Ancestral Craft: The Building Of A Dugout Canoe

Pedro Zepeda and John Brown of the Seminole and Muscogee people present a handcrafted canoe to Ocmulgee Mounds National Park

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Dugout canoes have served humankind as a means of transportation for at least 10,000 years. In the U.S. Southeast, Indigenous Americans used canoes made of hollowed-out trees to efficiently travel through the low country wetlands sprawling across the geographic region. In an effort to pay forward an ancestral craft, Pedro Zepeda from the Seminole Tribe of Florida and John Brown of the Muscogee Nation rendezvoused in Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park to build a dugout canoe.

The Building Of A Dugout Canoe

In the video above published by Mvskoke Media, the press of the Muscogee Nation, the two men of the Seminole and Muscogee people present the dugout canoe to Ocmulgee Mounds National Park.

In the second video, The Telegraph, a Macon, Georgia newspaper highlights the building process of Zepeda and Brown’s dugout canoe. To build the canoe, the two were able to source a full section of cypress, one of the types of trees traditionally used in building Southeastern dugout canoes.

The historical park stands on the grounds of a cultural place of importance for a succession of Native Americans spanning 12,000 years of human habitation. Now the donated canoe joins the cultural presence of the park where Zepeda and Brown hope it may be appreciated by visitors, and inspire future generations to continue the ancestral craft of canoe building.


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