Publication Date

December 1993


This monograph is a slightly revised and updated version of my 1993 thesis A Reinterpretation of Some Bay Area Shellmound Sites: A View from the Mortuary Complex from Ca-Ala-329, the Ryan Mound. This study addresses the archaeological assemblages derived from prehistoric site Ca-Ala-329, and applies generated data to pre-existing settlement-subsistence models developed for central California and the San Francisco Bay. When these data failed to conform neatly to the expected pattern of shellmounds-as-villages model, alternative explanations had to be explored. Alternative explanations were developed by critically evaluating the treatment of comparable published archaeological data from other San Francisco Bay shellmounds and sites from the macro-central California culture region. This study also addresses theoretical models in ethnoarchaeology, social, cultural, economic and symbolic anthropology, in order to compare precontact and post-contact Costanoan cultural information to other documented central California prehistoric and ethnographic data. The results from these analyses argue for a reconsideration of extant assumptions about Bay Area prehistory and for a reinterpretation of the function and site formation of the many mound sites that once served as cemeteries for precontact San Francisco Bay Costanoan tribal societies. This publication series is published by the Muwekma Ohlone Tribal Press and it is done so in the spirit of understanding that both the indigenous Native American communities and the Scholarly communities (although not mutually exclusive) can truly benefit from a trust relationship based upon partnership and real respect. Polly Bickel (1981) was one of the first archaeologists within the Bay Area to comment upon such possibilities:

It is time to discard the assumption that Bay area archaeology is the study of extinct peoples. Mission records clearly document the survival of individuals who surely left descendants. A few of these people are active consultants or participants in current anthropological studies, but it is imperative that other potential contributors be sought out. Fulfillment of this mandate of ethics and simple courtesy can only benefit the work undertaken (1981:ix).