Researchers from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia has revealed that indigenous First Nations from Alaska to Washington State were skilled marine farmers, using sophisticated cultivation techniques to intensify shellfish production long before the arrival of any European settlers.
This discovery upsets decades of archeological interpretation that defined Native Americans as only game hunters and wild food gatherers. This particular view justified a long prevailing myth that white settlers were more entitled to land ownership because they would “use” the land as the indigenous native population “did not.”
Nothing, thanks to recent research we now know, could be further from the truth. Northwest First Nations created hundreds of “Clam Gardens” along the shoreline from Alaska to California.
Each ‘sea’ garden was constructed on a carefully selected beach and contained a protective stone wall, low enough that repetitive high tides could top it. Behind the rocky wall was a carefully cleared beach, ideally for healthy shellfish growth.
These native communities understood and respected the environment by harvesting only seasonally, leaving the smaller shellfish to continue growing. But their skill as ‘farmers’ did not stop there.
Additional research has shown that berry bushes were trimmed and shaped by Native Americans in order to produce more fruit. Streams were also clearly and then shaped to enable productive fish habitat.
Taylor Shellfish Farms is proud to follow in this conservatory tradition of farming shellfish with respect for the environment yet with recognition for nutritious food available year round. For over 100 years, the Taylor family has worked with both the tides and the times to protect one of the sea’s most delicious ingredients – shellfish.