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Birch Bark Canoes

Y'all, I have just started this amazingly researched and visually stunning anthology of Native American Canoes ! Serious Nerd Alert lol.

It is basically an organized presentation of the exhaustive notes and life time of research by this guy Edwin Tappen Adney. Adney spent a large part f his life learning and recording everything he could about Native American canoe construction.

He was born in the 1860s, just as Native American ways of life were being lost and crushed. Since first contact with Europeans Native American populations declined rapidly, mostly due to disease. By the 1830s the Trail of Tears and forceful removal of Native American had begun. This cruel process continued for decades and resulted in the near destruction of Native American ways of life and traditional knowledge. The same process was happening to the First Peoples of Canada.

The knowledge of traditional canoe construction was being lost as the elders passed away. Adney was in a race against time. He took it upon himself to visit and learn from the few surviving canoe builders in tribes all across The United States and Canada.

Adney took meticulous notes of the material, tools of construction, techniques, and designs of tribes from New England all the way to Alaska. This skill has almost totally disappeared even from Native American communities. Today only a handful of Bark canoes are built each year by just a few practitioners of both Native and European descent. His throughly researched (but unorganized) notes were thankfully preserved by his son in a personal file and by a few universities. Thankfully a scholar named Howard Irving Chapelle of The Smithsonian Institute organized these notes into this marvelous book.

Some of you know I built a wooden kayak years ago. It was a simple construction of wood stitched together with wire and then sealed with fiberglass. the modern materials are a stand-in for traditional materials like birch bark, shredded tree roots, and pitch or sap from trees. The form of the kayak is not that different than those traditionally built by the Inuit people of Alaska. Maybe someday i can use Edwin Tappen Adneys notes to built a proper birch bark canoe...

until then our tours will keep using the 17 foot Old Town brand canoes. great solid canoes. they are the standard bearer for modern canoe construction.

All the tours are four days and three nights. All the tours are fully outfitted with all gear, equipment, food, and me as your guide :)

As always if you have questions or ideas about the trips just shoot me a message here w the contact form or on Instagram under bd_markey

See you on the river,

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