Waterman, Thomas Talbct
Types of canoes on Puget
A SERIES OF PUBLICA-
TIONS RELATING TO THE
TYPES OF CANOES ON
T. T. WATERMAN
MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN \pfTttAN
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A SERIES OF PUBLICA-
TIONS RELATING TO THE
TYPES OF CANOES ON
T. T. WATERMAN
MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN
Tffls series of INDIAN NOTES AND MONO-
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X V *^ " ~-~ *\ 1>"
DEC 1.6 1966
TYPES OF CANOES ON
T. T. WATERMAN
Specialization of the North Pacific Canoe
into Different Models 10
Points of Interest in the Various Types. . . 14
The War Canoe : 14
The "Freight Canoe" 17
The "Trolling Canoe" . 18
The "Shovel-nose Canoe" 19
The "One-man Canoe" 21
The "Children's Canoe" 22
Native Terms for the Parts of the Canoe . . 23
Distribution of the Various Types 29
TYPES OF CANOES ON PUGET
T. T. WATERMAN AND GERALDINE COFFIN
T""^HE canoes and the canoe manufac-
ture of the North Pacific area
have already received a fair
amount of attention in ethno-
graphical literature. 1 Many sizes and shapes
of craft are in use, most of which have not
been described in detail. All North Pacific
canoes from Mount St Elias in Alaska to
Eel river in northern California are, to
quote the Handbook, 2 of a dugout type. The
area of Puget sound lies in a general way
toward the center of this region, and in this
vicinity the largest variety of canoes seems
PUGET SOUND CANOES
to be in use. Our present purpose is to
describe the types of canoes found at the
present time on Puget sound proper, and
then to outline, so far as is possible on the
basis of scanty information, the distribu-
tion of these types into other regions.
The specimens on which this discussion
is based were collected for the Museum of
the American Indian, Heye Foundation, in
the immediate vicinity of Seattle. The
native terms for the various models and for
the parts of the canoes are in the "Du-
wamish" dialect of Salish. The sounds oc-
curring in this and the other Salish dialects
spoken on the upper part of Puget sound are
represented in the following tabulation.
i, i u, v
e, e o, D
i, as in machine u, as in rule
i, as in pin v, as in full
e, as in f&le o, as in note
c, as in met o, as ou in might
a, as in hat a, as in bar
A, as in but
as in aisle
as in boil
substantially as in English
help of the
The symbol c
like ch in
The symbols in those columns which
consonants, produced with hard
the tongue, followed
10 PUGET SOUND CANOES
abrupt release. The sound is quite sharp,
markedly different from anything in English.
The "velar" sounds likewise seem quite
strange to English-speaking people; they
are produced by making contact between
the tongue and the back part of the palate
(the. velum). The glottal stop (') repre-
sents a catch which checks the breath in
the throat (larynx). Two sounds resem-
bling English h seem to exist, one of them
very weak, represented here by c . Su-
perior letters represent whispered or weakly
SPECIALIZATION OF THE NORTH
PACIFIC CANOE INTO DIFFERENT
In the year 1806 Lewis and Clark noted
that the Indians on Columbia river possessed
a number of different types or models of
canoes. 3 Among more recent authors,
Boas, 4 Gibbs, 5 Swan, 6 Niblack, 7 and Curtis, 8
have made observations to a similar effect.
It may be relied on, therefore, that in the
whole area which lies between Columbia
river and southern Alaska, the canoe has
DIAGRAM REPRESENTING THE SIX TYPES OF CANOES ON PUGET
(a, the "war canoe"; 6,.the "freight canoe;" c, the "trolling canoe"; d,
the "shovel-nose canoe"; e, the "one-man canoe"; /, the "children's canoe,"
used by children and as a knockabout.)
been evolved into a number of highly spe-
cialized forms. Various writers, however,
classify canoes in somewhat different ways.
