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Native American Culture/Hand made 1912 Native american canoe Hagerstown MD



I found a very small canoe that could be a toy. It came with a letter that says that the canoe was purchased in 1912 or 1913 in Hagerstown MD. I was hoping to see if you could help me figure out what it's made of and if it is authentic.

Thank you,

ANSWER: I'll need clear, in-focus images, however the style of manufacture alone is not, by itself an indication that it was made by an American Indian craftsman. Many of the items sold at roadside Trading Posts are actually mass-produced. This has been the case since the 1950s. I'll see if your images make their manufacture more obvious.

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Cloth with canoe
Cloth with canoe  

canoe 1
canoe 1  
QUESTION: Sorry for my delay in responding. I have a few pictures for you to look at. The letter with the canoe and a box that was also with the canoe are dated 1912-1913. hopefully this is an authentic piece.
I have many more pics. I can only upload 2. Let me know how I can send you the rest.

Well, it seems to be made of some kind of bark -- probably a birch variety, sewn with some form of probably nylon thread, but I don't believe there is any way of determining if it was made by a Native crafts person. I recommend you contact a well-established dealer in American Indian arts in the Hagerstown area for their opinion, as it may well be a very specific local craft. Sorry I can't give you more information.

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Richard Sutton


As a direct reservation trader in all aspects of American Indian arts since 1985, I've answered questions regarding cultural property issues, origins of traditional crafts, materials and techniques, collecting, authenticity, symbols and, of course, repairs! We have operated a retail gallery since that time, bricks and mortar until 2007 and online since 1996. Our online operation closed in 2/2015, to allow me to finally write full-time. My writing site can be found at I'll be adding a book or two from our trader experiences under the pen name of W.T. Durand and the rest of my fiction is under my own name. We are not "New Age" practitioners of adopted American Indian religious ceremonies or combined philosophies. If you are seeking such knowledge for spiritual reasons, we will only provide answers that address factual information on these subjects. Unless one is raised in a traditional, American Indian family with language, culture and religious belief intact, we don't believe that simply applying the trappings or cultural property of a given traditional group will give a non-Indian (Native if you prefer)any insight other than the academic.


My primary focus is on Southwester American Indian Nations and their people, but I also have experience in Plains and Northeastern traditions, having engaged in active trade and retail since 1985 and study for most of my life. I am not claiming any expertise at all in the work, techniques, lifeways or crafts that are made by the Native People of Mexico. They are not the same, either linguistically or culturally but certainly their crafts deserve discussion and appraisal by those who are able to provide real information.

I was a guest on Fox Network "Lifestyles" program, during the 1990s, to discuss how to tell forgeries, and authenticating jewelry as Native American work. I have also written extensively for our website, and our Ebay Store.

UofO, 1970 active in the Authentic American Indian Arts business and direct Trader since 1985. Graphic Designer and published novelist.

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