Clam Gardens
It is only relatively recently
that archaeologists recognized what Coastal First Nations have always known: we cultivated our clams in a variety of ways to ensure sustained and large harvests. The huge shell middens that dot our territory, including on Hunter Island, are evidence of our ability to manage our clams sustainably and to feed a large pre-contact human population. We cultivated our clams in a variety of ways, including tilling, and size selection, and by creating and enhancing clam habitat in what is now known as “clam gardens”.
Clam gardens are rock-walled terraces that our ancestors built at the lowest low tide to increase the particular tidal zone in which clams thrive. By creating a terrace at a particular place above sea level, sediment could accumulate behind the rock walls and then clams could flourish. Along northern Hunter, we have many such clam gardens, several of which were built on bedrock. That is, these beaches, which today support an abundance of clams, were entirely created by our ancestors. Archaeologists have not been able to date the clam gardens in our territory, but based on work elsewhere on the coast, they could be several thousands of years old. Interestingly, most of the clam gardens in Húy̓at are not located in central Húy̓at – where the majority of people lived. People in central Húy̓at almost certainly held the rights to harvest clams from these other bays.
Hunting for Old Barnacles
Hunting for Old Barnacles