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Over the past year, a master-carver has been hand-crafting a traditional ocean-going canoe for display at the Smithsonian’s new ocean hall. The canoe is now complete and we celebrated its arrival on June 19th in the Baird Auditorium at the National Museum of Natural History.

A Sealaska-Smithsonian Partnership

Douglas Chilton carving canoe
Carver Douglas Chilton working on the canoe for the Sant Ocean Hall.
Image courtesy: Sealaska Heritage Institute

Using traditional tools and techniques, Tlingit carver Douglas Chilton shaped the 26-foot-long canoe from a red cedar log donated by Sealaska Corporation. Each coastal community of the Northwest developed techniques and styles that helped identify their canoes.  To the people of the Northwest, canoes were essential to life—canoes were used for fishing, trade, as well as ceremony. Each canoe had its own spirit and relationship with the water. Canoe arts and ceremonies have been revived by Native people as a way of passing on their heritage.



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