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North West Fisher Folk

11 November 2013

A similar misconception was applied to the native peoples of the Pacific North West, the fisher folk and food producers (and processors) that also actively engaged in land and resource management – or so it is claimed. People learned to live in their environment and exploit the available resources – without taking too much. Of course, this kind of modern environmentalist tosh ignores the fact they had a limited technology. They only exploited the salmon to a certain degree because they could only eat so many of them. They weren't in the business of canning salmon and selling the product around the world.

So, a little bit of scepticism is perhaps worth taking into account – but the authors do have a point. These people do not, once again, fit into the Darwinian hunter gatherer bracket as they were primarily living off the sea (both fish and mammals) which required technical innovation and seasonal activities. They had no choice but to time their salmon fishing to when they congregated at the mouth of rivers in preparation for a run upstream in numbers. This is once again a book being promoted, 'North West Coast Archaeology as Deep History' (Society for American Archaeology Press) – see http://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.co.uk/2011/11/northwest-natives-w…

Sites dating back 12,000 years ago, from Alaska to Oregon, are rich in fish remains – some 85 per cent of bones found in middens. They didn't just fish for salmon but sought out a whole variety of sea fish from Pacific cod, to rock fish and flat fish etc.


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