M.A. Theses: Chris Springer, 2009
Tracking Identity in a Harrison Valley Pithouse
Houses were fundamental to cultural expression among Coast Salish groups in the Lower Fraser Watershed and its tributaries, including the Harrison Watershed. The construction and continued maintenance of the built environment of houses served to inform and reflect a household's social identity. The complete excavation of a small, isolated pithouse in the Harrison River Valley, the traditional territory of the Chehalis (Sts'ailes), showed two main occupations spanning almost 300 years, suggesting a long-term connection to place. Using concepts derived from Amos Rapoport's work in Environmental Behaviour Studies to link archaeological data associated with the successive occupations to insights gained from ethnographic sources and local oral history, resulted in interpretations of the occupant's social identities and their connection to the Sts'ailes of today. The archaeological record of this one site exemplifies both the fluid nature of identity and the continuous relationship to place rooted in Sts'ailes oral traditions.