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Northern Exposure in Doubt

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Science  11 Jun 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5984, pp. 1347
DOI: 10.1126/science.328.5984.1347

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In the 1930s, famed anthropologist Alfred Kroeber noted that the Chumash Indians of Southern California made sophisticated sewn-plank boats remarkably like those constructed in Hawaii more than 4000 kilometers to the west. He suggested prehistoric Polynesian contact as the source of the Chumash technique. Now an archaeologist and a linguist are seeking to prove that old theory. But while researchers are making strides in demonstrating a connection between South America and Polynesia (see main text), the idea that California Indians learned from Hawaiians faces an uphill struggle. Questions about timing make many archaeologists skeptical.