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Shellfish Harvesting Strategies on the Northern Northwest Coast: Evidence from Labouchere Bay, Southeast Alaska

Author(s): Mark Williams

Year: 2017

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This poster presents new data from five shell midden sites on Prince of Wales Island, Alaska in order to examine how shellfish-harvesting strategies changed during the middle to late Holocene. The accessibility and resilience of shellfish beds on the coastal margin makes them valuable resources that complement more seasonally-restricted food sources such as salmon runs. In order to meet the increasing needs of permanent settlements that emerged during the middle Holocene, shellfish management strategies would have had to adapt. Establishing specialized foraging camps and purposefully transforming sections of the intertidal zone into clam gardens would have improved the yield of shellfish beds owned by particular households. This research examines changes in the diversity and relative abundance of shellfish species within the middens at Labouchere Bay. Patterns of change are considered within frameworks of paleoecology, the priorities of individual foraging agents, and community-level settlement patterns and social organization. Analysis of stable oxygen isotopes reveals changes in environmental conditions at both a short-term seasonal scale and long-term climactic scale. Comparison with other sites in the region places these changes within the context of increasing sedentism and social organization.

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Shellfish Harvesting Strategies on the Northern Northwest Coast: Evidence from Labouchere Bay, Southeast Alaska. Mark Williams. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431576)


Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 17186

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