Tule Reed Boats

In San Fransisco, there is going to be a World Cup in November 2013, with the Maori People from New Zealand will be there. We will take our Tule boats out there in the bay, so there will be boats from the Maori, the Ohlone, and others.

The pictures above show a tribal member, Antonio, paddling around in an Ohlone Tule reed boat.

In order to make the reed boats, we go and harvest the tule grass reeds while in ritual prayer with songs, reverence and offerings before we even start.Then they are taken/transported to the drying location to let them dry properly and not get any mold. If you try to bend and shape the reeds when recently harvested, they are not pliable and will break, so we can only harvest and lay to dry before any other craft or project can even be intended or considered with them.

I want to Congratulate the guys & gals from our Humaya SIngers N Dancers : Daniel Q ,Jennifer Q , Richard *, Micheal *,and Ceecee on accomplishing a full trailer load harvest of our traditional Tule reed this week(11/25/2012).
If these harvests continue to happen, soon we will have enough for a few boats or even more, that would depend on how often people get together to harvest and gather the way our Wingman Daniel has managed to gather together with relatives without any funding.

Together we can do many things,

Will be seeing You Ukos soon,


A Tonio

In order to shape the reeds, they have to be dried and then soaked in water first to make them pliable. After soaking, the reeds can be worked with, to make many useful articles like: body coverings, cloaks,skirts,arm coverings/head-ware,etc.; dwellings, shades, mats, granaries, baskets and other things like toy dolls and toy canoes for children.

Although it seems to look like a simple grass canoe/boat, it is a water vessel which has to be built by a process of measuring lengths/ thickness/  to match and properly bundle various size bundles.

After properly bundled they are counted and assembled in a way(through a stitching with twined rope) that makes and shapes the water craft to its final completeness. These boats glide over water seamlessly and are easy to maneuver with the traditional double paddle. We can make them in various sizes depending on how many dry tule reeds are available/gathered and how many people help to make them. Working the ropes are two jobs, while positioning the bundles are another two jobs and making the bundles are two more jobs to be filled, which makes this all sounds like much. And in its own way, is a thorough process of Tule reed grass watercraft/boat/canoe stitch tie assembly. If it was not thoroughly stitch tied, things could go awry and wouldn’t float properly, much less carry passenger/paddlers and some cargo in an open bay area or any other water way.

It just so happens that things seem complex, but really are simply well felt, measured, noted and matched, where as to their purpose and present form being crafted, shaped and secured tightly into a watercraft. I am looking forward to making many Tule grass reed boats, canoes and watercrafts of many sizes in the very near future.


A Tonio

Ideally it would very nice to have all the resources to make many in several sizes ie: single/double/tri-person or even four passenger/paddlers, but things are not that way at this time, Maybe sometime in the near future!?!

Above shows a boat mid construction.

(All photos except the very last one are courtesy of: Melissa K. Nelson. All photos c/o: A Tonio