Gibbs, and Lewis and Clark seem to imag-
ine that the various forms are characteristic
of different tribes. With Curtis and Nib-
lack the essential thing, in classification
seems to be a matter of size. Boas alone
has given the proper weight to differences in
form. 9 On Puget sound at the present
time there are six types of canoes in use,
which are distinguished by the Indians not
on account of their size but by differences
in the shape of the hull. The variation in
shape is very wide. On these waters one
type of canoe is built for going to sea, and
the lines of the hull are designed with the
idea of enabling the craft to ride waves
without shipping water. Every inch of the
model is carefully calculated to keep it
"dry." No better craft for rough water,
by the way, has ever been devised. The
canoe rides the combers better than the
white man's boat. This was noted by
Lewis and Clark 10 more than a hundred
years ago, and similar comments are made
PUGET SOUND CANOES
today, even by men who. follow the sea. A
second type of canoe is designed for use on
rivers and" lakes. The bow and stern of this
second model are cut off square, making the
craft very convenient for poling. In spear-
ing salmon in the streams, also, a spearsman
can ride on the extreme tip of the bow and
strike fish almost under his feet, while a
companion paddles. This canoe is of little
use in open waters. The salt-water vil-
lagers take the fish by means of nets and
traps only. Each of the types in this way
has its own particular uses. The series as a
whole is an example of high specialization
in a seafaring mode of existence.
Characteristic specimens of each of the
six types used on Puget sound are illustrated
in the accompanying diagram (pi. i). In
order to bring out differences in outline, the
drawings have been reduced to one length.
In actual practice each model of canoe is
made in a large range of sizes, a matter
which can hardly be presented in a diagram.
Specimens of model a (pi. i) exist which are,
for example, only 16 ft. long, while one other
specimen of the same model exists which
has a length of 80 ft. Model b in the dia-
gram is usually made of fairly good size, in
the neighborhood of 22 ft. long; but there
is great variation in specimens. Model c
is always small, and model / is never very
large. We have not examined a large
enough number of canoes to make it worth
while to publish the measurements taken.
The specimens from which the drawings
FIG. 1. Diagram showing the outline of the "Alaska"
canoe, used by the Kwakiutl, Tsimshian, and Haida.
It is occasionally seen on Puget sound. (After a diagram
in Boas, 1909.)
were made were collected in the immediate
neighborhood of Seattle and are in the
Museum of the American Indian, Heye
An additional type, the great "Alaska"
canoe, called by the Salish fea&a'xod, is
sometimes seen on the sound. Such canoes
came down from the north, manned usually
by Haida from the Queen Charlotte islands,
14 PUGET SOUND CANOES
or by Nootka from the west coast of Van-
couver island; occasionally by people of
other tribes. These canoes were not used
by the Puget Sound people, and were
looked on with some curiosity. Their out-
line is shown in fig. 1 (after Boas).
POINTS OF INTEREST IN THE VARIOUS
A. THE "WAR CANOE" (ao'txs)
The Songish about Victoria, B. C., have
this model, which they call a'tqEs. 11 Its most
characteristic features, both there and here,
are a prominent and lofty bow and stern.
These consist, on Puget sound, of separate
sections hewn out of cedar and fitted care-
fully into their places on the hull. They are
fastened there by pegs of cedar (st'A'stM,
the word now applied to nails) and lashings
of twisted cedar withes (sti'dAgw&t), and the
joint is watertight without being "pitched"
(see Swan, 1868, for the method of fitting).
Artistically, the shape of the prow strongly
suggests an animal's head, and gives the
canoe (which is exquisite in design) an air
of alertness, as though it were moving of its
own accord. From the practical standpoint
these elevated additions to the hull are de-
signed to throw aside the seas. The naked
hull without these bow and stern pieces
would soon fill in rough water. The pieces
seem so slender and inadequate that an
observer would doubt their effectiveness for
such a practical end. The answer is that
in th'e course of generations they have been
reduced to the most slender proportions
which will give the necessary protection,
and they are wonderfully effective in aid-
ing the actual navigation of the canoe.
Many Indians and whites who have followed
the sea tell us that this type of canoe ships
less water in a storm than any craft in the
world. If we are looking for a catchword,
we may call this the "ocean-going canoe."
A number of other terms have been ap-
plied to this class of vessel. A popular
term in the Northwest is the word "Chin-
ook." We find, for example, the " Chinook"
wind, the "Chinook" jargon, and "Chin-
ook" salmon. "Chinook" is also applied
by Indians and whites to the type of hull
just described, and appears in that sense
PUGET SOUND CANOES
in the works of Swan and Boas. The term,
bearing in mind, of course, that it is used
in a general sense and is not necessarily to
be associated with the Chinook tribe proper,
living at the mouth of the Columbia, is dis-
tinctive, and has the advantage of usage
behind it. Locally, on Puget sound, the
model goes commonly by this name. This
same type of hull is found in use by all the
tribes from Columbia river northward to
the Quatsino, living at the northern end of
Vancouver island. 12 North of this area,
among the Kwakuitl and Tsimshian, Haida
and Tlingit, the sea-going canoe is different,
and is of the type illustrated in fig. 1. Nib-
lack 13 and Boas 14 have noted the distinction
between the sea-going canoes of the south
and those of the north, and Niblack illus-
trates it with a somewhat misleading figure.
