The Lower Salmon River flows through a landscape rich in Nez Perce history. Their people have been living in this region (including drainages of the Snake, Grande Ronde, Imnaha, and Clearwater watersheds) for over 12,000 years. Stories of the Nez Perce today, reflect their ties to the ancient past, as is also being exposed by the current Lower Salmon River archeological digs.
Interpreting the evidence of this forensic science and relating it to the question of how ancient people lived in the canyons before we came along, is quite ponderous.
What are middens and what do they say about what people ate? Were the same plants, animals and fish present 12,000 years ago, similar to those that are here now? The absence of salmon bone evidence, is not the same as evidence for absence of salmon. What does the geologic evidence (Oasis Effect) tell us about the potential for the presence of anadromous species. Interpreting Rock Art, (potential age, and/or meaning), and other significant primal sites.
Note: recent discoveries of mammoth bones are evidence of what four legged creatures use to roam nearby areas. What part did they play in the life-ways of those humans who ran along beside them? Did there really used to be people over 7 foot tall living in this same area? Was everything of mega size back then? Fact or fiction? Let the forensic evidence reveal a deeper part of the story of historic life in the canyon.
Presented by: Loren Davis
Assist Professor at OSU – Dept. of Anthropology
Probably no other person knows more about the early peoples that lived in the Lower Salmon River Canyon,than Loren. He has spent a life time studying this region.
His dissertation: “The Coevolution of Early Hunter-Gatherer Culture and Riparian Ecosystems in the Southern Columbia River Plateau” (2001) is still of huge impact for cultural resource management. Active “digs” still being conducted in the canyon, will also be just a part of some places of interest that we will visit during our float trip.