Cultures reported to have gathered sea snails of unspecified species include those from the west coast (Southern Kwakiutl [Kwakwaka'wakw] and Nuxalk) and the Micmac (Mi'kmaq) of Newfoundland [1-3]. There was an ample supply of sea snails at Copper River, where Alaskan cultures obtained reliable sustenance when hunting failed to bring a good yield [1, 4]. Although they could be gathered throughout the year, the availability of snails varied along the coast . The Coast Salish steamed snails in the same manner as most beach foods, but they were not consumed as frequently . Nootka (Nuu-chah-nulth) women took the snails back to their homes where they were taken out of the shells .
Pacific Chinese hat snails were eaten by the Nootka of Vancouver Island , who called them tsa’inwå , used prying sticks to remove them from rocks, and ate them steamed or occasionally raw . Pacific Chinese hat snails were known as China hats to people of Port Simpson (Tsimshian) who harvested them in winter at low tide using wedges, prying sticks and scrapers made of rock or bone . Some shells of Pacific Chinese hat snails were also uncovered in Tlingit middens at Daxatkanada; however the small number found indicated that they were most likely brought from elsewhere and were not a significant part of the diet .
Evidence of the use of common Atlantic slippersnails has been found at Micmac refuse heaps and Wampanoag shell middens in Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, Mashpee, Gray Head, Menemsha Bight and Menemsha Pond [7, 13]. Micmac and Wampanoag are reported to have consumed slippersnails in summer. They were considered a delicacy, especially by the Wampanoag who described slippersnails as sweetmeats [7, 13]. Micmac found Atlantic slippersnails attached to mussel beds on rocky shores, on tidal beds and attached to rocks on the lower shore line .
Black tegula snails are reported to have been collected and consumed by the Nootka, Manhousat and Hesquiat of Vancouver Island [14, 15]. The Tlingit used the shells to decorate baskets, footwear and clothing [2, 16].
Eastern mudsnails were found at Wampanoag shell middens [7, 13]. Threeline mudsnails were reported to have been consumed by the Micmac of Newfoundland mainly in June, but also in July, December, January and May . Threeline mud snails were also found at Wampanoag shell middens [7, 13].
Lewis’ moon snails are reported to have been consumed by the Coast Salish. Manhousat did not consume them: they believed that eating Lewis’ moon snails would render a person stupid [7, 14].
Shark-eye moon snails and Northern moon snails were collected by the Micmac of Richibucto and the Wampanoag; they were used both as bait and as a food item [7, 13].
Atlantic oyster drill remains were found in Wampanoag and Micmac shell heaps, but they may have been attracted to the kitchen middens as an oyster predator [7, 13].
Purple dwarf olive snails were picked off rocks at low tide by the Coast Salish, or caught by following the trails they left on the beach [2, 5].
Oregon triton remains were found at shell middens at Daxatkanada suggesting they were consumed by the Tlingit .
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17. Mackey MGA, Bernard L, Smith BS: Country Food Consumption by Selected Households of the Micmac in Conne River Newfoundland in 1985-86. In.; 1986.