I didn't know this! Indians in the Pacific Northwest were working iron before contact with Europeans. Salvaged from Japanese wrecks! Boy, one wonders what they thought about the origin of these ships?
Iron in the Pacific Northwest
Native ironwork in the Northwest Coast has been found in places like the Ozette Indian Village Archeological Site, where iron chisels and knives were discovered. These artifacts seem to have been crafted around 1613, based on the dendrochronological analysis of associated pieces of wood in the site, and were made out of drift iron from Asian (specifically Japanese) shipwrecks, which were swept by the Kuroshio Current towards the coast of North America.
The tradition of working with Asian drift iron was well-developed in the Northwest before European contact, and was present among several native peoples from the region, including the Chinookan peoples and the Tlingit, who seem to have had their own specific word for the metallic material, which was transcribed by Frederica De Laguna as gayES. The wrecking of Japanese vessels in the North Pacific basin was fairly common, and the iron tools and weaponry they carried provided the necessary materials for the development of the local ironwork traditions among the Northwestern Pacific Coast peoples, although there were also other sources of iron, like that from meterorites, which was occasionally worked using stone anvils.
If wrecks containing iron showed up on the Northwest coast, then the next step - wrecks with live people - is not a very big step to take. And if those wrecks weren't intercepted by the Northwesterners, they would continue - following the prevailing winds and currents - straight to Hawai'i. Large logs showed up periodically on Hawaiian shores in just this way. And those large logs were fashioned into canoes that furthered the maritime activities of Hawai'i. That these logs (and other signs) meant that there were things going on up-current could have raised questions that got folks thinking - and maybe even urged them to try to go up-current to find out what things were going on on that end of things. Such practices got the entire Pacific Ocean discovered so long ago - long before Capt. Cook and folks like him - who claimed to be "the" discoverers. They weren't. It was the sea-faring folks of the Pacific who made all discoveries! They were awesome folks!