Outer Coast Maritime Adaptations in Southern Southeast Alaska: Tlingit or Haida?

Madonna L. Moss


Langdon (1979) characterized Tlingit and Kaigani Haida resource orientations in southeast Alaska as significantly different from one another. He argued that the Kaigani were better adapted to open, offshore waters and focused on halibut, bottomfish, and dog salmon, selecting their villages near good halibut or cod fishing banks. In contrast, the Tlingit selected more protected estuarine locations adjacent to streams with three or four salmon species. Faunal assemblages from Cape Addington Rockshelter and other sites in the outer Prince of Wales Archipelago are used to evaluate Langdon’s portrait of Tlingit and Haida adaptations. These faunal records do not permit identification of ethnicity, nor do they allow us to identify evolutionary change in adaptation or culture. The Cape Addington faunal assemblage is then compared to a suite of Kunghit Haida assemblages to help reveal the limitations of the search for ethnically distinct “adaptations,” at least as reflected in faunal assemblages.

  • Madonna L. Moss, Department of Anthropology, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon, 97403-1218