Tag Archives: Quinalt

One Tree, Four Canoes

"Making 4 canoes from one cedar tree, Olympic Loop, Queets, Washington.

Yesterday I posted on canoe steaming.  In the process of preparing that, I ran across an eye-popping photograph, above.  Seriously, I have been working on Northwest Coast Archaeology for over two decades.  I have a pretty good memory.

But I’d never seen this picture before, which shows four dugout canoes being made from a single red cedar felled on the Queets River, Washington State.  Click it for pretty high resolution.  This would presumably be territory of the Queets Tribe, who are now part of the Coast Salish speaking Quinalt Indian Nation.  Imagine the complex and revealing archaeological site left behind: the wood shavings, the planks, the skids, broken tools, coffee cups … years ago I worked on an excavation of a Culturally Modified Tree Site in Clayoquot Sound and we found superbly preserved wooden wedges, woodchips and other evidence of intensive logging and carpentry — evidence which, given the durability of cedar, could easily last for centuries.  Such a contrast to those sites dominated by stone tools: wood was where it was at on the Northwest Coast and yet archaeologically we see much less of it, and think about it less, than we ought to.

I don’t know much more about this picture than the caption.  If you do, then leave a comment!

Makah whaling canoes on the beach at Neah Bay. These are stylistically similar to the ones being made above and to the one being steamed in yesterday's video.