The vast majority of theses in this collection are open access and freely available. There are a small number of theses that have access restricted to the WWU campus. For off-campus access to a thesis labeled "Campus Only Access," please log in here with your WWU universal ID, or talk to your librarian about requesting the restricted thesis through interlibrary loan.

Date of Award

Summer 2023

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Department or Program Affiliation

Department of Anthropology

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Koetje, Todd A.

Second Advisor

Ek, Jerald D.

Third Advisor

Young, Kathleen Z.


This study braids qualitative and quantitative views of CMT studies to explore meanings and relationships with Culturally Modified Trees (CMT) with a concern for the ethnographic perspective currently absent in dominant structures. This research showcases community value when combining different CMT ontologies (Stillaguamish and Western Academic Definitions). Ethnohistorical methods and grounded theory help organize semi-structured interviews at five previously recorded archaeological CMT sites. There is a lack of feedback concerning Indigenous philosophy about classifying eco-facts or vivio-facts, specifically CMT. This study comprises an interdisciplinary team within the Stillaguamish Cultural Resources Department to reassess five previously documented cedar use sites in the Stillaguamish River Watershed in Washington State. Culturally Modified Trees are part of a larger picture layered underneath artificial landscapes and boundaries created by Western thinking. In this space of acknowledgment, we can engage the perspective of Indigenous land stewards who are the keepers of this intellect. Culturally Modified Trees are a rich topic that does not align neatly with Western archaeological training or “black box” thinking. This paper calls for a methodological change and seeks first-hand guidance from Indigenous knowledge keepers about the domains in which CMT ontology reflects coordinated care in and around traditionally managed landscapes.




Memory, Acknowledgement, Community-Involvement, Archaeology, Transparency, Culturally Modified Trees


Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Trees--Symbolic aspects--Washington (State)--Stillaguamish River Watershed; Archaeology--Washington (State)--Stillaguamish River Watershed; Stillaguamish Indians; Ethnoscience--Washington (State)--Stillaguamish River Watershed

Geographic Coverage

Stillaguamish River Watershed (Wash.)




masters theses




Copying of this document in whole or in part is allowable only for scholarly purposes. It is understood, however, that any copying or publication of this document for commercial purposes, or for financial gain, shall not be allowed without the author’s written permission.

Included in

Anthropology Commons