40 for 40: San Juan County
Pearl Little Archaeology Site

By Patrick McCutcheon previous story | next story | all stories

The Pearl Little archaeology site is well known in many Washington State preservation circles and was identified as an important site as early as the 1940s. The site is one of the few off-reservation sites to be continuously occupied by Native Americans until recently. There have been at least a half dozen contract archaeology reports on the Pearl Little site, all of which show this location as containing a prehistoric shell midden, which has evidence of the meals past people ate as well as the tools they used to get those foods.  Part of the site was also recorded as a cemetery for some local northwest tribes.
The Pearl Little archaeological site was placed on the Washington Trust’s Most Endangered Historic Properties List in 1995 when then board member Nancy Larsen brought the property to the Washington Trust’s attention. In 1996, the Lummi Tribe and local activists worked together with the San Juan County Conservancy to purchase and preserve the site, but their offer was turned down. The Washington Trust stepped in to investigate a means of negotiating a settlement among all interested parties. In the following six years, the site and the land parcel were bought and sold by different investors, and eventually San Juan County put a moratorium on the creation of new subdivisions. In Spring of 2001, the Pearl Little site was removed from the Watch List of the Most Endangered Program as the moratorium would protect the location from development. 
Since then, new owners of the property have shown good stewardship on the land parcel by working with all parties to make sure that significant elements of the landscape are preserved. It takes a community to protect these important places, and it is part of the Washington Trust’s mission to help Washington State citizens protect places like the Pearl Little archaeological site. The Washington Trust helped play a role in protecting this site early on by bringing it to the attention of the preservation community and the general public with the Most Endangered listing.

This story is part of a series celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation. Please consider making a special gift to the Washington Trust in honor of our accomplishments as we celebrate this year together! Continuous stewardship is needed to protect that irreplaceable legacy for future generations – we appreciate and look forward to your ongoing participation and support.

Here's to 40 more years of saving places that matter across Washington! Please sign up for our special weekly e-newsletter to recieve stories like this in your inbox all year long.

previous story | next story | all stories