The Evolution and Diversification of Native Land Use Systems on the Olympic Peninsula
A Research Design
NPS Logo

Chapter 4
by Randall Schalk


Throughout the Northwest, anthropologists have traditionally used linguistic criteria to distinguish Indian "tribes". Virtually all ethnographic studies of this region have focused on these linguistic groupings so that the maps of tribal "territories" must be viewed in linguistic terms (see Figure 4.1). Nonetheless, most ethnographers recognized that the basic societal units were local groups or winter village groupings. The fundamental importance of these smaller groupings emerges in any discussion of subsistence because these villages were for the most part economically self sufficient entities.

Figure 4.1 Indan Tribes of the Olympic Peninsula (redrawn from Elmendorf 1960: Map IV). (click on image for a PDF version)

Of equal importance is the fact that variations in land use between these different village groups rivaled and sometimes surpassed variations between different tribal groups. Often the few native informants available were only knowledgeable about certain local groups within their own linguistic tribe. All ethnographers were faced with this sampling problem and the common procedure was to generalize from the better known village groupings to the whole tribe (see Elmendorf 1960:1). [1] To the extent that the ethnographic record on subsistence describes "typical" patterns of tribes rather than actual behavior of local groups, it is impossible to achieve the degree of resolution that would be most useful to the archaeologist.

To the fullest extent possible, use of the ethnographic record here is aimed at the development of an understanding of variability in land use on the Olympic Peninsula. An unfortunate but unavoidable result of inherent biases in the ethnographic record is that the following descriptions may overemphasize differences between different linguistic tribes while glossing over important differences within them.


Quinault settlements were distributed along the Quinault River from the mouth to a short distance above the lake (Olson 1936). A single village at the mouth of the Moclips River, a small independent stream to the south of the Quinault, was the only exception to an otherwise totally riverine pattern of winter village distributions. Olson (1936:22) estimates that there were roughly 20 villages that contained a total population of roughly 800 people. Salmon exceeded all other food resources in economic importance and locations of winter villages were tethered to salmon fishing stations. Weir sites in particular are identified by Olson (1936) as the locations of winter villages. Olson (1936:31) reports, however that dip-net fishing was the main technique used by the first six villages upriver from the mouth. Since the channel characteristics suitable for weir building and dip netting are different, variability in winter village locational patterns is implied here.

All other sites that Olson mentions would be considered field camps—places where task groups camped when beyond the daily foraging radius of the winter villages. Types of field camps mentioned include spring/summer plant collecting sites located on prairies, late summer hunting camps in the mountains, clam digging camps. Egg gathering at bird rookeries, sea lion hunting at haulouts, and sea otter hunting at specific coastal locations are all activities mentioned by Olson which may have involved use of field camps. However, some of these marine resources were undoubtedly exploited by task groups in canoes operating within a day-radius of villages located on the lower Quinault.

The level of logistic capability achieved in sea canoes is best appreciated in regard to offshore sea mammal procurement activities. Distances of 12-30 miles offshore were traversed in whaling expeditions; fur seal were sought at distances of 10-25 miles offshore (Olson 1936:44, 49). These distances are impressive and demonstrate the rather large foraging radius made possible by effective watercraft.

Exploitation of resources at field camps was often done by one or a few families from a village. For this reason, it is not possible to identify a standardized "seasonal round" that all or most Quinault followed. Rather, there was a degree of specialization at the individual and family level within and between multi-family households. Resources gathered logistically were pooled in the winter villages and virtually all movements out of these villages would be considered logistic rather than residential mobility.


