On Seattle’s Edge: A Native American Refuge on the Late Nineteenth Century Waterfront


In the nineteenth century, Seattle enterprises depended on Native Americans for labor but settlers increasingly displaced Natives and tensions led to sometimes hostile conflict. In response, a Seattle ordinance was passed in 1865 which limited Native American encampments within the city limits. Located at the peripheral margin of the city, Ballast Island became a crucial layover for Native Americans and also represents an important, but infrequently discussed, element of the historical narrative – Native Americans adapting to, and participating in, a rapidly changing world. In March of 2014, archaeological investigations in support of the SR 99 Bored Tunnel Project provided an opportunity to identify and delineate a portion of the island, which is currently buried below the current ground surface. This paper discusses the historical significance of Seattle’s Ballast Island and the methods used to identify the boundary of the island which included geotechnical archaeological techniques.

Cite this Record

On Seattle’s Edge: A Native American Refuge on the Late Nineteenth Century Waterfront. J. Tait Elder, Steve Archer, Lauran Riser, Melissa Cascella. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Seattle, Washington. 2015 ( tDAR id: 434095)


Temporal Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 548