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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Koetje, Todd A.

Second Advisor

Campbell, Sarah K.

Third Advisor

Hansen, Thor A.


Hunter-gatherer groups altered the Gulf of Georgia landscape for more than three thousand years (4200-1000 BP). Much research has focused on what has come to be known as the Developed Coast Pattern. However, the Middle Pacific Period (3800-1800 BP) along the Pacific Northwest Coast experienced dramatic cultural evolution for nearly 2000 years prior to the onset of the Developed Coast Pattern. The Middle Pacific Period in the Gulf of Georgia region is divided into the Charles Culture (4500-3500 BP), the Locarno Beach Phase (3500-2400 BP), and the Marpole Phase (2400- 1500 BP), defined cultural phases primarily identified by major changes in subsistence strategies and settlement patterns. Current understanding of settlement and subsistence practices during the Locarno Beach Phase suggests a shift from forager to collector strategies and a site-type dichotomy of residential base camps and seasonal, limited-activity sites. The Locarno Beach Phase is often viewed as an intermediary and transitional phase between the Charles Culture and Marpole Phase, and therefore represents an important segment of the archaeological record. Past and current research has primarily focused on the Marpole Phase, and what research has been done regarding the Locarno Beach Phase has mainly focused on sites in the Northern Gulf of Georgia region. Not only is it important to gain an understanding of the Locarno Beach Phase so that relationships between the phases, as well as significant changes, are better understood, but research also needs to incorporate Locarno Beach Phase sites in the Southern Gulf of Georgia region to achieve a more holistic understanding of the phase. Site 45WH55 is a prehistoric shell midden site with radiocarbon dates (2750-2450 BP) that place it in the latter half of the Locarno Beach Phase. It has been the subject of the Western Washington University archaeological field school for three seasons (2005, 2007, and 2010). The site is located on a bluff on the east side of Chuckanut Bay in Northwestern Washington State. It is backed by Chuckanut Mountain to the east and is within close proximity to Chuckanut Creek. The centralized location of the site to rich resource areas, the presence of what appears to be a pit-house feature, and multiple clusters of distinct artifact classes, seem to suggest that the site most closely resembles a residential base habitation site. The site does not seem to adhere to the traditional forager-collector dichotomy, and because of the likely foraging of numerous resources around a central base area for a significant amount of time, it does not fit the proposed site-type dichotomy for the Locarno Beach Phase either. Rather than being the central base of a far-ranging, logistical organization, I argue that 45WH55 closely resembles a residential base habitation site, but one that exploited a largely local catchment area in contrast to a base camp with accessory limited-activity sites. In order to determine the type of site 45WH55 represents, lithic and bone artifact assemblages were analyzed and quantified; an intra-site analysis of these components has been done to determine if there are multiple, distinct clusters of artifacts. In total n = 674 lithics, and n = 2,961 bones were analyzed. Lithic and bone artifacts were grouped into categories based on their stages of use and reduction. The Poisson distribution was used to provide expected probabilities. A Chi² goodness-of-fit test was used to compare the expected and observed counts of artifacts per category. Finally, variance to mean ratios were used to determine if the artifact categories were distributed in random, uniform, or clustered patterns. Each of the artifact categories yielded a VMR that indicated clustering. Relatively low lithic and bone artifact classes and few artifact clusters are expected of seasonal, limited-activity sites because these sites are often devoted to a single purpose. In contrast, higher concentrations of lithic and bone artifacts clustered into multiple activity areas are expected of residential base habitations where multiple activities would be expected to occur simultaneously. Statistical analysis of the 45WH55 artifact assemblages suggests multiple activity areas, and therefore, the site seems to resemble the residential base side of the dichotomy. Analysis of the 45WH55 artifact assemblages indicates that the site possesses multiple, distinct artifact clusters, the presence of which can be interpreted as representing multiple, unique activity areas. Artifact clusters and features indicate the presence of areas devoted to living space, lithic tool production, butchery, cooking, bone reduction, marrow extraction, bone tool production, antler tool production, and secondary discard. The presence of multiple activity areas devoted to a wide range of activities indicates that 45WH55 fits the pattern of a residential base more than a seasonal, limited-activity site. Based on the strategic location of the site to multiple ecological niches, it is also reasonable to conclude that the inhabitants of 45WH55 could rely largely on locally available resources, with few seasonal moves or excursions, but only for a limited number of years before the patches of resources would near exhaustion and they would have to seek out a similarly productive location. This settlement and subsistence strategy can be described as serial-sedentism, and while it does not fit the proposed site-type dichotomy of residential bases and seasonal, limited-activity sites, it is plausible that hunter-gatherer groups could have successfully employed either of these settlement and subsistence patterns in the resource rich Gulf of Georgia region.





Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Excavations (Archaeology)--Washington (State)--Chuckanut Bay; Indians of North America--Washington (State)--Chuckanut Bay--Antiquities

Geographic Coverage

Chuckanut Bay (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 thesis for commercial purposes, or for financial gain, shall not be allowed without the author's written permission.

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