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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Distribution of Oceangoing Canoes on the North Coast of California


In 1968, Richard Gould presented ethnographic evidence that certain canoes were specifically made for ocean navigation among native groups along California's northern coast. In his paper, "Seagoing Canoes Among The Indians Of Northwestern California," he postulated that oceangoing canoes did in fact exist, contrary to doubt expressed by certain scholars (Gould 1968:11-13). He further provided detailed information regarding their manufacture and physical/functional characteristics. This paper is an attempt to clarify certain points not thoroughly addressed by Gould and, subsequently, broaden the scope of his study. Three lines of evidence will be examined concerning the distribution of oceangoing canoes in an effort to define their southern geographical and cultural boundaries. Using this evidence, a descriptive model will be developed to characterize the occurrence of canoes used on the ocean along the north coast.

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