Hunter Gatherer Research

Terraforming and monumentality as long-term social practice in the Salish Sea region of the Northwest Coast of North America

Hunter Gatherer Research (2017), 3, (1), 107–132.

Abstract

The archaeological record of hunter-gatherer-fishers in the southern Gulf Islands of the Northwest Coast provides evidence of large-scale construction of shell mounds and ridges, houses and villages, production features, defensive earthworks and burial mounds and cairns. Landscapes were terraformed – meaning anthropogenically constructed, modified and maintained – in service of multiple ends. These practices had significant implications for the construction of place, community, social inequalities and political dynamics over the long term. We document the scope of landscape construction and terraforming in the archaeological record of the Salish Sea, focusing on its spatial, temporal and social elements in the southern Gulf Islands. Monumental constructions were widespread in the area, in most cases emerging in an iterative manner over the past 5000 years. However, over the last 1500 years, more short-term and larger-scale episodes of construction are evident, potentially connected with increased sociopolitical inequalities and their contestation. Our overarching objective is to consider how monumentality and terraforming have shaped Coast Salish histories, and better establish how monumentality articulated with the reproduction of society.

Access Token
£25.00

Ames, KM 1996. Life in the big house: household labor and dwelling size on the Northwest Coast. In Coupland G & Banning EB (eds) People who lived in big houses: archaeological perspectives on large domestic structures. Madison: Prehistory Press:178–200. Life in the big house: household labor and dwelling size on the Northwest Coast People who lived in big houses: archaeological perspectives on large domestic structures 178 200 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

Angelbeck, B 2016a. The balance of autonomy and alliance in anarchic societies: the organization of defenses in the Coast Salish past. World Archaeology 48(1):51–69. The balance of autonomy and alliance in anarchic societies: the organization of defenses in the Coast Salish past World Archaeology 48 51 69 Google Scholar

Angelbeck, B 2016b. Localized rituals and individual spirit powers: discerning regional autonomy through religious practices in the Coast Salish past. Journal of Northwest Anthropology 50(1):27–51. Localized rituals and individual spirit powers: discerning regional autonomy through religious practices in the Coast Salish past Journal of Northwest Anthropology 50 27 51 Google Scholar

Angelbeck, B & Grier C 2012. Anarchism and the archaeology of anarchic societies: resistance to centralization in the Coast Salish region of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Current Anthropology 53(5):547–587. Anarchism and the archaeology of anarchic societies: resistance to centralization in the Coast Salish region of the Pacific Northwest Coast Current Anthropology 53 547 587 Google Scholar

Angelbeck, B & McLay E 2011. The battle at Maple Bay: the dynamics of Coast Salish political organization through oral histories. Ethnohistory 58(3):359–392. The battle at Maple Bay: the dynamics of Coast Salish political organization through oral histories Ethnohistory 58 359 392 Google Scholar

Blukis Onat, AR 1985. The multifunctional use of shellfish remains: from garbage to community engineering. Northwest Anthropological Research Notes 19(2):201–207. The multifunctional use of shellfish remains: from garbage to community engineering Northwest Anthropological Research Notes 19 201 207 Google Scholar

Boyd, R 1999. Indians, fire, and the land in the Pacific Northwest. Corvallis: Oregon State University Press. Indians, fire, and the land in the Pacific Northwest Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

Burger, RL & Rosenswig, RM 2012. Considering early New World monumentality. In Burger, RL & Rosenswig, RM (eds) Early New World monumentality. Gainesville: University of Florida Press:3–24. Considering early New World monumentality Early New World monumentality 3 24 Google Scholar

Burley, DV 1989. Senewélets: culture history of the Nanaimo Coast Salish and the False Narrows midden. Victoria: Royal British Columbia Museum. Senewélets: culture history of the Nanaimo Coast Salish and the False Narrows midden Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

Cannon, A 2003. Long-term continuity in central Northwest Coast settlement patterns. In Carlson, RL (ed) Archaeology of coastal British Columbia: essays in honour of Philip M Hobler. Burnaby: Archaeology Press, Simon Fraser University:1–12. Long-term continuity in central Northwest Coast settlement patterns Archaeology of coastal British Columbia: essays in honour of Philip M Hobler 1 12 Google Scholar

