The Dirt on Your Directors: Scott Neilsen

Since the current Board of the NLAS is also its first formal Board and there is an AGM coming up in November where many of these people will be replaced, we thought it would be interesting to get each board member to answer a series of questions about themselves and their role with the NLAS. Over the next few weeks we will post each board members response to those questions. Up next is Dr. Scott Neilsen, a member of the Board of Directors and the Chair of the Awards Committee.

How did you get interested in Archaeology?

  • I’m of an age that I saw “Raiders of the Lost Ark” when it was originally released in theatres. The day after the movie my buddy Derek and I went to the library and checked out a book called “Archaeology”. When we got home we opened it with anticipation of learning all the things we need to become archaeologists. Somewhere near the bottom of the first paragraph we read that it would require 7 extra years of school after high school. We promptly closed the book and went outside to play. About 15 years later I got a job as an archaeology assistant on a pipeline project in the Maritimes because I had some university courses in “Native Studies”. It’s been 19 years since that first job and I’ve just graduated with a PhD in Archaeology. My younger self thinks I’m nuts for going to school that long, but my older self is pretty happy with how it all worked out.

    Dr. Neilsen loading a canoe at Ashuanipi Lake. (Todd Kristensen)

    Dr. Neilsen loading a canoe at Ashuanipi Lake. (Todd Kristensen)

Do you have a favourite site or artifact from the Province?

  • Currently my favorite site is a portage trail that runs between Riviere aux Esquimaux and the Kapitagas Channel, at the southern extent of Ashuanipi, in western Labrador. There isn’t a lot of material remains present on the portage, but the trail itself is an artifact of Innu movements between the Quebec North Shore and the interior of the Quebec-Labrador peninsula. I like this site because it forces me to think about aspects of the archaeological record, other than artifacts and small site features.

    Kapitagas Channel portage trail (Neilsen)

    Kapitagas Channel portage trail (Neilsen)

If you could give yourself one piece of advice to help you along your archaeology path, what would it be?

  • There are many things I could say here – such as don’t get bug spray on the artifact bags, learn what poison ivy looks like, and don’t open a new excavation unit on the last day of excavation – but I think the most important piece of advice I would give to a younger me is “listen to the locals, chances are they know where you should start looking”.

What made you want to get involved with the NLAS?

  • Who wouldn’t want to be involved in a society that has a wine bottle and a harpoon head for a logo; how cool is that!
    Seriously though, I felt that getting involved with the NLAS would provide an opportunity to work with like-minded people to spread the word about the deep, and significant history of Labrador and Newfoundland, and to learn more about that deep history myself. So far I have not been disappointed.

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