This presentation is part of the online document Acknowledging Landscapes: Presentations from the National Register Landscape Initiative.
Rick McClure: I’m going to talk about berryfields as archaeological and cultural landscapes, this is something that may be a new concept to folks. First, just to orient you to our location, a long ways from North Dakota, we’re out here in the Pacific Northwest, on this vicinity map you can see Portland, Oregon down there in the left hand corner. The forest lies to the north of the Columbia River. You can see highlighted in yellow there, is the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. We cover about 1.6 million acres in the Southern Cascades of Washington. You can also see Mount Rainier National Park there for orientation.
I just want to mention that our experience with landscapes in the National Register has mainly related to traditional cultural properties rather than archaeological properties. Most recently, we had a listing on the National Register of Mount St. Helens which is known by the Yakama Cowlitz name Lawetlat’la which means “the smoker.” It was listed on the National Register, next slide, September 11th of this past year because of its significance to both the Cowlitz and the Yakama as a landscape feature important to tribal identity, and their understanding of the landscape. That’s our only National Register listed property that’s not an historic building on the forest. We hope in the future to pursue further nominations of landscape features, both as TCPs and hopefully archaeological properties as well.
I want to focus in on primarily one property that is an eligible berryfield property. That’s located on a crest of the Cascades. Another map, another orientation map, again, you can see Portland, Oregon down in the lower left. Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument to the west, and then what we call the Sawtooth Berryfield about 25 miles north of the Columbia River, on the crest of the Cascades, between Mount Adams and the Columbia River.
This is an aerial photograph that shows the vegetation regime that makes up really the heart of this property. The traditional Sahaptin or [inaudible] name for the property is Skis-wa-tum, which is a reference really to this cluster of lakes that you see to the east side of this area. The thing that you should really take note of, when looking at this aerial photograph, is the change from less vegetated to more vegetated areas. You can see that the dense, dark green forest to the left and to the upper right, and then here on the crest of the Cascades you’ve got less vegetation an early seral vegetation regime that is the result of fires.
We have historic records and forestry type records of fire history here, that show there was a major wildfire in the mid-19th century. Native people routinely maintained that vegetation regime to keep it at an early seral state because of the productivity of huckleberries which are one of the sacred foods of the people. I’ll talk more about that in a little bit. If you look close you can see a little dotted line in the center, just north of center there. That is the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail, and it runs centrally right along the crest of the Cascades. This sets right on the Cascade divide.
The property was determined eligible to the National Register in 1998 under three criteria. Criterion A, for its association with the traditional settlement substance round the local Native People; under Criterion C, as a group of sites that may lack individual distinction, but collectively are contributing elements to an archaeological district; then third of course, Criterion D, for information potential.
The property, really its significance is tied to traditional use of this landscape on a seasonal basis for acquisition and processing and preservation of one of the five sacred foods of the local people. Wiwnu in the Sahaptin language is huckleberry. They’re really about four to five species of huckleberry that grow in this area. The target species were two, Vaccinium deliciosum and Vaccinium membranaceum, that were processed by Native people for storage and served as an important source of vitamin C throughout the year.
We have a large collection of historic photographs that were taken by our own version of Edward Curtis, who came up into this area in the 1930s with his cameras and attempted to “document the dying ways of the Native People.” Of course, those traditional ways have not died at all, but he created an incredible record of traditional use in that area and traditional practices. This is one of his photographs from 1937. It shows a family of Klickitat people from the White Salmon River drainage in the area picking berries.
The descendants of some of these same folks that we see in the historic photographs continue each year to hold a First-Foods Ceremony within the boundaries of the National Register eligible property. This is their longhouse which is essentially a pole framework, it’s covered with tule mats in the summer for the First-Foods Ceremony that marks the ripening of the huckleberries and the beginning of the berry picking season for these groups, which include several bands and tribes that are part of the Yakama Nation, the Confederated Bands and Tribes of the Yakama Nation, as well as folks from some other surrounding tribes as well, including the Cowlitz, the Warm Springs, and the Umatilla.