Carlson, RL, Szpak, P & Richards. M 2017. The Pender Canal site and the beginnings of the Northwest Coast cultural system. Canadian Journal of Archaeology 41(1):1–29. The Pender Canal site and the beginnings of the Northwest Coast cultural system Canadian Journal of Archaeology 41 1 29 Google Scholar

Claassen, C 2010. Feasting with shellfish in the southern Ohio Valley: Archaic sacred sites and rituals. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press. Feasting with shellfish in the southern Ohio Valley: Archaic sacred sites and rituals Google Scholar

Coupland, G, Bilton, D, Clark, T, Cybulski, JS, Frederick G, Holland, A, Letham, B & Williams, G 2016. A wealth of beads: evidence for material wealth-based inequality in the Salish Sea region, 4000–3500 cal BP. American Antiquity 81(2):294–315. A wealth of beads: evidence for material wealth-based inequality in the Salish Sea region, 4000–3500 cal BP American Antiquity 81 294 315 Google Scholar

Coupland, G, Clark, T & Palmer, A 2009. Hierarchy, communalism, and the spatial order of Northwest Coast plank houses: a comparative study. American Antiquity 74(1):77–106. Hierarchy, communalism, and the spatial order of Northwest Coast plank houses: a comparative study American Antiquity 74 77 106 Google Scholar

Derr, KM 2014. Anthropogenic fire and landscape management on Valdes Island, southwestern BC. Canadian Journal of Archaeology 38(1):250–279. Anthropogenic fire and landscape management on Valdes Island, southwestern BC Canadian Journal of Archaeology 38 250 279 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

Deur, D 2005. Tending the garden, making the soil: Northwest Coast estuarine gardens as engineered environments. In Deur, D & Turner, NJ (eds) Keeping it living: traditions of plant use and cultivation on the Northwest Coast of North America. Vancouver: UBC Press:296–327. Tending the garden, making the soil: Northwest Coast estuarine gardens as engineered environments Keeping it living: traditions of plant use and cultivation on the Northwest Coast of North America 296 327 Google Scholar

Deur, D & Turner, NJ (eds) 2005. Keeping it living: traditions of plant use and cultivation on the Northwest Coast of North America. Vancouver: UBC Press. Keeping it living: traditions of plant use and cultivation on the Northwest Coast of North America Google Scholar

Deur, D, Dick, A, Recalma-Clutesi, K & Turner, NJ 2015. Kwakwaka’wakw ‘clam gardens’. Human Ecology 43(2):201–212. Kwakwaka’wakw ‘clam gardens’ Human Ecology 43 201 212 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

Eldridge, M & Acheson, S 1992. The antiquity of fish weirs on the southern coast: a response to Moss, Erlandson and Stuckenrath. Canadian Journal of Archaeology 16:112–116. The antiquity of fish weirs on the southern coast: a response to Moss, Erlandson and Stuckenrath Canadian Journal of Archaeology 16 112 116 Google Scholar

Fish, PR, Fish, SK, DeBlasis, P & Gaspar MD 2013. Monumental shell mounds as persistent places in southern coastal Brazil. In Thompson, VD & Waggoner, JC (eds) Archaeology and historical ecology of small scale economies. Gainsville: University Press of Florida:120–140. Monumental shell mounds as persistent places in southern coastal Brazil Archaeology and historical ecology of small scale 120 140 Google Scholar

Greene, NA, McGee, DC & Heitzmann, RJ 2015. The Comox Harbour fish trap complex: a large-scale, technologically sophisticated intertidal fishery from British Columbia. Canadian Journal of Archaeology 39(2):161–212. The Comox Harbour fish trap complex: a large-scale, technologically sophisticated intertidal fishery from British Columbia Canadian Journal of Archaeology 39 161 212 Google Scholar

