Legacy of Penobscot Canoes

detail of penobscot paddle with painted decorations.

The Legacy of Penobscot Canoes: A View from the River

This exhibition explores the enduring importance of rivers and canoes in Penobscot tribal life and on relationships between the tribe and non-Indians. 

family looks at birchbark canoe.

Native American birchbark canoes have often been described as one of the greatest inventions in human history and were copied by Euroamerican fur traders and sportsmen. This installation features a rarely seen full-size bark canoe purchased from Penobscot Indian Francis Sebattis in 1912, as well as stone tools collected by Henry David Thoreau, who described the Penobscot and their canoes in The Maine Woods.

Watch videos from the exhibition about reviving canoe culture

See a collection of objects from the exhibition

birchbark canoe in front of misty sunset background in the gallery.

Top: detail of paddle. Gift of the Heirs of David Kimball, 1899. ©President and Fellows of Harvard College, Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology, 99-12-10/53655. Below: Birchbark canoe, 29-33-10/98432.