Category Archives: California

Haida stone carving from Chumash Territory, California?

NW Coast stone carving found in Chumash Territory, California. Source: http://www.arrowheadology.com/forums/showthread.php?t=42646&p=359269&viewfull=1#post359269

NW Coast stone carving found in Chumash Territory, California. Source: http://www.arrowheadology.com/forums/showthread.php?t=42646&p=359269&viewfull=1#post359269

If someone out there in webland makes a link to my blog, and then someone else clicks on that link, I might be able to tell which site is referring to me.  Sometimes this leads to unexpected discoveries.  One of these incoming links is a query to an artifact collecting forum (boo) from a collector in southern California, who found the above small sculpture in Chumash territory.  As is so common in the collector world, there is no other contextual information about this piece, which to my eye, appears to be an early historic Haida carving in argillite. Knowledgeable readers may wish to weigh in below in the comments section about the motifs and provenance of this sculpture – there are more fairly low-quality pictures here. How it made its way to the Santa Barbara area is anyone’s guess, it may have been a simple curio bought by a tourist, or it may be a now-lost bit of evocative human history like the one I suggested here for Haida argillite found on San Juan Island.

NW Coast stone carving found in Chumash Territory, California. Source: http://www.arrowheadology.com/forums/showthread.php?t=42646&p=359269&viewfull=1#post359269

NW Coast stone carving found in Chumash Territory, California. Source: http://www.arrowheadology.com/forums/showthread.php?t=42646&p=359269&viewfull=1#post359269

William Alexander’s Watercolours of Vancouver’s Voyage

Village of the Friendly Indians near Bute's Canal. Watercolour by William Alexander. Source: University of Illinois.

Yesterday I posted an engraved  view of  a village near the entrance to Bute Inlet, the view seen in 1792 during the voyage of Captain Vancouver.  Much as with the earlier posts on John Webber (1, 2, 3), there are multiple versions of these scenes.  The above shows a watercolour rendering made by William Alexander, a well known artist and draughtsman of the late 18th century.  It seems his series of works on the NW Coast was not done from life but was a commissioned finalization of the drawings of William Daniell, who was actually on Vancouver’s voyages, and perhaps other artists/oficer’s sketches.  At least that is the story I’ve been able to winkle out, starting from a position of sheer ignorance.  Nicely, though, Alexander’s watercolours from the Vancouver Voyage series, covering Alaska, the Northwest Coast and some views of California and Chile, are all available online through the Newberry Library at the University of Illinois.  These renderings were not familiar to me and perhaps not to you, either.

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State Underwater Archaeology Overviews

Part of a sunken fleet of recreational dories, Emerald Bay, California.

The US National Parks Service has a useful page summarizing policies and laws regarding “submerged resources” – which includes underwater archaeological sites.  The sections most of interest to the six readers of this blog are probably the pages on Washington State, Alaska, Oregon and California — though the fact that Idaho has a page is, at least, surprising until you remember the importance of paddle-wheelers in the earlier interior historical period all over the west.

Another Emerald Bay dory. Source: http://www.parks.ca.gov/default.asp?page_id=22707

La Brea Woman: Image Controversy

La Brea Woman forensic reconstruction.

I came across this interesting article chronicling an emerging controversy in Los Angeles.  I never knew that human remains had been found in the La Brea tar pits, but a partial skeleton of a young female had been on display until recently in the George C. Page Museum there.  At some point, a museum  volunteer made forensic-style reconstructive drawings of this young woman.  Now the museum is trying to prevent their publication, a move which some claim is designed to help prevent their repatriation.

Are illustrations of human remains tantamount to display of the human remains themselves?  Is the display of a cast any different?  The forensic reconstructionist apparently used the cast, not the actual skull. But consider the process of making a cast: is not that a greater insult to the dead than merely handling their bones would be?  In any case, these forensic reconstructions contain a little too much interpretive latitude: consider the Kennewick man reconstruction whose resemblance to Patrick Stewart has done nothing to quell the notion Kennewick man was ‘Caucasian’. Further, the forensic reconstructions include disturbing “cutaways” revealing the reconstructive process and producing an otherworldly, inhuman appearance (see below).

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