The Holocene History of Fish and Fisheries of the Upper Klamath Basin, Oregon
Historical and ethnographic records and ongoing cultural traditions highlight the importance of fishing to native peoples of the Upper Klamath Basin. Previous researchers have discussed the importance of fish to past people in the basin, but a systematic review of taxa and their abundance through time had not been closely considered until our study. We analyzed over 15,000 fish remains from six sites located above Upper Klamath Lake and obtained 11 new radiocarbon dates, which—in conjunction with previous records—suggest the fishery extends to ~5,300 cal B.P. Three fish families are represented in most time periods—suckers (Catostomidae), minnows (Cyprinidae), and salmon/trout (Salmonidae)—but suckers dominate. Their prominence, particularly large-bodied forms, is consistent with foraging models that rank this fish highly. Distinctive patterns in body-part representation are argued to reflect butchery linked to storage, rather than postdepositional destruction. The Holocene fish records suggest long-term stability in fishing practices.