Ancient Settlements on the Harrison River: A Salishan Gateway Between two Regions

  • Adrian Sanders University of Victoria
  • Morgan Ritchie Simon Fraser University


This article documents nearly three years of investigations concerned with locating, mapping, and analyzing the spatial configuration of residential pithouse and plankhouse features in Chehalis territory. We propose that the Chehalis people organized their houses and settlements along a four kilometer stretch of the Harrison River in order to control socio-economic activities occurring within their territory. We provide theories borrowed from the disciplines of human ecology and cultural ecology and document ethnohistoric, ethnographic, and oral historical evidence to show that the Chehalis occupied a key locale on the Harrison-Lillooet interaction corridor. The Chehalis’ role in this trade and navigation corridor linking the coast and interior was that of economic middlemen.

Author Biographies

Adrian Sanders, University of Victoria
ADRIAN SANDERS began graduate school at the University of Victoria in 2006 where he has been working on his Masters degree in anthropology researching Holocene archaeology in Northeast Haida Gwaii. Inspired by friendships and research experiences acquired in Chehalis territory during his undergraduate degree at the University of British Columbia, Adrian has managed to stay connected with these people and places, and plans on remaining involved in both capacities.
Morgan Ritchie, Simon Fraser University
MORGAN RITCHIE is a graduate student of archaeology at Simon Fraser University and has been working with Chehalis for three years. His Masters thesis is an effort to demonstrate Chehalis’ cultural interactions in and with the Harrison River landscape. Morgan is interested in pursuing archaeology in this region both academically and professionally.
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