Tag Archives: Makah

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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Waatch River: a raised beach site on the Olympic Peninsula

View from West up Waatch River Valley to Neah Bay; Vancouver Island in the distance. Source: Panoramio user Sam Beebe.

The Waatch River flows in a low valley that connects Neah Bay across the Olympic Peninsula to Makah Bay.  When sea levels were higher, it would flood with sea water and turn Cape Flattery into an island.  Interesting, then, to see that an old raised beach site has been found on the Waatch River at an elevation of about 13 metres above, and 2 km away from, the modern shoreline.

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Swan Down

Watercolour by James Gilchrist Swan (1818-1900) of the Klallam people of chief Chetzemoka (nicknamed 'the Duke of York'), with one of Chetzemoka's wives (nicknamed 'Jenny Lind') distributing potlatch at Port Townsend, Washington, USA. Source: Yale, via Wikipedia.

James Gilchrist Swan

lived one of the most varied and colorful lives in the early history of Washington Territory. He was variously an oysterman, customs inspector, secretary to Congressional delegate Isaac Stevens, journalist, reservation schoolteacher, lawyer, judge, school superintendent, railroad promoter, natural historian, and ethnographer. Above all, Swan was a chronicler. He wrote one of the earliest books describing life in Washington Territory, two Smithsonian monographs, many newspaper articles and technical publications, and more than 60 volumes of still-unpublished diaries. These works document not just pioneer society but also the Northwest Indian cultures that pre-dated white settlement and existed along-side it. Swan’s appreciation of and efforts to record Indian art, technology, history, legends, and language made him a rarity among early Washington settlers.

No doubt Swan wrote some of the most important and interesting accounts of early aboriginal life on the Northwest Coast and you would be lucky to own any of them as hardcopy editions. They are informative and vivid.  While they contain some of the biases of the day, there is absolutely no doubt that Swan was a sincere friend and companion of the Makah, Klallam and other Olympic Peninsula Tribes and he set out to tell their story fully in a way of which many anthropologists of the day would be proud.  Consider for example, this account of a Makah method of catching flatfish: Continue reading

Samuel Hancock witnesses smallpox among the Makah, 1852-53

Front page of Samuel Hancock's memoirs.

Samuel Hancock’s reminiscences were published in 1927 as a very small print run, and contain one of very few contemporary eyewitness accounts of the effects of smallpox on a Northwest Coast people, in this case the Makah Tribe of the Olympic Peninsula. So far as I know, these memoirs are not available anywhere online and are hard to find in libraries.  My brother Al Mackie (I told you only my family reads this thing) sent me a scan of parts of Hancock’s narrative relating to the smallpox epidemic, and so this is in essence his guest contribution.

The  excerpt  is a powerful and distressing account that hints at the social and cultural turmoil which arises from catastrophic depopulation and the witnessing of mass death, as noted elsewhere:

A smallpox epidemic in 1852 decimated the Makah population and caused one of the five ancient villages, Biheda, to be abandoned. This loss was not the only problem. The extreme number of fatalities further disrupted the line of authority in most families. In addition, knowledge of the critical components of some ceremonies and rituals were suddenly lost. People also died without transmitting ceremonial rights or privileges through a potlatch. The complicated social and ritual life that had existed for thousands of years began to fall apart.

The part of Hancock’s book quoted below is on pages 181-183 (PDF).  Such stories must have been passed down in Makah circles as well, much like the smallpox account of Skidegate Haida elder Solomon Wilson.  More detail on the author and source is given below the excerpt.

“Soon after this, a brig commanded by Capt. Fouber arrived here from San Francisco, having on board two natives who lived here, and also a white man with smallpox; the two natives left the brig, and went on shore among their friends, but in a few days were prostrate with the same disease, contracted on the vessel; one soon died and the other recovered, but the disease spread among the natives, proving very disastrous, for in a majority of instances it was fatal. After resorting to every means in their power to arrest its progress and fatality in vain, for their friends were dying in vast numbers daily, those who had escaped became almost frantic with grief and fear, and conceived the idea of crossing the Strait and going to the Nitanat tribe living on Vancouver’s Island. They crossed over to this place, carrying the infection with them, and soon nearly all those who fled from Neaah Bay, besides a great many of the native tribe, became victims to the epidemic.

