Skip to main content
Exploring Ecodynamics of Coastal Foragers Using Integrated Faunal Records from Čḯxwicən Village (Strait of Juan de Fuca, Washington, U.S.A.)
Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports
  • Virginia L. Butler
  • Sarah K. Campbell, Western Washington University
  • Kristine M. Bovy
  • Michael A. Etnier, Western Washington University
Document Type
Publication Date
  • Northwest Coast archaeology,
  • Human ecodynamics,
  • Coastal foragers,
  • Resilience,
  • Tsunamis,
  • Households,
  • Zooarchaeology,
  • Agency

Extensive 2004 excavation of Čḯxwicən (pronounced ch-WHEET-son), traditional home of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe in northwest Washington State, U.S.A., documented human occupation spanning the last 2700 years with fine geo-stratigraphic control and 102 radiocarbon samples. Remains of multiple plankhouses were documented. Occupation spans large-magnitude earthquakes, periods of climate change, and change in nearshore habitat. Our project began in 2012 as a case study to explore the value of human ecodynamics in explaining change and stability in human-animal relationships on the Northwest Coast through analysis of faunal and geo-archaeological records. Field sampling was explicitly designed to allow for integration of all faunal classes (birds, fish, mammals, and invertebrates), thus facilitating our ability to track how different taxa were affected by external factors and cultural processes. With over one million specimens, the faunal assemblage represents one of the largest on the North Pacific Coast. Invertebrate records reveal striking changes in intertidal habitat that are linked to the formation of the sheltered harbor and catastrophic events such as tsunamis. Analysis suggests a high level of consistency in the structure of resource use (evenness and richness) across 2150 years of occupation, despite increase in intensity of human use and a shift to plankhouse occupation. Trends in fish and invertebrate representation do not correspond to changing ocean conditions, while changes in abundance of herring, salmon, burrowing bivalves and urchins are consistent with impacts from tsunamis. Comparison of resource use between two well-sampled houses before and after one tsunami suggests that while both households were resilient, they negotiated the event in different ways.

Subjects - Topical (LCSH)
Excavations (Archaeological)--Washington (State)--Port Angeles; Coastal archaeology--Washington (State)--Port Angeles; Clallam Indians--Washington (State)--Port Angeles; Human-animal relationships--Washington (State)--Port Angeles; Food animals--Washington (State)--Port Angeles
Geographic Coverage
Tse-whit-zen Village Site (Wash.)
Copying of this document in whole or in part is allowable only for scholarly purposes. It is understood, however, that any copying or publication of this document for commercial purposes, or for financial gain, shall not be allowed without the author’s written permission.
Creative Commons License
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0
Citation Information
Virginia L. Butler, Sarah K. Campbell, Kristine M. Bovy and Michael A. Etnier. "Exploring Ecodynamics of Coastal Foragers Using Integrated Faunal Records from Čḯxwicən Village (Strait of Juan de Fuca, Washington, U.S.A.)" Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports Vol. 23 (2019) p. 1143 - 1167
Available at: