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Macro and Micro Scale Signatures of Hunter-Gatherer Organization at the Coastal Sites of Point St. George, Northwestern Alta California

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Richard Gould's classic 1966 monograph, Archaeology of the Point St. George Site and Tolowa Prehistory, provided an important source of infor-mation on settlement and subsistence systems on the north coast of California. This article provides a quantitative assessment of two key ideas set forth in the study: (1) that there was profound variation in hunter-gatherer land use between the Middle and Late period components of the site, where marine foods were initially largely ignored and only later became a major focus; and (2) that the Late Period component was largely analogous to the ethnographic Tolowa, thus supporting an ethnoarchaeological approach. Drawing on previously unpublished quantitative macro-scale data from Gould's excavations at CA-DNO-11 and new micro-scale data from CA-DNO-13, we conclude that the components reflect two fundamentally different adaptive strategies: a more mobile foraging system in the Middle Period where people were targeting almost exclusively highly ranked taxa (regardless of whether they were marine or ter-restrial foods), and a sedentary village-based system in the Late Period, when mass extractive methods, storage, and the logistical procurement of resources became important strategies. Identified dietary remains include all major staples used by ethnographic Tolowa, but certain interior resources (salmon and acorns) may have been less of a focus on the coast than previously portrayed.
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Macro and Micro Scale Signatures
of Hunter-Gatherer Organization at
the Coastal Sites of Point St. George,
Northwestern Alta California
Shannon Tushingham
Elk Valley Rancheria, California, 2332 Howland Hill Road, Crescent City,
CA 95531 and Department of Anthropology, University of California,
Davis, CA 95616 (stushingham@ucdavis.edu)
Jennifer Bencze
Department of Anthropology, University of California, Davis, CA 95616
(jenniferbencze@hotmail.com)
Abstract Richard Goulds classic 1966 monograph, Archaeology of the Point
St. George Site and Tolowa Prehistory, provided an important source of infor-
mation on settlement and subsistence systems on the north coast of California.
This article provides a quantitative assessment of two key ideas set forth in the
study: (1) that there was profound variation in hunter-gatherer land use
between the Middle and Late period components of the site, where marine foods
were initially largely ignored and only later became a major focus; and (2) that
the Late Period component was largely analogous to the ethnographic Tolowa,
thus supporting an ethnoarchaeological approach. Drawing on previously
unpublished quantitative macro-scale data from Goulds excavations at
CA-DNO-11 and new micro-scale data from CA-DNO-13, we conclude that the
components reect two fundamentally different adaptive strategies: a more
mobile foraging system in the Middle Period where people were targeting almost
exclusively highly ranked taxa (regardless of whether they were marine or ter-
restrial foods), and a sedentary village-based system in the Late Period, when
mass extractive methods, storage, and the logistical procurement of resources
became important strategies. Identied dietary remains include all major staples
used by ethnographic Tolowa, but certain interior resources (salmon and acorns)
may have been less of a focus on the coast than previously portrayed.
Resumen La monografía clásica de Richard Gould (1966), Archaeology of the
Point St. George Site and Tolowa Prehistory, es una fuente importante de
California Archaeology, Volume 5, Number 1, June 2013, pp. 3777. 37
Copyright © 2013 Society for California Archaeology. All rights reserved
información sobre sistemas prehistóricas de subsistencia y asentamiento en la
costa norte de California. Aquí ofrecemos una análisis cuantitativa de dos ideas
fundamentales establecidas por Gould en su monografía: (1) que hubo un
cambio profundo en el uso de los recursos entre los cazadores-recolectores del
período Middle (medio) quienes ignoraron a los alimentos marinos y los del
período Late (tardío) entre quienes los alimentos marinos llegaron a ser un foco
importante de subsistencia, y (2) que el componente tardío es en gran medida
análogo a la gente Tolowa etnográca, dando importancia a un enfoque
etnoarqueológico. Nuestras análisis se basa en datos cuantitativos de macro
escala provenientes de las excavaciones inéditas de Gould del sitio CA-DNO-11 y
también en nuevos datos de micro escala del sitio CA-DNO-13, y concluimos que
los componentes reejan dos estrategias adaptativas fundamentalmente dis-
tintas: una sistema de forrajeo de alta movilidad en el período Middle cuando la
gente se enfocó casi exclusivamente en taxones de alto ranking (tanto los
marinos como los terrestres) y una sistema más sedentaria de aldeaen el
período Late (tardío), cuando la técnica de extracción en masa, el almacena-
miento y el forrajeo logístico llegaron a ser estrategias importantes. Los restos
alimentarios identicados incluyen todos los recursos principales utilizados por
la gente Tolowa etnográca, pero ciertos recursos del interior (salmón y bellotas)
puedan haber sido de menos importancia en la costa que previamente
interpretado.
On the rocky headlands of Point St. George, in the extreme northwest corner of
California, there were once three Tolowa villages: Tagiatun
1
, Tatitun, and Sasato.
In the early 1960s, Richard Gould, then a graduate student at the University of
California, Berkeley (UCB), recorded all three but conducted excavations only at
the northernmost of these settlements, Tagiatun, which became one of the most
famous archaeological sites on the north coast and is referred to in the literature
as the Point St. George site (CA-DNO-11) (Figure 1). A pioneer in the eld of
ethnoarchaeology, Gould worked closely with Tolowa elders who were extremely
knowledgeable about the history of Point St. George. According to oral histories,
CA-DNO-11 had been abandoned after village residents suffered a devastating
plague, possibly cholera, which he estimated occurred in the late 1700s to
early 1800s (e.g., Gould 1975:164). Survivors of the epidemic subsequently
moved to Tatitun at southern Point St. George (CA-DNO-13), which was occu-
pied into the twentieth century.
In addition to his work with the Tolowa, Gould was the rst to document a
fundamental shift in use of the northern California coast (Gould 1966a).
38 Shannon Tushingham and Jennifer Bencze
Excavation ndings at CA-DNO-11 demonstrated that the site was initially used
as a temporary camp by mobile-hunter gatherers who came from the interior to
collect and knap locally available high-quality chert. Later in time, Point
St. George became the location of a sedentary plank house village. These ndings
were based on dramatic differences between the artifact assemblages, features,
and faunal remains associated with two excavated site components: Point
St. George I (PSG I), a Middle or Mendocino period (3,000-1,500 B.P.) component
with an associated radiocarbon date of 2,260 ± 210 B.P. (Gould 1972), and Point
St. George II (PSG II), a Late or Gunther period (1,500-150 B.P.) occupation.
Figure 1. Map of Tolowa territory, showing route of annual economic cycle for Point St. George
residents and use of distant patches (from Gould 1966a:91, 1968:29): (A) Permanent village at
northern Point St. George (taįɣa
ʔ
n); (B) Late summer rst sea lion hunt begins by convening at
Stopping Rock(seyɫtšəntən) via oceangoing canoe, then paddling to Northwest and Southwest
Seal Rocks; (C) Late summer smelt sh camp at tawašnaš
r
ən(Sweetwater); (D) Fall acorn harvest at
nəntu
ʔ
nin oak groves in the Bald Hills; (E) fall salmon camp at tšahu
ʔ
me near the mouth of Mill
Creek.
Macro and Micro Scale Signatures of Hunter-Gatherer Organization 39
A key argument of Goulds study was that the direct historical approach,or
the use of ethnographic and historical data to interpret precontact lifeways, if
carefully applied, could be employed by archaeologists under certain circum-
stances. Point St. George essentially provided a case study demonstrating the
interpretive value of this method, in particular for the later PSG II component
of the site that contained archaeological residues and features (e.g., artifacts, a
semisubterranean plank house, subsistence remains) that were unequivocally
recognizedby Tolowa informants (Gould 1966a:88).
Gould (1966a, 1975) presented a detailed reconstruction of the Tolowa
annual economic cycle of Point St. George inhabitants based on archival
research, excavations at CA-DNO-11, and an ethnographic study of
CA-DNO-13. Tolowa elders helped Gould interpret his ndings, described tra-
ditional land use of the area, and explained the internal structure of Tolowa
sites, which were traditionally divided into three discrete areas: the residential
area, the workshop area, and the cemetery. This work provided a subsistence-
settlement model that has become enormously inuential in the interpretation
of other coastal sites in northwestern California.
Despite the importance of Goulds study and its legacy in later interpretive
frameworks, the nature of his data collection and reporting left several ques-
tions unanswered. For example, how much had Tolowa land use and subsistence
patterns been altered by events immediately preceding the ethnographic period?
The Tolowa, like many native peoples in California, had suffered enormous
population losses and upheaval due to disease, massacres, persecution, and
forced removals, particularly in the middle to late 1800s (e.g. Cook 1943;
Gould 1966b; Heizer and Almquist 1971; Hurtado 1988; Madley 2011;
Norton 1979). There is a growing recognition of the enormity of these events
among archaeologists (e.g. Erlandson and Moss 1997; Tushingham 2005). Tra-
ditional practices clearly survived, but to what extent had life changed?
As Goulds monograph did not include a tabulation of artifact and faunal
assemblages, any attempt to statistically conrm or refute some of his prop-
ositions is precluded. For example, certain dietary staples were assumed to be
as important prehistorically as they were for the ethnographic Tolowa, but
this could not always be demonstrated due to the coarse grained nature of
Gouldseld collection and reporting. His excavations did not involve soil
screening, but rather shovel casting,a common technique for the time, but
one that skewed the faunal sample to large-bodied taxa. Identied faunal
remains were primarily reported as presence/absence data, and almost
nothing was included about the contribution of seeds, nuts, small sh, and
mammals. Column samples were collected for later analysis (Gould 1966a:29),
40 Shannon Tushingham and Jennifer Bencze
but were never analyzed and were apparently either discarded or lost, according
to staff at the Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology at UCB, where the collec-
tion is housed.
Our study attempts to rectify some of these deciencies by presenting: (1)
newly quantied macro-scale subsistence data from Goulds CA-DNO-11 exca-
vations, including previously unpublished data tabulated from original catalo-
gues that were prepared for the analyses of faunal remains (by Alan Ziegler of
the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at UCB) and sh bone (by W. I. Follett of
the California Academy of Sciences); and (2) previously unavailable micro-scale
data from an analysis of dietary remains from CA-DNO-13. This latter infor-
mation includes radiocarbon dates and microconstituent data from midden
samples salvaged from the site in 2009. The sample, albeit small, lls in
several gaps in the Late Period faunal record, and includes the rst reported
quantitative analysis of sh bone and shellsh north of the King Range in Cali-
fornia and of charred plant remains from a coastal site north of Sonoma County.
Following the presentation of these data, we model how several diagnostic fea-
tures of Late Period hunter-gatherer settlement and subsistence might be recog-
nized via ne-grained studies (e.g., low mobility/sedentism, mass harvest and
bulk storage of food, logistical procurement of resources), thus providing a fra-
mework for similar studies at other coastal sites in northwestern California.
Our larger intent is to explore how two fundamental aspects of Goulds
model hold up under quantitative scrutiny. We are specically concerned with
employing modern analytical measures to evaluate the basic idea that there
was profound variation in hunter-gatherer land use, organization, and resource
procurement strategies between PSG I and PSG II times, as well as to assess
whether the Late Period dietary residues compare favorably with those expected
based on Goulds model of Tolowa settlement and subsistence.
Ethnographic Subsistence and Settlement at Point St. George
Goulds (1966a) detailed reconstruction of the annual economic cycle of Tolowa
villagers who lived at Point St. George is arguably the best site-specic descrip-
tion of aboriginal settlement and subsistence from the California coast. Gould
based this reconstruction on a combination of oral histories given by Tolowa
elders, early ethnographic writings (e.g. Curtis 1924; Drucker 1937; Waterman
1925), and archaeological eldwork at CA-DNO-11, an ethnoarchaeological
approach that is outlined in the rst chapter of the Point St. George monograph
(Gould 1966a:1-8). Tolowa consultants directly participated in his work by sup-
plying him with Tolowa words for various food items and artifacts, assisting
Macro and Micro Scale Signatures of Hunter-Gatherer Organization 41
with the interpretation of artifact function, explaining the traditional layout of
sites, and providing the history of the villages at Point St. George (Figure 2).