“It was truly shocking to witness the ravages of this disease here at Neaah Bay. The natives after a time became so much alarmed that when any of their friends were attacked, all of the other occupants who lived in the house would at once leave it and the sick person with a piece of dried salmon and some water, laying all their personal effects by the sick persons, not intending to ever approach them again; sometimes the retreating ones would lie down anywhere on the beach till they died. I have, in walking along, encountered them lying in this situation when they would beg in the most supplicating manner for medicine or something to relieve them, promising to serve me as slaves all their lives should they recover, if I would contribute in some way to their recovery, while I did not have it in my power to do anything to ameliorate the sufferings of the poor creatures other than by furnishing them food or water if needed. Continue reading

Hoko River pictures are back

Hoko River project director Dale Croes, apparently wearing chaps, at the site in 1977.

Some time ago I pointed readers to the vast repository of Hoko River wet site excavation pictures put online by Dale Croes.  Unfortunately, those links broke but now, via  blog reader APM, I hear that the Hoko photo gallery is back online.  I will definitely be mining this repository for lots of posts.  Not only is this one of the most interesting sites ever excavated on the Northwest Coast, the pictures are a superb combination of excavation, artifact, and camp life – the latter a visual record of local archaeology as social practice in the 1970s. Also, as I mentioned previously, the lush, rich colour of the old Kodachrome slide film is stunning – you just don’t see that in modern digital cameras or even print film, despite the undeniable advantages of digital.

From the main page, many of the most interesting pictures are found under the “camp life” link.  There you will be confronted with an awkward frames-based link layout.  Not all links work still, but I’d say 90% do.  You can browse easily by clicking on the pictures that open on the right-hand frame to get the next picture.  This is easier than keeping the mouse centred on the picture number to the left.  Right click on the picture to bring it up in its own window or tab.  Some pages are organized as thumbnails, such as the wet site stratigraphy series. Because of the slightly awkward interface, I’ll aim to create a series of posts here which point to what I think are interesting aspects of this wonderful site.

Richard Daugherty and survey crew evaluate potential of Hoko Site in 1967 in WSU research vessel.

Speaking of Ozette: dSpace resources.

The "White Series" Ozette reports are freely available for download! Image shows house-plank decoration from the Ozette Site, used as cover art for these reports.

This space has recently carried a lot of items about the Ozette water-saturated site on the Olympic Peninsula,  about Makah whaling, and Queets canoes, and other wet sites in Washington State.  All archaeologists and many of the public in the Northwest are familiar with the Ozette site which, with its fabulous preservation has stimulated a lot of work on the archaeology of the big houses which so characterise the culture area from the Columbia to the Gulf of Alaska. A principal way most archaeologists are familiar with Ozette is through the three large  site reports published by Washington State University, bound as large white paperbacks, and found on the bookshelf of archaeologists across the region.

So, imagine how happy I was to find that all three volumes are available as free PDF downloads from Washington State University.  The PDFs are very large, perhaps un-necessarily so, but who can complain about over a thousand pages of detailed archaeological information on one of the most significant archaeological sites in North America, or even the world?  The three volumes are:

  • Samuels et al.  Ozette archaeological project research reports Volume I House structure and floor midden. 1991.  Link to download page.  (193 megs)
  • Samuels et al. Ozette archaeological project research reports volume II Fauna. 1994.  Link to download page(154 megs)
  • Whelchel et al.  Ozette archaeological project research reports volume III ethnobotany and wood technology.  2004.  Link to download page.  (288 megs).
  • While you’re at it, pick up Dale Croes’ pioneering 1974 computer applications in archaeology paper: The use of computer graphics in archaeology : a case study from the Ozette site, WashingtonLink to download page.  (149 megs).

UPDATE March 3/2010:  the handle.net URLs have been broken for a couple of days.  Try this link to get straight to WSU dSpace for Ozette. If that breaks ( a lot of places prevent stable URLs from search results because obviously people never want to share things) then go here and enter “ozette” in the search box.