Niblack calls this northern model the "north
coast type," while Boas styles it the "Tsim-
shian" model. The terms " Tsimshian" and
"Chinook" might well be used as catch-
words to mark the distinction between the
two varieties: one found along the coast of
Alaska and British Columbia, the other
FREIGHT CANOE 17
occurring on the west coast of Vancouver
island and southward as far, at least, as
B THE "FREIGHT CANOE" (sti'waL)
The freight canoe differs in several re-
spects from the foregoing. It never reaches
the great size which the first-mentionec 1
type sometimes attains, though specimens
exist which are as much as 40 ft. in length.
The cutwater in this type is vertical, or
nearly so. This is the point mentioned by
the Indian informants as the characteris-
tic thing. The Songish term for this craft,
sti'uwaUatl, is translated by Boas as "having
a square bow." I can find no reason for
this peculiarity, nor advantage in it. An
extra piece of cedar is carved and fitted with
dowels on the prow of this craft also, "lift-
ing" the lines of the hull somewhat. This
piece differs greatly from the pieces fitted
on the ocean-going canoe. The stern is
' modeled out of the original log. The tip of
the prow is shaped into a "notch" resemb-
ling an open mouth. This type of canoe is
used for journeys with household posses-
PUGET SOUND CANOES
sions in quiet waters. In a storm it is not
C. THE "TROLLING CANOE" (sdA'xiciL)
This craft has a very narrow hull, and
the bow has more lift than in the preceding
model. 15 Specimens of this type are usu-
ally relatively small, designed to carry only
two or three men. This was the vessel
used for hunting, for harpooning porpoise
and otter, and in trolling for fish. The
model exhibits some elegance of design.
We may perhaps follow Boas in calling this
craft the fishing or trolling canoe. A very
large canoe of this model was called
sdkrwi'lus. For hunting the porpoise a very
swift canoe was needed, for the animal was
alert, and hard to harpoon. Boas gives a
complete account of the pursuit, as carried
on by the Kwakiutl. The term for por-
poise-hunting on Puget sound is ca'sab.
The canoe intended for this purpose was
called casa'bhwlL. It was of the type being
discussed, but a fine, "clear" model and had
to be fast.
SHOVEL-NOSE CANOE 19
D. THE " SHOVEL-NOSE CANOE" (tL'ai)
This type of canoe is called the "shovel-
nose" because it is cut off square at bow and
stern and the hull scoops forward like a
shovel. The Songish visited by Boas have
the same term, trial, but the model pictured
by Boas has a configuration somewhat dif-
ferent in certain details from the Puget Sound
specimens seen. On the sound, the boat
is hewn from one piece, while the Songish
are said to add on the flattened end in the
form of a separate plank. In spite of its
shape the "shovel-nose" is in appearance
anything but clumsy. It is excellently de-
signed for a special purpose. A man may
stand at the tip-end of bow or stern, and
push with a pole, in shallow water. The
people also who live up the rivers depend
on this type of canoe for the spearing of
salmon. When the fish are running in the
rivers, one man paddles in the stern while
a companion stands at ease out on the
extreme end cf the prow, with his spear
poised ready for fish. His position there
is ideal for striking salmon, since he lunges
20 PUGET SOUND CANOES
at fish almost .directly under his feet. The
bow-end of this boat is more slender than
the stern. This type of boat is useful only
in quiet waters. A characteristic piece of
equipment is the canoe pole, he'^qalsid.
Such a canoe is fine for sandbanks and shoals
where the heavy Chinook type, with its
features designed for protection against
waves, is largely useless. Far up the rivers
no canoes other than the shovel-nose
are seen. The "salt-water" people, or
"xwaldja'bc" relate with amusement that
"forest-dwellers," or La'labi, that is, the
people living up the rivers, have only one
word for canoe. "If it is a sd^'xwiL, or if
it is a sti'waL, or even if it is a big ao'txs,
they call it a 'shovel-nose,' just the same."
