Ah-Tah-Thi-ki Seminole Museum

Dugouts are the oldest boats archaeologists have found, dating back about 8,000 years to the Neolithic Stone Age. They are found in our time primarily because they are made of massive pieces of wood, which tend to preserve better than canoes made from lighter materials. Dugout boats were used by indigenous peoples of the Americas, along with bark canoes and hide kayaks. 


Canoes are made of cypress logs and are shaped and carved with axes and fire. Logs are carefully selected by a woodsman who chooses a log with the heart nearer the side rather than the center. After a log is selected and tested it is hewn into shape and buried in mud for 18 to 24 months. When it is dug up and cleaned, it is dried slowly for two weeks. The wood is removed from the inside out by burning. Later a boy strikes the sides with a stick while the builder listens to vibrations and cuts or scrapes away burned wood to a uniform thickness. When the vibrations reach a certain pitch the builder knows the correct thickness has been attained.