Upcoming ASBC Online Lecture
Ancient Indigenous Dogs had a Taste for Seafood
By Dylan Hillis, M.A. Candidate
Lecture Available Online January 26th
Live Q&A over Zoom at 7 pm on November 28th
Check out the poster here: ASBC Online Lecture – January 2021
New archaeological research has shown that Indigenous peoples in coastal British Columbia raised their dogs almost entirely on seafood. Chemical analysis of dog bones and a host of other animals recovered from archaeological sites in the Broken Group Islands, Tseshaht First Nation territory, revealed that dogs were fed large amounts of salmon and forage fish, confirming that seafood was rich and abundant. This study offers the first detailed estimates of food consumption by dogs bred by Indigenous peoples in coastal British Columbia. Salmon, Pacific herring and northern anchovy represented as much as 65% of dietary protein. Data from four sites indicate that dogs appear to have been fed this way for the last 3,000 years in this area. These patterns also aligned with the proportion of animal bones at multiple sites in this coastal archipelago, providing a window into the past abundance of these fisheries and their role in Indigenous communities. In contrast to intensive grain-based agriculture practiced elsewhere in the world, Indigenous communities in coastal British Columbia are best known for their sophisticated marine harvesting and management strategies enabling the accumulation of abundant seafood. This study also reveals that thriving marine fisheries allowed communities to invest heavily in domestic dog husbandry, including breeding a type of small white-haired dog, which was raised for its wool and used in making valuable blankets and regalia.