Detailed descriptions of the historic occupation of CA-DNO-13 were supplied
by several consultants, including Sam Lopez, whose father, who was born
around 1853, had grown up at southern Point St. George (CA-DNO-13)
(Gould n.d.).
The Annual Round
Hunter-gatherers in northwestern California, including the Tolowa, Yurok,
Hupa, Karuk, Wiyot, and Chilula, lived in substantial rectilinear redwood plank
houses organized in linear rows within villages facing the ocean and major water-
ways. While people lived the majority of the year in villages, they moved to tem-
porary camps at different times of the year when harvestable resources, including
salmon, acorns, and smelt, became available (Figure 3). Seasonal campsites were
specic, owned places that belonged to certain wealthy families.
As described by Gould (1966a:88-92, 1968, 1975), the annual round of Point
St. George inhabitants began in late summer, when men from some villages
Figure 2. Richard Gould interviewing Lydie
George (left) and Amelia Brown during 1964
excavations at Point St. George (DNO-11),
in the residential area of the site that they
helped to locate. A portion of the recorded
plank house is visible in the trench on the
right. Courtesy of Richard A. Gould. Richard
Gould Archives, California State Parks,
Eureka, California. Image 4968.
42 Shannon Tushingham and Jennifer Bencze
(including CA-DNO-11; Figure 1A) formed specialized groups to hunt sea
mammals at the distant offshore islands. Men paddled large 30 to 40 foot
long oceangoingcanoes that were owned by the wealthiest individuals, rst
to Stopping Rock, then to Steller sea lion rookeries at Northwest and Southwest
Seal Rocks (Figure 1B). Sea lions who ventured ashore were clubbed by the men,
while others were shot with bows and arrowsor with guns in the historic
period. Fleeing animals were also harpooned and were brought back to shore
either in the canoes or dragged behind them. The rst sea lion hunt of the
year was regarded as a very special and prestigious event, as it was quite danger-
ous and required courage on the part of the hunters. It was also the only pro-
curement activity that entailed a great deal of group participation; most other
activities related to the acquisition of food were undertaken by individual
families (Gould n.d., 1966a, 1968, 1975).
Late summer was also the season when villagers would travel to the northern
sh camp site of Sweetwater (Figure 1C; see also Tushingham et al. 2013). Wealthy
men usually made the initial move to camps, and families within the village group
would join them if they so desired. People caught and dried surf smelt for about a
month at Sweetwater and remained there until the smelt run began to diminish.
Smelt were caught in V-shaped dip nets and laid out on logs for initial drying,
then moved onto pebble-lined beds on the beach. Women then hauled the
dried sh packed in carrying baskets back to the village on foot, a journey of
approximately three miles. Along with other stored foods, the sh were placed
in storage baskets on shelves within family houses. When runs remained abun-
dant into acorn harvest time, as they occasionally did, people might linger at
the sh camp to take full advantage of the resource (Gould 1966).
Figure 3. Major dietary staples and their month of availability (shaded) (from Gould 1978:68).
Poisonousrefers to period of time shellsh are unsafe for consumption.
Macro and Micro Scale Signatures of Hunter-Gatherer Organization 43
When fall arrived, families at Sweetwater would venture inland to procure
acorns and salmon, occupying areas with the best mix of these two resources.
For the acorn harvest, Point St. George inhabitants moved to oak groves in the
Bald Hills near a small tributary of Mill Creek (Figure 1D) around mid-September.
When the salmon harvest began shortly thereafter, people moved to the salmon
camp at the mouth of Mill Creek (Figure 1E). According to Drucker (1937), this
location was also used by inhabitants of etchulet (a village on the Lake Earl
estuary) and tatatun (a village on the coast near present-day Crescent City).
During this fall shing and acorn gathering time, women transported bas-
ketloads of the gathered food on foot back to Point St. George by the end of
November for use during the winter months. Prior to being packed to take
back to the village, salmon were processed and dried at the seasonal camps.
They were rst split and smoked, then halves were placed on a packframe
between alternating layers of fern. Acorns were simply gathered at camps and
prepared at villages by an elaborate pounding and basin leaching process to
remove bitter tannic acids.
Although individual men and women occasionally ventured inland for short
shing and hunting forays, villagers mostly remained at Point St. George until
the next smelt season. Salmon and eels were available in early spring on the
middle and south forks of the Smith River, but not in such a quantity as to encou-
rage large-scale movement of the entire village. People relied on stored foods
supplemented by marine resources, such as sh and shellsh that were available
year round. Winter was also the time for ceremonial events, gambling, and
repairing nets and other technology in preparation for the next annual round.
Disease, Population Movement, and Historic Occupation
Based on Tolowa oral traditions, Gould concluded that CA-DNO-11 was aban-
doned due to a cholera epidemic around the 1700s to early 1800s. His infor-
mants told him that many people died of a painful stomach sickness that
came from the south long before whites arrived in Del Norte County. The sick-
ness caused them to pass blood,symptoms characteristic of cholera (Gould
1966a:96-97). Survivors of this epidemic then moved to the site at southern
Point St. George, tatitun (CA-DNO-13), which was occupied into the historic
period.
People continued to live at southern Point St. George (CA-DNO-13) until the
early twentieth century, with site occupants using the same cemetery as had
been previously used by CA-DNO-11 villagers. Although CA-DNO-11 was aban-
doned as a village, it was used into historic times as a shellsh gathering place
44 Shannon Tushingham and Jennifer Bencze
and campsite for sea lion expeditions by people who lived at etchulet (Drucker
1937:228). Knowledge of the site was also passed on to later generations of
Tolowa. Sam Lopez recounted that his father knew all about [CA-DNO-11]
when he took me out here one day. He said that no one was living here when
he was a youngsterthere werent any houses or anything(Gould n.d.).
Prehistoric Components at CA-DNO-11
As noted above, excavations at CA-DNO-11 revealed two distinct components:
PSG I and PSG II. PSG I, the earlier component, was found in the stratum below
the PSG II deposits in the workshop area of the site. Features in the PSG I com-
ponent included a pit structure interpreted as a int-chipping workshopand a
small hearth. Based on the lack of residential features, the associated artifact
assemblage (mostly of aked stone), the paucity of food remains, and the
absence of acorn processing, shing, woodworking, and bone tools, this early
occupation was interpreted as being associated with a small temporary camp
of mobile hunter-gatherers who came from the interior to collect and knap high-
quality local chert (Gould 1966a, 1972).
In contrast, the later PSG II component contained many more archaeological
materials and features, including the remains of a semisubterranean plank
house with a prepared blue clay oor in a discrete residential area. A workshop
area contained a diverse artifact assemblage indicating that a variety of tasks
took place here, including the manufacture of stone, antler, and groundstone
tools, and heavy butchering of sea mammals. Archaeological residues seemed
to demonstrate the importance of acorns (mortar slabs and pestles), sh (sh
bone and shing gear, including net weights, gorges, hooks, and small
harpoon tips for salmon), and other marine foods and associated tools (abun-
dant shellsh, marine mammal bone, harpoons, and large harpoon tips).
In short, Gould (1966a) documented a fundamental shift in prehistoric use
of the coast, from the role of Point St. George as a temporary camp used
by mobile hunter-gatherers to the location of a sedentary plank house
village where people stored food in bulk and intensively pursued a variety of
foodsincluding mass-harvested salmon, smelt, and acornsin logistical,
task-oriented groups (sensu Binford 1980).
CA-DNO-11 Macro-Scale Faunal Data
This section provides a review of the CA-DNO-11 faunal evidence, which is sum-
marized in Gould (1966a:80-86). Quantitative data for identied bird, mammal,
Macro and Micro Scale Signatures of Hunter-Gatherer Organization 45
and sh bone are published here for the rst time. These tabulations are based
on original catalogs and reports archived at the Phoebe Hearst Museum.
Shellsh
Shellsh (Table 1) was not enumerated (other than presence/absence) or
weighed but was taxonomically identied during site excavations by representa-
tives from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (Gould 1966a:80). Only
Table 1. CA-DNO-11 Presence/Absence Shellsh Data.
Taxon Common Name
Middle Period
(PSG I)
Late Period
(PSG II)
Barnacle
Balanus sp. Barnacle X
Mussel
Mytilus californianus California sea mussel X
Other Bivalves
Clinocardium nuttallii Basket cockle X
Hinnites multrugosa Rock scallop X
Protothaca staminea Common or Pacic little neck clam X X
Saxidomus nuttalli Washington clam X X
Siliqua patula Northern razor clam X
Tresus sp. Gaper X
Snail
Calliostoma ligatum Top shell X
Nassarius sp. Mud snail X
Tegula funebralis Black turban snail X
Limpet
Acnea sp. Limpet X
Chiton
Cryptochiton stelleri Giant chiton X
Other
Olivella sp. Olivella X
Dendraster excentricus Sand dollar X
Strongylocentrotus sp. Short-spine sea urchin X
Notes: From Gould (1966a:80-81); X = present; = abs ent.
46 Shannon Tushingham and Jennifer Bencze
two species were identied in the PSG I deposit, the common or Pacic little
neck clam (Protothaca staminea) and the Washington clam (Saxidomus nuttalli).
In contrast, the later PSG II deposit contained 16 identied taxa, including
large California mussels (Mytilus californianus), barnacles (Balanus sp.), a
variety of bivalves and snails, limpets (Acnea sp.), giant chiton (Cryptochiton stel-
leri), olivella (Olivella sp.), sand dollar (Dendraster excentricus), and sea urchin
(Strongylocentrotussp.) (see Table 1).
Bird and Mammal Bone
Bird and mammal bone (Table 2), reported as presence/absence data in Gould
(1966a:81-85), was tabulated by component based on information provided in
the original faunal analysis sheets prepared by Ziegler (1964). In all, 2,176 bird
and mammal bones were identied by Ziegler, who also prepared notes and
general observations about the entire collection, and recorded the provenience,
skeletal element area (e.g., foot, front/hind leg, skull), and aspect (proximal/
ventral, right/left) for each identied bone. Additionally, a color coding system
was used to denote which bones were from juvenile individuals (in green) and
whether there were signs of butchering (e.g., scratching or knife marks, in
blue). We updated the taxonomic nomenclature used by Ziegler (Simpson 1945)
to a more recent taxonomy for mammals (Reid 2006) and birds (Harris 2005).
The later PSG II assemblage contains far more identied bones (n = 2,112)
than the earlier PSG I deposit (n = 64). Avifaunal remains in the PSG I
deposit contain only a single duck bone, while the PSG II assemblage includes
a variety of ducks (n = 10), geese (n = 11), and cormorants (Phalacrocorax sp.;
n = 9). Mammals are overwhelmingly dominated by seal and sea lion, with
899 bones identied to the family pinniped and species level identications
of Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus; n = 280), harbor seal (Phoca vitulina;n
= 5), California sea lion (Zalophus californianus; n = 8), and northern fur seal (Cal-
lorhinus ursinus; n = 1). According to Ziegler (1964), most bones that were classi-
ed as large mammals are likely pinniped as opposed to elk, and most of the
pinniped specimens are probably Steller or California sea lions rather than
seals based on their size and shape.
Large terrestrial mammals include elk (Cervus elaphus; n = 43) and mule or
white-tailed deer (Odocoileus sp.; n = 9). The vast majority of artiodactyls are
of adults (only two elk and one deer bone are of subadults). Of the few identied
small mammals, the pocket gopher (Thomomys bottae) is the most common (n =
24). It is questionable, however, as to whether these were food related; all but
four of these bones look fresh,with most associated with an animal that
Macro and Micro Scale Signatures of Hunter-Gatherer Organization 47
Table 2. CA-DNO-11 Bird and Mammal Remains from Goulds Excavations by Number of
Identied Specimens (NISP).
