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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Volume 33, Issue 1, 2013


The Sweetwater Site: Archaeological Recognition of Surf Fishing and Temporary Smelt Camps on the North Coast of California

Beach spawning smelt are a small sh that were mass harvested and dried for storage at temporary summer camps by native Californians north of San Francisco Bay. Despite the importance of smelt in the ethnographic diet, we have much to learn about its prehistoric use. Archaeological recognition of smelt camps can be problematic due to a number of cultural and natural taphonomic processes; the identi cation and ne-grained analysis of roasting pits are one means of associating these otherwise ephemeral sites with smelt shing. Investigations at Sweetwater, a Tolowa sh camp in Del Norte County, included site survey, archival and ethnographic research, and micro-scale analysis of a roasting pit feature, providing us with a snapshot of what people were eating in a temporary camp. The study provides a model for identi cation and salvage of these culturally and scienti cally signi cant places, which are severely threatened by coastal erosion and climate change.

Portable Religious Stone Features from a Ceremonial Complex on San Nicolas Island, California

Two caches of balancing rock features were recently uncovered during archaeological excavations at the Tule Creek site (CA-SNI-25) on San Nicolas Island, California. The features consist of groups of stacked rocks in association with cut red abalone (Haliotis rufescens) shell, ochre, and asphaltum. Feature 1 is made up of a serpentinite disc base and a basalt mid-section overlain by an inverted sandstone bowl. Feature 2 consists of a phallic sandstone pestle capped by a pecked pyramidal granitic top. Radiocarbon dates on associated marine shell suggest the cairns were buried during the fourteenth and fteenth centuries A.D., before the arrival of European immigrants into the region


Great Basin Projectile Point Typology: Still Relevant?

This paper explores the evolution and current practice of Great Basin projectile point typology, with particular reference to the archaeology of the central core of the Intermountain West. Multiscalar perspectives are employed as tools to help to understand the considerable variability, both spatial and temporal, evident here. I examine the distribution of the Northern Side­notched projectile points that track the entrada of foragers into the mountainous central Great Basin. Along with the projectile points of the “short chronology” types, these time diagnostics help us understand the rise and demise of logistical hunting across this area. This paper argues that typological analysis today remains absolutely critical to our understanding of the archaeological record, particularly the interrelationship between the paleoclimatic and human behavioral evidence.


The Chewaucan Cave Cache: A Specialized Tool Kit from Eastern Oregon

The Chewaucan Cave cache, discovered in 1967 by relic collectors digging in eastern Oregon, consists of a large grass bag that contained a number of other textiles and leather, including two Catlow twined baskets, two large folded linear nets, snares, a leather bag, a badger head pouch, other hide and cordage, as well as a decorated basalt maul. One of the nets returned an Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon date of 340±40 B.P. The cache has been noted in previous publications, but has never been fully documented. Because of the well- preserved perishables, and the direct association that the artifacts have with each other as a cache or tool kit, the assemblage is an excellent example of late Archaic hunting and textile technology, with basketry consistent with materials produced historically by the Klamath people.

Pismo Clam (Tivela stultorum) Harvesting on Middle Holocene Santa Rosa Island, California

Pismo clams (tivela stultorum) are relatively common in California’s surf-swept, sandy beaches, and archaeological specimens have been used as proxies for sand beach accretion and El Niño (ENSO) periodicity during the last 10,000 years. Native Americans in coastal southern California harvested Pismo clams throughout the Holocene, but these clams are generally rare in Channel Island archaeological sites. Here we report on human harvesting of Pismo clams at CA-SRI-209, located near Southeast Anchorage on Santa Rosa Island. Excavation of three discrete shell midden deposits produced evidence for intensive harvesting of California mussels (Mytilus californianus) between 5,030 and 4,820 cal B.P., and Pismo clams from about 4,770 to 4,310 cal B.P. Ancient Pismo clam sizes and population data from eastern Santa Rosa Island suggest that people harvested Pismo clams infrequently during the Holocene, with the CA-SRI-209 sample representing a population of similar sized (~83 mm. in height) individuals that fall within the size range of modern Pismo clams measured from the same area today. The timing of intensive Pismo clam harvests on Santa Rosa and adjacent Santa Cruz Island differs from that of the western Santa Barbara coast and hypo- thesized decreases in Middle and Late Holocene ENSO frequencies. Pismo clams are common prey of sea otters (Enhydra lutris), and it is possible that the abundance of Pismo clams in island archaeological assemblages may re ect a dearth of otters in local catchments.

