M.A. Theses: Natasha Lyons, 2000
Investigating Ancient Socioeconomy in Sto:lo Territory: A Palaeoethnobotanical Analysis of the Scowlitz Site, Southwestern B.C.
This thesis uses palaeoethnobotanical analysis as an avenue to independently investigate aspects of ancient socioeconomy among the Sto:lo peoples, a cultural subgroup of the Coast Salish on the Northwest Coast of North America. The research explores questions concerning the social and economic role of plant resources in aboriginal society using a model derived from ethnographic patterns of plant use among the Coast Salish. The model specifies archaeological and archaeobotanical correlates associated with the range of site types observed within the Coast Salish seasonal round. In particular, archaeobotanical expectations are presented for the diversity, abundance, ecology, and seasonality of plant remains in each site type. Expectations generated from the model are used to evaluate the nature of site use in three temporally discrete archaeological deposits from the Scowlitz site. These are a short-term intensive use occupation called the burned orange deposit (c. 1000--800 b.p.) and two household deposits called structure 3 (c. 2400 b.p.) and structure 4 (c. 2900 b.p.). The analysis of the archaeobotanical assemblage from these deposits produced a total of 42 taxa representing 26 plant families in the form of seeds, needles, buds, tissues, charcoal, and additional plant parts. The assemblage suggests that a relatively broad diversity of local plant resources, including both plant foods and plants used in technology, was exploited in each occupation. It also reveals that plant food resources, including salal and red elderberry, were intensively processed for winter storage in two of these occupations. Together, archaeobotanical and archaeological patterning in the successive occupations indicates that site use at Scowlitz was shifting in time from a year-round village to a seasonal base camp. This thesis demonstrates the evidence for a range of plant use practices in the archaeological record of Northwest Coast sites as well as the potential for archaeobotanical remains to contribute to site level interpretation. Increasingly broad interpretations about ancient plant use practices, and their role in past socioeconomic and political systems, will become more accessible with the integration of archaeobotanical remains into Northwest Coast research design and the development of relevant theoretical perspectives in the region.