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Current Research and Projects

Since 1987 I have been conducting research on the Household Archaeology of the complex hunter-gatherers of the Wapato Valley (aka Portland Basin ). The basis of the work has been excavations at two sites: The Meier Site (35CO5) and Cathlapotle (45CL1). Research has recently been extended to the Clahclellah site in the Columbia Gorge. All three sites contain the remains of plankhouses. The research has focused on:

•  Household organization: The ethnohistoric record indicates that like the rest of the Northwest Coast the region's Chinkoon peoples had elites. One research goal has been whether we can detect their presence. Our results are mixed.

•  Household production: Our research has focused heavily on the organization of economic production including subsistence, the possibility of specialization.

•  Regional interaction and trade. A central element in this research has been sourcing large samples of obsidian.

•  Site formation processes resulting from the construction, occupation and abandonment of these large post and beam structures. In all of these analyses we've had the benefit of very large artifact assemblages. They do, however, also impose their own special problems that we have to grapple with.


Our research also examines the role played by the region's native peoples in the maritime fur trade of the late 18 th and early 19 th century. Meier and Cathlapotle were occupied between ca. AD 1400 and AD 1835; Cathlapotle was visited and described by Lewis and Clark and played an important role in the fur trade on the Lower Columbia River . This aspect of the research has been expanded to include the McGowan/Station Camp site on the Columbia River estuary, which appears to be a fur-trade era native site.


The results of this research are currently available through preliminary excavation reports and an extensive list of MA theses and dissertations. We have also produced a volume on the Household Archaeology of the Northwest Coast .


In addition to this, I am working on a comparative analysis of the evolution of complex hunter-gatherers in several of the world's regions to test current theories. This work framed by cultural evolutionary theory. A preliminary example of this work is available.


I am also working to tie up one massive loose end: the final excavation report for the Hatwai site which I directed in the mid-1970s (yes, that long ago). No excuses beyond life.


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Last Updated March 26, 2009