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New insights into the Quileute whalers of Washington State from ecology and archaeology

Author(s): Frances Robertson ; Andrew Trites

Year: 2017

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The Quileute people of Washington State are an ocean going people dependent on marine resources. They are skilled fishers and hunters, and like their neighbors to the north, the Makah and the Nuu-chah-nulth, they have a history of exploiting the once abundant marine resources in both coastal and offshore waters. While much is known of about the whaling activities of the Makah and the Nuu-chah-nulth, little is known about the whaling activities of the Quileute, especially 20-40 miles offshore. We used a combination of archeological, ethnographical and ecological sources to determine which species were hunted, which species would have been available, and where Quileute hunters would have had to travel to find them. Gray whales would have been the most abundant and were regularly harvested by the Quileute in the 1800s. Humpback whales were harvested in the same manner as gray whales. Both species occurred close to shore, but also as much as 20 miles offshore. Astonishingly the Quileute successfully caught 9 documented fin whales in 1888—a species found along the shelf-break some 30-40 miles offshore. The evidence of where Quileute whalers were hunting indicates that they were exceptional seamen, navigators and whalers.

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Cite this Record

New insights into the Quileute whalers of Washington State from ecology and archaeology. Frances Robertson, Andrew Trites. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430925)


Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15909

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America