Digging into archaeology is one of the biggest mysteries of local history.
While Egypt and Israel have a long legacy of unearthing more famous histories, the millennia of cultural roots around central B.C. have not been greatly traced but hold just as much potential for human understanding. Some ancient civilizations right in our own backyard are shovel-ready for archaeology.
Getting down to the nitty gritty is the podcast Dig This. The internet radio show looks at ages-old discoveries focused on B.C. and focused on Indigenous civilizations. Some of those are in the Cariboo region, and so, too are many of the people involved in the show. Two of the archaeologists involved in the podcast this season are from or have worked in the Cariboo.
Jenny Botica, who is a Dig This podcast host, and principal and co-owner of Kleanza Consulting Ltd., has been an archaeologist in B.C. for 20 years. The Cariboo was her first home-away-from-home as a young archaeologist. She lived in shared accommodation behind the 7-11 in West Quesnel and was immediately integrated into weekly prawn nights, coffees at Granville’s, weekend visits to EdgeWood Farm, and river walks.
“Cariboo folks are some of the friendliest I’ve ever met. And the archaeology…,” she said.
Botica said that in those first couple of seasons of her career, she surveyed forestry blocks with hundreds of culturally modified trees amongst the dying and pine-beetle infested lodgepole pines, mapped thousands-of-years-old housepit sites, and found lithic flakes while sitting and eating her lunch.
“I’m forever grateful to the Cariboo and the people of Quesnel for welcoming me as an early-career archaeologist, and providing me with a rich introduction to the archaeology of B.C.,” said Botica.
Kay Jollymore, Kleanza’s senior archaeology manager, also has more than 20 years in the field. In Season 2 of Dig This, Jollymore is a podcast guest for the first time.
Jollymore grew up in the Cariboo, in the little town of Horsefly. Growing up here, her family loved spending time outdoors exploring local history, looking for ghost towns, visiting old places, trekking through forests, and fishing.
“I have many fond memories of hiking through the dense forests around Quesnel Lake and coming upon old trappers’ cabins or poking my head into old mine shafts which were so cool in the summer and had that ‘mine shaft’ smell.”
She said she was in awe of huge prehistoric housepits they visited from time to time, and credits her exposure to these historically-focused outdoor adventures that led her to her career. As a teen, Jollymore worked summers at the Horsefly Museum and went on to spend a few summers working at the Williams Lake Museum. She was primarily responsible for collections, cataloguing artifacts and learning about their origins but also collected and transcribed oral histories from some of the old-timers in Horsefly and the Chilcotin.
“My parents still live in the Cariboo, so I am very fortunately to be able to come home to visit friends and family and continue exploring some of my favourite places,” Jollymore said.
The Season 2 theme of Dig This is Gratitude For the Kleanza Team. In Episode 21, Botica talks with Jollymore about mentorship in the field of archaeology, a topic Jollymore is passionate about.
“I have been fortunate to have had some amazing mentors throughout my career,” she said. “My first year at the Williams Lake campus of the University College of the Cariboo (now Thompson Rivers University), I enrolled in my very first archaeology courses. I received some excellent training and mentorship from the instructors there that I am forever grateful for.”
Botica and Kleanza co-owner, Amanda Marshall, initiated Dig This as a forum to talk about decolonizing their company’s work, relationships, and values.
“How do we decolonize our practice? How does our work support Indigenous communities in their goals for heritage sovereignty? How do we keep our company on a sustainable path for growth while supporting the professional goals of our team? And how do we achieve all this and sustain a balanced life? – and,” Botica said, “we are finding solutions to those questions.”
The broader industry is taking note of that. Heritage BC recognized the Dig This podcast with the Indigenous & Diverse Cultures Honour Award for “Decolonizing Archaeology Through Allyship, Advocacy, Amplification and Inclusion.”
You can listen to the Dig This podcast on Apple or Spotify, or visit the Kleanza website and click the Dig This Podcast tab.