Some of these "fresh-water" Indians some
years ago came voyaging down to Port
Washington inlet, near the navy yard at
Bremerton, in a shovel-nose canoe. In try-
ing to negotiate the channel during a breeze
and a change of tide, their canoe, which was
not designed for such operations, filled and
sank under their feet, and they lost their
]:. THE " ONE-MAN CANOE" (di'fmL)
This is a very diminutive vessel, the
smallest of all the Northwestern canoes.
The term is grammatically the diminutive
of sdk'wiL (c in the diagram, pi. i). Never-
theless, as a glance at the drawing will show,
its hull differs somewhat in shape from that
of its larger namesake. The di'twii will
carry only onf, person; but it is often very
beautifully made. Specimens capsize very
easily, but so long as they remain right-side
up, they may be driven at high speed, and
are light enough to be easily lifted and car-
ried from place to place. They were used
for fishing, and, following the introduction
of firearms, for hunting ducks. Firing a
shotgun over the side, however, turns the
craft over. Bow and stern are finished off
with very small carved pieces, which are set
in place with the usual cedar pegs, and the
bow carries the "notch" characteristic of the
larger type. The canoe is rigged with
thwarts, but the huntsman sits, not on these,
but flat on the bottom of the boat. We may
perhaps speak of this type as "the onev
PUGET SOUND CANOES
F THE "CHILDREN'S CANOE" (qe'lbid)
The canoe pointed out under this name
is a "double-ended" type. The Indians
describe it as a craft with two sterns. Its
ends, which are identical in shape, are
finished off to resemble the stern of the big
war-canoe shown in pi. i, a. This craft,
while not of great length, is very heavy,
since the sides are relatively thick, and it is
also very wide in the beam. It was used
for the commonest purposes. Children got
their first knowledge of the handling of
canoes by "practising" with it. While the
sides are not adzed down to the thinness
which characterizes the hunter's craft, the
vessel is nevertheless well designed in its
own way and is much lighter and more
manageable than a white-man's boat. It is
worth noting that the word qe'lbid, given as
the term for this type of boat, is the general
word for canoe. The term dlq'e'dwlL was
also applied to this type. We may perhaps
speak of this form of craft as the "children's
CO u -
NATIVE TERMS FOR THE PARTS OF
1. Bow, cedst.
2. Stern, i'laaq.
3. Side, sila'lgwil.
A steam vessel is called u'dalgidl,
4. Gunwale, sb&tctca'lgwil.
5. Additional piece or section, hewn out
separately, set on the bow, and fastened in
place with pegs and lashing of twisted cedar,
It is fastened in place with dowels or
pegs of cedar (No. 6), and lashings of
twisted cedar-twigs (No. 7) .
6. Dowels or pegs used as above,
This word is now used for iron nails.
7. Cedar withes, sti'dagwkt.
Used in fastening on the bow and stern
sections, and in closing up cracks.
8. Stern-piece, stL'a'lal&p.
Seated in place like the bow-piece,
On the Exterior of the Hull
9. Narrow piece projecting forward at
the tip of the prow,
The shape of the fonvard part of the
bow-piece strongly suggests the head of
some living creature. The projection
would correspond to a snout or beak.
The Indians say the resemblance is
10. A knob or projection on the neck of
the canoe, about two feet below the pre-
ceding feature, Ua'lgwcf.
This word means "navel." The Ma-
kah call this projection the boat's uvula.
11. Ornamentation consisting of parallel
lines, incised with a special tool, like a
reamer, on the side of the neck, astci't'absub.
This is incised with a special tool, in
the old days made of flint, resembling a
reamer. This ornamentation is found
also on the top surface of the bow-piece.
12. Curved line of the prow, cli'bus.
13. Cutwater, tL'kwa'ps&b.
14. A bulge or raised strip at the gunwale,
A corresponding excavation on the
inside of the hull is mentioned below (No.
15. Bottom, s'a'tskp.
16. Where the bottom turns up toward
the gunwale to form the sides, cAxdts'a'ladi.
17. Sharp blade or half -keel, under the
canoe's forefoot, st\tci'lnt.
This acts as a "muffler." It cuts into
the waves as the canoe forges ahead,
without splashing. The canoe moves
18. Forward extremity of the half-keel,
On the Interior of the Hull
19. Interior of the canoe, xuxta'ts.
20. Where the bottom turns up to form
the sides, wUa'ladiL.
21. Offset where the canoe widens at the
This corresponds to the s'Laa'gicAp
(No. 14 above).
22. Side of the canoe, i'lalgwiL.
23. Trench leading sternward from the
tip of the prow, sxwo'qbus.
