3,000-year-old canoe found in Wisconsin lake is oldest ever in Great Lakes region

A 3,000-year-old Native American canoe that was excavated from the bottom of a Wisconsin lake is believed to be the oldest ever found in the Great Lakes.

The dugout canoe was found in the same area of Madison’s Lake Mendota as another 1,200-year-old one that was discovered completely intact in November.

3,000-year-old canoe found

The 3,000-year-old canoe was carved from a single, 14.5-foot piece of white oak, and was found in pieces by an archaeologist while she was giving a scuba diving lesson.

It was then excavated by a team with the Wisconsin Historical Society and volunteers, with members of the Ho-Chunk Nation and Bad River Tribe present.

Using carbon dating, scientists estimated it was built in 1,000 B.C., meaning a gap of about 1,800 years separates the two canoes.

The latest canoe provides the earliest direct evidence of water transportation technology in the region, the Wisconsin Historical Society said. James Skibo, a state archaeologist, said the “truly incredible” finding could yield insights about the indigenous peoples in the area.

“Finding an additional historically significant canoe in Lake Mendota is truly incredible and unlocks invaluable research and educational opportunities to explore the technological, cultural, and stylistic changes that occurred in dugout canoe design over 3,000 years,” said Skibo.

Democrat governor responds

The proximity of the two canoes suggests they were left at “submerged village sites,” he added.

The two canoes will be preserved and freeze-dried.

Wisconsin’s Democrat governor Tony Evers celebrated the finding as an opportunity to “celebrate” the history of indigenous people who “called this land home since long before Wisconsin became a state.”

Similarly, Ho-Chunk President Marlon WhiteEagle touted the discovery as proof of the complexity of indigenous societies, as well as supporting evidence for the territorial claims of indigenous people today.

“The recovery of this canoe built by our ancestors gives further physical proof that Native people have occupied Teejop (Four Lakes) for millennia, that our ancestral lands are here and we had a developed society of transportation, trade and commerce,” he said.