Object ID: 1995.87.1
This net weight was found along the shore of Nelson Island, and was made and used by shíshálh or Tla’amin people to weigh down fishing nets. Prior to colonization and the arrival of commercial fishing operations, the coastal waters of these nations were extremely rich in resources such as salmon. Marine resources have contributed to the vitality of Coast Salish peoples since time immemorial, and remain embedded within Coast Salish culture.
In order to harvest fish from the ocean, several of these disk-shaped stones would be tied to a single net through the centre holes and then dropped into the water. The net itself was made from nettle fibres or cedar bark, and wooden floats held the net in place from the surface. Other types of nets were used to fish in rivers, and small nets without weights could have been used to catch fish by hand, but the type of net with weights attached was primarily used in the ocean.
This stone net weight is an example of the ground stone technology developed by Coast Salish peoples thousands of years ago. The ground stone method of grinding one stone against another to achieve a desired shape is far more time consuming than flaked tools, and as a result this type of stone tool is associated with more sedentary cultures. While seasonal migration patterns were common in Coast Salish cultures, the abundance of resources in the area meant they did not have to travel very far, and ground stone tools were an investment which would be used for years.
While this type of weight was used regularly by Indigenous groups in the qathet Region, they are not artifacts which are commonly found. Manually shaping each stone weight with a bi-conical hole in the centre was very time consuming, and the people who used them took great care to ensure they were not lost. For the same reason, these weights are rarely found in archaeological excavations of midden which are an accumulation of household debris.
The Tla’amin Nation, the qathet Regional District, and the qathet Museum & Archives encourage the donation of any artifacts that may be held in personal collections so that we may learn from them and the public can enjoy their significance.
Removal of any object from archaeological sites in BC is illegal and subject to severe penalties under the Heritage Conservation Act. Individuals can report any contraventions of the Heritage Conservation Act, by calling 1 877-952-7277, (Option 2) toll-free or #7277 on a cellphone. If you think you have found an artifact, please take only a picture, leave it in place and immediately call the Tla’amin Nation (604) 483-9646 and/or the Powell River Historic Museum & Archives (604) 485-2222.