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November 6, 2017 AT 1:30 am

The Making of Tule (Reed) Boats | #NativeAmericanHeritageMonth

I’m fascinated with boats and marine culture – from 3D-printed RC boats to DIY paddle boats, from shipwrecks (submarinewreck?) to racing yachts and ancient maritime tools. And now add to that list the simple and quite elegant tule boats made from the reeds of sedges found throughout the greater Bay surrounding present-day San Francisco. The boat design was common to the Ohlone and Miwok people, typically using tule for the boat body and cattail for the rope and harness material. The videos below offer a timelapse of a boat construction as well as where and how the reed is harvested – it’s surprisingly buoyant (and edible apparently), with some pictures and videos online showing tule boats holding as many as four people.

This video is part of a series called Native America. Your host is Lorenzo, who earned a Master’s degree in American Indian Studies at UCLA. This 18 minute video on constructing a tule boat in California has been compressed into a 4-minute run time. The Coast Miwok and Pomo people lived around today’s Point Reyes National Seashore. Lorenzo tests the tule boat at Tomales Bay, northeast of the Point Reyes peninsula.

Join us as we revitalize our the traditional practice of making Tule Boats! Part of our upcoming collaboration with Toiyabe Family services to raise awareness on indigenous games for the Jr. Olympics to be held in Bishop, CA Aug 15, 2012.


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