The country occupied by the Quileute included the Quillayute and the Hoh river valleys. There was a riverine settlement pattern with winter villages along these two river valleys that apparently extended distances of 20-30 mi upriver (Pettitt 1950:3). Although the major settlements were at the mouths of the Quillayute and Hoh within the memory span of Pettitt's informants, it is unclear to what extent this pattern may have been a result of depopulation, fur trade, and related post-contact influences. To the extent that the geographic/environmental position of the Quileute is intermediate to the Quinault and the Makah, however, a settlement pattern that was a compromise to the fully riverine pattern and the fully marine pattern manifested by these two neighboring groups seems reasonable. In other words, a pre-contact settlement pattern in which the bulk of the population lived at the mouths of the rivers with smaller numbers living upriver is consistent with the structure of food resources in this area.

The Quileute are characterized as relying upon salmon as their staple food but for being "second only to the Makah" as whalers (Pettitt 1950:5). Salmon fishing techniques were variable depending upon season and local conditions but, as with the Quinault, net fishing was associated with the lower river and weir/trap fishing with points further upriver.

The whaling complex was apparently better developed among the Quileute than among the Quinault but not nearly to the extent of the Makah. There is some suggestion of the possibility that whaling was a recently acquired subsistence pursuit among the Quileute (Pettitt 1950:8). According to Pettitt (1950:8), whale hunters pursued their quarry from 25-50 mi out to sea.

For lack of information, specifics of the Quileute land use strategies are more speculative than for other Peninsula groups. Patterns of mobility are only sketchily alluded to in Pettitt's study of the Quileute. As with the Quinault, there was some occupational specialization at the individual and family levels. This seems consistent with a division of labor in which logistically procured resources were pooled within a household or winter village group. Some groups apparently made residential moves to the coast in spring to fish for halibut, ling-cod, and red snapper and to collect shellfish (Pettitt 1950:4). Individual families residing at the principal village of La Push at the mouth of the Quillayute made visits "upriver in fall and winter for salmon and steelhead" (Pettitt 1950:4). Whether sea lions, sea otters, porpoises, various marine fish species, shellfish, and marine birds were taken in logistic forays from lower river winter village sites such as La Push or whether some of these resources were exploited from field camps along the coast or on offshore islands is unclear. Clearly, offshore islands such as Destruction Island, which is about 6 mi southwest from the mouth of the Hoh, would have been ideal locations for field camps for task groups seeking offshore fish and sea mammal resources.

No mention is made of Quileute families moving to prairies to collect plant resources or to the mountains to hunt game resources (though land mammal hunting is mentioned as a specialized occupation). The scarcity of specific references may be largely a function of the ethnographic reporting. On the other, we might as easily conclude that the silence on such matters reflects a heavier emphasis upon procurement from within the foraging radius of villages and lesser emphasis upon logistic field camps than was described for the Quinault. As will be seen below, this latter possibility seems quite reasonable in the light of Makah settlement strategies.


Makah territory was unusual compared to other outer coastal groups of the Peninsula in not being centered on substantial river valleys. Consequently, Makah settlement was decidedly marine rather than riverine. Winter villages of the Makah, of which there were five in the early 19th century (Neeah, Bada, Watch, Tsuess, and Hosett) were all located on saltwater (Swan 1869:2). These villages were quite large—some having more than 200 inhabitants and from 8-15 houses. Also, in contrast to the riverine settlement types southward from the Makah, summer rather than winter was the season of greatest aggregation. Occupants of the five winter villages made a residential move in early spring to three summer villages (Kiddekubbut, Tatooche Island, and Ahchawat) that were strategically positioned for whaling and halibut fishing, the major economic pursuits of the Makah. Large, permanent multi-family houses stood at both winter and summer residences. The roofs of these houses were specially designed for the air-drying of thinly sliced halibut which, along with whale meat, served as the principle storage resources.

Salmon, codfish, and "cultus" or bastard cod all ranked behind halibut in economic importance (Swan 1869:24). Except for the salmon which were smoke-dryed during "seasons of great plenty", these fish were generally eaten fresh (Swan 1869:24). All of these fish were taken with a hook-and-line technique.

