Proposed Abstract Title

Clam Terrace Rock Walls: The Ecology and Social Significance of Monumental Places

Type of Presentation

Oral

Session Title

Strengthening Connections to Place in Changing Times: Clam Garden Knowledge, Research, and Stories

Location

2016SSEC

Description

When we think of the monumental works of the indigenous peoples of the Northwest Coast, we typically think of long houses, canoes, and totem poles. But the First Peoples are also monumental movers of stone in the making of resource sites like clam terraces and root gardens. Clam terraces are special places that enhance beaches for clam production, and are used to harvest not only clams but an entire suite of algae and animals. While many studies have focused on the ability of clam gardens to enhance clam productivity, few have examined the role of the rock wall itself. These stories describe the monumental work of Indigenous peoples of the Northwest Coast to create these rock wall structures, indelibly shaping land and seascapes with their creation and inscribing the physical world with visible records of familial connections to places, while significantly managing food resources. In other words, the moving of stone at this monumental scale entangles the production of key foods with the making histories and places. These stories highlight the importance of these features in shaping our seascapes as well as our ecosystems. By creating new habitat, rock walls change intertidal ecological communities and alter the availability of non-clam food species, bringing foods like crab, urchin, seaweeds, and octopus into the garden and onto the plate.

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Clam Terrace Rock Walls: The Ecology and Social Significance of Monumental Places

2016SSEC

When we think of the monumental works of the indigenous peoples of the Northwest Coast, we typically think of long houses, canoes, and totem poles. But the First Peoples are also monumental movers of stone in the making of resource sites like clam terraces and root gardens. Clam terraces are special places that enhance beaches for clam production, and are used to harvest not only clams but an entire suite of algae and animals. While many studies have focused on the ability of clam gardens to enhance clam productivity, few have examined the role of the rock wall itself. These stories describe the monumental work of Indigenous peoples of the Northwest Coast to create these rock wall structures, indelibly shaping land and seascapes with their creation and inscribing the physical world with visible records of familial connections to places, while significantly managing food resources. In other words, the moving of stone at this monumental scale entangles the production of key foods with the making histories and places. These stories highlight the importance of these features in shaping our seascapes as well as our ecosystems. By creating new habitat, rock walls change intertidal ecological communities and alter the availability of non-clam food species, bringing foods like crab, urchin, seaweeds, and octopus into the garden and onto the plate.