Just another shot of folks at the First-Foods Feast, usually held around the first week of August, sometimes a little later in August, at one of the four designated Indian camps that are also within the boundaries of this historic property.
Archaeologically, one of the interesting things that occur within the property boundaries are archaeological resources related to the processing of huckleberries. In this 1937 photograph, you see a woman, an elder, with a paddle stirring huckleberries that are laid out on a tule mat in front of a low intensity smoldering fire. That helps dry those berries to a raisin like consistency, a raisin like state, so that they’ll preserve well for consumption during other parts of the year. You can see that there’s a downed log there, that’s been set on fire, and that creates part of the, sort of, reflector oven to dry the berries. Keep that historic photograph in mind, as we move to the archaeological record.
Archaeologically we’ve only excavated one of these features. We have about 350 of these features that we have identified, both within and outside of the National Register eligible property. Those are scattered in about 35 to 40 distinct archaeological sites. Some sites contain only a few of these features, other sites, a larger number. This archaeological project was designed to look at the physical structure of one of these processing features to collect botanical samples, radiocarbon samples. We now have a range of radiocarbon dates from these features that show that they’re essentially late prehistoric in age and were also used right up into the historic period. Probably the last time they were used was about 1937, pre-World War II. After World War II, berry processing shifted to canning and ultimately freezing of the berries. But, this was the traditional processing method.
Many of these sites also have evidence of residential structures. What would be commonly termed tipi frames. Probably tipis constructed of tule mats, and then later in historic period, canvas. We have a number of residential features that are rock surrounded, flat compact areas with a central fire heart and associated artifact material with these residential sites. Close to the residential sites are berry processing features, and in some cases, we also have lithic scatters in the same area.
With the 1998 evaluation of this property, I wanted to particularly mention how it was determined eligible under Criterion C. Here’s a quote from the evaluation report. It notes it as an archaeological district containing lithic sites, sites with these berry processing features, and of course residential features as well. The important part of this quote is that they discussed in the evaluation the importance of cultural continuity regarding the traditional activities associated with seasonal round and with berry processing.
We have, of course, continued to document since 1998 additional sites. This is the most recently documented one. This is what I did while I was on furlough from the federal government. That’s my wife in the picture here, and you can see one of the really well defined trenches that signify one of these processing sites.
This past year, it was in the fall of 2013, right before the furlough, we did a multiple property evaluation, through the SHPO of twenty-two of these huckleberry processing sites. In this case, we approached eligibility under Criterion A. They’re also determined eligible under D, but we though A was important as well. We approached it from the standpoint of historic events and patterns. This a quote from that report. You can see the approach that I took in writing this was that we viewed the shift from, in terms of the historic modeling, prehistoric and historic modeling in this area talks about a shift from foraging adaptations to collecting adaptations, and that ultimately the late prehistoric collecting adaptation evolving into the historic pattern, the ethnographic pattern, used by descendant populations today. We saw that shift from collectors to foragers as being an important historic event, and this evidence of intensive resource gathering, intensive resource processing being a manifestation of that historic event. This group of twenty-two properties was determined eligible, in part for that reason.
The last quote mentioned descendant populations. We work very closely with descendant populations, especially the Yakama Nation. This is within the ceded lands under their treaty of 1855. They have a very strong interest in both the archaeology of that area and in the continuing maintenance of the berryfields into the future. Working with them, over the years, we came to understand that they were much more interested in the preservation of the landscape itself, that is the berryfields, than in the individual archaeological sites because the resource, itself, is a cultural resource. The berries, themselves, are a cultural resource. The berryfields are a cultural resource.
They saw that with Forest Service fire prevention methods over the years, that the whole “Smokey Bear mentality” of putting out fires whenever they start and suppressing maintenance fires early on in the history of our agency, that these berryfields were being lost. Natural succession is occurring. The productivity of the berries is going down as tree encroachment increased. They asked the Forest Service to take some action on that.
