Episode 2.8

Kisha introduces the team to Dr. Natasha Lyons, a paleoethnobotanist investigating the plants used for food and medicine at Chimney Coulee long ago. Jen helps Natasha collect samples for analysis while Jacob learns a few words in Michif, the endangered language of the Métis people. Jen and Jacob face off in a bead finding competition to see who has the best eye for artifacts.


Kisha introduces the team to paleoethnobotanist Dr. Natasha Lyons. Paleoethnobotany studies the relationship between people and plants through the archaeological record, reconstructing how people of the past used plants for food, clothing, medicine, houses and tools. They use special techniques to recover fragile plant remains. Dr. Lyons has come to the site to conduct a botanical survey, talk to Métis elders about plants, and collect paleoethnobotany samples. She invites Jen to assist her with botanical surveys and sampling.

VR: Sitting In Sage

Join Jenifer as she sits in sage, surrounded by Saskatoon berries, and reflects on the abundance of food and medicine all around.

VR: Food is Medicine

One of four sacred foods in the Dakota culture, berries are important for ceremony as well as an excellent source of vitamins and antioxidants. Sharing Dakota teachings, Jacob encourages us to think of food as medicine while foraging for Saskatoon berries.

Community: Camping & Cultural Activities in Eastend

The Wild Archaeology team heads to the nearby town of Eastend Saskatchewan to meet with Métis Elders and youth who have travelled all the way from the Miywasin Centre in Medicine Hat to visit the site. They have invited Rudy, Jen and Jacob to learn more about Métis living culture. Métis Elders instruct Rudy, Jen and Jacob in traditional finger weaving and beading. Known as the ‘Flower Beadwork People,’ Métis beadwork features symmetrical floral designs often set against a black or dark blue background. Carol has brought along some examples of finished beadwork to show Rudy, Jen and Jacob.

Elder Marie Schoenthal teaches Jacob a few words in Michif, the endangered language of the Métis people. Rooted in Cree, Dene and French, Michif is also a distinct language all of its own. The Michif language is unusual and possibly even unique among mixed languages. Instead of forming a simplified grammar, it incorporates complex elements of various languages, indicating that historical speakers were fully fluent in both French and Cree. Michif also borrows elements from other languages such as Dene, Ojibwe, and Assiniboine. An estimated 5-10% of the Métis population speak Michif, mostly elders, and these numbers are dwindling.

“We could actually talk to the elders and ask them questions about the beading and about some of the things that were were finding at Chimney Coulee.”

– Jenifer Brousseau

VR: Jen and Jacob Compete for Beads

Jen and Jacob introduce their teams and share the results of the bead finding competition. Jen basks in her victory while Jacob plots his next win.