Re: The Anthroplogy of th

whittet (
24 Dec 1994 02:57:38 GMT

In article <3df9nj$>, (Scott C DeLancey) says:
>In article <3da2vi$>, whittet <> wrote:
>[deleting previous discussion of whether the original settlement of the
>New World might have been by boat rather than on foot across a Bering
>land bridge, my objection that except for the Northwest Coast, no
>Native Americans, most particularly those along the West Coast of North
>America, seem to have the kind of maritime culture and technology that
>we might expect if they had already, 12,000, 25,000, or whatever years
>ago, had the means to circumnavigate the Pacific Rim, and the counter-
>argument that this is plenty of time to have developed new adaptations
>to new environments and lost old ones]
>>I also think that 25,000 some odd years is plenty of time for the
>>kind of adaptations you describe to have ranged rather far from
>>the original conditions. Not necessarily, if there was a good niche
>>and a maritime tradition worked fine, but perhaps in other places,
>>other models evolved according to what people ran into. In desert
>>terrain perhaps boat building is hampered by a lack of trees, or if
>>the coast has large waves and lacks harbors, people might change to
>>a diet of oysters and urchins with some seals and otters for good measure.
>Your last point here is well worth considering. As far as the first
>point goes, I don't think it is at all likely (I'd be very interested
>if anyone has apparent counterexamples) that a culture would abandon
>a technology & lifeway that was adaptive in their environment. So
>my argument is, if the original migrants had maritime skills and
>technology, it's because that was adaptive in their original coastal
>environment in NE Asia. The first migrants then would have ended
>up on the West Coast of N. America, with the rest of the continent
>populated from there. So this model implies a continuous period of
>settlement of the W. Coast from the time of the original migration.
>Assuming that, if maritime culture was adaptive on one shore of the
>Pacific, it would have been adaptive on the other, there's no explanation
>for why the inhabitants of the Oregon/California coast would have
>abandoned it. Then the fact that these people didn't have a maritime
>culture argues against this hypothesis--unless there's a good story
>to tell about why maritime culture was less adaptive in Oregon than
>in Kamchatka or whatever.

I agree with you in everything you are saying here and
only would suggest that over a period of time people could easily
build up a net of interconnected fishing villages
along the entire northern pacific rim.

I would go so far as to suggest that these "Sea Peoples" might have been
adapted to a completely different way of life than land based people,
with different territory, diet, climate and lanquages than land people,
they may have had more in common with people on an island fifty miles away,
than they did with people on a mainland 3 miles away.

> But there might be one. From south of Puget Sound, the coast
>is pretty unprotected, not many islands--put a boat out in Oregon
>and you're in the open ocean right away. Farther north it's different;
>the B.C. coast is all islands and fjords, much easier territory for
>small boats.

My point about adaptations over some 25,000 years is that some Sea
People may have gone ashore and become land people. It could happen.

I don't know what the NE Asian coast is like, or what
>might be likely setting-off points, but if it's more like the Inland
>Passage of BC/Alaska than like the naked coast of Oregon & California,
>then we might have a story--the maritime adaptations that got people
>over in the first place weren't that useful under the different
>conditions found farther south, and so were lost.
> Two questions that bear on this, neither of which I know the
>answer to: 1) what are coastal conditions like in Kamchatka &

I think Kamchatka is mountains and forest right down to the sea, much
like the Pacific Northwest. I know the logging companies are looking at
it with a kind of gleam in their eye. The island chain which extends
in a continuous arc from the east china sea to the Elizabeths includes
Kamchatka on its circumference right after the Kurils and before the
Komondorskiye Orstrova.

2) what kind of maritime technology do coastal NE Asian
>cultures like the Chukchee and Nivkh have?

I am not familiar with those two cultures in particular, but there
have been fishermen out of Japan since the home islands were first
settled. Their waters would include the Kurils as far north as


>Scott DeLancey
>Department of Linguistics
>University of Oregon
>Eugene, OR 97403, USA