November 11, 2017- 2:00 PM: Dr. Peter Wood, Emeritus Professor of History, Duke University

Missing the Boat: Ancient Dugout Canoes in the Mississippi-Missouri Watershed

Abstract

When archaeologists discuss the great Mississippian site at Cahokia near East St. Louis, a crucial piece of the puzzle still seems to be missing. They know much about the great mound-building center, and about the trade goods and tribute that flowed to it. But they rarely talk about how those objects moved great distances. So far, we have never recovered a huge and ancient wooden canoe in the Mississippi Valley (Indeed, we can’t even imagine the immense trees from which such dugouts were made a thousand years ago!). But indirect evidence from other places and disciplines strongly points to the existence and importance of such vessels. This slide talk by a Duke University historian of early America, explores how long such boats were in use, and why they disappeared.

Abstract

Peter H. Wood, born in St. Louis, has had a life-long interest in the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. He studied history at Harvard (BA and PhD) and at Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar in 1964. He taught early American history at Duke University from 1976 to 2008, and in 2011 he received the Asher Distinguished Teaching Award of the American Historical Association. He is the co-author of an important college-level U.S. History survey, Created Equal, now in its fifth edition. Wood is the author of several widely used books on early American slavery, Black Majority and Strange New Land. A wide-ranging scholar, Wood has written about Native American demography and African American slave labor camps, as well as “Television as Dream” and Gerald Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon. In addition, Dr. Wood is the author of three books that focus on the images of black Americans created by the great artist Winslow Homer. The most recent (Near Andersonville: Winslow Homer’s Civil War) is based on the 2009 Huggins Lectures at Harvard.

Intrigued by seventeenth-century French exploration, Professor Wood published an article on LaSalle in the American Historical Review (April, 1984), and another on Baron Lahontan in the Journal of the Iowa Archaeology Society (vol. 62, 2015). An interest in material culture has sparked Wood’s research on African American dipper gourds and Sea Island fanner baskets. Recently he has completed an essay, entitled “Missing the Boat,” on ancient Mississippian dugout canoes. It will appear in the interdisciplinary journal Early American Studies (Spring, 2018). Dr. Wood lives in Longmont, Colorado, with his wife, Pulitzer-Prize-winning historian Elizabeth Fenn, who teaches in the History Department at CU-Boulder.

November 11, 2017- 2:00 PM: Dr. Peter Wood, Emeritus Professor of History, Duke University

Missing the Boat: Ancient Dugout Canoes in the Mississippi-Missouri Watershed

Abstract

When archaeologists discuss the great Mississippian site at Cahokia near East St. Louis, a crucial piece of the puzzle still seems to be missing. They know much about the great mound-building center, and about the trade goods and tribute that flowed to it. But they rarely talk about how those objects moved great distances. So far, we have never recovered a huge and ancient wooden canoe in the Mississippi Valley (Indeed, we can’t even imagine the immense trees from which such dugouts were made a thousand years ago!). But indirect evidence from other places and disciplines strongly points to the existence and importance of such vessels. This slide talk by a Duke University historian of early America, explores how long such boats were in use, and why they disappeared.

Abstract

Peter H. Wood, born in St. Louis, has had a life-long interest in the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. He studied history at Harvard (BA and PhD) and at Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar in 1964. He taught early American history at Duke University from 1976 to 2008, and in 2011 he received the Asher Distinguished Teaching Award of the American Historical Association. He is the co-author of an important college-level U.S. History survey, Created Equal, now in its fifth edition. Wood is the author of several widely used books on early American slavery, Black Majority and Strange New Land. A wide-ranging scholar, Wood has written about Native American demography and African American slave labor camps, as well as “Television as Dream” and Gerald Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon. In addition, Dr. Wood is the author of three books that focus on the images of black Americans created by the great artist Winslow Homer. The most recent (Near Andersonville: Winslow Homer’s Civil War) is based on the 2009 Huggins Lectures at Harvard.

Intrigued by seventeenth-century French exploration, Professor Wood published an article on LaSalle in the American Historical Review (April, 1984), and another on Baron Lahontan in the Journal of the Iowa Archaeology Society (vol. 62, 2015). An interest in material culture has sparked Wood’s research on African American dipper gourds and Sea Island fanner baskets. Recently he has completed an essay, entitled “Missing the Boat,” on ancient Mississippian dugout canoes. It will appear in the interdisciplinary journal Early American Studies (Spring, 2018). Dr. Wood lives in Longmont, Colorado, with his wife, Pulitzer-Prize-winning historian Elizabeth Fenn, who teaches in the History Department at CU-Boulder.

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