We also have a strong historic tie to, in terms of our Forest Service relationship, with the Yakama Nation that goes back to 1932, when the tribe came to the Forest Service complaining about encroachment by non-Native People in picking huckleberries in this area. What happened during the Great Depression is a lot of unemployed non Native People flocked to this area for the cash crop and began encroaching on essentially tribal treaty rights in the area. The Forest Service was asked to do something about this. Their solution, the poor supervisor’s solution, was to set aside an exclusive use area for the tribe. You can see that highlighted in the lower left in this slide. The shaded area there is part of the National Register eligible property. It includes an exclusive use area for tribal people. Two years ago, we marked 75 years of cooperation in managing this area together. Management of the historic property has now come to the foreground with the Forest Service and the tribe working together.
Here’s a view, just to give you an idea of what succession has done to the historic vegetation regime, the maintained landscapes, the maintained anthropogenic berryfield landscape. Here’s a view from the 1920s. You can see snags from the old wildfire that stand replacing fire. You can see light vegetation cover. That’s all huckleberry in that picture.
This is what it looks like today in many of these places. The forest fire prevention, on the part of the Forest Service, has resulted in essentially a loss of integrity of the resource. You can see this under story of huckleberries there. The green shrub layer is all huckleberry, but what happens when you get tree encroachment is the productivity of the berries, themselves, go down. You’ll have what appears to be a thriving under story of huckleberry but very little berries. Until you remove those trees, and open the berryfields up to light, you will not get that productivity back. That’s the problem we’re faced with, and that’s the problem that the tribe has brought to us, in terms of maintaining that landscape.
Few years ago, one of our archaeologists, my wife actually, wrote this environmental assessment to launch a restoration project, restoration of that landscape by removing the encroaching vegetation through a series of treatments, some of which were experimental. Treatments including timber harvest, cutting small trees, and fire. We worked very closely with the Yakama Nation in developing the environmental assessment. A whole team of specialists, including silviculturists, ecologists, and timber sale specialists were involved in developing this plan to maintain that landscape.
In 2011, we were actually able to reintroduce maintenance fires to this area. We actually had a record from the National Archives of the last Indian set maintenance fire having occurred exactly 100 years before. The Forest Service attempted to put that out, so that was the end of Native set fires in this area. We were able to reintroduce fire in October, 2011 with the help of Yakama Nation Fire Crew. It was a great day for all of us. We hope to continue maintenance of that environment in keeping with the traditional ways of the Yakama people.
Lastly, the last two slides here, I just want to mention our taking this onto another piece of landscape. This is a project that we’ve just started, that’s on the north end of the forest in the Cowlitz River drainage. We have identified a traditional cultural property of over 7,000 acres in size there. That corresponds to the boundaries of another one of these traditional berryfields used by both the Cowlitz Tribe and the Yakama Nation. We’ve only just begun documentation of this. It hasn’t been determined eligible yet. We need to do some more survey work on boundaries and the integrity of the resource. We do have at least one archaeological site we’ve identified in this area. We’re mainly looking at this landscape, itself, and this boundary you see in red as our property. Our property is a vegetation regime maintained by Native People over time that has, again, diminished in productivity and needs to be restored, much like the Sawtooth one.
These are a couple photos showing that area. The huckleberryfields there. You can see some tree encroachment. We have thinning of the small tress, timber harvest, and burning proposed in this area, and this is in partnership and with funding from the Cowlitz Indian Tribe. That’s it for me, and you can see how we’re attempting to manage landscapes that are National Register eligible and potentially National Register eligible for a certain type of vegetation regime.
Speaker 1: Rick, did you have any public backlash about taking the thinning, harvesting and burning approach?
Rick: Surprisingly none.
Speaker 1: None?
Speaker 1: That’s good!
Rick: No we had…it was pretty much a white hat project. We have a number of groups…collaborative groups that we work with on the forest. They were all very supportive. They represent a wide range of sectors of the public. They were all very positive about this. Our biggest difficulty to date has been the burning schedule. When the conditions are right for burning, we often have restrictions from our state department of ecology on when we can burn and how long we can burn. That’s been our biggest problem in implementing all of this.
Speaker 1: Are those typically scheduled for fall?
Rick: Yes. October, usually around the first week of October.
Speaker 3: And those are air quality concerns?
Barbara: Rick, how big is the…how many acres or square miles is the…is the area?