Taxon Common Name
Middle Period
(PSG I)
Late Period
(PSG II)
Aves Birds
+
Corvus brachyrhynchos American crow 1
Phalacrocorax sp. Cormorant 9
Alcidae (large) Murres, auklets,
guillemot
1
Rallidae (large) (Fulica americana,Rallus sp.,
Gallinula chloropus)
Coot, rail, moorhen 2
Laridae or Scolopacidae Gull or large
shorebird
6
Anatinae Duck 1 10
Anserinae Goose 11
Aves (small) Small bird 6
Aves (medium) Medium bird 1
Aves (large) Large bird 8
Aves (very large) Very large bird 1
Mammalia Mammals
++
Lagomorpha (Lepus sp. or Sylvilagus sp.) Jackrabbit or
cottontail
1
Thomomys bottae Pocket gopher 24*
Procyon lotor Raccoon 3
Microtus sp. Vole 1*
Cervus elaphus Elk/wapiti 6 37
Odocoileus sp. (O. hemionus, O. virginianus) Deer (mule or white
tail)
36
Artiodactyl (medium) Deer, pronghorn 2
Canis latrans Coyote 1
Ursus americanus Black bear 1
Callorhinus ursinus Northern fur seal 1
Eumetopias jubatus Steller sea lion 2 278
Zalophus californianus California sea lion 8
Phoca vitulina Harbor seal 5
Pinniped Sea lion, fur seal, or
seal
23 876
Continued
48 Shannon Tushingham and Jennifer Bencze
had likely recently died in its burrow (Ziegler 1964). Gould (1966a:83) posited
that the single black bear (Ursus americanus) bone may not have been food
related as bear was a taboo food not eaten by the Tolowa (Drucker 1937:232).
Fish Bone
For this study, sh bone, which was reported as presence/absence data in Gould
(1966a), is quantied by component based on Folletts unpublished report
(Follett 1965) (Table 3). Follett identied a total of 183 sh bones, again with
a dramatic difference between site components. Only four rocksh bones
were identied in Middle Period (PSG I) deposits, including black rocksh
(Sebastodes melanops; n = 2) and turkey-red rocksh (S. miniatus; n = 2). In con-
trast, Late Period PSG II deposits include a wide variety of sh dominated by
rockshes (n = 128), sculpins (n = 19), Pacic halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis;
n = 12), and salmonids (n = 11).
CA-DNO-13 Micro-Scale Data
Like many sites in the region, the villages at Point St. George have been looted
for dozens of years (Tushingham and Steinruck 2010). In 2009, a virtual mine-
eld of looter pits was discovered in the workshop area of CA-DNO-13. The dis-
covery of the 23 pits, some up to a meter deep and wide, was devastating to the
Tolowa community, who convened to decide what steps to take (Figure 4). Law
Table 2. CA-DNO-11 Bird and Mammal Remains from Goulds Excavations by Number of
Identied Specimens (NISP). (continued)
Taxon Common Name
Middle Period
(PSG I)
Late Period
(PSG II)
Enhydra lutris Sea otter 2 34
Cetacean (small) Porpoise or dolphin 1 3
Cetacean (large) Whale 1 2
Mammalia (small) Small mammal 2
Mammalia (medium) Medium mammal 4 8
Mammalia (large) Large mammal 21 763
TOTAL 64 2,112
Notes: Data were taken from Ziegler (1964).
+
Bird size classes: Small = up through robin and jay size; Medium =
crow and small duck size; Large = hawk and cormorant size; Very large = pelican and albatross size.
++
Mammal size
classes: Small = rabbit size or smaller; Medium = large skunk to wolf and sea otter size; Large = pinniped/deer size
and up. * = Likely intrusive, according to Ziegler (196 4).
Macro and Micro Scale Signatures of Hunter-Gatherer Organization 49
enforcement was brought in to investigate, an archaeological damage assess-
ment was completed, and an osteologist was brought in to ensure that no
human remains had been disturbed. In an effort to salvage some of the infor-
mation from the damage and to help establish cost estimates for the damage
Table 3. CA-DNO-11 Fish Remains by Number of Identied Specimens (NISP).
Taxon Common Name
Middle Period
(PSG I)
Late Period
(PSG II)
Acipenseridae Sturgeons
Acipenser medirostris Green sturgeon 1
Carcharhinidae Requiem Sharks
Galeorhinus zyopterus Soupn shark 2
Cottidae Sculpins
Scorpaenichthys marmoratus Cabezon 18
Hemilepidotus hemilepidotus Red Irish lord 1
Embiotocidae Surfperches
Holoconotus rhodoterus Redtail surfperch 1
Embiotoca lateralis Striped seaperch 2
Gadidae Cods
Merluccius productus Pacic hake 1
Hexagrammidae Greenlings
Ophiodon elongates Lingcod 1
Hexagrammos decagrammus Kelp greenling 1
Pleuronectidae Right-eyed Flounders
Hippoglossus stenolepis Pacic halibut 12
Salmonidae Trouts
Oncorhynchus tshawytscha Chinook salmon 3
Oncorhynchus kisutch Coho salmon 8
Scorpaenidae Rockshes
Sebastodes paucispinis Bocaccio 2
Sebastodes avidus Yellowtail rocksh 3
Sebastodes melanops Black rocksh 2 50
Sebastodes miniatus Vermillion rocksh 11
Sebastodes ruberrimus Turkey-red rocksh 2 62
TOTAL 4 179
Note: From (Follett 1965).
50 Shannon Tushingham and Jennifer Bencze
assessment, 10 four-liter soil samples from the base of the pits were recovered
for ne-grained otation analysis.
We followed otation recovery techniques pioneered in the late 1960s (e.g.,
Struever 1968) and made it a priority to identify resources that may have been
previously missed, such as small sh, nuts, and seeds. Certainly, ne mesh screen-
ing is necessary to prevent bias in the analysis of sh bone (Casteel 1972, 1976a,
1976b), an approach that has demonstrated the importance of small sh in the
diets of native Californians (e.g., Fitch 1969, 1972; Gobalet 1989; Gobalet et al.
2004). Similarly, micro-scale recovery of nuts and seeds can give us much
greater insight into prehistoric plant use (e.g., Wohlgemuth 2004).
Soil samples were processed at the University of California, Davis, archaeo-
logical laboratory. After recording volume and weight measurements for each
sample, the soil was processed using a Flote-Tech otation machine and separ-
ated into non-buoyant heavyand buoyant lightfractions, with the light
elements oating to the top and the heavy fraction sinking to the bottom for
later collection. Samples were dried and bagged for later processing. Post-otation
Figure 4. Elk Valley and Smith River Rancheria Tribal representatives and archaeologists
surveying looting damage at CA-DNO-13, October 2009. From left to right, Machelle Lopez,
Wanda Green, Richard Brooks, John Green, James Roscoe, Denise Padgette, and Suntayea
Steinruck.
Macro and Micro Scale Signatures of Hunter-Gatherer Organization 51
subsamples were weighed and heavy fractions sorted into 1/4-inch, 1/8-inch,
1/16-inch, and < 1/16-inch size grades. Light fractions were analyzed separately
(see below).
Three of the ten collected samples were analyzed in this study. The majority
of the microconstituents consisted of dietary residues (shellsh, faunal bone,
sh bone, and charred nuts and seeds). Additionally, 21 pieces of chert and
quartz shatter were identied. While microconstituents found in each sample
are presented separately in the tables, due to their small size, minimal between-
sample variation, and very similar (Late Period) dates, the results are discussed
as a unit below.
Radiometric Dates
Three accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) dates were obtained on mussel
(Mytilus sp.) shell recovered from each of the analyzed samples (Table 4). The
calibrated dates indicate that the CA-DNO-13 workshop area was in use from
the late 1500s to early 1700s, with two dates overlapping the timing of the
reported plague at CA-DNO-11 and resulting population movement to
CA-DNO-13, which Gould estimated occurred sometime between the 1700s
and early 1800s. The earlier date might be attributed to the fact that
CA-DNO-13 was in use prior to the movement of CA-DNO-11 villagers to the
site, or perhaps the reported plague occurred slightly earlier than previously
estimated. Additional dating and controlled testing is obviously necessary to
better understand the occupational history of this site.
Shellsh
A wide variety of shellsh taxa was found during our analysis, with 19 categories
identied to genus and/or species in the 1/4-inch sample (Table 5). Of the ident-
ied shellsh, the assemblage is overwhelmingly dominated by California sea
Table 4. AMS Radiocarbon Dates from the Workshop Area of CA-DNO-13.
Sample ID Provenience Material 14
C
Years B.P. Calibrated Median
NOSAMS OS-78016 Sample A Mytilus californianus 1,040 ± 25 A.D. 1586
NOSAMS OS-78017 Sample B Mytilus californianus 930 ± 25 A.D. 1703
NOSAMS OS-78018 Sample C Mytilus californianus 910 ± 30 A.D. 1730
Note: All dates calibrated using Calib 6.0 calibration software and were corrected for the marine reservoir effect
using a Delta R correction of 316 ±85 years based on an averaged correction rate for northern California and
southern Oregon.
52 Shannon Tushingham and Jennifer Bencze
Table 5. DNO-13 Shellsh by Weight and Minimum Number of Individuals (MNI).
Sample
ABC
Taxon Common Name Wt. (g) MNI Wt. (g) MNI Wt. (g) MNI
Barnacle
Balanus sp. Barnacle 272.93 1 83.88 1 282.46 1
Mussel
Mytilus californianus California mussel 490.93 72 80.89 12 555.29 81
Other Bivalves
Clinocardium nuttallii Heart cockle 3.16 1 ––– –
Protothaca staminea Common
littleneck clam
37.84 4 16.52 1 26.15 3
Zirfaea pilsbryi Rough piddock 0.15 1 0.63 1 ––
Unidentied Bivalve Bivalve ––0.68 1
Snail
Amphissa versicolor Sea snail ––1.08 2
Calliostoma
canaliculutum
Channelled
topsnail
––2.83 12
Littorina sp. Periwinkle ––0.21 1
Nucella analoga Dogwinkle 2.33 3 ––8.52 4
Nucella lamellosa Frilled dogwinkle ––4.26 2
Nucella ostrina Striped dogwinkle 41.24 10 14.91 1 51.56 13
Nucella sp. Dogwinkle 1.34 6 0.06 1 1.07 1
Tegula funebralis Black turban
snail
10.41 1 0.79 2 2.64 3
Unidentied snail 5.91 5 0.74 2 1.72 6
Limpet
Crepidula convexa Convex slipper
shell
0.06 1 ––– –
Limpet sp. Limpet 0.64 1 ––0.18 1
Chiton
Cryptochiton stelleri Gumboot chiton ––25.56 1
Katharina tunicata Black katy chiton 6.81 1 3.24 4 7.32 1
Chiton sp. Chiton 6.75 2 0.22 1 ––
Olivella
Olivella biplicada Olivella ––0.95 2
Continued
Macro and Micro Scale Signatures of Hunter-Gatherer Organization 53
mussel which represents 34.2% of the overall total shellsh by weight and
54.7% of the total identied shell (total minus unidentied shell) and 60.2%
of the total MNI of the 1/4-inch sample. (Figure 5). Barnacles are the next
Figure 5. Proportion of
identied shellsh by
weight (in grams) at
CA-DNO-13.
Table 5. DNO-13 Shellsh by Weight and Minimum Number of Individuals (MNI).
(continued)
Sample
ABC
Taxon Common Name Wt. (g) MNI Wt. (g) MNI Wt. (g) MNI
Crab
Ocypodidae sp. Crab ––0.2 1
Sea Urchin
Stronglulocentrus
purpuratus
Purple sea urchin 0.11 1 0.07 1 4.03 1
Undifferentiated
shell
596.42 154.73 480.61
TOTAL 1477.03 110 356.68 27 1457.32 137
Note: All samples are > 1/4-inch.
