WHILE CN may not be willing to provide aboriginal artifacts found during construction work this year to a local museum that’s asked for them, it says it does have an agreement to safely house them.
That agreement, says CN official Warren Chandler, is with a Gitxsan chief from the area called Arthur Matthews.
When CN began planning to extend its sidings in the Cedarvale area, it contacted Gitxsan authorities and established that Matthews was the right chief based on traditional clan territory, said Chandler.
“It was well-defined that this was the clan territory for Arthur Matthews,” he said.
“The agreement calls for the artifacts to be housed in a facility that’s owned and managed by the Gitxsan chiefs,” Chandler added.
Archaeologists were hired to be at the construction site and have possession of artifacts which include arrowheads and cutting tools.
Still to be determined is when the artifacts are to be turned over to the Gitxsan.
Mary Dalen, who lives at Cedarvale and has developed a small museum under the auspices of the Meanskinisht Village Historical Association, questions CN’s agreement with Matthews.
The area where the artifacts were found is not part of his traditional territory, she says.
“The land belongs to my grandmother’s people. There’s a direct link,” said Dalen.
Chandler says he’s not aware of any mechanism to deal with conflicting claims to artifacts and that as far as CN is concerned, it is dealing with the right person in Matthews.
“We’ll be honouring our agreement,” he said.