Episode 2.6

Rudy, Jen and Jacob visit the remote community of Fort Babine in interior BC and learn more about the significance of salmon for the Lake Babine Nation. Chief Wilfred Adam shows the team the site of their original fish weir, outlawed in 1906. The recently revived fishery at Babine is thriving, and the team has a chance to catch and prepare salmon for a feast. Rudy and Francesco examine thin sections of the island’s micromorphology under a digital microscope to determine whether Smokehouse Island was in fact created by the ancestors.

“We experienced what it was like to harvest from the fish weirs.”

– Jenifer Brousseau

Survival, Revival and Sustainability

The once thriving fishing industry has recently been revived at Fort Babine. A native fishery on the Babine River reopened several summers ago and is considered one of the most sustainable fisheries in the world. Sustainable harvesting techniques intercept strong salmon runs while allowing smaller, weaker populations to reach their spawning areas. Dip nets and weirs also allow for the safe release of non-target or endangered fish.

Jacob and Rudy have a fish-off! 

Micromorphology with Dr. Francesco Berna

“Cutting an intact block out of the deposit and hardening it with fiberglass allows us to cut thin sections and do a mineralogical analysis. We can uncover how every single particle on the island arrived at this location, as well as how people interacted with these materials.”

“We need to dig deeper into the center of the island in order to prove Dr. Rahemtulla’s theory.”

– Dr. Francesco Berna

“They were making fish weirs and smoke houses by hand, they were very clearly very good at using stone tools.”

– Dr. Rahemtulla

Grease Trail

Jacob and Rudy hike the Grease Trail with elder Fred Williams, following blazes left by the ancestors of the Fort Babine Nation. Major trails that lead in and out of Fort Babine, these grease trails are hundreds if not thousands of years old,and marked by culturally modified trees that lead the team on an ethno-archaeological journey through the BC interior.

Wit’ane Keh 

The traditional name for Fort Babine is Wit’at, an abbreviation of Wit’ane Keh, which means “place of making dried fish” in the Babine-Witsuwit’en language.