Grier, C 2003. Dimensions of regional interaction in the prehistoric Gulf of Georgia. In Matson, RG, Coupland, G & Mackie, Q (eds) Emerging from the mist: studies in Northwest Coast culture history. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press:170–187. Dimensions of regional interaction in the prehistoric Gulf of Georgia Emerging from the mist: studies in Northwest Coast culture history 170 187 Google Scholar

Grier, C 2006. The political context of prehistoric Coast Salish residences on the Northwest Coast. In Christie, JJ & Sarro, PJ (eds) Palaces and power in the Americas: from Peru to the Northwest Coast. Austin: University of Texas Press:141–165. The political context of prehistoric Coast Salish residences on the Northwest Coast Palaces and power in the Americas: from Peru to the Northwest Coast 141 165 Google Scholar

Grier, C 2014. Landscape construction, ownership and social change in the southern Gulf Islands of British Columbia. Canadian Journal of Archaeology 38(1):211–249. Landscape construction, ownership and social change in the southern Gulf Islands of British Columbia Canadian Journal of Archaeology 38 211 249 Google Scholar

Grier, C & Angelbeck, B 2017. Tradeoffs in Coast Salish social action: balancing autonomy, inequality, and sustainability. In Hegmon, M (ed) The give and take of sustainability: archaeological and anthropological perspectives on tradeoffs. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press:198–221. Tradeoffs in Coast Salish social action: balancing autonomy, inequality, and sustainability The give and take of sustainability: archaeological and anthropological perspectives on tradeoffs 198 221 Google Scholar

Grier, C & Kim, J 2012. Resource control and the development of political economies in small-scale societies: contrasting prehistoric southwestern Korea and the Coast Salish region of northwestern North America. Journal of Anthropological Research 68(1):1–34. Resource control and the development of political economies in small-scale societies: contrasting prehistoric southwestern Korea and the Coast Salish region of northwestern North America Journal of Anthropological Research 68 1 34 Google Scholar

Grier, C, Dolan, JP, Derr, K & McLay, E 2009. Assessing sea level changes in the Southern Gulf Islands of British Columbia using archaeological data from coastal spit locations. Canadian Journal of Archaeology 33(2):254–280. Assessing sea level changes in the Southern Gulf Islands of British Columbia using archaeological data from coastal spit locations Canadian Journal of Archaeology 33 254 280 Google Scholar

Groesbeck, AS, Rowell, K, Lepofsky, D & Salomon, AK 2014. Ancient clam gardens increased shellfish production: adaptive strategies from the past can inform food security today. PLoS One 9(3):e91235. Ancient clam gardens increased shellfish production: adaptive strategies from the past can inform food security today PLoS One 9 e91235 Google Scholar

Hill-Tout, C 1895. Later prehistoric man in British Columbia. Proceedings and transactions of the Royal Society of Canada, series 2, vol I, section II:103–122. Later prehistoric man in British Columbia Proceedings and transactions of the Royal Society of Canada 103 122 Google Scholar

Hoffmann, T, Lyons, N, Miller, D, Diaz, A, Homan, A, Huddlestan, S & Leon, R 2016. Engineered feature used to enhance gardening at a 3800-year-old site on the Pacific Northwest Coast. Science Advances 2(12):e1601282–e1601282. Engineered feature used to enhance gardening at a 3800-year-old site on the Pacific Northwest Coast Science Advances 2 e1601282 e1601282 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

Hopt, J & Grier, C 2017. Continuity amidst change: village organization and fishing subsistence at the Dionisio Point locality in coastal southern British Columbia. Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology doi:10.1080/15564894.2016.1257526. Continuity amidst change: village organization and fishing subsistence at the Dionisio Point locality in coastal southern British Columbia Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology Google Scholar

Lepofsky, D & Lertzman, K 2008. Documenting ancient plant management in the northwest of North America. Botany 86:129–145. Documenting ancient plant management in the northwest of North America Botany 86 129 145 Google Scholar

Lepofsky, D, Blake, M, Brown, D, Morrison, S, Oakes, N & Lyons, N 2000. The archaeology of the Scowlitz site, sw British Columbia. Journal of Field Archaeology 27(4):391–416. The archaeology of the Scowlitz site, sw British Columbia Journal of Field Archaeology 27 391 416 Google Scholar

