Archaeology Magazine

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First Nation Clam Gardens Boost Harvests

Friday, March 21, 2014

Canadian-Clam-GardenBRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA—Amy Groesbeck has led a multidisciplinary team of researchers from Simon Fraser University and the University of Washington in an investigation of ancient clam gardens in the Pacific Northwest. Constructed by coastal First Nations peoples over the past several thousand years, the gardens consist of a flattened tidal slope enriched with ground clam shell and pebbles that is protected by stone walls. The team also collaborated with indigenous knowledge holders from the Tla’amin First Nationan and Laich-kwil-tach Treaty Society to learn how the gardens were used. They placed baby clams in the clam gardens and in unprotected beaches and found that clam gardens dramatically increase the survival, growth rate, and size of butter clams and littlenecks. “One of the reasons this study is so compelling is that it combines First Nations knowledge with the tools of archaeology and ecology,” archaeologist Dana Lepofsky of Simon Fraser University told SFU News Online.