UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Inscribed on the landscape : stories of stone traps and fishing in Laxyuup Gitxaała Smethurst, Naomi H.


This thesis examines the nature of an indigenous fishery on the northwest coast of British Columbia, within Gitxaała Nation`s territory. To investigate fishing practices, I analyze faunal assemblages from 16 habitation sites, map and describe two intertidal stone traps, and relate the results of which to Gitxaała traditional ecological knowledge. I first outline the social organization of fishing in Gitxaała territory and discuss Gitxaała ontology and the connection between family and place. I then discuss the technology and function behind the two intertidal stone traps. I examine archaeological patterning of fish abundances at the habitation sites through various quantitative methods, focusing on three sites associated with the intertidal stone traps. I then argue that Gitxaała traditional ecological knowledge is paramount in understanding and interpreting the archaeological record. The results of the study reveal a complex portrait of fishing within Gitxaała Territory. Faunal analysis data is contradictory to expectations of a connection between fish abundances and site size and typology. Faunal analysis also indicates that differences in mass harvest technologies such as intertidal stone traps reflects differences in use and target species. Gitxaała scholarship on fishing, use, and occupancy acts as an interpretive guide to the archaeological record in that it provides explanations to an otherwise complex data set. The results suggest that fishing practices are not prescribed simply by resource availability. Rather, fishing practices reflect complex cultural processes and decisions of Gitxaała leaders who maintained obligations of a reciprocal relationship between the human and animal world, fish production, and management of important ecosystems.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada