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1 July 2017 The Archaeology of Camas Production and Exchange on the Northwest Coast: With Evidence from a Sts'ailes (Chehalis) Village on the Harrison River, British Columbia
Natasha Lyons, Morgan Ritchie
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Abstract

Edible root resources were widely cultivated and consumed by First Peoples throughout North America from the early to mid-Holocene to historic times. In recent decades, archaeobotanists, ethnobotanists, archaeologists, and traditional knowledge-holders have explored and clarified many aspects of root food ecology, production, and exchange. This paper focuses on camas, considered a cultural keystone species across much of western North America because of its high cultural value and influence in defining the cultural identities and land use of resident communities. While historic camas use by First Peoples has been widely documented throughout the Pacific Northwest, the archaeology of camas is little known at coastal sites. This paper presents evidence for a concentration of camas bulbs (Camassia spp.) found in an earth oven complex within an ancient Sts'ailes (Chehalis) village in the Upper Fraser Valley of southwestern British Columbia, Canada. We contextualize this find by exploring the abundant ethnobotanical and ethnohistoric camas literature in order to create a picture of the production and exchange of camas amongst coastal communities of the Northwest Coast. We analyze direct and indirect sources of archaeological data for coastal camas production, which helps us to evaluate questions raised by the presence of this resource 150 km outside of its historical growing range.

© 2017 Society of Ethnobiology
Natasha Lyons and Morgan Ritchie "The Archaeology of Camas Production and Exchange on the Northwest Coast: With Evidence from a Sts'ailes (Chehalis) Village on the Harrison River, British Columbia," Journal of Ethnobiology 37(2), 346-367, (1 July 2017). https://doi.org/10.2993/0278-0771-37.2.346
Published: 1 July 2017
JOURNAL ARTICLE
22 PAGES


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