Constructed Coastlines of the Salish Sea: Integrating Archaeological, Indigenous, and Ecological Perspectives

Prior to contact with Euro-Americans, the Salish Sea was anything but a natural place. Rather, its coastscapes were profoundly anthropogenic, having been constructed, engineered and managed by Indigenous peoples over the Holocene. I first cover the archaeological record that supports this assertion, focusing on my research in the southern Gulf Islands of British Columbia. Second, I consider the social dimensions to how landscape construction and resource management systems operated in the past.

Indigenous Knowledge in a Changing Climate

Indigenous Peoples of North America have always had to accommodate and respond to environmental change. Oral histories, recollections of contemporary elders, and terms in their numerous languages have allowed understandings of responses to change, most recently since the colonial era. Traditional knowledge systems incorporate adaptive capacity. Now, however, many people have noted signs of greater environmental change and challenges to their resilience than in the past: species declines and new appearances; anomalies in weather patterns; and declining health of forests and grasslands.

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