Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Yurok and Redwood Canoes

A canoe like, partially burned out redwood log. I believe the RNP visitor center has an actual Yurok canoe on display there.
On one of my recent redwood ramblings, I came across an old partially burned out redwood log in an area that had seen some fire activity. The way the tree had burned, when I stepped into it, I thought "This reminds me of a canoe." It was then that I remembered reading a passage from a book that one of my neighbors lent to me called "Exploring Redwood National Park." It reads as follows:

     "The Yurok. Most numerous among Native Americans living within the park were Indians of the Yurok tribe. They lived along Klamath River for many miles inland, as well as north and south along the seacoast. Their civilization is believed by historians to once have been the highest level attained by known groups of native Californians.
     Because the Yurok lived near park rivers and streams, they were a people of the water. When asked directions by early settlers, they had no words for north, south, east, or west. Instead, everything was described as upstream or downstream by the Indians.
     Indians of the Yurok tribe constructed large canoes from fallen redwood logs, carefully burning and scraping the interior until finished. Such canoes were highly maneuverable, and even crashing rapids of Klamath River could be run by skillful paddlers. Because they were round bottomed, they could easily be swung by strong strokes of the helmsman. While running rapids, rocks were often approached head on, then shot within touching distance by those inside. Although Yurok Indians sometimes took their dugout canoes to sea, they were unsuited for such travel. Their paddles were designed for river use, and were stout poles six feet or more in length. Such long paddles frequently required natives to remain standing while poling through shallow areas."

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