Times Colonist: Jun 23, 1995

By Bill Smith

Times Colonist staff

The Tsawout Indian Band is negotiating for access to conduct an archeological survey on privately owned James Island.

And the Central Saanich Band will file site-specific land claims on the sites if the survey warrants such action, said band manager Eric Pelkey.

Seattle billionaire Craig McCaw chairman of McCaw Cellular Communications, is a member of a Seattle syndicate that recently bought the island for $26 million.

McCaw Cellular spokesman Bob Ratliffe said he hadn’t heard about the planned survey.

Craig McCaw is out of town this week, “but I know he’s always been extremely environmentally sensitive,” said Ratliffe.

Pelkey said archeologist Bjorn Simonsen is making application to the archeology branch for a survey permit.

“There’s an old village site on the southern part of James Island and the remains of many of our ancestors at the other end of the island,” Pelkey said Thursday.

“We want to get an archeological study to determine the condition of the sites.”

Remains from a site on the island were turned over to the provincial museum about 12 years ago, said Pekley.

Although he has not yet spoken to the new owners of James Island, Pelkey is confident the two parties can work in a co-operative manner.

Simonsen, formerly provincial archeologist and now in private practice, said he is preparing the paperwork for the band for a permit application.

A 1974 report prepared for the Archeological Sites Advisory Board showed four shell midden sites were uncovered.

The sites were identified during a Gulf Island archeological survey.

The 300-hectare James Island is off the east coast of the Saanich Peninsula and lies close to Cordova Spit.

The new owners are planning some residential development on the island but have scrapped plans for 210 homes around an 18-hole “championship” golf course.

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