Canoeing is a particular popular pass time for many families and individuals. Nearly every state has a canoe rental shop somewhere on a river where families go on the weekend to paddle down a scenic waterway. To those interested in recreational or competitive canoeing, canoe building could be considered an artful craft, especially those canoes built to mimic the early designs of the Native American Indian.
Long before the settlement of America, the Indians valued canoe building more as a highly desirable and necessary skill than as an artful craft. However, upon closer examination of some of the canoes on display at various museums across the country, one could easily spot the craftsmanship that went into canoe building.
One canoe of special interest is a Haida canoe, which is on display at the American Museum of Natural History. The Haida canoe on display there was built in 1878 by the Haida Indians, who were native to the Queen Charlotte Islands off British Columbia. It measures a remarkable sixty-three feet in length and has been restored to a condition that reflects the original intricacy of its carvings.
From a practical sense, canoe building was a necessary means of travel. Canoes were the Indians’ primary and only way of transportation along the coast and down and across the Mississippi River. This travel improved trade, aided in war and allowed for representatives of different tribes to resolve inter-tribal issues.
Today, many worthy craftsmen claim canoe building as a hobby and even a business. Many combine the original styles of the Native American Indian canoes with modern day construction and material. A handcrafted canoe, especially with scroll designs or carvings cannot be had cheaply. For the novice craftsmen who would like to attempt their own construction, canoe building designs and plans can be bought from several sources.
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