Ancestral sea gardens supported human settlements for at least 3800 years on the Northwest Coast of North America

10.3389/feart.2022.988111

The relationships between clam gardens and human settlement throughout the millennia reflects the inseparable links among human demographics, marine management systems, and the social-ecological contexts in which they are embedded. However, it can be difficult to assign causation between the initiation and development of eco-cultural innovations like clam gardens and the proliferation of human societies due to the temporal uncertainties associated with both. Here, we bring together data on the shape of the local relative sea level curve, clam garden wall elevation as determined by GIS and drone imagery, radiocarbon dates of clam garden walls, and ecological and archaeological field observations, to assign proxy ages for the clam garden walls of different tidal heights in Kanish and Waiatt Bay on northern Quadra Island. These data, combined with our mapping and dating of settlement sites, demonstrate a temporal relationship between clam garden building effort and the densification of human settlements. In Kanish Bay, where we have high resolution data, clam gardens begin to be constructed in significant numbers at least 3800 years ago; this corresponds to a time of increased establishment of large human settlements. The corresponding increase in settlements and clam gardens reflects both the need to increase sustainable food production and the larger number of people who could sustain the ecological and social foundations of the production system. The correlation between number and area of clam gardens and the number of new, large settlements continues until ~2000 years ago. After this time, existing settlements increase in size, but no additional large settlements were established. New clam gardens continue to be built but in seemingly lower numbers. This shift in settlements and clam gardens suggest that a threshold in social-ecological carrying capacity may have been reached in this land and seascape. In the last few centuries, there is a dramatic decline in the number of clam gardens and evidence of human settlement, corresponding to social and ecological changes associated with European colonization. Taken together, these data demonstrate the strong linkages among Indigenous peoples, their lands and seas, and resilient food systems over the millennia.

Access and Use

Licence: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0
Limitations: Appropriate credit must be given to Hakai Institute and the authors of the dataset.

Data and Resources

Citation

Keywords

Dataset extent

Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

Metadata Reference Date(s) November 08, 2022 (Revision)
January 17, 2023 (Publication)
Data Reference Date(s) May 29, 2016 (Creation)
October 26, 2022 (Publication)
Frequency of Update As Needed

Responsible Party 1
Name
Holmes, Keith
Affiliation
Hakai Institute
Email
data@hakai.org
Role
  • Author
  • Custodian
  • Distributor
  • Originator
  • Owner
  • Point of Contact
  • Principal Investigator
  • Processor
  • Publisher
  • Editor
Responsible Party 2
Name
Lepofsky, Dana
Affiliation
Simon Fraser University
Email
dlepofsk@sfu.ca
Role
  • Author
  • Point of Contact
  • Principal Investigator
  • Processor
  • Co Author
  • Collaborator
  • Contributor
Responsible Party 3
Name
Smith, Nicole F.
Affiliation
Hakai Institute
Email
nicole.smith@hakai.org
Role
  • Principal Investigator
  • Co Author
  • Collaborator
  • Contributor
Responsible Party 4
Name
Crowell, Travis D.
Email
tdcrowell10@gmail.com
Role
  • Co Author
  • Collaborator
  • Contributor
Responsible Party 5
Name
Salomon, Anne K
Affiliation
Simon Fraser University
Email
anne.salomon@sfu.ca
Role
  • Co Author
  • Collaborator
  • Contributor

Field Value
Ocean Variables
  • Sea Surface Height
  • Other
Scope Dataset
Status Completed
Topic Category oceans
Maintenance Note Generated from https://cioos-siooc.github.io/metadata-entry-form
Spatial Extent { "coordinates": [ [ [ -125.4, 50.21 ], [ -125.2, 50.21 ], [ -125.2, 50.3 ], [ -125.4, 50.3 ], [ -125.4, 50.21 ] ] ], "type": "Polygon" }
North Bounding Latitude 50.3
South Bounding Latitude 50.21
East Bounding Longitude -125.2
West Bounding Longitude -125.4
Temporal Extent
Begin
2016-05-29
End
2022-06-30
Vertical Extent
Min
-1.0
Max
5.0
Default Locale English
Citation identifier
Code
https://doi.org/10.3389/feart.2022.988111