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Washington State University
College of Arts and Sciences Meyer's Point

Historical perspective

The Meyer’s Point property on Henderson Inlet is part of the vast ecosystem of the Salish Sea and has a long natural and cultural history.

Geologically, the character of the land reflects erosion and deposition by glaciers that advanced into and retreated from the Puget Sound over the last two million years, finally melting away just 14,000 years ago. The shallow southern end of Puget Sound has become a dynamic landscape, with sea level rise, crustal rebound, and tectonic activity perpetually modifying the nature of its coastal-land interface.

The Salish Sea and Puget Sound regions have supported vibrant communities since time immemorial. Some of the oldest archaeological sites in western North America are located here, including the Manis Mastodon site near Sequim, Washington (13,800 years old), and the Bear Creek site near Redmond, Washington (12,500 years old).

Archaeological and ethnographic information documents indigenous people having utilized the area in and around Meyer’s Point for resource gathering along the rich coastal environment and encompassing the local terrestrial plant and animal diversity.

Substantial habitation, including plank house villages, once existed along Henderson Inlet, attesting to the long-standing connections of indigenous peoples to the area over millennia. The Nisqually Tribe, the most easterly of the peoples of the Seven Inlets of southern Puget Sound, have strong ancestral ties to Henderson Inlet, as do the Squaxin Islands Tribe to the west.

The current record of human presence on the Meyer’s Point property dates to around 500 years ago. In Eld Inlet, to the west of Henderson Inlet and the Meyer’s Point property, archeological sites dating from the last several millennia have been documented to contain basketry, cordage, and other extremely perishable items preserved by the anaerobic environments of the intertidal mudflats.

The potential is high for archeological sites to exist on the Meyer’s Point property, yet very limited research has been undertaken as of early 2018.