a half inches long and looks like a spear. It was definitely a handle. It was 2,500 to 4,000 years old, from the Early Woodland to the Late Archaic period.”

Odjic said the two First Nations sharing knives are in talks with the federal government about “showing it”. “We would like it to be at the main entrance of Parliament.”

According to Public Services and Procurement Canada, in charge of the renovation project, the refurbished center block has more indigenous elements, including carvings by indigenous people who are being recruited to work there.

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