History on Display: Fishing Artifact found at Port of Vancouver USA
In 2018, a girdled stone fishing net weight was found at the Port of Vancouver USA’s Terminal 4. Indigenous tribes that lived along the Columbia River harvested seasonal runs of salmon, steelhead, eulachon and other fish species with long seine nets that would have net weights like this one attached. These weights have a distinct groove around the stone that help prevent them from slipping off the seine net.
“At first I thought that the rock had a very unnatural looking groove and shape to it and when I picked it up, I knew immediately that it was an artifact,” said Environmental Specialist Phillip Martello.
When a potential artifact is encountered, port policy is to stop all work and have the port’s consultant, Archaeological Investigations Northwest, Inc. (AINW), investigate the site. The process continues with notifying the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation and Pacific Northwest tribes for consultation on appropriate care and handling of the artifact.
The finding was classified as an inadvertent discovery of an isolated artifact, meaning AINW inspected the location and no other cultural materials or evidence of an archaeological site was observed.
“We want to share this with the public while accurately describing its history and use,” said Environmental Director Patty Boyden. The port reached out to tribes to ensure that the educational information the port will provide with its display accurately represented tribal views.
The port will display the artifact in the front lobby of the administrative office on Lower River Road, which will be available for public viewing during office hours. A description of the net weight and a photograph, courtesy of the Oregon Historical Society, will also be displayed.