The use of canoes was very important to the Native Americans, as they were a people who lived off of the land. Canoes were used for both transportation and fishing. Since many of the Native American tribes were settled near bodies of water, being able to fish was an important part of survival. Fishing from canoes was done with spears and bows, or hooks that were fashioned from antlers or bones. Transportation was needed for times when trade with other tribes or cultures was necessary. When fur trading became common, the need for canoes became even more necessary.
The Indian Canoe The Indian Canoes and history of
Dugout canoes were one of the first canoes to ever be fashioned. There were constructed from one large log, usually of chestnut or pine. A fire was used to carefully hollow out the logs, being extinguished at the right time so as to scrape out the bottom and sides. Shell or stone tools were typically used for this purpose.
The most commonly known canoe associated with the Native American culture was the birch bark canoe. Since they were made from the birch tree, these canoes would have been made wherever these trees grew in abundance. Records that have been found have shown that the birch bark canoe was built in many different sizes. Records show that there were boats built for a single person, and boats that could have carried up to 50 at a time. The average lengths were between 10 and 24 feet long.
Native Tech Birch Bark canoes
Native American Canoes Dug Out and Birch Bark Canoes
Watercraft Native American watercrafts, such as the Chumash and the Tongva Plank Canoes
A lot of work was required to fashion a canoe. The bark and root lashings would first need to be gathered. The older canoes built by Native Americans were light framed bark skins, but were built tough and strong. The canoes were sometimes built out of single pieces of bark, which were then pleated around the edges so that the slack was taken in. Other canoes were built from bark that had been sewn together in sections, and then caulked together with spruce gum. Spruce gum was an essential material, as it sealed up the seams and made the canoe watertight. This was made from the gum of a Spruce tree.
Paddles for canoes were also designed from one single piece of wood, usually cedar and spruce, spruce being the favored of the two. Cedar was used for its lighter weight and strength.