Conflict on the Northern Northwest Coast

2, 000 Years Plus of Bioarchaeological Evidence

Authored by: Jerome S. Cybulski

The Routledge Handbook of the Bioarchaeology of Human Conflict

Print publication date:  November  2013
Online publication date:  December  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415842198
eBook ISBN: 9781315883366
Adobe ISBN: 9781134677979


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Shell-midden burial grounds and ancient human remains in the Prince Rupert Harbour region of northern British Columbia, Canada, give insight to the antiquity, persistence and intensity of conflict that is ethnographic legend for the Native American Northwest Coast. The data from eight archaeological sites and 282 individuals include distinctive types and patterns of skeletal injuries, a decapitation complex at one of the sites and possible occurrences at another, evidence for trophy-taking, and possible human skeletal evidence of ritual preparation for battle. A skewed demographic profile in favour of adult males may provide evidence for slave-taking, a major motivation for warfare on the Northwest Coast and a frequent consequence regardless of motivation.

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