|14 November 2011
Northwest USA natives were fishers, not hunter-gatherers
In two new books, the University of Oregon's Madonna Moss challenges conventional thinking about the region's early inhabitants, pointing to cultures built around fishing, fish processing and fish resource management. In her new book 'Northwest Coast: Archaeology as Deep History' (Society for American Archaeology Press), Moss provides an overview of what researchers have discovered at archaeological sites dating back more than 12,000 years.
"Most of what makes up these sites are faunal remains [animal bones and shells]. Most of the bones in these sites are fish bones. This book is about the 85 percent fish bones that make up these sites and what they can tell us about the people who lived here in the past", says Moss. "Local tribes often are confused by the term 'hunter-gatherer.' They have always thought of themselves as fishermen."
The second book looks in depth at fish remains found at numerous archaeological sites in the Northwest. "The Archaeology of North Pacific Fisheries" was co-edited by Moss and Aubrey Cannon - an anthropologist at Canada's McMaster University - and published by the University of Alaska Press. The book is aimed at their colleagues involved in environmental science, fisheries and resource managers.
It is hoped, Moss says, that readers will think differently about the evolution of cultural complexity. "I think people were complex 12,000 years ago," she said. "The indigenous people of the Northwest coast not only relied on fish, sea mammals and plants, they utilised practices, techniques and technologies that actually enhanced the biological productivity of this region," Moss said. "I would argue that their practices made it more productive than it would have been without any human presence."
Edited from Salem News (9 November 2011)
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