54 Shannon Tushingham and Jennifer Bencze
most common identied shellsh, representing 19.4% of the total shell and
31.0% of the identied shellsh. Also present are many low return taxa, includ-
ing snails and limpets (7.4% of the sample), many of which were identied in the
CA-DNO-11 analysis.
Bird and Mammal Bone
Bone at all exposed pits at CA-DNO-13 was examined to ensure that no human
remains were disturbed by looters. In the course of this work numerous marine
mammal bones were identied but not collected, including complete seal or sea
lion crania and numerous pinniped bones, consistent with this area being used
for butchering. Unfortunately, while the CA-DNO-13 faunal data include 85
animal bones, only a single bone from a vole (Microtus sp.) and a tooth from
a Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) could be identied to genus or species
(Table 6). However, four pinniped bones were identied, and size-classed bird
and mammal bone indicate the presence of very small to very large taxa.
Fish Bone
The sh bone assemblage (n = 2,824) includes a wide variety of identied taxa,
but is overwhelmingly dominated by smelt (osmerids; n = 2,680) (Table 7). Most
of the smelt bones are almost certainly surf smelt (Hypomesus pretiosus),
although it is difcult to distinguish these from other smelt species, such as
night smelt (Spirinchus starksi) and eulachon (Thaleichthys pacicus) (Kenneth
Gobalet, personal communication 2010). All of these species were
mass-harvested ethnographically, surf smelt and night smelt with V-shaped
nets on sandy beaches and eulachon along rivers. Other sh that may have
been caught en masse include salmon (Oncorhynchus sp.; n = 4), surfperch
(Embiotocidae; n = 3), and northern anchovy (Engraulis mordax; n = 2), although
these low numbers do not suggest any particular focus on these sh. The salmon
were likely captured with gill nets, basket traps, or weirs at camps near Lake Earl
or on the Smith River or one of its tributaries, but also could have been caught
offshore from Point St. George.
The remaining sh includes a diverse number of rocky intertidal/nearshore
species, such as pricklebacks (n = 11), rocksh (Sebastes sp.; n = 4), northern
clingsh (Gobiesox meandricus; n = 2), right-eyed ounder (n = 2), Pacic hake
(Merluccius productus; n = 1), and penpoint gunnel (Apodichthys avidus; n = 1).
Most of these are solitary species that were likely shed one at a time on an
encounter basis.
Macro and Micro Scale Signatures of Hunter-Gatherer Organization 55
Charred Plant Remains
Charred plant remains recovered from CA-DNO-13 include 49 pieces of nut-
shell, one berry pit, one root plant, one conifer needle, and two small unidenti-
ed seeds (Table 8; Wohlgemuth 2010). Most of the nutshell is bay laurel
(Umbellularia californica; n = 46), with far fewer acorns (Quercus spp.; n = 2)
and hazelnut (Corylus cornuta var. californica; n = 1). The other specimens
include a single manzanita berry pit (Arctostaphylos spp.), a Brodiaea-type
corm (root; Brodiaea,Dichelostemma,orTriteleia), and a r(Abies spp.) needle
fragment. All identied plant remains are frequently found in otation
Table 6. CA-DNO-13 Vertebrate Remains by Number of Identied Specimens (NISP).
Taxon Common Name A B C
Aves Birds
+
Aves (small) Small bird 12
Aves (medium) Small to medium bird 41
Aves (large) Medium to large bird 1 1 1
Aves (very large) Large bird ––1
Mammalia Mammals
++
Lagomorpha Rabbit 1
Microtus sp. Vole 2 1
Cricetidae Mouse 11
Rodentia (small) Small rodent 16 1
Eumetopias jubatus Steller sea lion 1 ––
Pinniped (large) Sea lion, fur seal or seal 4 ––
Mammalia (very small) Very small mammal 1 4 1
Mammalia (small) Small mammal 1 4 1
Mammalia (medium) Medium mammal 5 6 6
Mammalia (large) Large mammal 1 3
Mammalia Mammal 16
Reptilia Reptile 1
Unidentied Vertebrate ––4
TOTAL 16 44 25
Notes: Remains identied by Trine Bjørneboe Johansen. All samples are >1/8-inch. Size classes are based on those
used by Ziegler (1964):
+
Bird size classes: Small =up through robin and jay size; Medium =crow and small duck
size; Large = hawk and cormorant size; Very large = pelican and albatross size.
++
Mammal size classes: Small =
rabbit size or smaller; Medium = large skunk to wolf and sea otter size; Large = pinniped/deer size and up.
56 Shannon Tushingham and Jennifer Bencze
samples from archaeological sites in central and northern California (e.g.,
Wohlgemuth 2004), and the nuts, berry, and corm are well-documented plant
foods used by aboriginal groups throughout the area as well (e.g., Barrett and
Gifford 1933; Bocek 1984; Chesnut 1902; Duncan 1963; Schenck and Gifford
1952).
Sources on the modern distribution of plants (Grifn and Critcheld 1976;
also see Calora 2010) suggest that most (or all) of the identied species in the
CA-DNO-13 archaeobotanical sample were procured from off-site patches, some
Table 7. CA-DNO-13 Fish Bone by Number of Identied Specimens (NISP).
Sample
Taxon Common name A B C
Embiotocidae Surfperches 21
Engraulidae Anchovies
Engraulis mordax Northern anchovy 1 1
Gadidae Cods
Merluccius productus Pacic hake 1 ––
Gobiesocidae Clingsh
Gobiesox meandricus Northern clingsh ––2
Hexagrammidae Greenlings
Hexagrammos sp. Kelp or rock greenling 12
Osmeridae Smelts 935 846 899
Probable identication + 24 17 70
Pholidae Gunnels
Apodichthys avidus Penpoint gunnel ––1
Pleuronectidae Right-eyed Flounders ––2
Salmonidae Trouts
Oncorhynchus sp. (?) Pacic salmons and trouts 3 1
Scorpaenidae Rockshes
Sebastes sp. Rockshes 2 2
Stichaeidae Pricklebacks 2
Cebidichthys violaceus Monkeyface prickleback 1 1 1
Xiphister sp. Black or rock prickleback 1 3 2
TOTAL 970 872 982
Note: Remains identied by Kenneth W. Gobalet. All samples are > 1/16-inch; +=probabl y Hypomesus pretiosus.
Macro and Micro Scale Signatures of Hunter-Gatherer Organization 57
from fairly long distances (Wohlgemuth 2010). The nearest documented bay
laurels and oaks are found nine to ten miles east along the Smith River, and
hazelnuts about ve to six miles away in the hills east of the Crescent City
coastal plain. Although most manzanita species that grow in Del Norte
County are located nine to ten miles to the east, two species are found two to
three miles distant, Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (on the south and west sides of
Lake Earl) and Arctostaphylos columbiana (north of Crescent City). The Brodiaea-
type corm could be Triteleia bridgesii (found near Crescent City), Brodiaea terres-
tris (about six miles east of Crescent City), or species collected near the mouth of
the Klamath River. The grand r(Abies grandis) is the nearest r species docu-
mented near CA-DNO-13, found just north of Crescent City.
Table 8. CA-DNO-13 Charred Plant Remains by Count and Weight.
Sample
Taxon Common Name A B C
Nutshell
Corylus cornuta var. californica California hazelnut
Count 1 ––
Weight (mg) 22.8 ––
Quercus sp. Oak acorn
Count 11
Weight (mg) 0.2 1.6
Umbellularia californica California bay laurel
Count 16 3 27
Weight (mg) 21.9 2.1 32.8
Berry Pit
Arctostaphylos spp. Manzanita
Count 1 ––
Weight (mg) 5.3 ––
Small Seeds
Unidentied seed fragments ––11
Root
Brodiaea/Dichelostemma/Triteleia Brodiaea corm –– 1
Conifer Needle
cf. Abies spp. Fir 1
Note: Remains identied by Eric Wohlgemuth.
58 Shannon Tushingham and Jennifer Bencze
Macro- and Micro-Scale Signatures of Hunter-Gatherer Organization
Fine-grained analyses are extremely costly in terms of the time it takes to sort
through the materials as well as the price of radiocarbon, archaeofaunal, and
archaeobotanical analyses. They can, however, offer an extremely rich snapshot
of subsistence-related data. To provide some perspective, over 1800 cubic
meters of soil was excavated at CA-DNO-11 by Gould (1966a:Table 1). Yet, as
screening was not employed and there was no attempt at a systematic study
of plant and animal remains, only 183 sh bones were identied (and this
sample is skewed to large-bodied sh). In addition, there is only presence/
absence information about shellsh, and no information about burned
nuts and seeds. In the CA-DNO-13 micro-constituent study, 12 liters of soil
contained more than 2,800 identied sh bones, 17 species of shellsh, and
burned nuts and seeds (including bay laurel, acorns, and hazelnut from the
interior).
Despite the different dimensions of these analyses, both data sets contain
archaeological residues that are consistent with key qualitative aspects of
hunter-gatherer organization and patterns of resource procurement character-
istic of the Late Period and ethnographic Tolowa, such as intensive use of low-
ranked resources, low mobility, mass harvest and bulk storage of food, and the
logistical procurement of resources by task-oriented groups.
In previous sections herein, we summarized the multiple lines of evidence
that Gould drew upon from the CA-DNO-11 excavations that signal this
pattern (e.g., consideration of features, artifacts, and faunal remains). Dietary
residues found in the CA-DNO-13 ne-grained samples correspond with the
Late Period Tolowa model, albeit on a very different scale of analysis. Key
characteristics include high species diversity, the presence of foods transported
from outlying patches (e.g., nuts from the interior, smelt from sandy beaches),
the presence of mass-harvested sh and plants (e.g., abundance of smelt bone,
presence of salmon bone and acorns in admittedly low quantities), and the pres-
ence of small and low-ranked taxa (e.g., snails, limpets).
Based on our analysis and with reference to Goulds model, we can begin to
develop a tentative set of expectations for future ne-grained studies. While
variability is inevitable between and within sites (e.g., in workshop versus resi-
dential areas), ideal characteristics of ne-grained constituents associated with
village midden sites on the north coast are predicted to differ from earlier
deposits or at other types of sites (Table 9). For example, temporary camps
(such as the PSG I component at Point St. George) will have low species diver-
sity, primarily high-ranked and local resources, and little evidence for
Macro and Micro Scale Signatures of Hunter-Gatherer Organization 59
mass-harvested foods, unless the camp is a seasonal mass harvest location (e.g.,
a smelt, acorn, or salmon camp).
PSG I and PSG II: A Fundamental Change in Use of the North Coast?
Goulds (1966a) ndings at CA-DNO-11 suggest that a distinct change in subsis-
tence had occurred in the past, partly based on observed differences between
faunal remains found in Middle Period (PSG I) and Late Period (PSG II) deposits.
While not quantied, the abundance of shellsh, bird, sh, and marine
mammals in Late Period deposits provided evidence that people were much
more intensively harvesting resourcesin particular coastal foodscompared
to earlier periods. The following discussion provides a quantitative assessment
of the basic idea that there was profound variation in hunter-gatherer land use,
organization, and resource procurement strategies along the north coast
between PSG I and PSG II times.
Late Period Expansion of Diet Breadth
CA-DNO-11 Data. An expansion of dietary breadth in the later PSG II com-
ponent at CA-DNO-11 is reected by the dramatic increase in taxa richness,
with a nearly vefold increase in the number of identied shellsh, bird,
mammal, and sh taxa (NTAXA) (Figure 6). Dietary intensication is also exhib-
ited by an increase in low return taxa in the PSG II remains. For example, only
two large species, Pacic little neck clam and Washington clam, are represented
in the identied PSG I shellsh, while PSG II includes 16 identied species,
ranging from large California mussels, barnacles, and clams to many small,
low return species, including snails, limpets, and Olivella. While PSG I faunal
remains consist almost exclusively of large-bodied artiodactyls and pinnipeds,
Table 9. Ideal Characteristics of Fine Grained Constituents Associated with Different
Northwestern California Coastal Sites.