Rick: Well the last one I showed was just over seven thousand acres, and the Sawtooth Berryfield was a little bit larger. And I can’t give you an exact figure, but I’m thinking it’s around twelve thousand acres total.
The property, the National Register property is actually smaller because we’ve lost a lot of the berryfield in succession had gone to mature forest. We had a reduced size rather than the mid-19th century size for that property. So, the National Register eligible property is a bit smaller.
Barbara Wyatt: So that…that DOE was at least fifteen years ago. Would you…would you re-evaluate it differently today, the boundaries and otherwise?
Rick: Yeah I think we would go larger, and in part, that would be based on the archeology we have found since 1998. It’s all tied together.
Barbara: Well that’s maybe a thought for an actual nomination.
Rick: Yes, it would be a good one.
Speaker 4: Oh, one more question. Did you think that having that property listed as eligible was important to be able to take those actions?
Rick: Having…well it’s not actually listed. Sawtooth Berryfields are determined eligible not listed, and it really…it really doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of difference in terms of the management strategy. You know, we did this environmental assessment for the restoration project, but we could’ve just as easily done a property management plan. And maybe we could still do that; you know, a historic property management plan for the landscape itself.
Susan Dolan: Barbara this is Susan. Rick, if the property that’s been found eligible, would it be nominated as a site?
Rick: Well as a TCP. We could nominate it as a TCP or as archeological district [inaudible].
Alexis Abernathy: This is Alexis. Can I speak in?
Barbara: Sure. Go ahead Alexis.
Alexis: I need to remind you that TCP’s are just another layering of listing. As of right now, TCP’s would just be another layering, so it would go on as a site, and TCP’s would just be another layer.
Barbara: I just wanted to clarify, Alexis, of course, is on the National Register staff. There are other National Register staff who have come into the room with me, and they’re saying “or a district.”
Alexis: [inaudible]…Well yeah it would be a site or a district depending on what it is.
Alexis: As of right now, our Bulletin 38 is now going through an update.
Barbara: Okay. Thank you, Alexis, very much. And so another point came up in the room here…Was that a…was that a consensus DOE or a formal DOE? Do you know?
Rick: It was just through Washington SHPO.
Barbara: Okay. So it was DOE.
Rob: Hey Rick, this is Rob here. Again, great presentation. You mentioned that the Cowlitz are still funding some of the work on Sawtooth.
Rick: No, on the Burley Pole Patch project, the Cowlitz got a Title 2 grant to work on some of the restoration. So that money that they received is actually going toward implementation on the ground, including cutting small trees to open up some of those areas.
Barbara: I have another question. You mentioned the tule mats. Are those made from native vegetation?
Rick: Yeah, tule is a reed kind of similar to cat tails. It’s very light weight and can be woven into these mats that were used for a variety of things; sleeping on, covering dwellings, and then of course, drying the huckleberries.
Barbara: So is that a type of vegetation that is equally revered and protected?
Rick: It’s more of a technological plant. It’s not that revered as a sacred food like huckleberries are. Huckleberries rise to the top of the other sacred foods, being those that people really depend on or are recognized by ceremonies. There’s a whole range of other technological plants that occur across the landscape that don’t have ceremonies associated with them. They’re important but not quite to the same degree.
Barbara Wyatt: Carol Schull has a question.
Carol Schull: As far as analyzing, how you would [inaudible] which areas are significant for the berryfields? Is it all berryfields? What makes you decide which berryfield landscape as you’re analyzing them?
Rick: Carol this is Rick. The easiest way…the more recent berryfields are easier to delineate in terms of their boundaries. What we’ve seen archeologically over time is a fire will create a berryfield. Then that berryfield will be maintained by Native people for a while. And then another event, another fire event, will happen and create another berryfield, and they will move, they will actually shift use of the landscape to another berryfield to take advantage of higher productivity there. So that’s the pattern that kind of happens over time, over decades or centuries. So the easiest ones for us to work with are the ones still being used by Native people. They’re more recent. The older the berryfield gets, Mount Rainier has some great examples of this, Mount Rainier National Park, of berryfields that you just can’t trace on the ground anymore unless you do coring of trees to look at fire history. It’s really tough to determine those boundaries, and people don’t use them anymore. There’s less interest in doing much with them.
