The Chumash, pronounced CHOO-mash, of the Paciﬁc Coast are the only North American Native peoples who built boats out of planks. Other Indians used planks to make houses but never applied this technology to boatmaking, instead either carving dugouts from single logs or fashioning boats by stretching bark or skin over a wooden frame. Chumash craftspeople split logs of cedar with antler wedges and smoothed the lumber with shell and stone rubbing tools. Then they lashed the planks together with animal sinew or plant bindings, and caulked them with asphalt to form 25-foot double-bowed hulls.
A crew of four paddlers could handle these boats in ocean waters. The Chumash—probably eight different bands— lived in the vicinity of present-day Santa Barbara in central California, on the mainland and on the three closest of the eight Channel Islands. It is thought that they used their boats for passage among the different Chumash villages, as well as for fishing and hunting sea mammals. The Chumash are sometimes referred to as the Santa Barbara Indians.