Shellfish were not of great importance and there is not mention of logistic procurement of these involving the establishment of field camps. Large land animals were "seldom hunted" again suggesting limited development of either field camps or locations as a result of this activity. Sea-birds were taken in quantity at times but there is no indication that field camps were involved with the procurement of this resource. Similar conclusions can be reached relative to fur seals, sea lions, porpoises, and a variety of other marine resources exploited by the Makah.

Except for the movements of residence between summer and winter quarters, all mobility strategies employed in resource procurement that are mentioned by Swan were based primarily out of the summer villages and secondarily out of the winter villages. In other words, there is no mention of field camps in Makah settlement—a characteristic which is quite remarkable when the extent of their logistic organization is considered. Makah logistics were largely carried out in watercraft and the distances travelled on the water were impressive. Swan mentions summer fishing on halibut banks located 15-20 mi west from Tatoosh Light. Although he doesn't specifically mention how far whaling expeditions took Makah hunters, even greater distances were probably involved on occasion. The important point to be emphasized here in terms of the "collector" strategy model is that the distances traversed during resource pursuit greatly surpass the typical distances that pedestrian hunter-gatherers travel in a daily foraging radius. Added to the increased efficiency of canoe travel compared to travel on foot, is the saltatory increase in load-carrying capacity of watercraft. On foot, the weight that an average man can carry for distances of several miles is well under 100 pounds (modern backpackers with the finest of packing equipment usually carry packs of less than 70 lbs). By contrast, successful Makah whalers could tow a dead whale weighing many tons over distances that sometimes must have been in excess of 20 miles!

One other aspect of Makah settlement must be mentioned in the context of the present discussion. The Makah had fortresses or redoubts to which they retreated when attacked by unfriendly groups. These redoubts were typically on prominences with restricted and easily defended access. Two such sites are mentioned within Makah territory (on Tatoosh Island and an islet amongst the Flattery Rocks). It is noteworthy that this is a site type that is not recognized in the forager-collector model and one that would not easily be anticipated on the basis of ethnography of non-maritime hunter-gatherers.


Klallam territory extended along the Strait of Juan de Fuca from the Hoko River to Port Discovery Bay. All but one of 13 ethnographically identified Klallam winter villages were located on saltwater (Gunther 1927:177). The single exception was located upriver about 20 miles on the Elwha (Gunther 1927:177). Of the 12 reported villages located on saltwater, several were situated at the mouths of rivers or creeks. Gunther (1927: 186) suggested that Klallam villages were never particularly large. Nineteenth century censuses of Klallam population are highly inconsistent but estimates of their population in the early 1840s range from around 800 to 1500. When this population is distributed among 13 villages, it does seem clear that Klallam villages were smaller on the average than those of the Makah. This contrast is consistent with the general tendency for local group size to vary directly with marine resource dependence along the Northwest Coast and among hunter gatherers generally (Schalk 1978). In other words, Klallam subsistence was probably more riverine and terrestrial in orientation than Makah subsistence.

Considering that the Elwha was probably among the three most productive salmon streams on the Olympic Peninsula, it is puzzling that a more riverine-oriented settlement system like those of the Quinault and Skokomish rivers was not reported for this drainage. There is, in fact, some reason to question the completeness of Gunther's information on Klallam villages. [2] Klallam subsistence was oriented more toward salmon fishing, plant foods and land animal resources than was Makah subsistence.

Gunther reports that "The villages are always situated near some fishing grounds; still most people find it necessary to move several times each year to follow the various runs of salmon or to gather vegetable products (Gunther 1927:195)." Most groups occupied a series of seasonal camps from January or February through October and spent only two or three months in the winter villages (Gunther 1927:214). The groups that moved were composed of a number of families or frequently a whole village (Gunther 1927:212).

