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Slaves, Chiefs and Labour on the Northern Northwest Coast
World Archaeology (2001)
  • Kenneth M. Ames, Portland State University
Northwest Coast societies, at the beginning of the Modern period, were stratified. The coast's élite wielded power over a class of slaves whose labour produced at least some of the wealth upon which high status depended. While it is possible to trace the development of an élite on the northern Northwest Coast back 3000 calendar years, if not more, documenting the presence of slavery has proven far more intractable. Understanding the evolution of slavery is dependent on our understanding of the archaeology of élite formation, labour, warfare and gender. Three key lines of evidence for slavery are burial practices, evidence of warfare and raiding and evidence about changing labour demands. Slavery plausibly developed during either of two periods: c 1500–500 BC or c. AD 500–1000. The data at present do not allow us to eliminate either. Each has interesting implications for our understanding of the evolution of stratification.
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Citation Information
Kenneth M. Ames (2001) Slaves, chiefs and labour on the northern Northwest Coast, World Archaeology, 33:1, 1-17, DOI: 10.1080/00438240120047591