Johnny Jones donates musket and spears to Pemberton Museum which may prove to be among the oldest items in the collection


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The Pemberton Museum reported in its July newsletter that it has received a significant donation from Johnny Jones in late May.

Johnny donated a musket rifle barrel that he found at Q’alatku7em (33km) and a metal spear found at Twin One Creek.

He also donated two huge pyrite rocks for the displays.

His donation included maps that indicate exactly where the items were found .

Johnny also donated a newspaper article about these objects published in 1999.

The article explains how Johnny was taking part in a Cultural Heritage Inventory for the traditional Lil’wat territory. This work was to create a clear concise map of the areas and artifacts of cultural significance in the territory.

Lil’wat territory stretches from Meager Creek to Lillooet Lake, up the Duffy road and out to Gates Lake to the north and to Rubble creek south of Whistler – you can imagine the walking Johnny has done to document these sites. This work continues to this day.

Johnny was down along Lillooet Lake at the old 29 Mile gold rush stopping place when he saw an item jutting out of the river bottom.

Upon closer inspection he realized it was a musket rifle barrel.

Johnny believes this is evidence of the story of a war between the Lil’wat and Thompson nations where two Thompson’s died and were buried at the 29 Mile site.

Aside from the musket barrel he also found graves and arrowheads, here.

The musket may be the very first gun ever seen by the Lil’wat people.

In the article Jones says, “At one time there were 16,000 people living along Lillooet Lake, then the smallpox epidemic of the late 1800s and early 1900s killed a lot of the people. Their lives should not be lost, their stories told”.

Johnny had planned on having it dated and authenticated by a gun expert but decided to give the item to the museum to pursue this work.

The spear point is a hand forged piece of metal work that was found at Twin One Creek by Ralph Dan Jr. when he was looking for cedar roots. It may be a decorative piece or it may be a weapon. This item will need more research but Johnny is confident it was not of First nation origin. It could have belonged to an early explorer who made their way up the lakes into the interior or perhaps an item that was traded inland. Johnny likes to believe it was an early Spanish explorer who made his way inland and left it along the way.

The museum is delighted to further research this item.

The pyrite rocks were found along the Birkenhead FSR and we know they will delight visitors for years to come when they explore the museum and find “GOLD” abandoned in one of the displays. We have smaller pieces of pyrite that fool folks all the time.

Thanks to Johnny Jones for these donations and the historical evidence they provide of early times in the region. They are also evidence of Johnny’s work as a Cultural Technician. These may prove to be some of the oldest items in the museum collection and staff are excited to begin to research their origins.

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