Dugout canoes, though far less familiar in American iconography than northeastern birch-bark canoes, were once central on North American coasts and rivers. Their existence in diverse forms on the Atlantic, Gulf, and Northwest coasts is well known. This article focuses on the less well-explored territory of the Mississippi River and its tributaries, where log boats were important before, during, and after the rise of Mississippian cultures more than a thousand years ago. Though archaeological examples remain scarce, suggestive documentary evidence is ample. But the arrival of modern industrial society altered river transport, drastically changed the river system itself, decimated the bottomland forests, and destroyed the huge trees from which these large boats were made. So it is now hard for anyone—specialists and public alike—to imagine the size and abundance of such canoes, much less their mobility and their centrality to an ancient river-based way of life.


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pp. 197-254
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