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Colonized as early as 13,500 years ago, the Northern Channel Islands of California offer some of the earliest evidence of human habitation along the west coast of North America. The Chumash people who lived on these islands are considered to be among the most socially and politically complex hunter-gatherers in the world. This book provides a powerful and innovative synthesis of the cultural and environmental history of the chain of islands. Douglas J. Kennett shows that the trends in cultural elaboration were, in part, set into motion by a series of dramatic environmental events that were the catalyst for the unprecedented social and political complexity observed historically.