Barbara: You have a follow up Carol?
Carol: No I’m just trying to think through how we [evaluate] these kinds of landscapes in the National Register, trying to figure out how to look at this. So what you’re saying is they move around a lot because of natural events.
Rick: Yeah, as a succession, yes. People would move around. Some….it’s hard to say how far back in time the use of one berryfield may go. Usually there’s one large event, one large [span] replacing event, and you can find that date through tree ring dates or radio carbon that establishes the creation of that landscape feature. And then people comeback every few years, every five, ten years and re-burn those areas. So we’ll a record of that archeologically as well and ultimately, historically. So boundaries are easy for these things, for the later ones anyways.
Carol: About that Sawtooth berryfield, just as an example, how….when were those created and when did they begin to be used?
Rick: I think the initial date that our veg people have come up with is in 1842 was the initial fire event and then subsequent maintenance events occurred on up through the time when the Forest Service started putting out fires.
Barbara: Well you might have…I don’t recall that you addressed this, but you may have certain soils, certain slope orientations, certain elevations that are, you know, indicators of, you know regardless of tree growth, where these berryfields could have been at one time.
Rick: Yeah elevation’s a big factor the target species occur within a pretty narrow range, elevation wise. So all of these sites, the archeological sites, cluster elevation wise within a very limited range.
Carol: So what would you say would make one area eligible for the National Register and perhaps another one not, in your judgement?
Rick: I would look at integrity. And that’s a real thorny one, but integrity of landscape. If you can’t see the berryfield anymore, do you still have integrity because of natural succession? If you’ve lost…If the primary contributing factor for eligibility is the integrity of that plant community, the composition, the very composition of that plant community and that composition is gone, is lost, then I would argue that you’ve lost integrity of the resource.
Speaker 1: Is that under Criterion D?
Rick: Oh under D? No. Under A.
Speaker 1: Interpretation of C as well?
Rick: Yeah. Good question. Good question.
Carol: I’m just trying to wrestle myself with this intellectually. Just looking at the land of the United States and how people have used it for a variety of purposes over time and how we somehow relate that to the National Register and what can be accomplished with… what’s eligible based on what’s there now. It’s kind of a challenge.
Rick: Well I see it as pretty analogous to the ranching landscape that was talked about earlier as well as farmsteads, rural agricultural landscapes. It’s really similar to that in many ways because it was a human maintained and manipulated landscape just in the same way agricultural fields would be.
Carol: I’m just trying to figure out how much has to be left that demonstrates the significance in manipulation. Is what I was trying to [inaudible].
Barbara: Well under D, if you can identify it as a, based on environmental conditions as a berryfield, and then you have these processing sites and these gathering sites, and I think you said there was even some home sites. Then Criterion D would apply even if the, I think you’ve said this before, even if the fields are gone but from those environmental factors you knew they were there probably.
Barbara: Is that true?
Rick: Yeah. The archeological component would survive with or without the vegetation, you got that. To a certain extent you can determine boundaries by connecting all those dots, you know?
Barbara: Right. So you have this…the berryfields themselves constitute perhaps the traditional cultural landscape that is…I know we don’t formally use that term, but I’m thinking that’s what it is, even though within that landscape the fields themselves may shift with different fire or other management practices.
Barbara: Does that answer it Carol?
Carol: I’m just pondering all this. The range of things we could run into with that.
Barbara: It is an interesting dilemma.
Nancy Brown: Nancy Brown here. Barbara, let me just follow up on your use of the term traditional cultural landscape. I find it interesting that you’ve picked up on that. It is a term that the Advisory Council has been using as they try to figure out what to do with tribal landscapes, sites of tribal significance. So it does seem to have some positive use and particular descriptor maybe that maybe we haven’t used in the past, but yet seems to fit quite nicely to some of our current discussions.
Barbara: Well it’s certainly something I think we ought to put on the table, Nancy. And by the way, I’ve seen on the Advisor Council website some discussions of this term, for anyone that wants to check it out.