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Dentalia Shells
These thin, tubular mollusks formed the currency of commerce throughout the Pacific Northwest as long as 3000 years ago. Pre-European civilization is often considered a barter economy, with, for instance, coastal tribes swapping oolichan grease directly for prized Oregon obsidian. Commodity traders, however, could rely on this wampum to close a transaction when interest in the goods was decidedly one-sided. Called hykwa in Chinook jargon, dentalia shells possessed all the necessary attributes of money, being portable, recognizable and durable but rare and desirable enough to foster trade. Being available in a variety of sizes, the tusk-like shells were even divisible into small change. Professional traders are known to have tattooed measuring lines on their forearms as a handy calculator of individual shell values. Only a handful of groups, including the Nuu-chah-nulth in the vicinity of Tofino, possessed dentalia in quantities sufficient enough to make them wealthy. Harvesting the deep water mollusks was no easy undertaking however. From a dugout canoe a long, broom-like apparatus was thrust straight down into the muddy sea bottom then retrieved. With any luck a shell or two would be trapped amongst the stiff twigs at the end of the handle. Dentalia were also ostentatiously displayed as symbols of wealth and power in the form of body adornments. Perhaps most recognizable are the breast plates invariably worn by cheesy Hollywood Indians.
Illustration by Manami Kimura
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07
Feb
2007
argaiv1223
Mount Capilano E-mail
(7 - user rating)
Written by Brian Grover   

Level: Difficult
Distance: 26 km r/t
Time: 11 h r/t
Elevation Change: 1680 m
Map: Squamish 92G/11
Season: July to Oct
Access: See Getting to Whistler

The approach to Mount Capilano begins the same as for the previous hike. Instead of following Phyllis Creek to her headwaters veer left and cross the waterway. The route continues over an old, badly-eroded logging road above the banks of Furry Creek to just beyond Beth Creek. Watch for the trail to Mount Capilano leading off to the right of the road bed, rising through a series of switchbacks. The steep track quickly leaves logging's legacy behind, giving way to old-growth forest before reaching the shores of Beth Lake. The deep mountain lake is an ideal place to break for lunch before pushing on to the 1686-metre crown of Mount Capilano.

From the lake work down and around, first westwards then south up towards a ridge that leads ultimately to the barren, rocky summit of Mount Capilano. Perseverance is rewarded by a stupendous panorama extending from the North Shore Mountains and the Lions to the south, the islands of Howe Sound and the craggy Tantalus Range splayed out across the western horizon. Garibaldi Park's trademark peaks rise in the distance to the north.

bearpaw

 

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