Category Archives: Washington State

These Outer Shores: A special edition of BC Studies

Screen Shot 2015-11-08 at 7.47.48 PMThe regional journal BC Studies has a new special issue out focused on local archaeology. Entitled These Outer Shores, the edition is available for a reasonable price (20$) and two of the articles plus the forward are already open access, with the rest to follow in a couple of years.  The publisher’s blurb gives a good sense of the edition:

Guest Edited by Alan D. McMillan and Iain McKechnie, These Outer Shores presents recent archaeological research along the outer coast, from southeast Alaska to the entrance to Juan de Fuca Strait. The authors challenge the long-held perception of the western edge of British Columbia as “peripheral” or “remote,” removed from major cultural developments emanating from more interior locations. Instead, recent fieldwork and analyses document a lengthy and persistent occupation of the outer shores over the past 13,000 years. Using a variety of modern approaches and techniques, the authors examine such topics as changing sea levels, human settlement history, fish and shellfish harvesting, whaling, and the integration of Indigenous oral history with archaeology.

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A Lummi Reef Net Model

Lummi Reef Netting Model. Source: WhatcomWatch.org

Lummi Reef Netting Model. Source: http://whatcomwatch.org/wpww/?p=348

A while back I found the cool picture above in an online exhibit of the Whatcom Museum showing photographs of Point Roberts and Lummi Island, on Puget Sound just south of the Canadian border.  Reef netting is a peculiarly Straits Salish technology which involved the setting of complex nets, suspended between two canoes, at strategic locations where the natural flow of salmon was constrained. A sort of on-ramp led the fish up to the net by creating a gentle optical illusion of a rising bottom.  When the salmon were milling around in the horizontal net, still free, the canoes would be suddenly swung together, closing the net and trapping the salmon.

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Yelm Jim’s Fish Weir at Puyallup

Yelm Jim's fish weir on the Puyallup River ca. 1885. Click for high resolution.  Source:  http://www.digitalarchives.wa.gov/Record/View/DAA73FC7A57E989D65B6DBEA419FC89E

Yelm Jim’s fish weir on the Puyallup River ca. 1885. Click for high resolution. Source: http://www.digitalarchives.wa.gov/Record/View/DAA73FC7A57E989D65B6DBEA419FC89E

So for one reason or another I’ve been thinking about fish weirs lately.  A picture can be worth a thousand thoughts though, so I was happy to see these two shots of a massive weir photographed ca. 1885 on the Puyallup Indian Reservation (map) near Tacoma, southern Puget Sound, Washington.  I’m sure these are common knowledge images but for some reason I hadn’t come across them before.  If you’re new to weirs I posted something on them before, referencing the monumental reconstruction of one on the Koeye River.  Essentially they are a method for controlling the upstream migration of salmon, allowing for stock assessment and selective harvesting.

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Memorial Tributes for Dr. Richard “Doc” Daugherty

Richard Daugherty with the famous "whaling trophy" from the Ozette Site.  Source: Washington State University.

Richard Daugherty with the famous “whaling trophy” from the Ozette Site. Source: Washington State University.

Dale Croes sends along the following information: two tribute events for the late Dr. Richard Daugherty, who passed away February 22 at the age of 91. Daugherty was Professor of Archaeology at Washington State University, and is best known for two remarkable projects: the Marmes Rockshelter dig and the long-term Ozette wet site project, the latter being commonly referred to as the “Pompeii of North America” on the grounds of its incredible preservation of organic Makah material culture.

I only met Dr. Daugherty once a long time ago when I was privileged to speak about the Kilgii Gwaay wet site in Seattle, but there is an entire generation of NW Archaeologists who were his students, or were otherwise inspired or mentored by him. If you’re one of them (and count me amongst the inspired), then feel free to leave a comment below, and this can serve as an online repository of good memories and funny stories perhaps. It’s the NW Anthropology meetings starting tonight in Bellingham and I am sure there will be plenty of beer glasses clinked in his memory.  If you click “continue reading” then I’ve gathered together some of the obituaries and also the poster which Dale sent with details of the two tributes, the first of which is this coming Monday in Olympia.

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Northwest Anthropology Conference (NWAC) is in Bellingham, March 26-29, 2014

Screenshot from NWAC 2014 page.

Screenshot from NWAC 2014 page.

Just a quick service note to help get the word out: the NW Anthropology Conference 2014 is coming up, conveniently located in Bellingham, Washington.  It will run Wed March 26 through Saturday March 29th, 2014. This is usually an excellent conference.  It often skews a little to the archaeology side of anthropology, but the theme this year is “Anthropologists Connecting” which should stimulate a broad attendance:

Anthropologists make connections between communities, generations, biology and culture, past and present, and with each other.

It appears the conference is being organized out of the fine Department of Anthropology at Western Washington University, co-ordinated by Dr. Sarah Campbell.  Session proposals and paper submissions are still open, so get yours in.  If you have a a session arranged and want to troll for presenters, then feel free to put a comment in here: one of my seven readers might rise to the bait. (you know who you are).

Controversy at Cherry Point site WA, 45WH1

Foreshore near 45WH1.  Source: Re-Sources.

Foreshore near 45WH1. Source: Re-Sources.

I haven’t been following the story at all, but there seems to be quite the controversy going on at Cherry Point, not far north of Bellingham on the coast of Washington State (map).  This large site, in Lummi Nation territory and known to them as Xwe’ chi’ eXen, has seen a lot of archaeological work over the years: about 300 cubic metres was  excavated in a series of WWU fieldschools in the 1970s and 80s under the direction of Garland Grabert. Dating back to at least 3500 years old, has some unusual features, such as being on a wave cut bank over a cobble beach with unusual offshore topography, suggesting proximity to a reef-netting site.

As its site number indicates, it’s the first site recorded by archaeologists in Whatcom County – which usually means it’s a very prominent site.  Indeed, it’s both culturally and scientifically important, and, unfortunately, has seen a lot of impact and is currently threatened. The source of the problem is a major coal port which is being planned. Interestingly enough, when the developer jumped the gun and started core-sampling the site before authorization, they were  taken to court and recently fined 1.6 million dollars.  Which is a lot of dollars. Continue reading

Final Qwu?gwes wet site report is available for download

Toy war club from Qwu?gwes site.  Source: Qwu?gwes Report.

Toy war club from Qwu?gwes site. Source: Qwu?gwes Report. Click to enlarge.

Dale Croes kindly sent me a link to the final report for the Qwu?gwes wet site (45TN240), which is  is located on Mud Bay at the southern end of Eld Inlet, Puget Sound, near Olympia, Washington (map). The site was apparently first occupied about 800 years ago.  This report, hosted at NewsWARP, checks in at almost 1,000 pages and about 80 megs, and is the product of more than 10 years of field-school and collaborative research with the Squaxin Tribe.  There look to be about two dozen authors. If you’re not up for the whole thing right away,  there’s a much shorter executive summary you can download here. But it’s a really impressive report covering everything from stone to bone to wood, bark, root, wood I.D., ethnobotany, paleo-seismology, fishtraps, and more.  It’s very clearly written at an accessible, non-technical  level, largely by students. I’ll pick out a few of many highlights below. Continue reading