Historical ecologies of swətíxʷtəd in the Duwamish-Green-White River Watershed of Washington State

LECOMPTE, Joyce - University of Washington Department of Anthropology

This project used archaeobotanical, ethnographic, and historical evidence to enhance our understandings of the co-production of people, plants, and place in the historic Duwamish-Green-White River Watershed in Washington State. I compared the archaeobotanical record with regional ethnographies to analyze the role that plants played in pre-contact Coast Salish diets, and the interplay between the particular nutritional and ecological properties of plants and Coast Salish daily life. The primary goals of this project were 1) to augment the Burke Museum's Puget Sound Traditional Foods database with more information about plant use (both for food and as technologies), 2) to gain greater insight into indigenous stewardship of upland terrestrial habitats, and 3) to investigate the relationship between social networks and plant foods. The study provisionally affirms archaeological theories of resource intensification beginning  ~2,500 – 3,000 years BP. The study also provides preliminary insight into the interplay between the location of particular plant foods in the watershed and Coast Salish social organization as documented in the ethnographic record. The higher proportion of root foods in the inland and montane sites gestures toward dietary differences between saltwater and inland villages, where carbohydrates may have played a more important role. This in turn may have shaped the extent to which landscapes were managed for culturally important root foods on the Enumclaw Plateau.