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Ancient Shellfish Mariculture on the Northwest Coast of North America

  • Dana Lepofsky (a1), Nicole F. Smith (a2), Nathan Cardinal (a3), John Harper (a4), Mary Morris (a5), Gitla (Elroy White) (a6), Randy Bouchard (a7), Dorothy I.D. Kennedy (a7), Anne K. Salomon (a8), Michelle Puckett (a9) and Kirsten Rowell (a10)...
Abstract

While there is increasing recognition among archaeologists of the extent to which non-agricultural societies have managed their terrestrial ecosystems, the traditional management of marine ecosystems has largely been ignored. In this paper, we bring together Indigenous ecological knowledge, coastal geomorphological observations, and archaeological data to document how Northwest Coast First Nations cultivated clams to maintain and increase productivity. We focus on “clam gardens,” walled intertidal terraces constructed to increase bivalve habitat and productivity. Our survey and excavations of clam gardens in four locations in British Columbia provide insights into the ecological and social context, morphology, construction, and first reported ages of these features. These data demonstrate the extent of traditional maricultural systems among coastal First Nations and, coupled with previously collected information on terrestrial management, challenge us to broaden our definition of “forager” as applied to Northwest Coast peoples. This study also highlights the value of combining diverse kinds of knowledge, including archaeological data, to understand the social and ecological contexts of traditional management systems.

Résumé

Si bien se observa, a partir de la arqueología, un mayor reconocimiento sobre la medida de incursión de las sociedad no-agrícolas en el manejo sus ecosistemas terrestres, el manejo tradicional de los ecosistemas marinos ha sido considerablemente ignorado. En este documento integramos: el conocimiento ecológico Indígena, observaciones geomorfológicas sobre áreas costaneras y datos arqueológicos; con la finalidad de documentor la forma en la cual las Primeras Naciones de la Costa Noroeste cultivaron almejas para mantener e incrementar los niveles de productividad. Nos centramos en el estudio de los “jardines de almejas”, los cuales constituyen terrazas amuralladas de la zona intermareal construidos para la ampliación del hábitat y productividad de bivalvos. Nuestra prospección y excavaciones de jardines de almejas en cuatro localidades de la Columbia Británica proporcionan información detallada sobre el contexto ecoldgico y social, morfología, constructión y las primeras dataciones de estos rasgos. Tales datos exponen la extensión de los sistemas tradicionales de maricultura entre las Primeras Naciones costaneras y junto con la información recopilada previamente sobre el manejo de ecosistemas terrestres, nos plantea el desafío de ampliar nuestra definición de “recolector” tal como se aplica alas poblaciones de la Costa Noroeste. Este estudio pone de manifiesto el valor de combinar diversidad de conocimientos, incluyendo datos arqueológicos, para comprender los contextos sociales y ecológicos de los sistemas de manejo tradicionales.

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American Antiquity
  • ISSN: 0002-7316
  • EISSN: 2325-5064
  • URL: /core/journals/american-antiquity
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