In August and September, the occupants of villages between Clallam Bay and Port Townsend made an "extended trip" to Hood Canal for dog salmon (Gunther 1927:195; see also Swindell 1942:136). Huckleberries were also picked at this season and in conjunction with dog salmon fishing. The Dosewallips and Hamma Hamma are identified by Gunther (1927:195) as "favorite spots" but areas as far south as Union and Tahuya are also mentioned. Both are located within Skokomish territory at the south end of Hood Canal and at great distances from Klallam villages. [3] Other fishing camps that were apparently used by certain Klallam groups from Clallam Bay and Pysht included Beecher Bay and Sooke Harbor on the southern end of Vancouver (Gunther 1927:195). Curtis (1912, cited in Gunther 1927:177) suggested that some Klallam also used fishing sites on the southern ends of San Juan and Orcas Island but Gunther's informants could not corroborate this.

Klallam logistic moves involved greater distances traversed during a seasonal economic cycle than for any other Peninsula groups. The reason for such extensive moves seems to be related to the lack of certain runs of salmon in the rivers that drain into the Strait of Juan de Fuca from the northern Peninsula. This conclusion is supported by Gunther's (1927:195) statement that "the people from Hoko River do not go [to Hood Canal] because their own river has every variety of salmon...".

Although quantitative estimates of relative dependence upon various resource classes are lacking, one gets the impression that plant resources were somewhat more important to the Klallam than to most other Peninsula groups. [4] In view of the Olympic rainshadow centered in eastern Klallam territory, edible plant resources must have been especially abundant there relative to all other districts of the Peninsula. Fern root, camas, tiger lily, and "Indian carrot" were exploited in openings in the forest or on prairies. A much longer list of vegetal foods that were eaten includes berries of several varieties, nuts, and various greens (Gunther 1927:197).

Given that the coastal lowlands across the northern Peninsula are generally less than four miles in width, most plant collecting locales were apparently within the daily foraging radius of camps located on saltwater (see also Gunther 1927:196). Gunther does not mention a single inland location where these seasonal camps were established. It seems likely that the locations of the coastal camps from which plants were exploited were often chosen for simultaneous proximity to one or more marine resources and one or more vegetal resources. Specifically mentioned examples include the gathering of salmonberries in proximity to chinook salmon fishing stations (ibid:206), huckleberries in proximity to fall dog fishing stations (ibid:196), blackberries near clam beds (ibid:195), and thimbleberry sprouts near flounder fishing locales (ibid:210). Although plant resources clearly seem to be of greater importance to the Klallam than other Peninsula groups, it is also clear that fish and other marine resources nonetheless constituted the bulk of the diet. In general, it may be argued that Klallam plant collecting activities were largely embedded in seasonal movements that were determined primarily by the distribution of salmon, fish, shellfish, or other marine resources.

Compared to fishing and collecting, hunting by the Klallam is described by Gunther (1927:204) as "least important, economically..." and mostly done at sea. Both land mammal and sea mammal hunting were activities performed by specialists, and individual villages had their own whaler or deer and elk hunter. Unlike Makah and Quileute whaling, the Klallam hunted whales opportunistically—when whales were sighted. Besides whales, porpoise, blackfish, and seal are mentioned as the quarry hunted at sea (Gunther 1927:204). Although details are entirely lacking, the mountain hinterlands of Klallam territory were rarely visited except by hunters (Gunther 1927:204,212). Deer and elk were undoubtedly taken within and beyond the daily foraging radius. That individual hunters established field camps within the logistic zone is implied by the statement that sometimes a hunter was accompanied by his family to assist in the drying and packing of the meat (ibid:204).

Fortresses or redoubts on islands or headlands are not mentioned for the Klallam but their winter villages were surrounded by stockades.

In general, Klallam land use seems unusual for the degree of mobility and the brevity of mid winter village sedentism. However, villages were obviously visited many times during the year as repositories for stored foods:

During the spring, summer, and autumn, families come back to the permanent village occasionally to bring a load of dried salmon or berries and then start out again immediately for new fields (Gunther 1927:214).