24. Vertical line of the hull at the stern,
25. Thwarts, cxahvi'ld.
These are round poles instead of flat
benches, as in the canoes of Alaska and
in our own boats. When on a trip the
Indians pad them with an old mat,
PUGET SOUND CANOES
26. Withes of twisted cedar limbs, which
fasten the thwarts, cli'dclidgAs.
They are rove through a perforation
in the thwart, and then through perfor-
ations in the side of the boat. Similar
withes are used for mending cracks and
in fastening the bow and stern sections
in place (see No. 7 above). The present
word refers to the way in which they
are manipulated in fastening thwarts in
27. Strip of wood a^ong the gunwale,
This is pegged to the top surface of
the gunwale, to where the paddles rub,
to prevent the sides of the canoe from
28. Painter, or boat rope, LAdgwi'lad.
Used for mooring the boat, or anchor-
29. Crack in the hull, actc&'x.
30. Knot-hole, stc'a'ctalus (knot, stcact).
31. "Patched place," stkka'lgwa.
When the side of a canoe is broken, a
section is cut out bodily, a piece of plank
being carefully shaped to fit in the space.
This plank is fastened in place with
cedar pegs and by " sewing" with cedar
32. A "long patch," sApp'a'tsgwiL.
This term refers to a place where a
longitudinal crack in the bottom of the
hull has been closed by stitching it up
with cedar withes.
33. Holes bored in making the canoe, to
test the thickness of the sides, itdtc\'stAd.
These holes are later closed by plugging
them with round pegs of maple, which
swells greatly on being wet.
34. Mast, xputdale (cf. pu'td, sail).
Informants insist that masts and sails
are aboriginal. Vancouver, writing in
1792, says they are not.
35. Step or socket for the mast, tcugwa-
36. Sail, pu'tid.
This was a "square" sail, of checker-
work matting, and was hoisted only when
the breeze happened to come directly
over the stern.
37. Upper yard, taLa'Lqud.
38. Lower yard, tLi'd&p.
39. Paddle, xobt.
Terms of Direction
40. Ahead, tudzi'q.
41. Astern, tuxula'q.
42. Starboard, or right side, dzaha'lgwisa-
43. Port, or left side, kala'lgwisap&p.
. 44. Forward, tuca'dst (cf. ctdst, bow).
PUGET SOUND CANOES
45. Aft, tue'laq (cf. i'laaq, stern).
46. Amidships, o'dugwiL.
Linguistically there is evident similarly
between certain of the words in this list, as
shown by the following groups:
(5) Bow-piece, stL'a'lu.
(8) Stern-piece, stL'a'lalAp.
(13) Cutwater, tL'kwa'pskb (cf. especial-
ly No. 26 below).
(14) Raised strip along gunwale, stLaa'-
(24) Vertical line at stern, stLkwa'-lap.
(27) Strip pegged to gunwale, stL'a'lalgwiL
(6) Dowels, or pegs, st'k'stkd.
(33) Holes bored to test the thickness of
the hull, udtc\'stbd.
One is inclined to suspect the presence of
a common suffix in the following cases:
(12) Curved line of the prow, cli'bus.
(23) Trench leading backward from the
The presence of a suffix is obvious in the
(3) Side, sila'lgwil.
(4) Gunwale, sbAtclea'lgwil.
(22) Side of the canoe (interior), I'lalgwiL.
(31) Section of plank used as a patch,
(32) Closing of a crack by sewing,
(11) Ornamental lines, astci't'dbsub'.
(13) Cutwater, tL'kwa'ps^b.
(15) Bottom, s'a'ts&p.
Analysis of these expressions is not pos-
sible at the present time.
The terms in the above list apply espe-
cially to the sea-going canoe. Similar words
are applied to the other types of canoes,
except where the corresponding parts are
The notch at the bow of the trolling canoe
is simply called qa'dxu, "notch."
DISTRIBUTION OF THE VARIOUS TYPES
A situation with many points of interest
exists in regard to the distribution of these
forms of canoes. For example, on Puget
sound we have the six types of dugout canoes,
which have been described; in northern Cali-
PUGET SOUND CANOES
fornia we have only one. The question at
once suggests itself, How far southward along
the Pacific coast does the use of six types
of canoes extend? And, again, as we
travel southward, do all six of the Puget
Sound types disappear from use at once,
being replaced by new types of craft, or are
certain of these Puget Sound types more
widely distributed than the others? The
last question, I think, is the more easily
answered. The single type which is used
on Klamath river and on Humboldt bay in
northern California is probably a modifica-
tion of one of the types used on Puget
sound the "shovel-nose" model described
above (pi. I, d). The appended diagram
(pi. n) shows these two craft side by side.
