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Acorns and camas : plant utilization and subsistence along the Northwest Coast

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Tomcek, Laura
May 2009
Indians of North America -- Northwest Coast of North America -- Antiquities; Prehistoric peoples -- Food -- Northwest Coast of North America; Plant remains (Archaeology) -- Northwest Coast of North America
The Northwest Coast region of North America has long been reported as relying heavily on a marine subsistence base with little if any exploitation of plant resources. This is one of the few areas of the world where culturally complex tribes and chiefdoms developed without agriculture. Historic records starting in the 16th century, modern ethnographic records, archaeological recovery methods as well as acidic and waterlogged soil conditions may have resulted in an underrepresentation of plant remains and usage. I examined a variety of archaeological and ethnographic records related to plant utilization in prehistoric indigenous groups of the Northwest Coast. For my thesis, I focused on the recovered artifacts from several archaeological sites believed related to the exploitation of plant resources. Additionally, I compared archaeological artifacts with the ethnographic record to determine the usage of the artifacts and see if there are artifacts that may be missing from the archaeological record and which artifacts may have been used to process plant resources. By reexamining the relative importance of plant materials in daily life and the subsistence base of native indigenous groups, I have found a larger reliance and usage of plants than previously reported.
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