M.A. Theses: Sylvia Louise Albright, 1983

Ethnoarchaeological Study of Tahltan Substance and Settlement Patterns

This thesis concerns the dynamics of prehistoric hunter-gatherer subsistence behavior and site formation processes. Using an ethnoarchaeological approach, research was conducted on traditional subsistence practices of the Tahltan Indians, an Athapaskan group, occupying the Stikine Plateau area of northwest British Columbia. Relationships between physical environment, characteristics of flora and fauna of the area, and technology used to exploit different resources are examined.

Factors affecting the location, size, and types of sites occupied include: 1) local resource availability; 2) procurement techniques and, 3) strategies for coping with seasonal and periodic fluctuations in resource abundance. The Tahltan were semi-nomadic in their yearly round of subsistence activities, with a pattern of aggregation in summer at permanent villages along major rivers where annual runs of anadromous salmon provided a reliable, staple food source. In early fall families dispersed to separate camps in alpine areas to snare large numbers of marmots, collect berries, and hunt sheep, goats and bear. Several families gathered at major fall and winter camps located in forested valleys, to cooperate in capturing woodlands caribou, a staple resource which provided valuable raw materials as well as meat. In spring families occupied smaller camps near lakes and streams to procure a variety of fresh-water fish, migratory waterfowl, vegetable foods, and beaver.