Continuing with excerpts from The Discovery of San Francisco Bay. The Portolá Expedition of 1769-1770--[but first, could somebody please straighten me out regarding Spanish orthography? I've read both Portolá and Portolà-which is it?]
The Portola Expedition was the first European land exploration of Southern California. They travelled by foot and hoof from San Diego to San Francisco and many points in between. Along the way, they encountered scores of friendly Indian encampments (villages really). Here are Miguel Costansó's first impressions of those first Americans:
Both the men and the women are of good figure and appearance, and are fond of painting and staining their faces and bodies. They use large tufts of feathers, and hairpins that they put through their hair with various ornaments and coral beads of different colors.
The men go entirely naked, but when it is cold they wear long capes of tanned otter skins, and cloaks made of the same skins cut into long strips, and turned in such a manner that all of the fur is on the outside. They then weave these strips together, making a fabric, and give it the form mentioned above.
The women are dressed with more modesty, wearing around the waist tanned deerskins, which cover them in front and back more than halfway down the leg, and a little cape of otter skin over the body. Some of them have attractive features.
Polygamy is not permitted among these people; the chiefs alone possess the right to take two wives. In all of their towns there was noticed a class of men who lived like women, associated with them, wore the same dress, adorned themselves with beads, earrings, necklaces, and other feminine ornaments, and enjoyed great consideration among their companions. The want of an interpreter prevented us from ascertaining what kind of men they were, or to what office they were designed; all suspected however, a sexual defect or some abuse among those Indians.