Bear Hunting at the Pleistocene/Holocene Transition on the Northern Northwest Coast of North America

Duncan McLaren, Rebecca J. Wigen, Quentin Mackie, Daryl W. Fedje


Recent discoveries on the northern Northwest Coast of North America provide evidence of bear hunting dating to the Pleistocene/Holocene transition. This paper describes the faunal assemblage from the Kilgii Gwaay wet site in southern Haida Gwaii. This assemblage includes a high proportion of remains of black bear. Ethological data, ethnographic sources, and the archaeological record are examined in order to provide an interpretative context for this assemblage and others in this region. The significance of bear hunting, the use of different hunting strategies, the economic utility of bears, bear ceremonialism, and the occurrence of bear bones at other Pleistocene archaeological sites are discussed. Evidence from Kilgii Gwaay suggests that bear hunting at the Pleistocene/Holocene transition on the northern Northwest Coast had both economic and ceremonial significance.

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