Village
Midden
Temporary
Camp
Temporary mass harvest location
(e.g., smelt camp)
Species richness High Low Low
Species evenness Low Medium to low Very low
Foods transported from
other locations
Common Rare to absent Rare to absent
Mass harvested foods Common Rare to absent Common
Small low-ranked taxa Common Rare to absent Rare to absent
60 Shannon Tushingham and Jennifer Bencze
there are many more small-bodied taxa associated with the PSG II component,
and there appears to have been an increased dietary emphasis on birds and
marine mammals.
While diet breadth apparently expanded during the Late Period, large-bodied
marine mammals remained a dietary focus as evidenced by the dominance of
pinniped bones in the faunal assemblage. The evenness of the faunal assemblage
is measured by the reciprocal of Simpsons index (1/D) (Lyman 2008; Magurran
1988), where:
D¼Xni½ni1=N½N1
Simply put, lower 1/D values indicate dominance of a single taxon. For
CA-DNO-11, the result for bird and mammal bone (minus burrowing animals)
is higher in PSG I (1/D = 2.71) than PSG II (1/D = 1.98), suggesting an increasing
dietary focus on the most frequently identied species, Steller sea lion (n = 278),
in the Late Period. Elk (n = 37) and sea otter (n = 37) are the next most common
identied species, but are not nearly as frequent.
Figure 6. Taxonomic richness (NTAXA), CA-DNO-11 Macro Data. Note: NTAXA = number of
identied taxa (not including burrowing animals; see Lyman 2008).
Macro and Micro Scale Signatures of Hunter-Gatherer Organization 61
CA-DNO-13 Data. The ne-grained CA-DNO-13 sample provides additional
insight, demonstrating the importance of many foods that had been overlooked
or not considered in the CA-DNO-11 data. A wide variety of shellsh species is
represented (NTAXA = 20), but mussels appear to have been the most important
of these species. This is in line with ethnographic data, which demonstrate that
large mussel species, especially the California sea mussel, tended to be the most
important shellsh due to their large meat weight, favorable taste, ease of
harvest, and abundance (Gould 1975:58; Greengo 1951:65).
Fish (NTAXA = 12) include mostly smelt, but small intertidal shes seem to
have been an important part of the diet. While none could be identied, four
size classes of bird are represented, suggesting use of small to very large
birds. Unfortunately, few mammal bones could be identied to the species
level in the ne-grained samples. Although size-classed mammal bone indicate
the presence of very small to large mammals, only vole bone and a Steller sea
lion tooth were identied; the remaining small mammals are probably intrusive
(small mice, voles, and other rodents). Direct evidence of the contribution of
specic plant foods was unavailable in the CA-DNO-11 samples, but the
CA-DNO-13 charred nut and seed data (Table 8) suggest that at least ve
species of nuts, berries, and/or corms may have been part of the prehistoric diet.
Marine versus Terrestrial Indices
Among northwestern California and southwestern Oregon archaeologists, it is a
common notion that people were more terrestrially orientedbefore they were
marine oriented,because older sites tend to be located inland while most sites
on the coast date to very late in time (Lyman 1991). On the other hand, many
scholars contend that earlier sites have not been discovered on the coast due to
limited excavations and poor site visibility caused by tectonic subsidence and Holo-
cene sea level rise. Following the assumption that coastal resources rank high and
that the coast and estuaries are logically the primary locations hunter-gatherers
would exploit, some have proposed that the antiquity of settlement in northwes-
tern California may be much greater than has been revealed in the archaeological
record (e.g., Davis et al. 2004; Fitzgerald and Ozaki 1994; Gmoser 1993; Jones
1992; Minor and Grant 1996). A contrasting view holds that the existing archae-
ological record is a fairly accurate reection of prehistoric events, and that the late
coastal settlement of northwestern California is the result of the regionssuperior
terrestrial productivity, which effectively lowered the value of coastal resources
(Levulett 1985; Levulett and Hildebrandt 1987; Waechter 1990). As one of only
a handful of coastal sites with excavated pre-Late Period components in
62 Shannon Tushingham and Jennifer Bencze
northwestern California, Point St. George is one of the few places that can poten-
tially speak to this debate, at least for the Late Holocene.
A marine subsistence focus is typically associated with large shellsh
middens, specialized marine mammal hunting and shing gear, and faunal
assemblages dominated by marine mammals. The pinniped to artiodactyl
index (often referred to as the marine index) is commonly used as a quantitat-
ive measurement of the relative dietary contribution of marine versus terrestrial
foods (see Table 10). Hildebrandt (1981, 1984) used a corrected meat weight
approach to quantify the dietary contribution of marine versus terrestrial
foods in an analysis of excavated coastal sites in northwestern California, includ-
ing CA-DNO-11. In his analysis, marine mammal bone is weighed and multiplied
by a calculator of 5.4, then compared to elk and deer bone, which is multiplied by
a calculator of 4.7.
As there are complications with using meat weight indices (e.g., Casteel
1978; Gifford-Gonzalez and Hildebrandt 2012), we compared the corrected
weight method with one using the number of identied specimens (NISP).
Both methods produced an identical result for the Late PSG II (0.96; see
Table 10), supporting the idea that marine mammals were of major and increas-
ing importance in the Late Period. A focus on marine foods during this time is
also reected in the much more common occurrence of shellsh, sea birds, and
sea sh (including pelagic rocksh), and the abundance of specialized hunting
and shing gear (harpoons, net weights, sh hooks, bone gorges), which are
absent in PSG I deposits. The presence of two species of sh during PSG II at
CA-DNO-11, vermillion rocksh (n = 11) and turkey-red rocksh (Sebastodes
ruberrimus; n = 62), is notable as these are pelagic species occurring in water
30 fathoms or more in depth, over rocky bottom. Such conditions are found
in the vicinity of Northwest Seal Rock some six and one-half miles off
Point St. George(Follett 1965, as cited in Gould 1966a:85). To Gould, and
later researchers (Hildebrandt 1981, 1984; Jobson and Hildebrandt 1980),
the presence of these species indicates that people were shing at distant
Table 10. Pinniped to Artiodactyl Indices for Corrected Weight and NISP Methods for
DNO-11 Faunal Remains.
Middle Period (PSG I) Late Period (PSG II)
Corrected Weight Method 0.53 0.96
NISP Method 0.75 0.96
Notes: Pinniped to Artiodactyl Index = Pinnip eds + Sea Otters/Pinnipeds + Sea Otters + Elk + Deer. Corrected
weight method is per Hildebrandt (1981, 1984).
Macro and Micro Scale Signatures of Hunter-Gatherer Organization 63
locations in large, seaworthy canoes, an idea that has been rejected by Hudson
(1981) and Lyman (1991, 1995).
The NISP and corrected weight indices for the PSG I component vary
between 0.53 for the corrected weight method and 0.75 for the NISP method
(Table 10), indicating that marine mammals were less of a focus during PSG I
times in comparison to PSG II. While comparatively lower, however, both
values indicate that marine mammal bone dominate the PSG I assemblage
and were probably a major focus of the subsistence economy during this time.
This is in line with Hildebrandt (1981:174), who stated that the marine
valueassociated with PSG I (0.53) is not reective of a heavily terrestrial
form of adaptation. In addition, when viewed in conjunction with the sh
results, it appears that some form of marine travel and exploitation must
have taken place during the initial occupations.The sh results Hildebrandt
referred to are the two pelagic turkey-red rocksh found in PSG I deposits.
Gould (1966a:86) also remarked on their presence, noting that the suggested
inference is that, although deep-sea shing began to be practiced in [PSG I]
times, it was not until the [PSG II] occupation that this kind of activity
assumed real importanceGould (1966a:86).
Late Period Seasonal Scheduling and Increased Use of Distant Patches
Point St. George is located along a productive rocky intertidal zone and many of
the identied species are available in this local habitat. However, there is also
strong evidence for logistical procurement of resources, meaning that food was
also procured from distant patches by task-oriented groups for later storage at
the home base village. As discussed below, it has been debated whether marine
mammals were hunted at offshore islands or at more accessible mainland rook-
eries, but either case represents offsite pursuit of prey. Seasonal scheduling was
essential to the efcient capture of both sea lions and cormorants, as people had
to be at the right place at the right timein this case at Point St. George during
the summer. It is possible that sometimes they combined their taking of cormor-
ants with this sea-lion hunting, since both of these natural cropsbecame avail-
able at about the same time and place(Gould 1966a:95).
The CA-DNO-13 sh data provide additional evidence for seasonal schedul-
ing and logistical procurement. This includes the mass capture of sh (especially
of smelt) at offsite camps, probably in the late summer. As smelt only spawn
along sandy beaches, and Point St. George is surrounded by rocky intertidal
habitat, harvesting the resource would have required movement to places
such as the Sweetwater sh camp (Figure 1).
64 Shannon Tushingham and Jennifer Bencze
The charred nut and seed data from CA-DNO-13 indicate that people con-
sumed plant foods from offsite locations (Wohlgemuth 2010). Assuming that
the plant foods were brought to Point St. George to be consumed by site resi-
dents, many of the identied plants (those two to three miles distant from
the site) could have been collected within a days walk. However, the more
distant inland plant foods, such as bay laurel and acorns (located in patches
nine to ten miles from Point St. George) and hazelnuts (ve miles distant),
bear greater consideration. Ethnographic coastal Tolowa obtained acorns on
special logistical forays to the interior (Figure 1). As Gould noted, it is difcult
to know whether the same was true prehistorically; it is also possible that these
inland foods were obtained through trade with people living in the interior. For
example, coastal Tolowa were known to have traded dried sh, sea lion meat,
and chert for ocher stone, obsidian, and woodpecker scalps with interior
groups (Gould 1966a:96).
Middle Period Targeting of Highly Ranked Prey
Gould suggested that during PSG I times, Point St. George was the site of a small
temporary camp that was used by mobile hunter-gatherers essentially as a chert
quarry. Flintknapping appeared to be the only important activity for the people
who lived here,and the faunal evidence indicated little interest in the abun-
dant marine fauna at the Point(Gould 1966a:87).
Our view is slightly different. We see the Middle Period component as simply
reecting a more mobile foraging system where people are targeting almost
exclusively high-ranked taxa with the highest energy returns, regardless of
whether they are terrestrial or marine foods. There are far fewer taxa rep-
resented in the PSG I sample compared to PSG II (Figure 5), but upon inspection
it becomes clear that people were focusing on large-bodied pinnipeds and
artiodactyls.
Certainly, people seem to have had little interest in locally available shellsh.
None of the rocky intertidal shellsh that are so ubiquitous in the Late Period
deposit (e.g., mussels and barnacles) are associated with the PSG I deposit
(Table 1). Assuming that foragers select prey species that produce the greatest
net rate of energy gain, it is surprising that these mass harvestable species are
not present. In fact, the only identied species are Pacic little neck clam and
Washington clam, species that are large but must be dug one at a time. These
species are also not available in the immediate area; both favor calm water set-
tings such as the Lake Earl estuary (located approximately two miles from Point
St. George).
Macro and Micro Scale Signatures of Hunter-Gatherer Organization 65
Despite the lack of a signicant shellsh midden, highly ranked marine
foods were part of the PSG I diet, and marine mammals may have been more
important than realized. For example, the pinniped to artiodactyl index for
PSG I suggests that large marine mammals were as important, if not more
important, than terrestrial elk and deer (Table 10). In fact, we think it is possible
that the purpose of these Middle Period camps was not exclusively to quarry and
knap chertafter all, there are many sources of high-quality chert along the
Smith River basin. Rather, Point St. George may have been part of the seasonal
round of mobile foragers who came to the coast, probably in the late summer, in
pursuit of marine mammals.
