Girard will speak to genealogy group about prehistoric canoe

Archaeologist Jeff Girard will be guest speaker at the Jan. 28 meeting of the Natchitoches Genealogical and Historical Association. Girard will talk about finding a prehistoric dugout canoe on Red River, its excavation and preservation and putting it in context of the archaeology/prehistory of northwest Louisiana.

The group will meet Tuesday, Jan. 28 at 6 p.m. at the Natchitoches Genealogy Library at the Old Natchitoches Parish Courthouse at 600 Second St.

The remarkable prehistoric dugout canoe was discovered on the banks of the Red River north of Shreveport in June 2017. At about 34 feet in length, it is the largest discovered in Louisiana and one of the largest in the southeastern United States. A radiocarbon date indicates that the canoe was constructed in the 14th century, contemporary with an extensive Caddo settlement on the east side of the river. This presentation summarizes the challenges that confronted researchers and local volunteers for extracting the canoe from the riverbank and transporting it to Texas A&M University for conservation. Girard’s talk will provide information about nearby Caddo village and ceremonial sites whose past inhabitants might have made and used the boat.

Girard was on faculty at Northwestern State University and served as regional archaeologist for the Louisiana Division of Archaeology for more than 25 years. He worked with landowners to identify and preserve cultural resources on private and state land, carried out research projects and promoted awareness of cultural resources through public presentations. He has published papers in several edited books and journals, and co-authored the book “Caddo Connections, Cultural Interactions within and beyond the Caddo World,” (2014, Rowman & Littlefield.) His book “The Caddos and Their Ancestors, Archaeology and the Native People of Northwest Louisiana” was published by LSU Press in 2018. He currently is working on a grant from the Cane River National Heritage Area to organize collections and records at the Williamson Museum at Northwestern State.

The meeting is free and open to the public. For more information, call the library at (318) 357-2235 during operating hours, which are 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday.