The social implications of elk hunting for ancestral Coast Salish communities

Author(s): Paul Ewonus

Year: 2017


Field, laboratory and archival archaeological research has helped to reconstruct important parts of the ancestral seasonal landscape in the southern Strait of Georgia. Contextual understanding of place provides a baseline for questions of sociality during the last c. 5000 years prior to the colonial era. Evidence illustrates several of the historical processes through which community identities were brought into focus in the Coast Salish world. As an example, I explore what is known about one of these narratives: the practice of hunting elk (Cervus elaphus). At most Northwest Coast sites deer (Odocoileus) is more common than elk (by NISP), and in the Salish Sea it can be strikingly so. While it is possible to consider both deer and elk together as simply cervids, I believe there are also reasons why their relationships with people in the past were not necessarily as similar as their taxonomy might suggest. Bound up with ritual life, I argue, a practical tradition focused on the elk hunt and consumption of the animal itself was emphasized among Coast Salish Peoples in the Fraser River delta and lower Fraser Valley. Over the millennia, ancestral communities identifying in part with this practice were formed through routine social engagement.

Cite this Record

The social implications of elk hunting for ancestral Coast Salish communities. Paul Ewonus. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429218)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -169.717; min lat: 42.553 ; max long: -122.607; max lat: 71.301 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14314