Lepofsky, D, Schaepe, DM, Graesch, AP, Lenert, M, Ormerod, P, Carlson, KY, Arnold, JE, Blake, M, Moore, P & Clague, JJ 2009. Exploring Sto:lo-Coast Salish interaction and identity in ancient houses and settlements in the Fraser Valley, British Columbia. American Antiquity 74(4):595–626. Exploring Sto:lo-Coast Salish interaction and identity in ancient houses and settlements in the Fraser Valley, British Columbia American Antiquity 74 595 626 Google Scholar

Lepofsky, D, Smith, N, Cardinal, N, Harper, J, Morris, M, Gitla (White, E), Bouchard, R, Kennedy, D, Salomon, A, Puckett, M, Rowell, K & McLay, E 2015. Ancient shellfish mariculture on the Northwest Coast of North America. American Antiquity 80(2):236–259. Ancient shellfish mariculture on the Northwest Coast of North America American Antiquity 80 236 259 Google Scholar

Luby, EM, Drescher, CD & Lightfoot, KG 2006. Shell mounds and mounded landscapes in the San Francisco Bay area: an integrated approach. Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology 1(2):191–214. Shell mounds and mounded landscapes in the San Francisco Bay area: an integrated approach Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology 1 191 214 Google Scholar

MacDonald, G 1983. Haida monumental art. Vancouver: UBC Press. Haida monumental art Google Scholar

Mackie, Q 2003. Location-allocation modelling of shell midden distribution on the west coast of Vancouver Island. In Matson, RG, Coupland, G & Mackie, Q (eds) Emerging from the mist: studies in Northwest Coast culture history. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press:260–288. Location-allocation modelling of shell midden distribution on the west coast of Vancouver Island Emerging from the mist: studies in Northwest Coast culture history 260 288 Google Scholar

Marshall, Y 1989. The house in Northwest Coast, Nuu-Chah-Nulth, society: the material structure of political action. In MacEachern, S, Archer, DJW & Garvin, RD (eds) Households and communities. Calgary: University of Calgary Archaeological Association:15–21. The house in Northwest Coast, Nuu-Chah-Nulth, society: the material structure of political action Households and communities 15 21 Google Scholar

Martin, A 2005. Agents in inter-action: Bruno Latour and agency. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 12(4):283–311. Agents in inter-action: Bruno Latour and agency Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 12 283 311 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

Matson, RG 2003. The Coast Salish house: lessons from Shingle Point, Valdes Island. In Matson, RG, Coupland, G & Mackie, Q (eds) Emerging from the mist: studies in Northwest Coast culture history. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press:76–104. The Coast Salish house: lessons from Shingle Point, Valdes Island Emerging from the mist: studies in Northwest Coast culture history 76 104 Google Scholar

McLaren, D, Rahemtulla, F & Fedje, D 2015. Prerogatives, sea level, and the strength of persistent places: archaeological evidence for long-term occupation of the centralcoast of British Columbia. BC Studies 187(Autumn):155–191. Prerogatives, sea level, and the strength of persistent places: archaeological evidence for long-term occupation of the centralcoast of British Columbia BC Studies 187 155 191 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

McLay, E, Grier, C & Angelbeck, B 2010. Archaeological inventory study of Montague Harbour provincial marine park, Galiano Island, British Columbia [HCA 2008–046]. Report on file at the BC Archaeology Branch, Victoria. Archaeological inventory study of Montague Harbour provincial marine park, Galiano Island, British Columbia [HCA 2008–046] Google Scholar

McLay, E, Grier C & Miller, N 2011. Archaeological inventory of Valdes Island [HCA 2000–195]. Report on file at the Archaeology Branch, Victoria. Archaeological inventory of Valdes Island [HCA 2000–195] Google Scholar

Mitchell, DH 1968. Excavations at two trench embankments in the Gulf of Georgia region. Syesis 1(1):29–46. Excavations at two trench embankments in the Gulf of Georgia region Syesis 1 29 46 Google Scholar