Late Period Subsistence: Analogous to Ethnographic Tolowa?
Because PSG II archaeological materials at CA-DNO-11 were recognizable to the
ethnographic Tolowa, Gould (1966a, 1968) argued that oral testimony could
reasonably be used to interpret the sites Late Period component. However,
many of his observations remained qualitative in nature due to the nature of
his eld collection and reporting, and several of the staple foods used by the eth-
nographic coastal Tolowa (Figure 3) remained undocumented archaeologically.
Below we examine the reported quantitative data to evaluate whether the
described Late Period dietary residues compare favorably with those expected
based on Goulds (1966a, 1975) model of Tolowa settlement and subsistence.
Marine Mammals
Gould (1966a, 1968) argued that prehistoric marine mammal hunting was ana-
logous to that of the historic Tolowa, who pursued sea lions at distant offshore
islands in large seaworthy canoes. The presence of harpoons and pelagic sh (in
particular, vermillion and turkey-red rocksh) provided additional evidence of
these offshore activities. Referencing the Tolowa model, Hildebrandt (1981,
1984) and Jobson and Hildebrandt (1980) argued that the oceangoing canoe-
harpoon complexdeveloped at Point St. George and other sites north of Hum-
boldt Bay so that people could exploit marine mammals present on distant off-
shore rocks in this area. Critics of this idea focus on whether the proxy measures
rst cited by Gould (e.g., abundant marine mammal bone, harpoons, and pelagic
sh) were in fact strong indicators of offshore marine mammal hunting (Lyman
1991, 1995). Tushingham (n.d.) addresses these high-prole debates by explor-
ing the newly quantied faunal evidence. Regardless of where they were
pursued, however, it is clear that marine mammals, in particular Steller sea
lions, were a major part of the diet for prehistoric Point St. George villagers.
66 Shannon Tushingham and Jennifer Bencze
Shellsh
The abundance and variety of identied shellsh associated with the PSG II com-
ponent suggested to Gould (1966a:80) that although there are no gures avail-
able on the quantities of various kinds of shellsh consumed at the site, there
can be little doubt of the importance of these as a source of foodin the Late
Period. The CA-DNO-13 data support this conclusion and indicate that mussels
and barnacles were the most important shellsh species (Figure 5). Point
St. George is surrounded by a productive rocky intertidal zone, so it is a reasonable
expectation that shellsh species available in this habitat would dominate the
assemblage. Furthermore, mussels and barnacles are easy to collect in bulk as
they are present in concentrated patches covering rocks that are exposed
during low tides. Less common identied species, such as clams and cockles,
are available at sandy beaches and tend to take longer to locate and harvest.
Barnacles and snails/limpets are often classed as ridersin archaeological
collections, meaning that they were not intentionally harvested but were
attached to other species that were brought to the site. However, the high pro-
portion of these species by weight in the CA-DNO-13 samples is well above what
would be expected if the majority were riders. While we lack experimental data
from the north coast, a study from southern California found the weight of
riders to include 6.9 to 7.8 grams of barnacles and 0.1 to 0.4 grams of snails/
limpets for every 100 grams of intentionally collected mussel, depending on
the method of harvest (Jones and Richman 1995). In comparison, the
CA-DNO-13 samples contained 60 grams of barnacles and 14 grams of snails/
limpets for every 100 grams of mussel. Obviously, additional sampling and
local experimental studies might help us to better understand the contribution
of these taxa in the prehistoric diet. However, the data at hand suggest that bar-
nacles were intentionally collected for food.
Ethnographically, the larger species of barnacles, including the giant acorn
barnacle (Balanus nubilus),thatched or rock barnacle (Semibalanus cariosus),
and the gooseneck barnacle (Mitella polmerus), were relatively important in
the diet of many coastal gatherers(Greengo 1951:66-67). Barnacles were
eaten by the Tolowa, who apparently consumed them immediately after collect-
ing by building re on rocks directly over barnacles(Gould 1966a:80). If bar-
nacles were harvested in this way, prehistorically their relative dietary
importance might actually be underestimated. The ethnographic evidence on
snails and limpets is mixed. Although Kroeber and Barrett (1960:113) stated
the Tolowa ate at least two kinds of snails, Goulds informants reported that
they did not eat black turban, mud snail or top shell (Gould 1966a:81).
Macro and Micro Scale Signatures of Hunter-Gatherer Organization 67
Waterfowl
The Tolowa captured a wide variety of waterfowl, but cormorants were of by far
the greatest importance in the total diet(Gould 1975:158). This is consistent
with the CA-DNO-11 avifaunal data, which include many identied species,
such as a variety of ducks (n = 10), geese (n = 11), and cormorants (n = 9).
Most of the cormorant bones were of nestlings (Ziegler identied ve of nine
cormorant bones as juvenile), suggesting that there was a prehistoric antecedent
to the summertime Tolowa tradition of collecting cormorant nestlings before
they could y from nests perched on nearby coastal and island rocks (Gould
1966a:84-85). The CA-DNO-13 micro samples also include bird bones (n =
17), ranging from small to very large birds, but unfortunately none of these
could be identied to species.
Surf Fish
The CA-DNO-11 sh data provide no direct evidence of smelt shing. Because
smelt bones are small, they were not identied in CA-DNO-11 excavations
where screening was not employed. Indirect evidence of surf shing is proble-
matic because there are no artifacts diagnosticof the activity, such as
V-shaped smelt shing nets that have no durable parts or net-making tools
(e.g., shuttles, gauges) that could be associated with other types of nets.
Smelt bone, however, was identied by the thousands in the CA-DNO-13
micro samples, demonstrating the importance of this mass-harvested sh.
Salmon and Acorns?
One surprising nding is the lack of evidence demonstrating the dietary impor-
tance of salmon and acorns. Acorn use at CA-DNO-11 was implied by the pres-
ence of plant processing tools (pestles, grinding slabs), but direct evidence was
unavailable (Gould 1966a:95). Acorns were found in the CA-DNO-13 samples,
but in very low numbers; bay nuts far outnumber all identied plants and
exceed acorns in abundance by a 23:1 ratio (by count). Now quantied, it is
also clear that relatively little salmon bone was identied at CA-DNO-11 (n =
11, or 6.1% of the sample). In the CA-DNO-13 sample, salmonid bone was
also relatively scarce (n = 4, or 12.1% of the sample, not including smelt
bone). While present, the low number of salmon and acorn remains relative
to other identied sh and nuts seems incongruous both with Goulds model
and with the standard view that salmon and acorns were the two most
68 Shannon Tushingham and Jennifer Bencze
important dietary staples among ethnographic groups in northwestern Califor-
nia (Baumhoff 1963).
The question then becomes, is this a real pattern, could it be that these foods
were less important at Point St. George than previously assumed? Perhaps
coastal resources were primary foods at these sites simply because of their abun-
dance in the immediate area and because access to inland locations may not have
been as free as it was ethnographically. Or is this situation simply the result of
sampling error, site taphonomy, and/or other causes? If it can be demonstrated
that sampling is not the issue, it is possible that smelt were preferred over
salmon because they are fattier and there are less transport and processing
costs associated with the resource. Of course, the low numbers of salmon
bone could have something to do with how and where they were processed.
Salmon was mass-harvested and processed at camps along rivers; most cuts
were boned and transported back to coastal sites. Purposeful discard well
away from the site could be an additional cultural explanation, but such a prac-
tice was apparently limited to only the rst salmon (and sea lions) taken by the
Tolowa (Gould 1966a:82).
The scarcity of acorn nutshell seems more difcult to explain. While it is poss-
ible that small stands of bay laurel were once located near the coast, assuming that
bay nuts and acorns were equally available, perhaps bay nuts were preferred
because they can be consumed without the elaborate and time-consuming leach-
ing process typically associated with acorns. While bay nuts are not knownto have
been a major staple, they were sometimes eaten by the Yurok, Tolowa, and Karuk,
who prepared them by roasting or baking after being shelled (Baker 1981:59-60).
Or perhaps some acorns were shelled at another site area (e.g., the residential
area) or at the offsite camp. According to one source, some acorns were shelled
while others were transported back to home villages (TLC 1972:55). In any
case, resolution of this issue obviously requires additional sampling and analysis.
Underrated Artiodactyls, Intertidal Fish?
Gould (1975:65) evaluates elk and deer as a part of a minor procurement
systemalong with other terrestrial mammals, berries and other plants, and
ocean sh, because they are solitary game and cannot be hunted en masse.
Stalking and pit snares were used by individual hunters to good effect, but
total amounts of meat taken in this way cannot have been great compared to
even the least productive of the staple food procurement systems. This is in con-
trast to sea lions, which are gregarious creatures that congregate in known areas
and seasons. Sea lions were also probably easier to transport whole to home base
Macro and Micro Scale Signatures of Hunter-Gatherer Organization 69
villages on the coast in boats, while elk had to be transported overland, which
required butchering at offsite camps(Gould 1966a:83).
Elk, however, are the second most common identied species in the
CA-DNO-11 faunal assemblage discussed herein, and there are several tapho-
nomic and cultural factors that may explain the comparatively low numbers
of artiodactyls. As Gould (1966a) noted, it is possible that sea mammal bones
were more common at the site because of differing patterns of bone discard;
that is, Tolowa informants stated that elk and salmon bones were always gath-
ered and discarded in brush away from the villages, while only the rst sea lion
bones were discarded this way. In other words, after this initial ceremony there
were no special restrictions. Thus, the rarity of bones of deer and elk at the site
conforms to the expectations based on informant testimony(Gould
1966a:82-83). Other factors that may have contributed to the lower number
of identied artiodactyl remains include differential processing patterns
(unlike artiodactyls, seal and sea lion bones do not have marrow cavities and
would not have been pulverized for grease rendering) and preservation (sea
mammal bone is denser and probably preserves better than elk or deer bone).
Intertidal sh, which are relatively easy to collect and are found in the local
rocky intertidal zone, may also have been overlooked in Goulds model. While
the CA-DNO-11 macro samples are dominated by large-bodied sh (Table 3),
both this sample and the micro-data from CA-DNO-13 include a wide variety
of nearshore species, including clingsh, Pacic hake, rockshes, pricklebacks,
gunnel, and right-eyed ounder. Most of these are solitary species that were
likely shed one at a time on an encounter basis. While sh were caught offshore
with lines often baited with surf sh or mussels on hooks and gorges (cf. Driver
1939), the majority of these sh are those that could be collected in rocky tidal
pools, a common practice ethnographically: Here the older men, as well as the
women, sought out codsh and other species which might have been stranded
when the tides receded(Kroeber and Barrett 1960:89).
Conclusions
As one of only a handful of excavated multicomponent sites on the north coast
of California, CA-DNO-11 plays a key role in how archaeologists think about
subsistence-settlement systems in this part of the world. The studies under-
taken by Gould (n.d., 1966a, 1966b, 1968, 1972, 1975) were major contri-
butions to the eld and his legacy continues to reverberate in current
interpretive frameworks. However, the nature of his data collection and report-
ing left several issues unexamined. In this article, we compiled previously
70 Shannon Tushingham and Jennifer Bencze
unpublished quantitative macro-scale data from CA-DNO-11, introduced new
micro-scale evidence from CA-DNO-13, and took a fresh look at some of the
ideas and assumptions of Goulds model.
The CA-DNO-11 quantitative data presented here clearly support the con-
clusion that PSG I and PSG II were profoundly different from each other and
that marine resources were a focus of subsistence in the Late Period. In our
view, the terrestrial-marine resource dichotomy is useful, but does not necess-
arily capture the underlying organizational differences between these com-
ponents. We see the Middle and Late period components as simply reecting
two fundamentally different adaptive strategies, with PSG I associated with a
more mobile foraging system where people are targeting almost exclusively
high-ranked taxa with the highest returns (regardless of whether they are
marine or terrestrial foods) and PSG II mirroring sedentary life on the coast.
