Botanical reflections of the encuentro and the Contact Period in southern Marin County, California.
AuthorDuncan, Faith Louise.
Committee ChairLongacre, William A.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractPlant indicator species and longitudinal paleobotanical data were used as independent measures to document the human ecological record of the contact period in southern Marin County, California. These data suggest that archaeological and documentary records are insufficient for examining changes in land management and use during the contact period. Prior to A.D. 1579, Western Miwok peoples had not encountered Europeans face to face. This early phase of the contact period is marked the possible introduction of New World species through passive cultural vectors. Two brief encounters occurred between the Miwok and Europeans between A.D. 1579 and 1775. Introduced and weedy plant species from fossil samples appear to confirm these encuentros and confirm the archeological evidence for intermittent contact during the second phase of the contact period. Modern and fossil pollen samples suggest that the intensity of human disturbance is geographically stratified and related to exploration, procurement, and management of specific resources. Coastal prairie, the redwood forest, and Bay salt marshes were the most affected by the second phase of the contact period. Shifts in vegetation diversity and increases in the numbers of introduced and weedy species were compared between ruderal and undisturbed contexts. These data were used as analogs to monitor the final phase of contact between A.D. 1775 to 1817. Hypotheses derived from ethnohistoric and ethnographic sources that suggest rapid shifts in land management practices and changes in plant representation were corroborated by some pollen data. Specifically, the ecological responses to the suppression of anthropogenic burning, changes in land tenure and parcelization, and the initiation of grazing and logging practices were examined. The cumulative impacts of introduced plants, shifts in land management from Miwok to Euroamerican-dominated resource procurement and subsistence practices, and ecological responses of plant species suggests that the contact period might better be defined on ecological terms rather than by purely material cultural or ethnographic definitions. In southern Marin, paleobotanical data provide a measurable indication of the ecological character of the pre-contact landscape and the cultural processes that effectively altered its character during the contact period.