Retrieval and storage of various kinds of equipment needed at different seasons was another important reason for periodic visits to villages through the year (see Gunther 1927:186). Such visits imply at least brief occupation and, of course, elderly individuals occupied villages throughout the year (Gunther 1927:195).


This small group apparently occupied a single village at Port Townsend sometime prior to the late 19th century at which time they were "finally defeated by the Klallam" (Gunther 1921:177). Elmendorf (1960:277-8) states that in "the first half of the nineteenth century the Chemakum were a small and continually dwindling community, originally located north of the mouth of Hood Canal....between Port Townsend and Hadlock." According to Elmendorf (1960:296), the Chemakum community was not destroyed by Klallam but by Suquamish during a raid that occurred about 1850.

Twana and Skokomish

The Twana occupied virtually the entire Hood Canal basin (see Figure 4.1). It is estimated that there were less than 1,000 Twana in the mid-1800s and about half of these occupied the valley of the Skokomish River (Elmendorf 1960:2). Elmendorf (1960:1, Map III) recorded a total of 15 original winter villages which he grouped into nine "winter village communities". Seven of the winter villages were located upriver on the Skokomish which is the largest river draining into the Hood Canal; the other eight villages were located on saltwater but near the mouths of rivers or creeks. Many of the Skokomish villages were single households in the early 19th century (Elmendorf 1960:316). A winter village site with multiple households located at the forks of the Skokomish is described as the "principal Skokomish settlement in pre-white times..." and a cemetery near this village was used by all Skokomish (Elmendorf 1960:34).

During the summer, the Twana "followed a dispersive and seminomadic pattern whereby small groups of villagers scattered over a wide territory engaged in food-gathering activities (Elmendorf 1960:3)." Starting in the early spring, Twana dispersed out of their winter villages as single families or small groups to engage for the next 6-8 months in fishing, hunting, and plant collecting (Elmendorf 1960:260). Unlike winter villages, the composition of summer season aggregates was always changing.

Elmendorf (1960:56) ranks Twana food resources in the order of their importance as "fish, sea mammals, molluscs, waterfowl, land game, and vegetable products." He points out, however, the existence of variation and that groups such as the Vance Creek band, an inland group, did not take sea mammals or waterfowl. Salmon are identified as the most important food resource for all Twana (Elmendorf 1960:57) and the focus of the fishery was riverine rather than saltwater. Marine fish taken by the Twana included rock cod, skate, flounder, sole, and even halibut near the entrance to the Hood Canal (ibid:57). These marine fishes, along with sturgeon and smelt were not dried or smoked for delayed consumption by the Twana (ibid:121).

Sea mammal hunting was rather limited with seals and porpoises being the only species regularly hunted (Elmendorf 1960:100). Sea lions were taken on the rare occasions when they wandered into the Canal and whales were only used in an opportunistic sense when beached. Sea mammal hunting, waterfowl hunting and land mammal hunting were all specialist pursuits (Elmendorf 1960:56).

Elk were also hunted communally in the mountains during the fall by groups located on the western side of the Canal. The meat of elk and, to a lesser extent deer was dried for winter consumption. Meat obtained during fall communal elk hunts in the Olympic Mountains was placed in elevated plank caches. Deer were usually hunted by individual bow hunters practicing an intercept technique along game trails but dogs were sometimes used either to trail or drive deer (Elmendorf 1960:92). A single reference is made to a fall elk hunt in the "upper reaches of the south fork of the Skokomish River" (ibid:122). Otherwise details about the locations in the mountains where hunting took place are limited to the following:

There was no clearly expressed village or individual ownership of hunting land. On the other hand, certain inland areas were customarily made use of for hunting only by personnel of a particular community. These were tracts conveniently located in relation to that community's winter-village or summer-camp sites. (Elmendorf 1960:266).

