In 2014, Davis MacIntyre & Associates conducted an excavation of a historic Mi'kmaw house, with an occupation period dating from the 1880s to the 1920s. The site was located on the Paq'tnkek Mi'kmaw Nation in Antigonish County, Nova Scotia. The excavation was part of a cultural resource management (CRM) project conducted in advance of a highway twinning project, which endangered the site. Engagement with local community members occurred throughout the process. This included a public archaeology program, and frequently meeting with elders and local knowledge keepers.
The involvement of band members in the excavation benefits the community. The Mi'kmaw crew members expressed a strong personal and emotional connection to the site, particularly after excavating for several weeks. Their sense of cultural ownership of the land, the site and the artifacts was apparent from the beginning and remains very strong. Within most of the Province, artifacts are curated by the Nova Scotia Museum, on behalf of the people of Nova Scotia. As the Paq'tnkek site was locate on Federal reserve land, the site and associated artifacts are managed and curated directly by the Paq'tnkek Mi'kmaw Nation. The artifacts have been cleaned, conserved, and returned to the Paq’tnkek band and council who will ultimately make the decisions related to storing and/or displaying the artifacts. Our finished site report, field notes and pictures were also disseminated to the band.
We strive to continue to build on our experience at Paq'tnkek and to continue to implement community engagement with Indigenous communities during CRM work whenever possible. It is our hope that the Paq'tnkek Mi'kmaw Nation gained knowledge, access to their tangible cultural heritage, and an awareness of the potential for their own archaeology projects on their reserve and within their community. The Indigenous community is best served when they have control over their own past and cultural resources. When people within the community have the tools and knowledge they need and are interested, engaged and protective of archaeological sites, the sites are also better served.