An ancient stone tool found in the 1970s has been given back to the Katzie First Nation.
Colin Burgess found the hand maul, used for hammering and pounding, on the outskirts of his property on Alouette Road in Maple Ridge.
“As I remember, he was repairing his fence and just tripped over it,” his son, Stu Burgess, said.
“It was immediately adjacent to the property, just sitting in the ground.”
Burgess said his father knew it was some sort of First Nations artifact, and treasured it for over 40 years.
As of last summer, the elder Burgess has had some medical issues and is no longer able to care for himself, so has moved to an assisted living facility.
While downsizing his possessions, the children found the maul and decided it made sense to repatriate the tool to the people it first belonged to.
“We felt – because he could no longer look after [the artifact] or appreciate it – it would be appropriate to return it to the people of the Katie First Nation where it came from.”
Katzie chief Grace George said they are grateful to have the stone maul returned.
“These are pieces of Katzie First Nation history,” she said.
“We have archaeological data, and information collected, that outline vital pieces of our occupation on the land, so today, we know that Katzie First Nation people have lived on our traditional territory for more than 10,000 years.”
She added items like the maul help their archaeology team identify timelines, historical impacts, cultural practices and ceremonies, and much more.
“This is a direct connection to our ancestry,” George said.
“I can guarantee this means more to us than it possible could to anyone else. We welcome our artifacts to be returned home, where they belong.”
Paul James, an archaeological technician with Katzie Development Limited Partnership said he is hoping this repatriation is a step in the right direction.
“Last summer [Maple Ridge News] posted an article on Facebook about a young man who found an artifact in Alouette Lake and in the comment section there was a lot of ugly back-and-forth,” he said.
“Our people were saying the artifact was found in known Katzie territory, and we would appreciate it back; and we were met with opposition saying this is a finders-keepers/ losers-weepers situation, which was pretty upsetting to our chief, council and elders.”
James said the gesture by the Burgess family is a great help in piecing together the Katzie culture.
There was a plan for a small ceremony at Alouette Lake, however it has been postponed until the COVID-19 scare is over.