There seems to be in a general way a marked
similarity in these canoes. They are both
dugouts, of a "square-ended" type, and in
each case the model has reached a high
degree of refinement. There is a skilful
"pinching-in" of the lines of the craft
toward the ends, and also a very graceful
"lift" of the bottom at bow and stern. It
may be asserted from experience that both
craft are very light and easily handled. The
California canoe has no gunwale-strips, 16 and,
moreover, it has in the stern some foot-
braces and a seat, hewn in one piece with
the hull, which are absent in the Puget
Sound boat. The California boat, on the
other hand, has no thwarts. The most
striking difference, however, is that the
bow and the stern of the California craft
are crowned up into a peak, and the bow
s further graced with a removable carven
ornament, shaped like an inverted V. These
differences seem superficial and underneath
them the present writers see almost iden-
tical lines in the two vessels.
So much for the general resemblance.
The facts of distribution make the idea of
relationship much more plausible. It is
worthy of remark that in California south
of Humboldt bay there are no dugout canoes
at all. Northward, however, dugouts are in
use among all tribes as far as Puget sound.
Moreover, in the case of some, at least, of the
intervening tribes the shovel-nose or square-
ended type of dugout occurs. This is true
of the tribes about Klamath lake, for in-
PUGET SOUND CANOES
stance, as shown by a specimen of their
canoes collected by Dr Barrett, now in the
Museum of the University of California.
Information on this point is unsatisfactory,
for in this intervening area few observers
have taken the pains to note in detail what
kinds of canoes were used. This is true of
much of Oregon, even on the coast. Van-
couver says of the Indians of Port Orford
that "their canoes, calculated to carry
about eight people, were rudely wrought
out of a single tree; their shape much re-
sembled a butcher's tray, and seemed very
unfit for a sea voyage or any distant expedi-
tion." 17 This seems almost certainly to indi-
cate that he saw craft of a shovel-nose
type. We can find few other statements on
this matter, in the literature. On Columbia
river, as shown by the statements of Boas, 18
on the coast of Washington as illustrated by
the photographs of Curtis, 19 on Puget
sound and northward to an unknown dis-
tance, as observed by the present writers,
shovel-nose canoes are in general use. The
bare facts, as we have them, seem to be
most readily explained on the assumption
that one type of dugout canoe, of wide dis-
tribution on the North Pacific, has spread
also as far south as the Yurok and neigh-
boring tribes in northern California. The
increased complexity of the design as found
among the Yurok and their neighbors, as
shown especially in the ornamentation, is
possibly explainable by the fact that these
tribes exhibit a distinctly higher culture in
many respects than do their neighbors to the
south, the east, or the north. For some ,
reason, in the region about the mouth of'
Klamath river a secondary center of high
culture has developed. It is not unlikely
that this has produced the peculiar traits of
It is noticeable also that there seems to
be a gradual modification of all types of
canoes as we move southward toward Cali-
fornia. On Puget sound, five canoes out of
six show a lift in the gunwales toward bow
and stern. On the coast south of the Straits
of Juan de Fuca, as shown by the photo-
graphs of Curtis, 20 canoes other than the
shovel-nose have an abrupt "raise" at the
prow, but amidships and at the stern they
PUGET SOUND CANOES
are "flush," the gunwales forming a straight
horizontal line. Apparently this arrange-
ment might be considered as an approach
to the California type of canoe, where the
gunwales are perfectly flat, without any
lift at either end.
If our inference is correct, it is apparent
that, as we travel southward from Columbia
river, five of the North Pacific types become
modified and finally cease to be used. It
has not been possible to find any evidence
in the literature that indicates the point
where the distribution of any of these models
The use of dugout canoes extends, of
course, up the rivers which flow toward the
Northwest coast. Thus the Wishram at the
falls of the Columbia use the "Chinook"
model described in the present paper, and
other dugout models besides. George Gibbs
stated that the shovel-nose type is the only
one used on the Columbia above The
Dalles. 21 Curtis has one picture of a dug-
out canoe used by the Nez Perces. 22 It is of
the shovel-nose type (though shockingly
clumsy, heavy, and ill-made merely a log
roughly shaped and somewhat hollowed
out). Chamberlain states 23 that the Koo-
tenay have a dugout type of craft, of what
shape we do not know. It seems to be
impossible to trace in detail the distribu-
tion of the shovel-nose in this direction
on the basis of any material now in print.
