We are asking for support for our Native American Watercrafts
-- The Tongva Plank Canoes "Ti'ats in particular,
but not excluding tule boats or dug outs or any other Indigenous watercraft. Which is an integral part of our culture. Our
paddlers are very much like our honored warriors of the ocean, hunters-gatherers of the sea. They bring the gift of life from
the sea and communication, trade that is so essential to a vibrant society. Like Knights of the round table and
the Sun-Dancers of Plains, our paddlers dedicate themselves to helping the people
who lived in the Los Angeles Basin and the Chumash in the Santa Barbara, Channel Island area (Gabrieleño/Fernandeño
by the Europeans) are an ocean people. We have a very special relationship with the moompet the ocean, which nourished and
sustained us. We built a unique watercraft, plank canoes and traveled the oceans under all conditions, we were the "The
Lords of the Ocean". We traveled between villages on the mainland and the islands, trading items that we needed and fishing
and hunting the abundant resources of the sea.
Within villages, a Brotherhood of the plank canoe came together to construct
the vessels. To belong to the group was a great honor. The well-being of the people depended on building seaworthy canoes
that would withstand the rigors of sea travel. Older craftsmen passed the secrets of how to build the craft down to the younger
men. The work proceeded slowly, sometimes taking months to complete.
Plank canoes, Ti'at and the Tomol, were anywhere from eight to 30 feet long (more evidence
may reveal that some plank canoes could have been 100 feet long) and were made using driftwood and or redwood when they could
find it. Traveling at speeds from 11 to 14 knots. The heavy one-piece floor had three or four rows of planks added to build
up the sides. Each row of planks was glued in place with asphaltum (tar) or yop, a melted mixture of pine pitch that hardened.
After this glue dried, each plank was fastened to the one below by drilling holes on each side of the seam and tying the boards
together with plant fiber string made from Indian hemp. The holes and seams were filled with more hot yop. Sanding was done
using sandstone and finished with shark skin. Last, the canoe was painted and decorated.
The last Chumash tomols
used for fishing were made about 1850. In 1913, an elderly Chumash man, Fernando Librado, made a tomol for an anthropologist,
John P. Harrington, to show how they were built. He had seen the last tomols being built when he was a young man. In the past
twenty years several Chumash tomols & one Ti'at have been made using John Harrington's notes to guide their construction.
Diary of Miguel Costanso
far as the sea.
Near our camp there was very small Indian village; the inhabitants lived in huts thatched with grass, of a spherical form
like the half of an orange, each having a vent in its upper part through which light entered and the smoke escaped.
Through the Cañada de Santa Clara,
2 leagues. From San Diego, 69 leagues
Monday, August 14.-- We broke camp in the morning, directing our course to the west-southwest for a distance of two leagues
[league noun a former measure of distance by land, usually about three miles.] We
reached the coast, and came in sight of a real town--the most populous and best arranged of all we had seen up to that time--
situated on a tongue or point of land, right on the shore which it was dominating, and it seemed to command the waters. We
counted as many as thirty large and capacious houses, spherical in form well built, and thatched with grass. We judged from
the large number of people that came out to meet us, and afterwards flocked to the camp, that there could not be less than
four hundred souls in the town.
These natives are well built and of a good disposition,
very agile and alert, diligent and skillful. Their handiness and ability were at their best in the construction of their canoes
made of pine boards, well joined and calked, and of a pleasing form. They handle these with equal skill, and three or four
men go out to sea in them to fish, as they will hold eight or ten men. They use long double-bladed paddles and row with indesribable
agility and swiftness. All their work is neat and well finished, but what is most worthy of surprise is that to work the wood
and stone they have no other tools than those made of flint.
Diary of Miguel
Costanso ((The Portola Exp. 1769-1770 edited by Fr. J. Teegart, Pubs. of the A. of P.C. Hist., U. of C. , Aug. 1911, Vol.
2, no. 4, p. 192, date of Lunes 14 de Agost.  Ms. in the Sutrot library.))
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