Legend tells us first peoples of the Northwest Coast cultivated shellfish. To explore this further and to consider current shellfish farming and our future, Oudette Auger speaks with Judith Williams, author of “Clam Gardens.”
Episode #8: Clam Gardens
Mink was unhappy. The tide would not go down to the level of his food. He stole wolf’s tale and held it to the fire.
Wolf called out, ‘Hey, stop that! What do you want?’
Mink called out, “I want the tide to go down further.’
“Okay,” said Wolf, “I’ll make it go down to the barnacles.”
Mink was not satisfied and held the tale closer to the fire.
“Okay, okay,” said Wolf, “Ill make it go down to where the cockles grow.”
“No way,” Mink said, “I want it to go down to the clam beach.”
He held wolf’s tale right in the middle of the fire.
“Owwww!!!” yelled Wolf and he made the tide go down to the lowest level of the beach where the clam gardens were built.
“It’s interesting to go back a little bit to how these things came to my attention. I was told to go and look at these structures by Elizabeth Harry, who is a Klahoose woman. We had worked on a couple of other things, sharing information, so I did know her. And one day she just said you should go up to Wyatt Bay on Quadra Island and look at these structures that we built for raising butter clams. She was very specific and showed me where to go. I did go up there. She warned me I could only see them at a very low tide and that is a factor in why these things were not known before. They were not known to archaeologists or anthropologists prior to the work that I did, and Dr John Harper did.” - Judith Williams