Paths Across the Pacific Abstracts

Stephen C. Jett

“POLITICAL CORRECTNESS” AND
PRE-COLUMBIAN AMERICAN INFLUENCES ON THE OLD WORLD

Stephen C. Jett
University of California, Davis


Abstract

There have been many reasons for widespread resistance to the notion of pre-Columbian transoceanic interactions, some intellectual, some subjective.  In light of diffusionist scholars’ almost always speaking in terms of Old World influences on New World societies rather than the reverse, critics have contented that diffusionists are racists, who denigrate Native American creativity and who allege that to form their cultures American Indians needed help from more talented folks from overseas.  I provide extensive quotations exemplifying this accusation.  I then raise the question as to what such critics would say about racism if it were shown that considerable Native American inputs to the Old World took place.  In this context, I inventory what look likely to be among such contributions.  These include a long list of economic plants as well as a significant number of cultural usages that seem to have originated in the Americas and to have been transferred to Eastern Hemisphere societies.  My overall conclusion is that the truth of what happened in history is not altered by perceived cultural insults or plaudits.

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Richard T. Callaghan

CROSSING TWO OCEANS: THE CHRONOLOGY AND PATHWAYS OF THE MALAYO-POLYNESIAN EXPANSION
Richard T. Callaghan
Dept. of Anthropology and Archaeology University of Calgary


Abstract

The expansion of the Malayo-Polynesian languages across both the Indian and Pacific Oceans is one of the most remarkable feats of seafaring in pre-industrial times. People originating in Southeast Asia speaking closely related languages spread to the north as far as Taiwan and Hawaii, to the south as far as New Zealand and nearby islands, to the east as far as Easter Island, and to the west to Madagascar, the Comoros, and East Africa. The west-to-east distribution covers over 60% of the circumference of the Earth, and there is evidence that voyagers reached east to the coasts of North and South America. The north-to-south distribution covers 65o of latitude or about 18% of the Earth’s circumference. It includes expansion into Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. Expansion was at times rapid and at others slow, taking roughly 4500 years. The chronology and pathways of the expansion are examined here, using archaeology, linguistics, and seafaring simulations.

Susan Kieffer

THE DYNAMICS OF DISASTERS
Susan Kieffer
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Abstract

The historian Will Durant said that “civilization exists by geologic consent, subject to change without notice.” Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, tsunamis and rogue waves, severe weather, floods, droughts, cyclones, and wildfires cause great human misery and combined to cost the world over $300 billion dollars in 2017. Understanding the basic science of these events is imperative for policy makers so that they can produce informed decisions, and for individual citizens so that they know their risks and can act to keep themselves, their families and their communities safe.  In my book “The Dynamics of Disaster” (Norton Press, 2013), I discuss the science that underlies many of these disasters: the fact that the earth has an enormous reservoir of stored energy that it lets loose both slowly and episodically.  In this talk, I’ll highlight three hazards of relevance to Alaskans: earthquakes, landslides, and volcanic eruptions.   The format will be “science-light” and anecdotal.

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Duncan McLaren / Gitla (Elroy White)

SEARCHING FOR EVIDENCE OF LATE PLEISTOCENE HUMAN OCCUPATION ALONG THE WESTERN MARGIN OF THE CORDILLERAN ICE SHEET
Duncan McLaren and Gitla (Elroy White)
Assistant Professor Archaeology, Department of Anthropology, University of Victoria BC Canada
Central Coast Archaeology, Bella Bella Village BC Canada


Abstract
Paleo-environmental records point to ice free conditions in different areas, at different times, over the last 20,000 years along the western margin of the Cordilleran Ice Sheet where it met the Pacific Ocean. The evidence for late Pleistocene human occupation of these glacial refugia between 14,000 and 13,000 years cal BP includes a cache of flake tools, a slain Mastodon and human footprints. Archaeological discoveries dating between 13,000 and 11,500 years cal BP include hunting weapons found in associated with ancient bear dens and lithic scatters associated with lakeside resource usage. Many of the areas where these early archaeological records have been found could only have been use and occupied by people employing watercraft. This presentation will review the quality of evidence for the late Pleistocene human occupation of the region. A consideration of future steps, targets and methods in this line of investigation will also be discussed. In addition to archaeological and paleo-environmental records, we reflect upon Northwest Coast Indigenous oral histories that refer to a time when trees were absent, and ice covered most of the land.

