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Photo gallery 3,000-year-old canoe recovered from Lake Mendota

September 22, 2022 By Will Cushman

On a brisk and breezy first day of fall, divers recovered an ancient Ho-Chunk canoe from the depths of Lake Mendota, an effort coordinated by the Wisconsin State Historical Society and members of the Ho-Chunk Nation. The dugout canoe, estimated to have sunk to the bottom of the lake some 3,000 years ago, is more than twice as old as another Ho-Chunk canoe recovered from Lake Mendota last year. Divers raised the canoe from the floor of the lake and transported it on a raft across the lake to Spring Harbor Beach, where it was loaded for transport. Those present included Marlon WhiteEagle, president of the Ho-Chunk Nation; Karena Thundercloud, vice president of the Ho-Chunk Nation; and Omar Poler, the Indigenous Education Coordinator in the Office of the Provost. On the southern shores of Lake Mendota, the UW–Madison campus occupies ancestral Ho-Chunk land, known as Teejop in the Ho-Chunk language. UW–Madison researchers played a key role in examining the first canoe found.

Divers stabilize a raft during the recovery of the canoe.

Divers stabilize a raft during the recovery of the canoe. Photo by: Bryce Richter

Christian Overland, the director and CEO of the Wisconsin Historical Society, speaks to members of the media during the recovery.

Christian Overland, the director and CEO of the Wisconsin Historical Society, speaks to members of the media during the recovery. Photo by: Bryce Richter

Jim Skibo, Wisconsin state archaeologist (center), and members of the dive team lift a makeshift raft holding the canoe onshore.

Jim Skibo, Wisconsin state archaeologist (center), and members of the dive team lift a makeshift raft holding the canoe onshore. Photo by: Bryce Richter

Bill Quackenbush, tribal historic preservation officer for the Ho-Chunk Nation and member of the Deer clan, speaks to reporters during the recovery of the canoe.

Bill Quackenbush, tribal historic preservation officer for the Ho-Chunk Nation and member of the Deer clan, speaks to reporters during the recovery of the canoe. Photo by: Bryce Richter

Casey Brown (left), spokesperson for the Ho-Chunk Nation and member of the Bear clan, and Bill Quackenbush, tribal historic preservation officer for the Ho-Chunk Nation and member of the Deer clan, take a closer look during the recovery of a 3,000-year-old dugout canoe.

Casey Brown (left), spokesperson for the Ho-Chunk Nation and member of the Bear clan, and Bill Quackenbush, tribal historic preservation officer for the Ho-Chunk Nation and member of the Deer clan, take a closer look during the recovery of a 3,000-year-old dugout canoe. Photo by: Bryce Richter

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