Vertebrate faunal analysis of the Hiikwis site complex (DfSh-15 and DfSh-16) in Barkley Sound, British Columbia




Westre, Nicole Justine

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The Hiikwis site complex, located in Barkley Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island, consists of two traditional Nuu-chah-nulth village sites: Uukwatis (DfSh-15) and Hiikwis proper (DfSh-16). Uukwatis, the older of the two sites, was occupied from at least 2870 cal BP. It is believed that at some point the main village was moved west up the beach approximately 650 m to Hiikwis proper, which has been dated to at least 1290 cal BP. Both sites appear to have been occupied into the early twentieth century. This thesis represents the first detailed faunal analysis of an inner Barkley Sound site older than 600 years. The faunal assemblage is unique among contemporaneous sites in the region, due in part to a large bird assemblage and the presence of salmon remains throughout all levels of the site complex. Hiikwis does not follow the pattern typically described for Barkley Sound sites, in which salmon was not a significant resource until around 800 cal BP. However, after 900 cal BP, the relative abundance of salmon within the Hiikwis fish assemblage does increase. These results support an established hypothesis that this time period in Barkley Sound was characterized by group amalgamations, increasing populations, shifting territorial boundaries, changes in subsistence practices, and increased defensive strategies and structures. This faunal analysis shows that the Hiikwis site complex was occupied year-round for the majority of its occupation, with a shift to seasonal (winter/spring) occupation represented within the most recent levels of cultural deposits at Hiikwis proper.



archaeology, zooarchaeology, Barkley Sound, Northwest Coast, faunal analysis, salmon, Nuu-chah-nulth, Tseshaht, Hiikwis, subsistence, British Columbia, Vancouver Island, Uukwatis, fauna