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Dig Deep: Local archaeologist’s new book helps kids connect to oceans, traditional knowledge

Non-fiction book shares traditional, archaeological wisdom

By Nina Grossman
March 11, 2023
Environment
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Dig Deep: Local archaeologist’s new book helps kids connect to oceans, traditional knowledge

Non-fiction book shares traditional, archaeological wisdom

By Nina Grossman
Mar 11, 2023
By learning about what has been left behind—tools, fishing technology and more—archaeologist Nicole Smith says we can decipher what it takes to ensure a healthy ocean years into the future. That's one of the messages shared in her new, non-fiction youth book, Dig Deep: Connecting Archaeology, Oceans and Us. Photo: Orca Footprint
By learning about what has been left behind—tools, fishing technology and more—archaeologist Nicole Smith says we can decipher what it takes to ensure a healthy ocean years into the future. That's one of the messages shared in her new, non-fiction youth book, Dig Deep: Connecting Archaeology, Oceans and Us. Photo: Orca Footprint
Environment
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Dig Deep: Local archaeologist’s new book helps kids connect to oceans, traditional knowledge

Non-fiction book shares traditional, archaeological wisdom

By Nina Grossman
March 11, 2023
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Dig Deep: Local archaeologist’s new book helps kids connect to oceans, traditional knowledge
By learning about what has been left behind—tools, fishing technology and more—archaeologist Nicole Smith says we can decipher what it takes to ensure a healthy ocean years into the future. That's one of the messages shared in her new, non-fiction youth book, Dig Deep: Connecting Archaeology, Oceans and Us. Photo: Orca Footprint

Connecting the past to the present is key to building a sustainable future.

That’s one of the messages local archaeologist Nicole Smith hopes to share with middle-grade youth through her new book, Dig Deep: Connecting Archaeology, Oceans and Us.

Rooted in history, marine archaeology, and traditional Indigenous wisdom from around the world, Smith’s new non-fiction book is about helping youth connect with marine archaeology and long-held knowledge, while also illuminating the fact that humans are not separate entities from the environment, but are, in fact, a part of the environment themselves.

“I think that's one thing that, over the years, I’ve been really grateful to learn about,” Smith says. “The way communities here have cared for and shaped the landscapes and seascapes. So much of that is grounded in this worldview that people are a part of nature. We are not separate.”

The first chapters of the book is focused on archaeology, she says, before the book begins to focus on traditional knowledge from different coastal Indigenous communities. Near the end, the book begins to draw connections to the present and future.

By learning about what has been left behind—tools, fishing technology and more—Smith says we can decipher what it takes to ensure a healthy ocean years from now. Humans have had relationships with the ocean for more than 100,000 years, she notes, and there is great well of knowledge among those who continue to act as stewards of the environment based on those learnings.

“There are many ways of understanding the world around us and imagining peoples’ place within it,” she says.

But Smith notes that while growing up, her own education didn’t really examine those connections. She hopes her book can help to open up new learning opportunities for young people.

“What’s so special about archaeology here on our coast…the majority is Indigenous history and heritage. And for Indigenous youth often it’s very empowering to learn about their history and heritage,” she says, adding that non-Indigenous youth benefit as well from a deeper understanding of the history and living wisdom about the land they call home.

“It really allows a space for coming together and sharing knowledge.”

“One thing I love about archaeology,” she adds, “is it really encourages us to look and see things in a new way. It doesn’t even have to be digging in the ground, it can be walking the beach in a low tide and seeing all this stuff in front of you that you wouldn’t see when the tide is high.”

Smith’s book explores clam gardens, herring egg harvesting and the stories left behind by shell middens (among other topics). The latter refers to a heap composed mostly from the shells of molluscs and other shell-bearing animals. These locations, where past communities would dispose of food remains, tools, fire charcoal and more, are wonderful for archeologists—providing valuable information about the lives and world views of the people that lived there, Smith says.

“Those become environmental archives or libraries,” she says. “Through archaeology you can look at those records and piece together what the environment was like hundreds or thousands of years ago.”

Smith emphasizes that Dig Deep is a four-year project sourced from stories, expertise and insights gathered from communities, knowledge-holders and archaeologists across the world.

“This book really happened because so many amazing people and communities have given their support or permission for this information to be presented in a children’s book,” she says. “Those relationships allowed this book to come into being.”

Published by Orca Book Publishers, Dig Deep: Connecting Archaeology, Oceans and Us will be available for purchase March 14.

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Nina Grossman
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contact@capitaldaily.ca

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