The Northwest CASC is co-funding the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community’s efforts to revive climate-resilient clam gardening practices in the Pacific Northwest.
Reviving the Indigenous Practice of Clam Gardening
Native communities have created clam gardens for millennia to support local communities, preserve shellfish populations, and increase the species diversity and ecosystem resilience of coastal areas. The displacement of Tribal communities by colonialism and coastal development led to a decline in traditional clam gardens. However, with funding support from the Northwest CASC and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Swinomish Tribal Community is reviving this cultural practice.
Traditional clam gardens concentrate the amount of shell fragments and minerals in the area, making it easier for clams to build shells. This form of Indigenous aquaculture uses sustainable practices to bolster the production of shellfish while also creating an environment that is resilient to the impacts of climate change. Ocean acidification is a threat to clam populations and reduces the ability of shellfish to build their protective shells. But efforts to revive traditional clam gardens support climate-resilient food systems for Indigenous peoples and allow for ceremonial subsistence practices to be passed on to future generations. This benefits all members of the coastal community.
This work is supported by the NW CASC project, “Clam Gardens: An Indigenous Community-Driven Climate Adaptation Strategy to Manage Aquatic Species and Habitats in the Pacific Northwest”.