(Note: all the above documents may download as files named “ARI” with no file extension.  You will need to add the extension .PDF to the file before you open it.)

These PDFs are fully searchable which makes finding things within the copious material of the Ozette site much easier.  The huge number of artifacts, features and fauna from Ozette have been a blessing and a curse, as interpretation struggles under the dead weight of data.  I would therefore be remiss if I didn’t bring to your attention the excellent M.A. thesis on Northwest Coast household archaeology by UVIC’s own Brendan Gray, who uses Ozette as a test-bed to investigate how we might be able to dig less but dig smarter and therefore learn more from Northwest houses.  Every NW Coast archaeologist should read this thesis.

  • Gray, Brendan 2009.  Sampling methods in Northwest Coast household archaeology: a simulation approach using faunal data from the Ozette siteLink (a bargain at 4.8 megs)

Anyway, I know many readers might find this to be too much inf.ormation, but I don’t believe it is common knowledge that these full text Ozette reports are freely available:  the WASU servers are fast, hard drives are cheap, and the reports are first class.  Enjoy.

Simulated and actual sampling designs projected onto Ozette house floors. From Brendan Gray M.A. thesis.

Memories of Ozette

Makah whaler Wilson Parker posing as a MAKAH WHALER for Edward Curtis, ca.1915

The magazine of Washington State University has a nice article on the archaeological project at Ozette, the UNESCO World Heritage Site on the west side of the Olympic Peninsula.  This Makah village site was covered by a landslide about three hundred years ago (animation), which created preservation conditions highly favourable to preservation of wooden artifacts.  The story begins

THERE’S A WELL-KNOWN PHOTOGRAPH taken by Native American chronicler Edward Curtis in 1915 of a Makah whaler. Dressed in an animal skin, the man is longhaired and wild. He had indeed been a whaler, as had generations of his people. But still, the photograph is a memory of a time already past. Curtis provided Wilson Parker with a hide and a wig to replace the European clothes the Makahs had adopted long before. In spite of Curtis’s fiction, however, there is much to be learned from Wilson Parker, the man in the photograph. As is always the case with a good myth, there is a deeper truth that lies beneath the surface story.

Parker is Sharon Kanichy’s great-great-grandfather, she tells me as we talk in the Makah cultural center in Neah Bay. Kanichy ’01 was born in February 1970. That same month, a powerful storm blew in off the Pacific, eroding the bank above the beach at Cape Alava, on the Olympic Coast, revealing something remarkable.

“All we knew was there was a burial site,” says Ed Claplanhoo of the buried longhouses revealed by that February storm. Claplanhoo ’56 was Makah tribal chairman in 1970, so it was he who got a phone call the first Saturday in February, from a hippie schoolteacher, as Claplanhoo describes him. A dubious character, says Claplanhoo, which is why he didn’t take the fellow seriously when he tried to warn Claplanhoo that “people” were getting in the “house” and taking “artifacts.” Claplanhoo knew everyone in Neah Bay and knew everyone who owned artifacts. He’d heard of no problems.

But the fellow persisted. The next Sunday, the same phone call. “Mr. Claplanhoo, they’re still taking artifacts out of the house.”

“So I said okay,” says Claplanhoo, “I’ll tell you what, you come to my house at seven o’clock tonight and we’ll talk about it.”

From there, the article recounts the story of the Ozette excavations from the point of view of both Makah and the archaeologist Richard Daugherty, who led the decade long excavation of “North America’s Pompeii.”  It nicely captures the importance of the site as well as the nature of the dig and the social relations formed which endure to this day.

Don’t miss the slideshow from the excavations — it’s an awkward interface but some very atmospheric pictures of life on a remote archaeological dig in the 1960s – as well as a few shots of the US Marines who helped airlift supplies in and treasures out.

Digging at the Ozette Site - the hoses were used to gently free the wooden artifacts, such as the house planks shown, from the mudflow which buried them. Source: WASU Magazine.