We may speak with certainty, therefore,
only of the region immediately about
Seattle, where the present authors have had
a chance to make observations. In this
vicinity the only type of canoe used on the
upper courses of the streams is the shovel-
Concerning the distribution, in a north-
erly direction, of these types of canoes, little
can be said at the present time. As re-
marked above, the Kwakiutl use in place
of the ao'txs, a great sea-going canoe of
somewhat different and more complicated
model, and much more elaborately orna-
The evolution of canoes probably took
place among the people somewhat north-
ward of Puget Sound peoples, whose general
level of culture is higher. Going southward
from the Kwakiutl, say, canoes are steadily
less and less specialized, until we come to the
tribes of northern California with their one
model. South of the California tribes just
mentioned, these influences are not appar-
ent at all. Concerning the canoes of the
coast north of the Kwakiutl, we can get at
the present time no information. It is not
known whether several types are in use, or
only one. The pictures of Curtis, which
might tell the story, are not nearly so useful
as they are in other cases, since he photo-
graphed very few canoes in this area; possibly
because he found so much else to picture.
The situation as regards canoes in the
area under discussion may be essentially
like that respecting types of pottery in the
Southwest, as presented by Nelson. 24 He
has shown in a most interesting way that
the archaic types of pottery arc also the
types with the widest distribution. As we
pass from center to periphery of the cul-
tural region which he discusses, we en-
counter tvpes of pottery which are more
and more primitive. One striking differ-
ence between Nelson's problem and the
present one is that a great mass of evidence
has been assembled in the Southwest, while i
in regard to 'canoes on the Northwest coast
the data are largely lacking. Another dif- !
ference is that Nelson carried out extensive
investigations in the field, while the present
discussion is based largely on scattered ref-
erences in the literature. Nelson's conclu-
sions, to be brief, are based on knowledge
and facts, while our own must be in the last
The idea seems plausible, however, that
the original type of canoe on the Northwest
coast was the shovel-nose. Several con-
| siderations point in this direction. The
shovel-nose is the simplest model. This
raises a logical presumption that it may
well be the oldest. It is associated with
rivers, being of use only in streams and
other quiet water. This also suggests that
it may represent an early type. It may be
regarded as certain that the first man or
the first group who experimented with navi-
gation on the North Pacific coast, experi-
PUGET SOUND CANOES
mented on the rivers, and not on the high
seas. This would seem to imply that the
river craft would be the first to reach per-
fection. The sea-going "Chinook" type,
and models showing points of similarity to
it, are in all human probability later in
origin. When we consider the distribution
of the various types of canoes, we emerge
for a moment from the jungle of speculation
into the field of evidence, though that evi-
dence is scanty. It is a fact that the shovel-
nose type of canoe is of wider distribution
than the other types. It is the only type
found in the marginal regions to the east
and south of the area of typical North
Pacific Coast culture. Thus is raised the
presumption that it represents an older
type of craft than do the other models.
The connection between northern Cali-
fornia and the North Pacific area, which
seems to be exemplified in the distribution of
dugout canoes, is also a matter of some im-
portance. Ultimately it will doubtless be
proved by a careful comparison, in the two
areas, of houses, geographical notions,
monev and financial institutions, and other
matters, that the mode of life of the tribes
in extreme northern California is a direct
offshoot of the type of culture found in the
1889 First general report on the Indians of
British Columbia. In Report of the
Committee appointed for the purpose
of investigating . . . the north-
western tribes of the Dominion of
Canada. Report of the Fifty -ninth
meeting of the British Association for
the Advancement of Science, held . . .
in . . . 1889, pp. 801-803. [Deals
with the Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian,
1890 Second general report on the Indians
of British Columbia. Same series as
above. Report of the Sixtieth meeting,
held . . . in . . . 1890, pp. 562-715.
[Deals with the Nootka, Salish, and
1895 Fifth report on the Indians of British
Columbia. Same series as above.
Report of the Sixty- fifth meeting, held
. in 1895 pp 5^3-592
[Deals with the Tinneh of Nicola valley,
Ts'Ets'a'ut, and Nisk-a of Nass river.]
1 896 Sixth report on the Indians of British
Columbia. Same series as above.
