Tag Archives: Lummi

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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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