Clam Gardens: Ancient and Living Landscapes in the Salish Sea


Clam gardens are rock-walled, intertidal terraces constructed by the coastal First Nations of British Columbia (Canada) and Native Americans of Washington State and Alaska (USA) to enhance the shellfish productivity of beaches and rocky shorelines. This presentation highlights recent work in the Salish Sea by members and partners of the "Clam Garden Network", a community of First Nations, academics, researchers, and resource managers interested in the cultural and ecological importance of clam gardens and traditional clam management. In this presentation we focus on archaeological studies that help to understand the clam garden landscapes of Quadra Island and the southern Gulf Islands. Through excavation, drone mapping, radiocarbon and optically stimulated luminescence dating we are better able to understand how Nations built, maintained and used clam gardens continuously for the last 2100 years, even amidst changing sea levels. We examine how luminescence signals in vertical sediment cores are informing our understanding of traditional management philosophy, and we discuss the ways in which archaeologists are participating in the eco-cultural revival of two clam gardens in the southern Gulf Islands; a collaborative project led by Parks Canada and the WSANEC and Hul’q’umi’num Nations aimed at restoring the local ecosystem and cultural connections to place.

Cite this Record

Clam Gardens: Ancient and Living Landscapes in the Salish Sea. Nicole Smith, Skye Augustine, Dana Lepofsky, Christina Neudorf, Keith Holmes. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430289)

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16519