A dugout canoe used by indigenous people 3,000 years ago recently recovered from Wisconsin’s Lake Mendota is the oldest canoe ever found in the Great Lakes region, the Wisconsin Historical Society said Thursday.
The canoe, which was found in pieces in the lake bed, was removed in collaboration with Wisconsin’s Native Nations, the historical society said in a news release.
According to the historical society, the canoe, which was carved from a single piece of white oak and is 14.5 feet long, was discovered near where a 1,200-year-old fully intact canoe was found last November.
“Members from the Ho-Chunk Nation and Bad River Tribe were present at the canoe recovery,” the historical society said in the news release.
The canoes are being restored by preservationists in a process which will take two years.
“Finding an additional historically significant canoe in Lake Mendota is truly incredible and unlocks invaluable research and educational opportunities to explore the technological, cultural, and stylistic changes that occurred in dugout canoe design over 3,000 years,” said James Skibo, the society’s state archaeologist.
Skibo said the finding, which was within 100 yards of last year’s, has prompted research to determine if the canoes were near now submerged village sites.
“The recovery of this canoe built by our ancestors gives further physical proof that Native people have occupied Teejop (Four Lakes) for millennia, that our ancestral lands are here and we had a developed society of transportation, trade and commerce,” Ho-Chunk President Marlon WhiteEagle said.
The society said the canoe will be cared for by tribal members and its staff before it and the canoe found last year undergo a two-year process to preserve them, and concluding with freeze-drying to remove any remaining water.
“I was amazed when a 1,200-year-old canoe was uncovered last year, but this discovery of a canoe dating back to 1000 BC is just extraordinary,” Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said in a statement.