When people begin to live in large, permanent plank house villages, diet
breadth expands and they begin storing a variety of foods (many of which are
logistically procured and mass harvested from distant locations) at their
home base. Similar changes have been documented at sites along the Smith
River about nine miles inland from Point St. George (Tushingham 2009) and
are probably reective of a region-wide shift in social systems and residential
patterns that crosscut linguistic boundaries and ecological zones. People living
in interior zones were more terrestrially oriented (i.e., there was more evidence
for exploitation of interior nuts and salmon than of marine foods), but organi-
zationally the shift was identical.
In our analysis, the Late Period PSG II component is largely analogous to the
ethnographic Tolowa, and Goulds use of oral histories in his reconstruction of
the Point St. George villagersannual round was undeniably valuable. The
CA-DNO-13 sample ndings are largely consistent with the model that Gould
constructed about sedentary Tolowa villages and hunter-gatherer organizational
strategies in precontact times and lls in gaps in our knowledge, particularly in
terms of understanding the contribution of various shellsh taxa, small-bodied
sh and mammals, and plant foods. The micro data conrm the importance of
smelt, providing direct evidence that was previously unavailable. The low
numbers of acorn shell and salmon bone, however, is a nding that is inconsist-
ent with the notion that these two mass-harvested and stored foods were
primary staples on the coast. Additional sampling and analysis is necessary to
determine whether this is the result of sampling error, or if there is another cul-
tural or taphonomic explanation.
However, taken at face value, the data from our study suggest that interior
resources were less of a focus at these coastal sites than in Goulds model.
Macro and Micro Scale Signatures of Hunter-Gatherer Organization 71
Mass-harvested smelt may have provided an attractive, more local alternative to
salmon, because it is a good source of fat and has fewer associated processing
costs. Furthermore, access to inland locations may have simply been less free
in the past than it was ethnographically. Populations were likely more dense
before the Tolowa suffered massive population losses and upheaval at
contact, so it is possible that the landscape may have been more constrained
in the past. Future research may help us to better understand these dynamics
and possibly revise our notions about which resources people were keying in
on at Point St. George and other sites on the north coast of California.
Acknowledgments
First and foremost, we wish to thank the Tolowa community, the Elk Valley Ran-
cheria, and Smith River Rancheria for their support and interest in this study.
North coastal native people continue their traditional harvest of many of the
marine and terrestrial foods described in this article, and we are thankful to
many individuals for their insights and discussions on this topic. We are grateful
to Frank Bayham, Richard Fitzgerald, Richard A. Gould, Frank K. Lake, Eric Wohl-
gemuth, and an anonymous reviewer for their insightful comments and very
useful suggestions, which substantially improved this article. We also thank
Robert L. Bettinger, Christyann Darwent, William R. Hildebrandt, Adrian Whi-
taker, and Gregory G. White for advice and guidance. Raven Garvey translated
the abstract into Spanish. Shellsh was identied by Jennifer Bencze with assist-
ance from Timothy Carpenter and Angela Arpaia. Fish bone was identied by
Kenneth W. Gobalet. Charred plant remains recovered in light fractions were
identied by Eric Wohlgemuth. Bird and mammal bone was identied by Trine
Bjørneboe Johansen. We thank Greg Collins, Richard Fitzgerald, and Steve
Horvitz at California State Parks, who provided assistance with assessment of
looting damage and the criminal investigation. Don Verwayen mapped the site
damage. The Elk Valley Rancheria, California, funded the archaeological
damage assessment, AMS dating, and charred plant studies. We thank Nick
Angeloff for facilitating a grant for the sh bone analyses through the Bear
River Band of Rohnerville Rancheria and Resources Legacy Fund.
Notes
1. There are many spellings for Tolowa words and places. Although orthographies vary, names
sound similar. Spellings for the village at northern Point St. George (CA-DNO-11) include
taįɣa
ʔ
n(Gould 1966a), tagiatun (standing up there) (Drucker 1937), and taa-ghii -a
(outward placed there) (Loren Bommelyn, personal communication 2006). Spellings for the
72 Shannon Tushingham and Jennifer Bencze
village at southern Point St. George (CA-DNO-13) include tadįdn (Gould 1966a), tatitun
(Drucker 1937), and doh-tin-dun (Bommelyn and Humphrey 1989). For spellings in Tolowa
unifon, see TLC (1972).
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... Studies that employ flotation techniques and micro-scale analyses provide a wealth of information about coastal resources, even with small sample sizes. For example, more than 2,800 identified fish bones (mostly smelt), 17 species of shellfish, bird, terrestrial and marine mammal bone, and burned nuts and seeds including bay, acorn, and hazelnut from the interior were identified in an analysis of only a total of 12 liters of soil salvaged from the base of looter pits at Tatitun village at southern Point St. George (CA-DNO-13) (Tushingham and Bencze 2013). community, and-as will be described-by the current archaeological research (Fig. 1). ...
... Investigations at Sweetwater, an ethnohistoric surffish camp located in Del Norte County, exemplify the complexities inherent in recognizing and recording these scientifically and culturally significant sites. Sweetwater is situated along a long strip of sandy beach that lies between Point St. George and Lake Earl, and that has been used by generations of Tolowa people for smelt fishing and shellfish collecting, a fact that is supported by ethnography, by members of the modern Tolowa connections between the two sites (Tushingham and Bencze 2013). Based on ethnoarchaeological research, Gould reconstructed the annual round of Point St. George inhabitants, which began in the late summer when villagers travelled to Sweetwater to harvest smelt (Gould 1966a(Gould :88 -92, 1976. ...
... Thousands of smelt bone have been recovered in samples from two prehistoric villages at Point St. George: CA-DNO-13 (Tushingham and Bencze 2013) and CA-DNO-11 (Whitaker and Tushingham 2011). Similar evidence is found at temporary camps, including Table 6 size sorted mussels 0 -2 cm. ...
Article
Full-text available
Beach spawning smelt are a small fish that were mass harvested and dried for storage at temporary summer camps by native Californians north of San Francisco Bay. Despite the importance of smelt in the ethnographic diet, we have much to learn about its prehistoric use. Archaeological recognition of smelt camps can be problematic due to a number of cultural and natural taphonomic processes; the identification and fine-grained analysis of roasting pits are one means of associating these otherwise ephemeral sites with smelt fishing. Investigations at Sweetwater, a Tolowa fish camp in Del Norte County, included site survey, archival and ethnographic research, and micro-scale analysis of a roasting pit feature, providing us with a snapshot of what people were eating in a temporary camp. The study provides a model for identification and salvage of these culturally and scientifically significant places, which are severely threatened by coastal erosion and climate change.
... Many key aspects of this collaboratively built model were confirmed by Gould (1966), as well as later studies that employed modern analytical methods and techniques (Tushingham and Bencze 2013;Whitaker and Tushingham 2014). ...
... Men collected fish from the surf by "dipping" V-frame dip nets into the surf when they observed the fish spawning, while women were responsible for the labor-intensive drying process which required constant monitoring, as well as transportation of dried fish back to the residential villages. There the fish were stored in large baskets in the family house and eaten "as needed," while a smaller amount of captured fish was consumed on site and disposed of at roasting pit features (Gould 1966;Tushingham and Bencze 2013;. ...
... This approach is reflected in seminal archaeological studies in the region which emphasized large-volume excavations (e.g., Gould 1966;Loud 1918), and was recently articulated by Lyman in his influential (1991) volume, Prehistory of the Oregon Coast: The Effects of Excavation Strategies and Assemblage Size on Archaeological Inquiry, where he wrote that "little will be gained by additional small-scale excavations" (Lyman 1991:60) and "samples of 100 or so artifacts per site per 1,000 to 2,000 years of prehistory are clearly inadequate" (Lyman 1991:309). In any case, we do not see these as "either/ or" strategies-clearly both approaches have their own strengths and weaknesses (Table 12)-and, following similar studies in the region that incorporate micro and macro sampling (e.g., Losey 1996;Tushingham and Bencze 2013;Tushingham and Christiansen 2015;Whitaker andTushingham 2011, 2014), we view these as complementary approaches that, with caution, can lead to a more complete picture of subsistence-settlement patterns. ...
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In this paper we describe innovative research at Shin-yvslh-sri~ (CA-DNO-14), a pre-contact Tolowa village and shell midden site on the north coast of California. The research involves a collaborative historical ecology approach-an explicitly multidisciplinary cooperative effort between Tribal communities, a Federal agency, cultural resource management practitioners, and academic researchers. Multiple lines of evidence-including ethno-historic, oral history, and Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) data, documentation of past archaeological research, analysis of varied scales of (micro and macro) archaeological data from both recent fieldwork and legacy collections-give a more complete picture of the historical ecology of the northern California coast. Results indicate that plank house village life emerged at Shin-yvslh-sri~ approximately 1,000 years ago, and that people pursued a wide array of marine and terrestrial taxa throughout its occupation. Archaeological data provide new evidence, as well as support for oral histories indicating the critical importance of mass captured smelt, as well as salmon, shellfish, and marine mammals. In addition to providing important data on coastal human-environmental systems, the project provides a case study model for future studies in collaborative historical ecology, particularly those that involve indigenous community concerns at endangered coastal archaeological and cultural sites.
... Studies that employ flotation techniques and micro-scale analyses provide a wealth of information about coastal resources, even with small sample sizes. For example, more than 2,800 identified fish bones (mostly smelt), 17 species of shellfish, bird, terrestrial and marine mammal bone, and burned nuts and seeds including bay, acorn, and hazelnut from the interior were identified in an analysis of only a total of 12 liters of soil salvaged from the base of looter pits at Tatitun village at southern Point St. George (CA-DNO-13) (Tushingham and Bencze 2013). community, and-as will be described-by the current archaeological research (Fig. 1). ...
... Investigations at Sweetwater, an ethnohistoric surffish camp located in Del Norte County, exemplify the complexities inherent in recognizing and recording these scientifically and culturally significant sites. Sweetwater is situated along a long strip of sandy beach that lies between Point St. George and Lake Earl, and that has been used by generations of Tolowa people for smelt fishing and shellfish collecting, a fact that is supported by ethnography, by members of the modern Tolowa connections between the two sites (Tushingham and Bencze 2013). Based on ethnoarchaeological research, Gould reconstructed the annual round of Point St. George inhabitants, which began in the late summer when villagers travelled to Sweetwater to harvest smelt (Gould 1966a(Gould :88 -92, 1976. ...
... Thousands of smelt bone have been recovered in samples from two prehistoric villages at Point St. George: CA-DNO-13 (Tushingham and Bencze 2013) and CA-DNO-11 (Whitaker and Tushingham 2011). Similar evidence is found at temporary camps, including Table 6 size sorted mussels 0 -2 cm. ...
... In addition, herring seems to have been a major food source from the earliest components (5000-3000 BP) at sites throughout the Gulf of Alaska and southeast Alaska (Moss et al., 2011;, and there is evidence for its increased use on the south-central Northwest Coast beginning around 2500 BP (Butler & Campbell, 2004). Furthermore, mass-harvested smelt (Osmeridae) were a key resource in northwestern California Tushingham & Bencze, 2013;Tushingham & Christiansen, 2015). Indeed, the earliest evidence for the mass harvest of fish is not of salmon, but of smelt, which coincides with the emergence of plank-house villages in northwestern California, about 1300 BP (Tushingham et al., 2016). ...
... Not until the mid-1980s did archaeologists begin to study small and fragile fish remains systematically (Butler & Campbell, 2004, p. 329). Importantly, more widespread use of sediment screens with smaller (<1/8 00 ) mesh revealed that smaller fish may have been as important as their larger counterparts (e.g., Butler, 2000;Casteel, 1972Casteel, , 1976aCasteel, , 1976bGobalet, 1989;McKechnie et al., 2014;Moss et al., 2011;Tushingham et al., 2016;Tushingham & Bencze, 2013;Tushingham & Christiansen, 2015). ...
