Centuries-old Native American canoe on loan from Massena Museum, to be on display at Akwesasne museum
Thursday, June 19, 2014 - 9:26 am

By ANDY GARDNER

MASSENA -- The Massena Museum will indefinitely loan a Native American artifact to the Akwesasne Cultural Center, the Town Council decided Wednesday night.

The artifact, a canoe that is believed to be between 200 and 400 years old, was discovered after a 1972 landslide at the Cary crossroad near the Raquette River, Massena Town Historian Mary Ellen Casselman told the board.

She said an archaeologist from Ottawa did radiocarbon dating on samples and they indicate it was built between 1675 and 1872.

“It’s most likely post-contact … we were hoping it would be pre-contact,” she said, meaning before the arrival of Europeans.

Casselman said the range is so wide because radiocarbon dating gets more precise over centuries.

“In another 200 years, they could test it again and get a more exact date,” Casselman said.

“It’s definitely not a Boy Scout project or a pig trough, as people thought it was at some point,” she said, adding that it’s uncertain whether it was carved with stone or bone, but was not crafted with metal tools.

The museum wants the canoe to go to Akwesasne because they have the resources to properly preserve it and Massena doesn’t, according to museum board member Joe Macaulay.

“It’s the proper place to be. It’s an Indian artifact,” he said.

“I think you’re doing the right thing, following the correct procedure to return it to the people who probably built it,” Councilman Albert Nicola said.