Salmon Beds Site was a large fishing station locality utilized
by First Nations people over the last 1000 years until the
establishment of reserves in 1885.
The development of the town of Athalmer, B.C. and the
utilization of the riverbank for warehouses and steamship
docks likely had a considerable impact on the river banks
nearest Windermere Lake.
The portion of the site test excavated is the most
intact of the remaining portions of the site. On-going erosion
of the Columbia River continues to degrade the site and it
is probable that considerable portions have already been lost.
square metres of deposit were tested in 1999.
This is a small sample of the total site area.
The test units were dug in the most easily excavated,
less water saturated portions of the site.
Whether these tests are representative of the larger
site is unknown.
investigations in 1999 show that the site resulted from repeated
occupations within the last millenium.
In that time, peoples of the Late Prehistoric Period
utilized the site in fall and winter as a fishing station
for Chinook salmon and hunted white-tailed deer and elk in
the valley bottom. They
may also have hunted bison as well.
However, because of the references to the Ktunaxa crossing
the Rocky Mountains to hunt to bison, there is a possibility
that selected bison bones may have been brought to the Salmon
Beds Site for working into bone tools.
Nonetheless, several recent finds in the broader area
suggest that there was a local bison population in the Upper
Columbia area. Several
bison bones have been identified in local collections and
bison bone is also known from the Wild Horse River Site near
Cranbrook (Blake 1981) and from Idaho (Cannon 1997).
Similarly bison remains have been found at Lake Louise
in the upper Bow Valley (Langemann pers. comm.) and bison
blood has been identified on stone tools in Kootenay National
Park (Heitzmann 1999).
of the World chert was the most commonly used material for
making stone tools.
Other stone types were used in only minor amounts.
Most of the stone tool production at the site consisted
of resharpening or finishing stone tools and resulted in large
numbers of small retouching flakes.
Two exhausted cores, one Top of the World chert and
one black chert indicated that primary manufacturing of tools
was not a major activity at the site.
large amounts of fire broken rock and the smashed bone fragments
indicate that food processing was a major activity at the
site and probably consisted of boiling salmon for oil extraction
and animal bone for marrow extraction.
No processing pits were found suggesting most of the
processing occurred utilizing leather bags or baskets.
bone tools recovered from the site and in particular the bone
points collected from the erosional surfaces in the past indicated
that most of the salmon was obtained by spearing.
Historic references to weirs at or near this location
suggest weirs were likely used to funnel the salmon into a
confined area where they could be speared.
Only one possible net sinker was found suggesting that
netting was not a common fishing technique at this site.
absence of house pits at the Salmon Beds should be seen as
a reflection of the seasonality of use of the site in the
fall and possibly early winter.
As pit houses were utilized in the coldest parts of
the year, their absence at the Salmon Beds should not be taken
as an indicator of possible tribal association.
Winter pit houses are known from elsewhere in the Upper
addition, because of the close proximity to the water table,
it is unlikely that house pits would be excavated on this