Article
This paper provides a theoretical treatment of hunter-gatherer diet and physiology. Through a synthesis of nutritional studies, informed by northeastern Pacific Rim ethno-archaeological data, we examine the risk of protein-rich diets for human survival, and how this militates against the widely held notion of a cultural “specialization” on dried salmon. Fundamental nutritional constraints associated with salmon storage and consumption counter long-standing assumptions about the engine of cultural evolution in the region. Excess consumption of lean meat can lead to protein poisoning, termed by early explorers “rabbit starvation.” While this problem is not usually perceived as associated with fish, the risk of protein poisoning limits the amount of low-fat fish that people can eat safely. Compared to smaller, mass-harvested species (e.g., eulachon), dried salmon are exceedingly lean. Under certain circumstances fattier foods (small forage fish, marine mammals, whales, even bears) or carbohydrate-rich plants may have been preferred not just for taste but to circumvent this “dietary protein ceiling.” Simply put, “salmon specialization” cannot evolve without access to complimentary caloric energy through fat- or carbohydrate-rich resources. By extension, the evolution of storage-based societies requires this problem be solved prior to-or in tandem with-salmon intensification. Without such solutions, increased mortality and reproductive rates would have made salmon reliance unsustainable. This insight is in line with genomic research suggesting protein toxicity avoidance was a powerful evolutionary force, possibly linked to genetic adaptations among First Americans. It is also relevant to evaluating the plausibility of other purportedly “focal” economies and informs understanding of the many solutions varied global societies have engineered to overcome their physiological limits.
... (B) Late summer first sea lion hunt begins by convening at "Stopping Rock" (sey1tšǝntǝn) via oceangoing canoe, then paddling to Northwest and Southwest Seal Rocks; (C) Late summer smelt fish camp at tawašnašrǝn (Sweetwater); (D) Fall acorn harvest at nǝntuʔn in oak groves in the Bald Hills; (E) fall salmon camp at tšahuʔme near the mouth of Mill Creek. (from Gould 1966a(from Gould :91, 1968Tushingham and Bencze 2013: Figure 1; reprinted courtesy of California Archaeology). ...
... At Point St. George (CA-DNO-11), Whitaker and Tushingham (2014) found some of the earliest evidence of intensive use of the southern Pacific Northwest coast in the form of a substantial shell midden that yielded a wide variety of marine resources, and plant processing equipment in levels radiocarbon dated to 1137 and 1214 cal BP (Whitaker and Tushingham 2014). Tushingham and Bencze (2013) recovered similar materials from southern Point St. George (CA-DNO-13). Their analysis of micro-and macro-constituents confirmed several aspects of Gould's (1966) model of Tolowa settlement, namely that Middle and Late period components reflect two fundamentally different adaptive strategies, with Middle Period (PSG I) materials associated with a mobile foraging system where people were almost exclusively targeting high-ranked marine and terrestrial taxa with the highest returns. ...
Chapter
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The appearance of plank house villages throughout the Pacific Northwest has been linked to the emergence of household-based social systems and intensive storage economies, marking a major regional shift from generalized foraging to collector-type strategies, sedentism, and village organization. On the southern Pacific Northwest coast two explanatory frameworks address the timing and nature of this shift, one arguing for an abrupt and late (post-1100 cal BP) development linked to an influx of northern peoples into the region, the other arguing for a much earlier, gradual in situ development, beginning around 3000-4000 years ago. A synthesis of northwest California and southwest Oregon archaeological research supports the notion that a rapid, qualitative shift occurred ca. 1300 cal BP, associated with a regional expansion of sedentary plank house villages. Plank houses served as large, permanent storage facilities for sedentary groups, and are linked to profound changes in settlement- subsistence including the emergence of delayed return economies, an increase in use of mass capture technologies, disruption of established long-distance obsidian exchange networks, and intensification of front-loaded resources (e.g., salmon and forage fish). Despite these changes, and outward similarities with plank house cultures of the northern and central Northwest Coast, the indigenous peoples of northwestern California and southwestern Oregon developed along their own unique path, within a system that Bettinger refers to as “ordered anarchy,” where small, autonomous social groups developed a highly efficient and successful system similar to other groups in California.
... At contact, Native American groups in northwestern California lived in permanent Pacific Northwest Coast-style plank house villages along the coast and rivers of the region for at least 1300 years (Tushingham 2009;Tushingham, 2013). Key dietary staples included acorns, salmon, sea mammals, shellfish, and small surf fish (Gould 1966(Gould , 1975Tushingham and Bencze, 2013). After the formation of plank house villages, people became more dependent on the mass extraction of resources, complex curated technology, bulk storage methods, and collector-type strategies (Tushingham 2009;Tushingham, 2013). ...
... Men collected fish from the surf by "dipping" Vshaped frame dip nets into the surf when they observed the fish spawning, while women were responsible for the labor-intensive drying process which required constant monitoring, as well as transportation of dried fish back to the residential villages. There, the fish were stored in large baskets in the family house and eaten as needed while a smaller amount of captured fish was consumed at temporary fish camps and disposed of in roasting pit features along the beaches (Gould, 1966;Tushingham and Bencze, 2013). Although smelt numbers have dwindled considerably, these traditional techniques have been maintained by a number of indigneous families who persist in holding community smelt camps to this day (e.g., Tushingham et al., 2018). ...
Article
The bulk storage and mass capture of small forage fish has played a primary role in the cultural traditions and subsistence practices of many ancient and modern indigenous communities throughout the world. Archaeologists are improving their recognition of human interaction with these fisheries through the application of fine-mesh screening techniques and ichthyofaunal analysis of fish bone. Because of the differing life histories of many of these fish, determining their species from archaeological contexts can improve our resolution of past harvesting and consumption patterns. This has remained a challenge for many categories of fish, such as salmon and smelt. Here, we present an improved genetic species identification process that utilizes ancient DNA amplification techniques involving a reagent-rich PCR protocol (i.e., "Rescue PCR") and a PCR Enhancer Cocktail P (i.e., PEC-P) to identify smelt and other forage fish bone from five archaeological sites located along the northern California (United States) Pacific coast dating to the Late Period (after 1300 cal BP). Through the application of these novel techniques, our species identification success rate increased to 71.2% overall, with some sites having a remarkable 100% success rate. We identified the species of 104 of 146 fish vertebrae, and determined that inhabitants at these sites harvested primarily surf smelt with potentially less emphasis on night smelt. Observations of herring, perch, sculpin and rainbow trout/steelhead were also made. Along with these small surf fish, we found evidence of larger fish such as shark and Pacific hake (common predatory fish in the area). The study demonstrates a significant breakthrough in ancient DNA identification techniques that resulted in information that speak to the long term continuity of use of mass harvested forage fish by indigenous peoples. The results of this project help establish a better understanding of subsistence and cultural traditions of northern California indigenous communities, with the potential to provide a more global understanding of fishing technologies , sustainability, and mass harvesting of small fishes.
... The Yurok and Hupa recognized old house-pits and other features as the remains of settlements which they ascribed to to the wo' :gē /kīxûnai, immortal mythic actors who previously inhabited the earth (Waterman 1920). Ethnographic evidence from northwest California demonstrates that Tolowa people were able to accurately describe the spatial layout of a village which had been abandoned hundreds of years prior, but whose location continued to be used for resource procurement into the historic period (Whitaker and Tushingham 2014;Tushingham and Bencze 2013). ...
Thesis
This study takes a landscape-scale approach to understanding the role of place in determining settlement patterns in southern Oregon. Persistent use of settlement locations transforms these spaces into places, or locations where memory and identity become embedded. In order to test how this phenomenon influences settlement location, two methods of geospatial analysis were used: site suitability modeling and density-based clustering of applications with noise (DBSCAN). A site suitability model based on culturally specific environmental variables was designed to establish a baseline of where sites can be located based on material constraints such as resource availability. Next, DBSCAN clustering was run on the location of archaeological sites and compared to a set of randomized site locations. This was done to assess if the true distribution of sites on the landscape meets expectations based solely on environmental factors. The results of this analysis demonstrate a region-wide pattern of persistence in particular places despite the wide availability of environmentally suitable land, which suggests that places with previous human occupation were chosen preferentially for settlement. Given the cultural context of southern Oregon, this pattern is interpreted as an attachment to ancestral places of practice, where important lifeways have been carried out by indigenous peoples across generations.
... Because northern anchovy (Engraulis mordax) has historically been an important fishery in the Chetco River estuary (Gaumer et al. 1973:12, 14), we were interested in whether or not we could find this species at 35-CU-42. In a similar vein, because contemporary Tolowa still fish for and dry surf smelt (Hypomesus pretiosus) in northern California (Lewis 2000;Tushingham and Bencze 2013;, that fish also seemed a likely candidate species. We anticipated that the remains of other smelt, topsmelt, herring, or sardines might also have been present in the Tcetxo deposits. ...
Article
Full-text available
Archaeological sites represent long-term biological repositories, relevant for understanding ancient economies and ways of life that can provide historical baseline data for contemporary conservation biology, restoration ecology, and fisheries management. Small-scale excavations at nine archaeological sites within Point Reyes National Seashore, on the central California coast, led to the recovery of a large assemblage of fish remains from deposits dated from 800 to 770 cal BC to the historical era. These assemblages contained over 9000 fish remains identified to at least a family. Applying quantitative analysis and morphometric studies, these data suggest the indigenous fishery of Point Reyes in the homeland of the Coast Miwok people was directed toward the acquisition of mass-captured forage fish from the families Clupeidae, Atherinopsidae, and Engraulidae in addition to Embiotocidae. Perceived declines in contemporary forage fish populations within Point Reyes National Seashore, specifically Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii), an important keystone, indicator, and umbrella species, suggest further protections are needed to ensure continued ecosystem services and prevent ecological extinction.
Article
Full-text available
Beach spawning smelt are a small fish that were mass harvested and dried for storage at temporary summer camps by native Californians north of San Francisco Bay. Despite the importance of smelt in the ethnographic diet, we have much to learn about its prehistoric use. Archaeological recognition of smelt camps can be problematic due to a number of cultural and natural taphonomic processes; the identification and fine-grained analysis of roasting pits are one means of associating these otherwise ephemeral sites with smelt fishing. Investigations at Sweetwater, a Tolowa fish camp in Del Norte County, included site survey, archival and ethnographic research, and micro-scale analysis of a roasting pit feature, providing us with a snapshot of what people were eating in a temporary camp. The study provides a model for identification and salvage of these culturally and scientifically significant places, which are severely threatened by coastal erosion and climate change.
Article
Full-text available
The resource utility of Mytilus californianus, one of the most abundant bivalves found in the archaeological record of the west coast of North America and the most common among living intertidal populations has been characterized in variable terms. Experimental evaluation of alternative mussel collection techniques and review of mussel biology reveals that under ideal circumstances this mollusk produces caloric returns comparable to other commodities exploited by range-restricted foragers. Mussels are high in protein, low in carbohydrates, and could contribute to complete diets among highly mobile foragers. Mussels could not be overexploited to extinction, but resource value declines with frequent exploitation, rendering them of less dietary significance in intensified economies.
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In this paper, we discuss some key issues in the study of archaeology of Native American societies of the northern California, Oregon, and Washington coasts. We focus on three issues: (1) the antiquity of coastal settlement; (2) the development of complexity among the maritime and riverine peoples of the area; and (3) the effects of European contact on such peoples during recent centuries. Although new archaeological data from the southern Northwest Coast have accumulated in recent decades, much remains to be learned.
Article
Quantitative Paleozoology describes and illustrates how the remains of long-dead animals recovered from archaeological and paleontological excavations can be studied and analyzed. The methods range from determining how many animals of each species are represented to determining whether one collection consists of more broken and more burned bones than another. All methods are described and illustrated with data from real collections, while numerous graphs illustrate various quantitative properties.