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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Fish Remains as Indicators of Changes in Environment, Technology, and Sociopolitical Organization on Santa Cruz Island

  • Author(s):  Gusick,  Amy E.;
  •  Glassow,  Michael G.;
  •  Paige,  Peter F.
  • et al.

Subsistence strategies of the hunter-gatherer-fishers who inhabited the Northern Channel Islands have included fishingsince at least 9,000 B.P. While there has been a steady increase of fish meat to the diet over this extended time period, there was a pronounced increase identified during the Middle and Late periods (2,600 – 200 B.P.). This increase occurred during a time of significant technological innovation, marked population growth, and expansive environmental stress. Recent data collected from numerous sites across the Northern Channel Islands have been critical in understanding the behavioral response to the significant environmental stress and cultural changes characteristic of the transition from the Middle Period to the Late Period on the Islands. We contribute to this growing body of data with an analysis of fish remains from CA-SCRI-195, a well-preserved site deposit on Santa Cruz Island that spans a 1,500-year time period inclusive of the Middle and Late periods. The data from CA-SCRI-195 suggest that evidence of environmental variation, technological development, and changes in sociopolitical organization can all be identified in the data and all uniquely contributed to subsistence changes identified at the site. The patterns of distribution and the trends apparent in the identified fish remains from this study are an important contribution to the larger goal of understanding developments in economic and sociopolitical organization on the Northern Channel Islands.

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