Birchbark Canoe in color photos: Indigenous Technology Volume I

Birchbark Canoe in color photos: Indigenous Technology Volume I

by Cedargrove Mastermind Group

Paperback

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Overview

As one studies a birchbark canoe, one realizes that it is basically a scaled-up, streamlined basket. The same kind of technology was used, to make them. This is not unusual. Irish coracles are essentially large baskets.
Birchbark canoes were used by Native Americans of northern regions, wherever birch trees grew, and there were bodies of water. Written records cite sizes from one person, to even fifty. The fur trade that made some Europeans rich was dependent on birchbark canoes for transport. They were made in some quantity, during the fur trade, almost like an assembly line. John Jacob Astor made his fortune in the fir trade, and invested it in real estate, in New York City. Furs were marked up to about ten times what Native Americans were paid.
A considerable amount of work was involved in making a birchbark canoe. One needed birch trees of large diameter, ideally. Bark was collected about August, at specific times, soas not to kill the trees. Once taken off the tree, the bark was put on a sledge, flat. The bark was weighted, and kept out of the Sun. It was stored in shade.
A sort of jig, or frame, or guide, of stakes hammered into the ground, gave the outline. Prowpieces were laminated, manboards carved, gunwhales were bent and lashed, with thwarts added, and a frame took form. Ribs, probably of pine, and cedar planking were split, and prepared. They were added to the frame, in a way not unlike the way aluminum sheeting is put over a frame, to make the wing of an airplane. The bark was shaped to the boat, and stitched. Spruce root was used for binding. Pine pitch was used for caulking seams, holes, and scars. A boat could even be decorated with etching, or paint.
Two man canoes for hunting, or war, could be more easily made. They may not have had planking. If taken care of, they could last for up to six years. Native Americans stored both canoes, and dugouts, under water, or perhaps upside down under a cover, in shade.
Edwin Tappan Adney notes, in his The Bark Canoes and Skin Boats of North America, that canoes were built carefully, without iron fastenings. They were light, and easily paddled. The ends were sharp. The bottom lifted somewhat near the ends.
Think of it as the pickup truck of its day. It was used for fishing, harvesting wild rice, hunting, and trapping, and even amorous pursuits, just like a pickup truck.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781530062928
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 02/21/2016
Pages: 32
Product dimensions: 8.50(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.08(d)

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