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Inside the clam gardens, a source of coastal sustenance

In the following story, Kwakwaka’wakw Clan Chief Adam Dick, known by his traditional name Kwaxsistalla, travels back to the clam gardens off the eastern coast of Vancouver Island, where his grandparents raised food and passed down a huge body of traditional ecological knowledge.

Clam gardening was a form of aquaculture practiced by Native people on the coast of what is today British Columbia. The gardens were a key source of sustenance and also a hedge against inevitable fluctuations in regional salmon runs. In the following story, Kwakwaka’wakw Clan Chief Adam Dick, known by his traditional name Kwaxsistalla, travels back to the clam gardens off the eastern coast of Vancouver Island, where his grandparents raised food and passed down a huge body of traditional ecological knowledge. The journey here is a journey into the living reaches of Kwaxsistalla’s knowledge.  He is a 2011 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award honoree; his partner, Kim Recalma‐Clutesi, was the top awardee in 2010.

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Kwaxsistalla in the clam gardens. Photo by Nancy Turner.
Kwaxsistalla in the clam gardens. Photo by Nancy Turner.