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The Late Prehistoric Coastal Orange County Hokan Hypothesis: A Commentary


Cottrell's doctoral dissertation (1991) proposes that Hokan speakers occupied an approximately 20 km wide coastal strip in southern Orange County at the time of Spanish contact. According to this hypothesis, Shoshonean or Takic speakers were restricted to an inland territory that ended 20 km short of the Pacific coastline. If accurate, this "Hokan hypothesis" would necessitate a major rewrite of regional prehistory. Most archaeologists accept Kroeber's "Shoshonean wedge" model which states that immigrating Takic speakers reached the Pacific coast hundreds of years prior to Spanish contact. This critique shows that several crucial ethnohistoric and ethnographic observations of culture and language were not adequately considered in Cottrell's dissertation (1991), and that there are apparent misreads, misinterpretations, and misuses of archaeological and other kinds of data, as well as a general pattern of confirmation bias. The "Hokan hypothesis" is unsupportable.

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