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Massena loaning canoe to Akwesasne Historical Center


MASSENA - A dugout-style canoe that is at least 142 years old will be lent to the Akwesasne Historical Center by the town of Massena.

Town Historian Mary Ellen Cassleman said the canoe, which has been stored in the basement of the Massena Museum since 1996, was discovered during a landslide near the Carey Cross Road in 1972.

Prior to coming to Massena, she said the canoe had been on display at the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton.

The museum recently undertook an effort to discover exactly how old the canoe was and while the answer they received left them with a range of 160 years, Ms. Cassleman said it is nice to finally have some answers.

According to a carbon-dating expert from Canada, the canoe originates back to 1675 to 1872 or what Ms. Cassleman referred to as post-contact.

A pre-contact canoe would have dated back much earlier prior to the arrival of Europeans in North America.

“He feels it’s definitely not a Boy Scout project or pig trough as some people have suggested,” Ms. Cassleman said, referring to the expert, who she said could not determine how it was made.

“They couldn’t determine how it was made, whether it was bone or stone,” she said.

Museum Board President Joseph Macaulay said he, as well as the other museum board members, feel lending the canoe to the Akwesasne Historical Center is the right thing to do.

“I feel, and I think the other board members feel, like that’s a good place for it,” he said.

Councilman Albert N. Nicola agreed.

“I think you’re doing the right thing in following these procedures and returning it to the people who probably built it,” he said.

Ironically, Ms. Cassleman said the older the canoe gets the easier it will be to get more accurate information on its origins.

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

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