An ancient Native American canoe has been discovered on the banks of the Red River in Caddo Parish near Shreveport.
According to the Office of Cultural Developmant (OCD), the canoe was found on property owned by Robin and Sharon Kavanaugh and Kay McNeely of McNeely Family Partnership.
The canoe was found half buried lying on a steep riverbank at 33 and a half feet long, two feet wide, and two feet high. It is likely made of cypress, although the wood hasn’t been identified yet.
The body of the canoe appears to be in good shape and is estimated to weigh approximately 1,200 up to 1,500 pounds. Other estimations put the canoe to be between 800 and 1,500 years old.
The Caddo Nation has expressed interest in the canoe as they have lived in Northwest Louisiana for at least the last 1200 years. The Osage Nation has also expressed interest in the canoe as they traded and hunted in this region over the last 1,000 years as well.
The canoe may represent an important historical artifact that was made and used by one of these tribes.
Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser expressed excitement about the canoe and what it means to Louisiana’s culture and history, “This canoe links us to the past and connects us with our present. It will allow us to learn about the Native Americans and the people who lived here before us.”
Today, the canoe is about 70 percent complete because half of one side and end are missing.
“The dugout canoe is a remarkable discovery for its size and degree of preservation,” said Division of Archaeology Director Chip McGimsey. “It is a beautiful example of our American Indian heritage. It may have been used by ancestors of today’s modern tribes, giving them a direct connection to their past.”
It took a team of nearly 20 people and a bulldozer about seven hours to build a crate around the canoe to protect it and move it onto a truck.
The canoe was taken Thursday to the Conservation Research Laboratory at Texas A&M University where it will be conserved and prepared for display. This process is anticipated to take a number of months and upon completion of the conservation process it will be returned to Louisiana at yet to be determined location.
A sample of the wood has been sent off to be radiocarbon dated at Beta Analytic, Inc.in Miami, Fla. which will can assist in determining when the tree used to construct the canoe was cut down.
The OCD anticipates having the date this week.