Gardens for the Living and the Dead: Coast Salish Funerals and the Production of Blue Camas

Date and Time: 
Thursday, 17 March, 2016 - 09:00
, Darcy - University of Victoria

Between ca. AD 1400–500, Coast Salish peoples of southern Vancouver Island were actively engaged in the making of landscapes that were a mosaic of blue camas (Camassia leichtlinii and C. quamash; Liliacaeae) punctuated with burial cairns—arrangements of stones and soil built over the dead. Blue camas was an economically vital root food that was managed, owned, and inherited through time. Recent research at two Cultural Keystone Places: Rocky Point and Cadboro Bay, suggests a relationship between the production of camas and the production of the ancestral dead. Tacking between archaeological, ethnographic, and ethnobotanical evidence, I conclude that beginning ca.  AD 1400, the Coast Salish dead became increasingly implicated in the affairs of the living, such that the moving of stones in the context of both gardening and funerals recursively defined and legitimated claims to ancestral places and histories.