Shell deposits at Tseshaht First Nation village in the Pacific Northwest

Iain McKechnie
May 3, 2022
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Person excavating in a deep hole
Iain McKechnie

Dense shell midden deposit spanning the past 1,000 years as exposed during excavation at a Tseshaht First Nation village in the Pacific Northwest.

A new global study of Indigenous oyster fisheries co-led by Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History anthropologist Torben Rick and Temple University anthropologist and former Smithsonian postdoctoral fellow Leslie Reeder-Myers shows that oyster fisheries were hugely productive and sustainably managed on a massive scale over hundreds and even thousands of years of intensive harvest. The study’s broadest finding was that long before European colonizers arrived, the Indigenous groups in these locations harvested and ate immense quantities of oysters in a manner that did not appear to cause the bivalves’ populations to suffer and crash. 


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