Historic spearhead unearthed at FDFN

Artifacts found on Flying Dust First Nation are highlighting the deep history First Nations people have in the North. Band member Lawrence Bear found the projectile points – which are too large to be arrow heads – almost 10 years apart on the reserve. Here, Bear shares his knowledge of the points as he looks through research he has compiled.

Artifacts found on Flying Dust First Nation are highlighting the deep history First Nations people have in the North. Band member Lawrence Bear found the projectile points – which are too large to be arrow heads – almost 10 years apart on the reserve. Here, Bear shares his knowledge of the points as he looks through research he has compiled.

by Derek Cornet

The discovery of what’s believed to be a 2,000-year-old spearhead east of Meadow Lake holds great historical significance for Flying Dust First Nation and its people.
That’s how Flying Dust chief Robert Merasty feels about the artifact, which was found last year by band member Lawrence Bear in a freshly tilled field near the Meadow River.

“It’s something that doesn’t happen very often – it’s very rare,” Merasty said.
The chief went on to describe the importance of the find, adding it’s a physical piece of the community’s history and proves First Nations people have lived in the region for thousands of years.

“It’s important to the band because it shows people were here and how they survived,” he said.

Bear – who actually unearthed what’s considered a Besant Phase projectile point in May 2013 – only recently decided to go public with the discovery, stating now was the time to share with others the strange stone that caught his eye while he was moving horses from one pasture to another.

“This one horse kept breaking off from the path and running into the field, so I had to chase it,” Bear said. “I saw this white rock, so I picked it up and lo and behold.”

Returning to the site afterward, Bear also found a number of other pieces of stone bearing marks indicating they were, at one time, being chiseled into projectile points. He also said the discovery reminded him of a similar artifact he found in 2004. At that time, his find was sent to the University of Saskatchewan for analysis.

A report issued by the university in 2005 concluded the projectile point found a decade ago was used on the tip of a slender spear launched by the use of an atlatl (throwing stick). Studies also confirmed the 2004 piece was between 1,200-2,000 years old and, even though the more recent find did not undergo the same scrutiny, Bear believes they are from the same time period.

“These points give us a better understanding of the people who were here back in the day,” he said. “Just imagine what the land and the river would have looked like before all the development. Everything was more or less simple back then.”

If the point discovered in 2013 is indeed from the same era as the one Bear found in 2004, it would mean – according to the U of S report – it was crafted from quartz, a mineral found in the Precambrian Shield. The report stated, while objects made from quartz in the Shield region aren’t rare, it’s uncommon for them to be found outside of that region. It goes on to note people who used the stones would have had to transport them a considerable distance to end up where Bear found them.

As for how this may have happened, Bear believes there are several explanations. He said it’s possible there was a kill at the site or someone missed their target. He also said the area could have been used as a settling spot because it’s on high ground.

“If they knew they were going somewhere – like when they’d leave in the spring or summer – they would make arrowheads and bury them in the ground, and place a rock there because they knew they’d make their encampment there again when they returned,” he explained.

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