Discoveries at Ozette


One of the most, if not the most important event that has occurred recently in Makah history is the uncovering of the archeological site at Ozette. The discovery of this amazingly preserve site cemented oral history as well as connected the Makah people with tangible artifacts used by their ancestors, and on their homeland. Some people say that the uncovering of the artifacts at Ozette connected the Makah people with their culture and ancestors in a way that was revitalizing, especially since the Makah had already struggled through so much.

ozette-digIn 1969, a huge storm filled the ground with water at the site of the old Ozette village in Washington. When the storm had subsided, hikers began to uncover what looked like ancient native artifacts. The University of Washington was soon contacted to preserve the site as much as possible while scientists figured out exactly what had happened. What they found was the result of an ancient, massive mudslide. This mudslide had been heard of in oral history, but no trace of it had been uncovered until now. According to archaeological research the site the Makah people have occupied Neah Bay for 3,810 years.

The amazing thing about the Ozette was that there was TONS of organic artifacts! They found amazingly preserved pieces made from wood, fauna, bark, and bone. The amazingly preservation was due a large part to the fact that when the mudslide occurred, everything was covered in a wet clay. This wet clay was able to keep oxygen out and more efficiently preserve the organic material beneath it.

Some of the finds they made at Ozette included large houses. There was evidence of nearly 20,000 structural members, these included roofing, walls, benches, drain planks, and rafter support posts. There was also evidence of woven baskets, clothing, hats, sleeping mats, cradles, wedges, fishhooks, clubs, bows and arrows, and so much more that has given researches an even greater insight into the way the Makah tribe lived.

Even more interesting was the way that the site was worked on. There was both a native and non native presence at the sight. The native people gave cultural insight to the finding when the Archaeologists could not tell what an items purpose was. The archaeologsits in return would describe the site in a way that truly brought the Makah people back in time.

Works Cited:

Handbook of North American Indians Volume 7, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, 1990

Olympic Peninsula Community Museums,

About the uncovering of Ozette village. Part 1, Canvas videos ,

The Makah Tribe: People of the Sea and the Forest, Essay by Ann M. Renker Ph.D. ,

Site Image:

What it may have looked like image :


4 thoughts on “Discoveries at Ozette

  1. My birthday is this Friday and I requested a trip up to the northern Peninsula to visit the museum and see this area. I am really excited. Will take pictures.


  2. Hello, Alexa. I love that the Makah people and the archaeologists were able to work together on this project, and that they benefited each other in the process. This could have been the sight of a legal conflict between the two peoples, but they were able to work in harmony.


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