The Make and Use of Redwood Canoes by the Yurok Tribe

from my new blog

Ancestral Arts

Fallen redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) logs were hollowed with fire to form canoes by Pacific coast Indians of northwestern California (e.g. Yurok) that were sold to other tribes (Powers 1877, Chesnut 1902). Redwood trunks for canoes were gathered by the Yurok from the bar across the mouth of the Lower Klamath, or all along the coast where redwoods grow (Powers 1877). Redwood (and it’s relatives such as bald cypress) is known for having insect-repellant wood. It is also quite soft and easy to carve.

Yurok traditional redwood canoe. Photo credit: http://www.actaonline.org/content/acta-welcomes-19-teams-apprenticeship-program Yurok traditional redwood canoe.
Photo credit: http://www.actaonline.org/content/acta-welcomes-19-teams-apprenticeship-program

They were burned by the Yurok to suitable lengths, (one made in 1968 was 18 ft long x 3.5 ft wide x 1.5 ft deep) and the ends kept blunt rather than pointed (Powers 1877). To burn them into shape, pitch was spread on the area of wood to be burned, and when it was burned sufficiently deep, a piece…

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