Mitchell, DH 1971. Archaeology of the Gulf of Georgia area, a natural region and its culture types. Syesis 4 (Supplement 1). Victoria: The British Columbia Provincial Museum. Archaeology of the Gulf of Georgia area, a natural region and its culture types Syesis Google Scholar

Osborne, JF 2014. Monuments and monumentality. In Osborne, JF (ed) Approaching monumentality in archaeology. New York: State University of New York Press:1–22. Monuments and monumentality Approaching monumentality in archaeology 1 22 Google Scholar

Osborne JF 2017. Counter-monumentality and the vulnerability of memory. Journal of Social Archaeology 17(2):163–187. Counter-monumentality and the vulnerability of memory Journal of Social Archaeology 17 163 187 Google Scholar

Pauketat, TR 2014. From memorials to imaginaries in the monumentality of ancient North America. In Osborne, JF (ed) Approaching monumentality in archaeology. New York: State University of New York Press:431–446. From memorials to imaginaries in the monumentality of ancient North America Approaching monumentality in archaeology 431 446 Google Scholar

Randall, AR 2015. Constructing histories: Archaic freshwater shell mounds and social landscapes of the St. Johns River, Florida. Gainsville: University Press of Florida. Constructing histories: Archaic freshwater shell mounds and social landscapes of the St. Johns River, Florida Google Scholar

Sassaman, KM & Randall, AR 2012. Shell mounds of the middle St. Johns basin, Northeast Florida. In Burger, RL and Rosenswig, RM (eds) Early New World monumentality. Gainesville: University of Florida Press:53–77. Shell mounds of the middle St. Johns basin, Northeast Florida Early New World monumentality 53 77 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

Schaepe, D 2006. Rock fortifications: archaeological insights into precontact warfareand sociopolitical organization among the Stó:lō of the lower Fraser River Canyon, BC. American Antiquity 71(4):671–705. Rock fortifications: archaeological insights into precontact warfareand sociopolitical organization among the Stó:lō of the lower Fraser River Canyon, BC American Antiquity 71 671 705 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

Smith, HI 1907. Archaeology of the Gulf of Georgia and Puget Sound, vol 4. Leiden: EJ Brill Limited. Archaeology of the Gulf of Georgia and Puget Sound 4 Google Scholar

Smith, HI & Fowke G 1901. Cairns of British Columbia and Washington. vol 2. Leiden: EJ Brill Limited. Cairns of British Columbia and Washington 2 Google Scholar

Stuiver, M, Reimer, PJ & Reimer, RW 2017. CALIB 7.0.4. http://calib.org. Google Scholar

Suttles, WP 1949. Fieldbook 6. Wayne Suttles papers, 1946–86. Seattle: Pacific Northwest Special Collections, University of Washington. Wayne Suttles papers, 1946–86 Google Scholar

Suttles, WP 1960. Affinal ties, subsistence, and prestige among the Coast Salish. American Anthropologist 62(2):296–305. Affinal ties, subsistence, and prestige among the Coast Salish American Anthropologist 62 296 305 Google Scholar

Suttles, WP 1991. The shed-roof house. In Wright, RK (ed) A time of gathering: native heritage in Washington state. Seattle: University of Washington Press:212–222. The shed-roof house A time of gathering: native heritage in Washington state 212 222 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

Trigger, BG 1990. Monumental architecture: a thermodynamic explanation of symbolic behaviour. World Archaeology 22(2):119–132. Monumental architecture: a thermodynamic explanation of symbolic behaviour World Archaeology 22 119 132 Google Scholar

Wallis, NJ 2008. Networks of history and memory: creating a nexus of social identities in Woodland period mounds on the lower St Johns River, Florida. Journal of Social Archaeology 8:236–271. Networks of history and memory: creating a nexus of social identities in Woodland period mounds on the lower St Johns River, Florida Journal of Social Archaeology 8 236 271 Google Scholar

Williams, J 2006. Clam gardens: aboriginal mariculture on Canada’s west coast. Vancouver: Transmontanus. Clam gardens: aboriginal mariculture on Canada’s west coast Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Details