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First Coastal Californians

Edited by Lynn H. Gamble

First Coastal Californians2015. 160 pp., Figures, maps, color plates, index. , 8.5 x 112015. 160 pp., Figures, maps, color plates, index. , 8.5 x 11

Some of the most complex hunter-gatherer societies on earth flourished along California’s rugged coastline, and this volume brings together an impressive group of experts to tell a story wrought in shell mounds, ancient fishhooks, buried villages, and rock paintings. Every Native group along the California coast interacted with neighbors near and far, and such interactions, especially trade, are among the central themes of this book. Their pattern of life might have continued indefinitely had it not been for the “cultural earthquake” of European exploration and settlement; however, the story of the these Native groups remains one of brilliant adaptations to intensely challenging physical and social environments, a powerful reminder of the resilience and continuity of California’s first people.

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Contributors: Jeffrey H. Altschul, Richard Ciolek-Torello, Julia G. Costello, Rob Q. Cuthrell, John G. Douglass, Jon M. Erlandson, Lynn H. Gamble, Michael A. Glassow, Donn R. Grenda, William Hyder, Mark G. Hylkema, John R. Johnson, Terry L. Jones, Matthew Des Lauriers, Georgia Lee, Kent G. Lightfoot, Edward M. Luby, Patricia Masters, Jennifer E. Perry, Judith F. Porcasi, Seetha N. Reddy, Torben C. Rick, Matthew A. Russell, Tsim D. Schneider, Chuck J. Striplen, Heather B. Thakar, René L. Vellanoweth, Linda Yamane

View the Table of Contents

Download an excerpt (PDF, 3 MB).

Read Reviews

  • “Gamble has pulled together an all-star cast of archaeologists, ethnohistorians, and Native American scholars and challenged them to provide an easy-to-read overview of California Indian life over the last thirteen thousand years. The result is remarkable. Easily understood by the general reader and beautifully illustrated, the volume will capture the imagination and demonstrates the resilience of California Indians in the past and present.”
    Douglas J. Kennett, Penn State University
  • “This book is an extraordinarily beautiful, state-of-the-art, authoritative, and gloriously and imaginatively illustrated account of Indigenous coastal peoples of California from the earliest archaeological evidence to the present day. All 17 essays, each shorter than ten pages, are successfully written for a broad constituency of readers, including students, Native Californians, general readers, and archaeologists. The collection begins with a one-page chronology of coastal California Indian history, followed by a map of all Native California language groups at the time of European contact and a masterful lead essay by editor Gamble (Univ. of California at Santa Barbara) on 'Thirteen Thousand Years on the Coast.' Abundant new research by Gamble and others, including Kent Lightfoot (Univ. of California at Berkeley; 'Managing the Land with Fire' and 'Shell Mound Builders of San Francisco Bay'), gives cutting-edge perspectives on California prehistory. With its well-selected illustrations and list of selected readings, the book is a stunning gift to general readers and a clarion testimony to the high quality of current scholarship on the Indigenous peoples of coastal California.”
    W. S. Simmons, Brown University
  • First Coastal Californians is written for the general public, and it is richly illustrated with black and white and color photographs, maps, and original drawings. The ninth volume in an excellent series on early Americans, it is a wonderful introduction to one of America's most interesting and complex native cultures.”
    Mark Michel, American Archaeology
  • “This volume provides a general audience with a clear and compelling view of the region’s 13,000-year history that will educate and fascinate readers. . . . As a whole, this book provides an impressive synthesis of scientific results, presented in language and format suitable for an educated lay audience. Arresting color plates give the reader a real sense of the history, and the ongoing vibrant cultures of the first coastal Californians. This book has certainly succeeded in its goal of bringing the rich past of coastal California to a format suitable for the public. All the contributors should be lauded for their efforts.”
    Brian F. Codding, University of Utah, Journal of Anthropological Research 73(2)
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