Hurricane Irma Uncovers a Rare Native American Canoe in Florida

Hurricane Irma is believed to have unearthed what could be a centuries-old Native American canoe along the Indian River in Florida. The canoe was discovered by photographer Randy Lathrop who happened to be riding his bike along the river.

While Hurricane Irma was merciless with many parts of Florida, it may have accidentally unearthed a “hidden treasure” a wooden Native American canoe that could be hundreds of years old. Randy Lathrop, a decorated art photographer, was on a bike ride to witness with his own eyes the damage that Irma caused to his coastal community of Cocoa, east of Orlando, when he noticed the odd object on the banks of the Indian River. “As soon as I saw it, I knew exactly what it was,” Lathrop told ABC News of his rare discovery. “Any time we have any kind of a storm, certain parts of our coastline are just swarming with [people with] metal detectors because they understand that items wash ashore after hurricanes,” he added.

Native American Canoes and their Unique Design

“I can look across the river and see the launch pad and the vehicle assembly building. It’s a real contrast,” Lathrop told ABC News of the area where the canoe was found, which is steeped in Native American history. Canoes were the main form of transportation used by Native American tribes living near rivers, lakes and oceans. The construction and style of canoe varies from region to region, but is most often dugout and bark styles. Indians built these birch-bark canoes by trial and error. Once they discovered a working form of the boat, it has not been improved much.

Most Indian canoes were lightweight, small, and fast, though the Iroquois built their canoes at lengths of 30 feet. These were used to hold up to 18 passengers or to help move merchandise. An advantage over a row boat is while in a canoe, you face forward in the direction of travel. Canoe designs varied from tribe to tribe but each canoe took quite a bit of talent to produce. Some were sewn together while others used spruce gum for caulking. Carving was essential and some burned the inside of the canoe to help it become waterproof.

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