A 1,000-year-old Native American canoe has been raised from Lake Waccamaw in North Carolina two years after it was accidentally discovered by teenagers. The 28-foot-long canoe was brought to the surface by a team of archaeologists, members of the Waccamaw Siouan Tribe and neighbors in a complex operation.
Three of the people who pitched in were the finders: Eli Hill, Jackson Holcomb, and Creek Hyatt. They found the canoe while swimming in the summer of 2021. At first they just thought it was a log, and tried lifting it but it wouldn’t budge. They tried to dig it out but as more of it emerged from the lakebed, they realized it was not a log.
Hill’s family reached out to the North Carolina Office of State Archaeology about the canoe. A team then worked to move it closer to the family’s pier. The canoe sat there for nearly two years until it was finally brought to the surface Wednesday.
State Archaeologist John Mintz says the lengthy removal process was worth it in the end.
“This canoe is about 1,000 years old, and it’s a southeastern Indian canoe, and it’s originated from this area,” said Mintz. “So, we wanted the local Indian group to be part of it and share with the agency of it.”
The canoe will be taken to a lab in Greeneville to be preserved, studied, and possibly share its secrets.
“We’re looking forward to examining it, running some tests on it, really finding out and going back to our elders and getting the history of it to where we can teach the truth to our people and know that we’ve got concrete evidence to stand on,” said Jacobs.
The canoe will be conserved and studied at the Queen Anne’s Revenge Conservation Laboratory, the facility created to conserve the flagship of the infamous English pirate Blackbeard and the quarter million objects recovered from the wreck site. The laboratory has the expertise to preserve the canoe that has been underwater for a millennium, and it is also open to the public for free educational tours. The canoe will be on display for visitors during an open house on April 22nd.