Summary Prehistory and Ethnography of Olympic National Park, Washington
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This report is a synthesis of available environmental, archeological, and anthropological literature augmented by a limited amount of fieldwork conducted in and around Olympic National Park, Washington. These research efforts were undertaken during the summer of 1982, when I was the archeologist on a research team which also included historians and architectural historians. I examined a number of published and unpublished documents pertinent to the Olympic Peninsula in particular and the Pacific Northwest in general, interviewed Park employees and other Peninsula residents, and also conducted archeological reconnaissance in the Park.

I will present first a general review of the environmental setting at Olympic, which will help place the subsequent sections into a physical context. Then I will discuss earlier archeological research conducted in and around the Park. For a number of reasons, actual archeological research in the Park has been limited, but investigations elsewhere on the Peninsula and in the greater Northwest have provided enough data to construct at least the broad outline of prehistory.

A large portion of the prehistory of the Park as presented in this report is highly speculative, since research at sites more than 3000 years old has been very limited. Therefore, this prehistory is not "etched in stone," but rather is a series of suggested trends which parallel cultural developments noted for other more well-studied regions in the Northwest. How those presumed trends are actually represented in the archeological record of the Olympic Peninsula awaits further testing and research.

The last two sections of this report outline Northwest Coast aboriginal culture in general terms and then present specific details about the several Native American groups who lived in and around present-day Olympic National Park. Because those native cultures shared certain important similarities, I have included a general cultural overview to avoid redundancy in the report. Also, since many non-anthropologists are unfamiliar with Northwest Coast Indian culture, I felt this would be a good opportunity to present the basics. Perhaps the very best way to describe native culture would be to prepare and present detailed ethnohistories of each group, but such an effort was far beyond the scope and means of this project. The last two sections, then, constitute a summary ethnography, or description, of Native American culture as it probably was at and shortly after the time of white contact. Culture is very complex and difficult to describe succinctly, and I must apologize at this time for any omissions or deficiencies which might be apparent to modern-day Native American inhabitants of the Peninsula.

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Last Updated: —2009