To the west, the limits of Twana territory were the sources of the eastward-running streams and the east side of the Olympic watershed. Some sections of this mountain country were elk-hunting grounds habitually used by certain groups whose winter sites lay on the west side of the main arm of the Canal. Yet such groups (e.g., Skokomish and Dosewallips) sometimes met and camped together in the same mountain locale and even shared these same spots with parties of Quinault from the west side of the watershed, without any question of delimited community or "tribal" territories being involved (Elmendorf 1960:267).

Groups on the Pacific coast of the Olympic Peninsula, such as the Queets, Hoh, and Quileute, were at no great straight-line distance from Twana territory but were separated from it by a rugged mountain barrier without connecting trails. The Twana knew of the existence of these people but rarely if ever in aboriginal times came into direct contact with them. The Quinault were occasionally encountered in the mountains by Twana hunting parties, but in early times relations with them were sporadic and not intimate (Elmendorf 1960:286).

These passages imply that hunting expeditions took Twana hunters up to if not beyond the upper river basin drainage divides. It also seems clear, however, that such trips were rather unusual and that most hunting was done along the flanks of the mountains. Elmendorf (1960:304), uses the phrase "Olympic mountain barrier" in the context of discussing the limited contact with groups on the western Peninsula (1960:304).

Vegetal food resources, though of limited quantitative importance, included fern roots, camas, various roots and berries, acorns, hazelnuts, and pinenuts. Camas, berries and "wild carrots" were collected in "burnt-over areas" south of Skokomish (p.127, 128). Other than these specifically mentioned prairies, there are no other details provided on plant collecting areas that would have required establishment of field camps away from saltwater. In other words, plant exploitation again seems to have largely been embedded in a settlement system in which salmon and marine resources were primary locational determinants. This pattern was already noted for the Klallam.

There were three rather different settlement strategies represented among the Twana. The first strategy is represented by those groups with winter villages located on the Canal and near the mouths of salmon streams. The second is represented by Skokomish groups whose villages were located inland along the largest river of the region but which otherwise spent their summers on the Canal engaged in the same sorts of subsistence activities as the first group. The third strategy was practiced by a single hinterland group known as the Vance Creek Band located on a tributary to the south fork of the Skokomish River (Elmendorf 1960:256). The settlement strategy of this group involved alternation between summer and winter settlements many miles inland from saltwater. Although some marine resources were obtained through trade by the Vance Creek band, this local group did not visit Hood Canal as a part of its subsistence cycle and hunting played a proportionately greater economic role (Elmendorf 1960:256).


A fortunate fact about the ethnographic record pertaining to the Olympic Peninsula is that the gaps notwithstanding, the existing data seem to be representative of a wide range of environmental and cultural variability that existed on the Peninsula. Although there are no ethnographies for the Queets and Hoh, some information on these groups was collected during ethnographic fieldwork among neighboring groups such as the Makah and the Quinault. Fragments of information on the Chemakum are also available in the ethnographies of surrounding groups, but this is the only group on the Olympic Peninsula for which outlines of its land use are beyond reconstruction.

All ethnographically recorded groups of the Peninsula practiced land use systems that would be classified as "collectors" in the sense of Binford (1980). They amassed quantities of stored foods for delayed consumption during seasons of low production and depended heavily upon settlement strategies in which logistic mobility was of considerable importance. The winter village was the focus of the yearly subsistence activities—a hub for all logistic activities. The highly localized character of most of the important food resources available to the Indians of the Olympic Peninsula can not be emphasized too much in the context of understanding the ethnographic land use systems. Even those terrestrial resources such as plants were acquired in "prairie islands" in an otherwise food-scarce sea of conifers. Beyond the sharing of general features such as highly logistic patterns of mobility, however, there is a good deal of important variability that can not be fully accomodated by the generic collector model. This variation occurs both between tribes and within tribes.

The major contrasts in subsistence seems to hinge on the relative importance of salmon versus marine resources. A major subdivision existed between the Makah and all other Peninsula groups in that the Makah were the only group for which salmon was not the principal storage staple. While the Makah used salmon to a limited extent, this use was primarily for immediate consumption; halibut and whale meat served as the primary winter season staples.

