Re: The Anthroplogy of th

whittet (
21 Dec 1994 20:25:22 GMT

In article <3d7ljj$>, (Scott C DeLancey) says:
>In article <>,
>Rab Wilkie <> wrote:
>> -=> Quoting Scott C Delancey to All <=-
>> SCD> ... But you're right, it's certainly imaginable (to me anyway, but I'm
>> SCD> not an archeologist) that even the earliest migration(s) to the New
>> SCD> World involved boat travel across the strait. One objection to this
>> SCD> hypothesis might be the fact that except for the Northwest Coast,
>> SCD> Native Americans don't seem to have been much for sea-going boats or
>> SCD> maritime activity; you'd think if they already had boats & maritime
>> SCD> skills sufficient to get across the Bering Strait 12,000, or 25,000,
>> SCD> or whatever years ago, that you'd still find that culture & technology
>> SCD> at least along the West Coast.
>> Mmmm. The loss of earlier technologies after radical adaptations to a new
>> habitat is not infrequent.
>Sure. So there's no problem in explaining why, say the Plains Indians
>would have lost any traces of maritime culture. But, if the suggestion
>is that the original migrants reached the New World by boat around the
>Pacific Rim (you're right, it wouldn't have to--and probably wouldn't--
>be directly across the Bering Straight), and then spread inland from
>the West Coast of North America--then the people along the West Coast,
>Oregon down through Baja, didn't have to adapt to a new habitat at all.
>If the maritime adaptations that got them there were useful in Asia,
>why were they suddenly superfluous in America?
>> Incidentally, Anna Cameron in "Daughters of Copper Woman" says she came
>> across an old Northwest Coast navigation song, that according to local
>> tradition was used at one time for paddling from near Vancouver Island to
>> Alaska, and beyond.
>Yes, there's no doubt about the maritime prowess of the Northwest Coast
>Indians. My point is that if we take that to reflect the culture and
>technology of the original migrants, why did it disappear further
>south? I've read somewhere that most of the Northwest Coast culture
>complex--the intensive salmon-harvesting lifeway and the elaborate
>sociopolitical structure derived from it in particular--represent
>developments over the last 2,000+ years, and I'd be inclined to
>think that the maritime culture fits in there.
>Scott DeLancey
>Department of Linguistics
>University of Oregon
>Eugene, OR 97403, USA
In posing this as a possibility I am hampered by lack of evidence for
the early use of boats. I have seen some things, such as
semifossilized swordfish beaks in Red Paint shell middens
which would require the use of boats at an early date,
(swordfish not normally being found in shallow water),
but would be curious if there is evidence amongst the
tools used by early man of things like wedges, to split
wood into planks along its grain, and the use of braided fibers?

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.

Let me know what you think,