Skip to page content

A Journey to a New Land

Mountain Goats
Multimedia Library

Dr. Barbara Winter

SFU Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology


Beyond the basics of food and shelter, the earliest travelers down the coast must have had boats.

The most likely kind of watercraft would have been a skin covered boat, with skin stretched over a framework made of wood, or perhaps bone or antler. These are very similar to the kayaks and umiaks that were made in the arctic until just recently. This type of boat is very distinctive, but it is made of organic materials. All of these organic materials would have decayed. We don’t have any examples lasting from even a few hundred years ago, let alone thousands of years ago back to the ice age.

Archaeologists sometime infer the kind of thing that is made from the tool that is used. This would work if it is a very distinctive, specialized tool, but unfortunately the tools that are used to make skin boats are multi-purpose, simple tools. While we have found multi-purpose, simple tools, we don’t know for sure that they would have been used for creating a skin boat. If we had these skin boats we would be able to infer a lot more about the lifeways of people at this time.