Along the more productive salmon-producing rivers of the Peninsula, a riverine settlement system prevailed. Rivers such as the Quinault, Queets, Hoh, Quileute, Elwha, and Skokomish are the larger streams in the region and they offered extensive areas of spawning habitat and high fish run diversity. The ethnographic record shows that winter villages were located along all of these rivers, often as much as 20 mi from saltwater. The Elwha River is reported to have had only one upriver village but whether this was the case in the early nineteenth century and earlier is not so clear.

In those areas of the Peninsula with small salmon streams, villages were distributed in a decidedly non-riverine pattern. Along the leeward coast of the Olympic Peninsula (the southern shoreline of Juan de Fuca Strait and Hood Canal), villages were generally situated in protected saltwater settings. Many of the Twana and Klallam villages could not satisfy their demand for salmon in one stream. Some of these villages were positioned at the mouths of salmon streams, but the taking of salmon often involved travel to more than one stream to intercept different runs as they arrived through the summer and fall. Marine resources were of lesser importance for these groups than for the Makah but, compared to most riverine villagers, more important.

The northwestern portion of the Olympic Peninsula is not endowed with rich salmon rivers. Instead, it is drained by short streams or creeks that only draw tribute from the low hills of this area. These streams and creeks are incapable of supporting either productive or diverse salmon runs. On the other hand, this area of the Peninsula is exceptional in the access it offers to marine resources, especially sea mammal migration routes and offshore fishing grounds. Makah settlement and subsistence strongly reflect these environmental characteristics and it is not surprising that this group was most "anomalous" in the context of other Peninsula tribes. The major distinguishing features of Makah subsistence were the use of resources other than salmon for storage and heavy emphasis upon sea mammal hunting, especially whaling. The Makah settlement strategy was, of course, entirely coastal in terms of positioning but it was unusual in having a pattern of group aggregation in the summer rather than in winter. This pattern, common to the Nootka of Vancouver Island, has its southernmost occurrence on the Northwest Coast with the Makah.

The use of large ocean-going canoes adds a new dimension to hunter-gatherer logistics that is not adequately anticipated in the "collector" model of hunter gatherer land use. The distances travelled at sea from village bases (and the load carrying capacity) greatly exceed the capacities of a pedestrian forager. On foot, hunter-gatherers are ordinarily known to make round-trips of between 10 and 20 km (Lee 1968:35; Williams 1974:27). Round-trip distances traversed by groups of the western Peninsula in pursuit of sea mammals and halibut are estimated at between 32-96 km (Olson 1936; Swan 1869). One estimate is as high as 160 km (Pettitt 1950:8) but even if this is exaggerated, the point is that coastal settlement systems were associated with nearly an order of magnitude increase in logistic capacity. In the case of some of the Klallam villages on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, this logistic potential was used in the exploitation of resource loci (salmon streams on Hood Canal) in excess of 80 km afield. The difference between these Klallam trips and the offshore canoe trips by Makah, Quileute, and Quinault, of course, is that that former were group movements whereas the latter are task group trips staged out of village bases.

There is another important difference between coastal and inland logistics. Unlike travel on rivers which can be easy going downstream but slow going upstream, knowledgeable travellers on saltwater can often synchronize trips with the tides so as to augment paddling speed by the velocity of the tide.

I am suggesting that the spatial scale of logistic mobility is dramatically larger for coastal villages than for riverine villages. Both the distances travelled on a daily basis as well as the distances between seasonally occupied camps appear to be significantly higher for the coastal settlement strategy. This point is considered again in Chapter 7.

