Clam Gardens of British Columbia
Type de publication:Conference Paper
Résumé (en anglais):
Unusual coastal features were identified in the intertidal zone during a 1995 aerial survey of the Broughton Archipelago of British Columbia. The features consisted of boulder-cobble walls or ridges parallel to the shoreline and located at the low-water line; sand flats comprised of shell hash lie landward of the ridges. Our original hypothesis was that the features were created by aboriginal peoples to increase clam habitat on otherwise rocky shorelines. Mapping of the features has shown them to be numerous (over 500 identified to date) and wide spread, ranging from the Heiltsuk traditional area (Bella Bella) south Tsartlip-Coast Salish traditional area (Victoria, BC). Highest densities are in the Broughton Archipelago. A single published reference (Stern 1938) identifies a similar feature on Orcas Island (San Juan Islands of Washington) but indicates that such a feature is 'exceptional'; we have been unable to locate the feature described by Stern (1938). A Kwakwaka'wakw hereditary clan chief and tradition-bearer has identified the features, lúxwxiwey, as having been produced by aboriginal peoples' tilling of 'clam gardens' (Dick, personal communication 2002, 2003). Lúxwxiwey are referenced in Kwakwaka'wakw mythology as a tidal datum (Boas and Hunt 1906; Boas 1948) indicating the lúxwxiwey's cultural significance. The feature also has names in (a) Mainland Comox dialect, wúxwuthin - meaning 'rocks that are piled aside when digging clams' (Mitchell, personal communication, 1974 and Kennedy and Bouchard 1990) and (b) the Nuu-chah-nulth term t'i_mi_q refers to a clam beach where rocks were 'removed or thrown aside (Bouchard and Kennedy 1990). The clam gardens were a significant part of the natural landscape for aboriginal peoples and indicate mariculture was wide-spread in the pre-contact cultures of British Columbia.