Through the Clam Garden Network, people from diverse communities are coming together to address a range of questions about clam gardens. This has involved braiding Indigenous knowledge with that of western science. By learning from knowledge holders and collating ethnographic records, including names for clam gardens, we have learned much about clam ecology, harvesting, cultivation, and systems of tenure. In fact, the importance of clams today as well as in the past to Indigenous food security and sovereignty, governance, and social systems, is the motivation for much of the current clam garden explorations.
Western science brings a range of techniques the study of clam gardens. Archaeologists together with paleoecologists, and mapping experts, have addressed questions about clam garden age, the distribution of gardens, their past productivity, and their role in past social systems. By conducting ecological surveys and experiments, ecologists bring to the discussion an understanding of the diverse and productive ecosystems created by clam gardens. By listening and learning from each other, we better honor the ancestral knowledge embedded in clam gardens and provide the foundation for carrying this knowledge forward today.
Inter-generational Knowledge Sharing
Heiltsuk knowledge holder Ron Martin Sr. digging clams on northern Hunter Island, near Bella Bella, BC.
Tla’amin Elder Les Adams sharing clam knowledge with geomorphologist John Harper and marine ecologists Kirsten Rowell and Anne Salomon.
Louie Wilson, archaeologist from We Wai Kai First Nation, digging a trench in a clam garden terrace on Quadra Island.
Kwakwaka’wakw Clan Chief Kwaxsistalla Wathl’thla (Adam Dick) sharing his knowledge of clam ecology with ethnobotanist Dr. Nancy Turner on a clam garden in the Broughton Archipelago that Kwaxsistalla helped build when he was young.