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McLay, Eric Boyd

Grant Type
Dissertation Fieldwork Grant
Insitutional Affiliation
Victoria, U. of
Status
Completed Grant
Approve Date
Project Title
McLay, Eric Boyd, U. of Victoria, Victoria, Canada - To aid research on 'Ancestral Landscapes on the Northwest Coast: Inland Shell Middens, Memory Work and Coast Salish Narratives,' supervised by Dr. Quentin Mackie

ERIC B. McLAY, then a graduate student at University of Victoria, Victoria, Canada, was awarded funding in October 2012 to aid research on 'Ancestral Landscapes of the Northwest Coast: Inland Shell Middens, Memory Work and Coast Salish Narratives,' supervised by Dr. Quentin Mackie. This PhD dissertation fieldwork investigated social memory and depositional practices associated with 'inland shell middens,' a rare, unexamined and increasingly threatened type of archaeological site on the Northwest Coast. Archaeological survey explored site chronologies, stratigraphies, features and practices associated with the deposition of foods and materials at 30 recorded sites in the Southern Gulf Islands, British Columbia. Ethnographic interviews further drew upon dialogues with descendant Coast Salish communities about understandings of their own settlement history. Archaeological evidence supports the argument that these inland shell deposits may be associated with the 'ritualization' of landscape during the Marpole Phase (2550-1500/1000 cal. BP), where past Coast Salish peoples may have engaged in new commemorative performances to connect the living with the ancestral dead, the past and the non-human supernatural world. This interpretation is strengthened by Coast Salish Elders' perspectives, who emphasized the needs and challenges to 'seek privacy' in their past and ongoing spiritual use and relations to the wilderness in the increasingly urban landscape of southwestern British Columbia today.