Long-term histories of clam harvesting and seasonal settlement strategies on Shíshálh Lands, British Columbia

Leclerc, Natasha (2018) Long-term histories of clam harvesting and seasonal settlement strategies on Shíshálh Lands, British Columbia. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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This thesis investigated seasonality and intensity of shíshálh shellfish harvesting practices, and, by proxy, seasonal site occupation in the Sechelt Inlet system (SIS), located on the inner coast of the Sunshine Coast, southern British Columbia. Three different site types were examined: a large village, an inlet village and two formal camps. This represents the first systematic study of shellfish harvesting and seasonality in the region that applied high-resolution stable oxygen isotope analysis (δ¹⁸Oₛₕₑₗₗ) coupled with macro- and micro-growth line analyses of archaeological and live-collected butter clam (Saxidomus gigantea) shells. The δ¹⁸Oₛₕₑₗₗ results showed that shellfish harvesting in the SIS occurred year-round, though seasonal preferences differed by site type. The large village showed a preference for winter/early spring harvesting, the smaller inlet village showed a preference for spring and summer collection, and the formal camps showed a preference for spring harvesting. Seasonal preference generally followed the seasons when the sites would have been occupied by the most people. Few autumn-collected shells were found suggesting that butter clams were harvested and dried in the summer instead of the autumn to be prepared for winter consumption or were not harvested for the intension of winter consumption. The results demonstrated that, from 930 to 0 cal. BP, the shíshálh “seasonal round” generally followed the SIS’s ethnographically present seasonal occupation but was also flexible to environmental contingencies. In addition, the δ¹⁸Oₛₕₑₗₗ data support a seasonal shift between the Tzoonie Narrows inlet village and the Porpoise Bay year-round village, which had not been recorded ethnographically. The results continue to showcase the value in challenging the ethnographic record. The macro-growth line analysis results demonstrated a pattern of high harvesting intensity at all sites regardless of their site type. This differed from results previously obtained from other investigations on the British Columbian coast, specifically sites in eastern Vancouver Island, the Namu region on the central coast, and the Dundas Islands and Prince Rupert Harbour on the northern coast, thereby highlighting the uniqueness of shellfish-related practices on shíshálh lands and the variability along the Pacific Northwest Coast. Results also suggested that proximity to mixed substrate beaches, the preferred medium for butter clams, may have been a factor in clam harvesting intensity in addition to the density of occupation. Macro-growth line alignment with δ¹⁸Oₛₕₑₗₗ results suggested that low salinity coupled with frequent freshwater incursions led to the deposition of macro-growth lines in the autumn and the spring, as well as winter and summer. Micro-growth line analysis, which involves measuring lunar daily growth increments (LDGI), was not able to account for a full year of growth, while previous work on butter clam shells from the outer coast was able to do so. This demonstrated that LDGI measurements could not be used in the SIS to clarify salinity effects on δ¹⁸Oₛₕₑₗₗ.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/13039
Item ID: 13039
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 146-161).
Keywords: Coastal Archaeology, Oxygen Isotopes, Sclerochronology, British Columbia, Shellfish Harvesting
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Archaeology
Date: May 2018
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Shellfish culture -- History -- Sechelt Peninsula (B.C.); Sechelt Indians -- Fishing -- History; Animals remains (Archaeology) -- Sechelt Peninsula (B.C.)

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