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Archaeological investigations at Nootka Sound, Vancouver Island. McMillan, Alan D.

Abstract

The archaeology of the Moachat Nootka territory, consisting of Nootka Sound and Tahsis and Tlupana Inlets, was chosen as the specific concern of this thesis. Nootka Sound was an important area in the early historic fur trade and a great deal was written by the early explorers and traders about the inhabitants of this region. However, little archaeological work has been done. A large-scale excavation, carried out at the main Moachat village of Yukwot in 1966 by the National Historic Parks Branch, was the only previous archaeological project. As the material obtained by this excavation had not been published or fully processed at the time of writing, very little of the information was available for the present study. The objectives of the fieldwork were: to visit and describe the sixteen villages and camp sites listed for the Moachat by Drucker (1951: 229), to carry out excavations at one of these sites, to visit and describe the burial caves and pictographs which were known to exist in the area, and to collect whatever ecological and ethnographic information could be conveniently obtained. No site survey was undertaken, although a few previously unrecorded sites were discovered. Excavations were carried out at Coopte (DkSp 1), the winter village of the Moachat, during the summer of 1968. The excavations were rather small in scope, lasting only two months and being conducted sometimes by myself only and sometimes with the help of one assistant. Nevertheless, fifteeen test pits were excavated which yielded 273 artifacts and a fair sample of faunal remains and historic material. This paper includes an account of the excavations at Coopte, as well as descriptions of the other sites visited. It is also an attempt to integrate historic and ethnographic information with the archaeological data. The substantial body of published and unpublished information provides a convenient basis for the interpretation of the archaeological material. It is hoped that this approach will prove useful in attempting to describe the way of life of the aboriginal inhabitants of Nootka Sound.

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