Tse-whit-zen Village archaeological site and what findings tell us about environment and community

At 7:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 28, a team of archaeologists will present findings from their challenging and fascinating work with the Tse-whit-zen village site, excavated in 2004 on the Port Angeles waterfront.  The presentation will provide a captivating look into ancient diet and  how the Tribal village and the animal communities they  depended on  survived and thrived through many environmental changes of this dynamic nearshore and coastline.

Presentations will highlight the broad diversity of resources — the fishes, shellfish, birds, and mammals-used, and give intriguing and important insights into  the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, a  strong and complex community of people who built houses and lived there, and continue today as a critical cornerstone of the region. The work also reveals the dynamic nature of the local nearshore and coastal environment.

The archaeological work reveals how animal resources at the site changed in response to earthquakes and other changes reinforces our own relationship to the Port Angeles environment now, and in the future.  Presenters will make connections to the current stewardship of our environment, which is both fragile and resilient, a lesson recently brought home by the immediate return of salmon and forage fish to the Elwha River and intact nearshore ecosystem after dam removal.  All with a reflection on future conservation of our critical and challenged coastal ecosystems.

The event is free, and open to the public. The presentation is a collaboration between with Portland State University, Western Washington University, the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe and the Coastal Watershed Institute.

The presenters are excited to bring to the Port Angeles community results from the large, controversial archaeological project. Partnerships between specialists, tribal members and community members enhance what we all can gain, in different ways, from this ancient heritage that was disturbed, studied and also preserved.

More about the site:

In August of 2003, artifacts and human remains were found at the village site called č̕ixʷícən, located at the base of Ediz Hook in Port Angeles, Washington. The site is the largest pre-European contact village site excavated in Washington State.

Nestled in the crook of what is now Port Angeles Harbor, the village of Tse-whit-zen (pronounced ch-WHEET-son) flourished for over 2,700 years. The ancient village was one of many in the Klallam territory, which stretched from the Hoko River on the Strait of Juan de Fuca into the Hood Canal. The earliest confirmed settlement at the village site dates back to 750 B.C. — approximately the same time Rome was founded.

The site was found after being buried for 100 years, while construction took place to build parts for the Hood Canal Bridge. During this time construction stopped and the Department of Transportation met with the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe. Together they came up with a place to remove the artifacts and human remains so that construction could continue. In March of 2004 an agreement and plan was signed.

Construction and the removal of artifacts and human remains began in April of 2004. Eight months later, in December of 2004, all construction stopped. Although there were over 100 archeologists and tribal members working together, there were still numerous human remains and artifacts to be recovered. There were a total of 335 human remains and over 100,000 artifacts recovered. It is well recorded in historic documents that this area was a Klallam village site. Over a period of 60 years there were many mills built that desecrated the village site, but also preserved the site because when the mills were built, they covered the ground with 15 to 30 feet of back fill.

Visit www.elwha.org to learn more about the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe.

Article courtesy: Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, by Jamie Valadez and Carmen Watson-Charles. Additional facts Brenda Francis, Communications Manager.