In the terms of the "forager-collector" model of hunter gatherer land use, there are interesting points that emerge from the examination of land use among the tribes of the Olympic Peninsula. One of the most salient points is that maritime land use introduces new complexities to processes of site formation. Obviously, activities performed in a canoe at sea would leave little archaeological record under ordinary circumstances. In the case of the Makah sea mammal hunting and offshore fishing, we see hunter-gatherers with a very high degree of logistic mobility whose settlement system includes residential bases, but no field camps, no caches, and few locations. The disparity between Makah settlement and the expectations of the "collector" model are indeed considerable. Interestingly, the regional distribution of archaeological remains in this case conforms more closely to the expectations of the "forager" strategy than with the "collector" strategy. This is so despite the highly logistic character of Makah land use.

Another point is that the distinction between residential bases and field camps becomes blurred in some cases. The mobility patterns described for the Klallam provide a good example of this problem. Groups of families or households moved to a series of seasonal camps over a period of 6-8 months. At each of these camps daily food requirements of the co-resident group were met by immediate consumption of whatever resources were being exploited at that location. In addition, however, a portion of these resources procured was also preserved for delayed consumption. Should these seasonal camps be properly considered residential bases or field camps? In a sense they are both. At some of these sites, most of the food collecting must have been for immediate consumption. This fact would favor calling such sites residential bases. On the other hand, those sites where much of the harvest is processed for winter consumption (e.g. fall dog salmon fishing camps), take on characteristics of field camps. In addition to the ratio of immediate consumption to delayed consumption, group composition, and duration of occupation are two other variables that condition the degree to which a site should approximate a field camp or a residential base. Here again, some difficulties can be recognized in the forager-collector site typology.

In comparing the Quinault and the Klallam, differences in the nature of food collecting group composition were noted. In the Quinault case, there seemed to be emphasis upon individual families going in different directions, procuring somewhat different foods, and then sharing the foods obtained. In the case of the Klallam, there seemed to be greater emphasis upon groups of families or whole villages moving together. One could easily imagine differences in archaeological patterning (e.g. intrasite/inter-household variability) that should result from such organizational differences.

It should be evident that native land use systems of the Olympic Peninsula do not readily conform to a single collector model. That there are many implications for archaeological variability that can be generated from the preceding discussions of ethnographic land use may be less obvious but these implications will be taken up in Chapter 7.


1The time period being described varies somewhat between the different ethnographies. The principle ethnographic work on the Twana refers to about 1850 and this is considered to predate "major acculturative change (Elmendorf 1960:10)."

2It has been noted in other parts of this chapter that Gunther was describing Klallam culture in the late 19th century. Since population reductions were progressive throughout the century and since there was probably a general tendency for upriver villages to be the first abandoned, the seemingly weak development of a riverine settlement pattern on the Elwha may be misleading. Also, it is noteworthy that Mr. Edward Sampson, Sr., a Klallam informant for a recent archaeological project on the lower Elwha, reported that there were "as many as twelve settlements along the Elwha river before the dams were built" (Wesson and Welch 1987:X-23).

3Elmendorf (1960:262;295), however, suggests that Klallam use of Hood Canal fishing sites was a phenomena that developed "in late times." He suggests that increased summer and fall use of Hood Canal by Klallam "coincided with a marked mid-nineteenth century depopulation of the smaller Twana village communities on the west side of the canal, such as those of Duckabush and Dosewallips (1960:295)."

4Other factors may at least partially account for the appearance of slightly greater plant dependence for Klallam than other Peninsula groups. It has been pointed out frequently that the ethnographic record is biased towards male subsistence activities because most ethnographers were males (e.g. Elmendorf 1960:8). Since fishing and hunting are typically male activities and plant collecting is commonly a female activity, the importance of vegetal foods may have been underestimated for many groups of the ethnographic record. In the case of the Olympic Peninsula region, however, the Klallam Ethnography is unusual for having been written by a female ethnographer. The fact that ethnobotany was of particular research interest to Erna Gunther is at least equally important in this regard.

<<< Previous <<< Contents>>> Next >>>

Last Updated: 16-Nov-2009