Filling the Gaps: CA-SMI-274, a 10,500-Year-Old Shell Midden on San Miguel Island

Despite dramatic growth in the number of Terminal Pleistocene and Early Holocene sites known from California’s Northern Channel Islands, two substantial chronological gaps have remained for which no early sites had been found—one between ~10,000 and 11,400 cal B.P. and another between ~12,200 and 12,900 cal B.P. These gaps have led some scholars to propose that the Northern Channel Islands may have been abandoned by Paleocoastal peoples for substantial periods, while others have suggested that the number of early sites is too limited San Miguel Island Santa Rosa Island to be con dent that the gaps are not due to sampling or preservation issues. Here we summarize what is known about CA-SMI-274, a San Miguel Island shell midden recently dated to ~10,500 cal B.P. The site lls a portion of the later gap and sheds some light on a previously unknown period in the deep archaeological history of the islands.


Donald K. Grayson: The Great Basin: A Natural Prehistory, Revised and Expanded Edition

Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011, 432 pp., ISBN: 9780520267473, $75.00 (hardcover).

Paul V. Kroskrity (ed.): Telling Stories in the Face of Danger: Language Renewal in Native American Communities

Norman: University of oklahoma Press, 2012, 288 pp., 3 illustrations, 2 maps, $24.95 (paper).


William Michael Mathes

Michael Mathes, well known as an award-winning historian and professor of history, was a many-faceted individual with a variety of talents that endeared him to legions of admirers. An expert in all things Mexican and a specialist in the history of Baja California, Mike was truly bicultural and awlessly bilingual. those who interacted with him, even slightly, never forgot his willingness to help, his valuable suggestions, his ability as a teacher, his talent as a tour guide, and his success as a writer of history. Mike was honored by the government of Mexico in 1985 with the order of the Aztec Eagle and by the government of Spain with the order of Isabel the Catholic in 2005— both for his efforts as a foreigner in promoting the history of those countries.

About Dave: A Memorial to David Allen Fredrickson

David A. Fredrickson died in Walnut Creek on August 28, 2012, at the age of 85. on that day, California archaeology—and the larger anthropological community—lost a most respected, beloved, and in uential senior scholar. Dave was the last living member of the post-World War II crop of students trained in archaeology under Robert F. Heizer at U.C. Berkeley (a group that included Martin Baumhoff, James Bennyhoff, Clement Meighan, Francis Riddell, Clarence Smith, and William Wallace)1 who taught, in uenced students, and shaped the intellectual trajectory of California archaeology into the twenty-first century. Dave left a tremendously rich and varied legacy in archaeology that, combined with his personal characteristics of honesty, personal reserve, kindness, and integrity, made indelible marks on the memories of all who knew him.


The Pursuits of a Museum Collector

Edward Harvey Davis (1862–1951), the narrator of the following popular account, was a proli c collector whose activities on behalf of the Museum of the American Indian/Heye Foundation brought him into contact with many native groups in Southern and Baja California, the Southwest, and northwestern Mexico, and contributed signi cantly to one of the most substantial collections of Native American objects ever assembled. Davis came to California in 1885 and soon settled on an isolated ranch in rural San Diego County. There he began to develop a deep and empathetic interest in his Kumeyaay neighbors that was to eventually culminate in a fascinating career as a wide-ranging museum collector, dedicated photographer, and amateur ethnographer. Most of the ethnographic and archaeological items collected by Davis are now curated at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), which also has about 3,000 of his prints and negatives; another 5,000 or so Davis images are curated at the San Diego History Center (SDHC), which has recently digitized them and made them available for viewing online. The SDHC also has many of Davis’ notebooks, although the bulk of his papers are now at the Cornell University Library (from which they can be obtained in the form of micro lm).

IN MEMORIUM Tanis Thorne

Imre Sutton

Imre Sutton, Professor Emeritus of geography at California State University, Fullerton and a pioneer of indigenous mapping, died of prostate cancer on october 25, 2012. He was 84. He was a teacher and bibliographer, a loving father and husband, an amateur pianist and composer, and an editor and consultant. An energetic and exacting man, he brought his expertise in cartography and environmentalism to bear on Indian policy and law. In the rapidly changing panorama of late twentieth century Indian country, Imre recognized the pivotal importance of Indian land tenure. Imre was nothing less than a visionary to his colleague in Indian Affairs Patrice Kunesh, who has said that Imre “had the sense of changing impulses, particularly around land tenure, the heart and soul of the American Indian identity and history” (personal communication, Dec. 27, 2012).