Report of the Sixty-sixth meeting, held
PUGET SOUND CANOES
. . . in . . . JX96, pp. 569-591. [Deals
with the Kwakiutl and Tsimshian.]
1909 The Kwakiutl of Vancouver island.
Memoirs of the American Museum of
Natural History, vol. vin, pt. 2 (reprint
from Publications of the Jesup North
Pacific Expedition, vol. v, pt. 2).
CHAMBERLAIN. A. F.
1892 Report on the Kootenay Indians of
southeastern British Columbia. In
Report of the Committee appointed to
investigate . . . the northwestern
tribes of the Dominion of Canada.
Report of the Sixty-second meeting of
the British Association for the Advance-
ment of Science held . . . in ... 1892,
1784 A voyage to the Pacific ocean
for making discoveries in the northern
hemisphere . . . performed by Cap-
tains Cook, Clarke, and Gore, in his
Majesty's ship the Resolution and
Discovery, in the years 1776, 1777.
1778, 1779 and 1780. In three vol-
CURTT?, EDWARD S.
1907-1916 The North American Indian
. . . being a series of volumes picturing
and describing the Indians of the
United States and Alaska. In twenty
volumes. [Eleven volumes published
up to the present time.]
1855 Report on the Indian tribes of the
Territory of Washington. Pacific Rail-
road Report, vol. i, pp. 402-436,
Washington, D. C.
1877 Tribes of western Washington and
northwestern Oregon. Department of
the Interior, U. S. Geographical and
Geological Survey of the Rocky Moun-
tain Region. Contributions to North
American Ethnologv, vol. i, pp. 103-
LEWIS, ALBERT BUELL
1906 Tribes of the Columbia valley and the
coast of Oregon and Washington.
Memoirs of the American Anthropologi-
cal Association, vol. i, pt. 2.
LEWIS and CLARK
1904 Original Journals of the Lewis and
Clark expedition, 1804-1806, printed
from the original manuscript . . .
Edited ... by Reuben Gold
Thwaites, New York .
NELSON, N. C.
1919 Human Culture. Natural History,
New York, vol. xix, no. 2, pp. 131-140.
NIBLACK, A. P.
1890 The Coast Indians of southern Alaska
and northern British Columbia.
Smithsonian Institution, Report of the
U. S. National Museum for 1888,
SWAN, JAMES G.
1857 The Northwest coast; or. Three years
residence in Washington Territory.
New York. (Harper.)
1868 The Indians of Cape Flattery at the
PUGET SOUND CANOES
entrance to the Strait of Fuca, Wash-
ington Territory. Smithsonian Insti-
tution, Contributions to Knowledge, No.
1798 A voyage of discovery to the North
Pacific ocean and round the world
. . . performed in the years 1791-
1792, 1793, 1794, and 1795 in the Dis
covery Sloop-of-War, and the armed
tender Chatham . . . In three volumes
1. Boas, 1888, 1890, 1905-1909; Swan, 1868;
Niblack, 1890; Gibbs, 1855; Curtis, 1907-1916;
vols. vm-xi and folios. Of the earlier authors ;
Cook, 1784, vol. n, p. 327; Vancouver, 1798;
and Lewis and Clark, 1904, vol. iv, give valu-
able data. For references, see the bibliography.
2. Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of Amer-
ican Ethnology, Bulletin 30.
3. 1904, vol. w, pp. 31,35.
4. 1889, p. 817; 1890, pp. 565, 566; also a
remark quoted by A. B. Lewis, 1906, p. 163.
5. 1855, p. 430; 1877, p. 216.
6. 1857. DD. 79, 80.
7. 1890, p. 294.
8. 1907-1916, vol. ix. D. 60.
9. See especially 1890, p. 817, with figures.
10. 1904, p. 30.
11. Boas, 1890, p. 566.
12. Boas, 1890, p. 566; see also Curtis,
1907-1916, vol. x, Folio, pi. 345.
13. 1890, p. 295.
14. 1889, p. 817.
15. The corresponding class of craft is called
snE'quatl among the Songish, and is styled by
Boas the "small fishing canoe."
16. See above, p. 26.
17. 1798, vol. i, p. 204.
18. Quoted by A. B. Lewis, 1906, p. 163, as
19. 1907-1916, vol. vm.
20. For example, 1907-1916, vol. ix, p. 98.
21. 1877, p. 215.
22. 1907-1916, vol. vm, p. 46.
23. 1892, p. 566.
24. 1919, pp. 113-136.
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