Mike Moloney

HISTORY OF SEAFARING IN THE NORTHWEST PASSAGE
Mike Moloney
Arctic Institute of North America, University of Calgary, Canada


Abstract

Exploration for a navigable route through what is now the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, has been a point of fascination for centuries. Early explorers adapted bomb-vessels, ill-suited for the journey, to ply the Arctic waters in search of a Northwest Passage connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Later explorers fostered innovations in ship construction to create vessels designed specifically for Arctic travel and overwintering. Combined with Inuit traditional knowledge, these successful voyages changed the landscape of the Arctic and generated cultural revolutions among its people. Today, these northern waters are travelled by research vessels, personal yachts, and cruise ships, the impacts of which are varied throughout the North. This paper surveys the history of seafaring through the Northwest Passage and offers insights on the modern implications of Arctic oceanic travel.

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Damion Sailors

MAPPING ISLAND MOKA:
ASSESSING THE SPATIAL PATTERNS OF CUSTOMARY FISHING WEIRS IN THE FIJI ISLAND GROUP

Damion Sailors
Anthropology Department, University of Oregon
dsailors@uoregon.edu

Abstract

Customary Fijian fishing weirs, known locally as moka, are an archaeological feature type that can be readily identified due to their large size, uniform shape, and conspicuous location on the tidal flats and shorelines of both high and low islands. Recent advances in remote sensing technology have allowed for an improved survey of Fijian fishing weirs adding to the existing inventory and informing upon early settlement patterns in the Fiji Island group. While moka do not play a major part in the local economy today, they likely served a significant role in early Fijian subsistence and knowledge of this customary practice is valuable to current socioenvironmental studies. This paper will discuss the preliminary results of an archaeological investigation that utilized satellite imagery and kite aerial photography, along with pedestrian survey, to map 683 customary fishing weirs on 79 Fijian islands. The spatial configurations and physical characteristics of these fishing weirs have been documented and are being explored statistically at the regional and island scale as part of a doctoral thesis to better understand Pacific Island settlement patterns as they might apply to cultural adaptation, social complexity, and human evolution in an island-coastal setting.

Keywords: Fishing weirs, Settlement Patterning, Remote Sensing, Marine Subsistence

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Anne Pollnow

Kanat’a Xoo (Weir Across from Blueberry Island):  A Unique and Unexplained Ancient Fishing Site in Sheet’ká Kwáan Territory of Southeast Alaska

Anne E. Pollnow
Cultural Resource Specialist, Sea Level Consulting, Sitka, Alaska, anne@sealevelsitka.com

Abstract

Much work has been done to catalog and study intertidal fishing structures along the North Pacific coast of the Alexander Archipelago in Southeast Alaska.  However, one structure, on the outer coast of Baranof Island in the Sheet’ká Kwáan territory of Southeast Alaska, stands out as unique in construction and its purpose is yet to be determined.  This presentation will review ethnographic and archaeological evidence from around the Pacific Northwest Coast that may give us clues as to its function.  Knowing the use of this structure will lead us to a better understanding of precontact occupational stability and the extent and proliferation of fishing and maricultural structures in Southeast Alaska.  While salmon were a significant resource for the indigenous people of the area, academic studies have placed a weight of importance on them as a target species.  New reflections on previously identified archaeological finds, along with a greater application of the ethnographic record, lead us to consider other species, such as herring and clams, as the potential purpose for this intertidal structure. This presentation will reflect upon ancient fishing and maricultural structure discoveries within the intertidal zone; discussions will assess their natural landscape, the morphology of these built environments, archaeological evidence and research, and oral history verification to identify the target-species of this intertidal structures.